The coming of a new child brings about many important decisions to make. Is our current home big enough? Is it safe enough? Is this the right crib? Is this the right stroller? Should I become a stay at home mom? And the list goes on and on and on! One of the most important decisions has to be the car seat you choose for your child’s first months of life.
You want to make sure your child is comfortable, but most importantly, safe. Hours can be spent looking around for the “perfect” car seat for your child. Car seats can cost hundreds of dollars, meaning you want the best quality you can get for your budget. You can easily be disappointed when your expectations aren’t met, which is more than understandable.
To help you out, we compiled a list of the best infant car seats of 2018. Now you don’t have to spend so much time figuring out which one of the hundreds of car seats available is the right one. Be surprised when you find out that this important investment in the safety of your child doesn’t have to cost that much. We have several affordable options in our list so you don’t have to break the bank.
Things to Consider When Buying an Infant Car Seat
Choosing the right car seat for your little one is more than just a matter of seeing what fits the price range and picking from there. There are a number of things to take into consideration. You want to know what capacities the car seat has, what features you would like (padding, patterns, stroller attachment, etc), how easy it is to use, and (of course) safety.
It can be both hard and overwhelming trying to figure out what car seat to get. There are many questions you need to ask yourself and this is a very important investment. This is where our guide and reviews are going to help you figure out what infant car seat is the best for your circumstances. You can save time, and maybe even some money, with our help.
Height and Weight Limits
Most infant car seats have a weight capacity of 25-30 pounds. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now suggests that children ride rear-facing for as much time as possible rather than up to 2 years old. This means that more and more infant car seats are being designed with higher weight capacities (35+ pounds) to help extend the time your child can be seated rear-facing.
Other Types of Car Seats
While we’re mainly going to cover infant car seats, there is another type of car seat available in the market. This is known as a convertible car seat and it is meant to “grow” as your child grows. They start off as rear-facing and can later be used as a forward-facing car seat. Some of these convertible car seats can even convert into booster seats later on. A convertible seat is a great way to save some money since you are investing in one product for multiple uses.
An even better option to consider is an infant car seat that can attach to a stroller. There are many different car seat/stroller combos available, also known as travel systems. This is perfect for any occasion and adds a lot of convenience. You don’t need to move you baby from a car seat to a stroller, just simply attach the car seat to the stroller base and you’re ready to go.
Why an Infant Car Seat Better Than a Convertible Car Seat
The drawback with convertible car seats is they aren’t recommended for your child until they are at least one year of age. This is because they don’t provide the snug fit and stability a car seat designed for infants does. This is especially true for newborn babies and preemies who weigh 4-9 pounds.
Your baby’s first few months of life are very delicate. From their bones and muscles, your baby needs to be handled with great care – especially when it comes to the neck and spine. An infant car seat is designed to help protect these delicate areas of your child and prevent them from becoming injured.
Another way an infant car seat is better suited for your child is the way you can carry them around wherever you go. Getting your baby in an out of the home and the car can be done without needing to expose them to undesirable weather conditions. A convertible car seat will require you to strap your child in and take them out.
The Best Infant Car Seats
Our first car seat review is of the Maxi-Cosi Mico AP. It’s both stylish and comfortable, taking care of the aesthetics you would want in an infant car seat. One big drawback worth mentioning is the weight capacity which goes up to only 22 pounds. While this means you will need to upgrade your car seat sooner, it will most likely last you until your baby is 12 months old.
There are 6 different colors to choose from, some of them featuring patterned padding and trimming. A great advantage you get with the Maxi-Cosi infant car seat is the ability to use it with a few types of strollers. You can even choose to go with the Maxi-Cosi Kaia Mico Travel System and have a stroller that will last until your child is 50 pounds.
The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP is advertised to be the lightest infant seat available in the market, making it a great choice for parents who take their child out of the home often. It’s handle is slim and ergonomic, being easy to use and not as bulky as other car seats seem to be. Overall, this Maxi-Cosi car seat is a great choice for parents who want something easy to bring around for their child’s first year of life.
- Advertised to be the lightest premium infant car seat
- Side impact protection thanks to “air protect technology”
- Premium padding and fabric for style and comfort
- Weight capacity of 5-22 pounds – Up to 29 inches in height
- 5-point harness covers for extra comfort
- Ergonomic handle to make carrying easier
- Choose from 6 different colors and styles
- Ability to use on several different stroller/travel systems
Safety 1st is one of our most trusted baby brands out there. This brings us to the second car seat review on our list; the Safety 1st onBoard 36 Air 360 Infant Car Seat. Thanks to 360 degrees and five layers of patented, energy absorption foam, you can be rest assured of your baby’s safety. Being both safety focused and budget friendly is what makes this car seat a great pick.
You can use this car seat for infants weighing 4-35 pounds. A five-point secure system can easily be adjusted from the front of the car seat so you can make adjustments accordingly. Store any loose LATCH straps in the base’s storage compartment to keep them away from your child. This car seat’s “quick-click” mechanism allows it to be used with several different stroller systems.
A disadvantage you should consider with this car seat is that it’s bulkiness might not work well if you use a smaller vehicle. However, this doesn’t make it any less safe for your child. The extra focus on safety is also a benefit to your child’s comfort since there is much padding provided. For a price of less than $200, this may be the safest car seat you can find for the quality you get.
- 5 layers of padding for safety
- Weight capacity of 4-35 pounds, reaching well into your child’s toddler years
- Deep seat structure paired with AirProtect side-impact protection & patented GCell race car foam in order to absorb energy from crashes and bumps
- Reinforced car seat handle
- Easy to adjust 5-point harness
- Car seat base included
- Machine washable seat padding
- Latch strap storage for loose straps available in the car seat base
- Available in 3 different colors: Blush Pink HX, Grey Dove, and Raven HX
The UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat is a choice you can’t go wrong with. Choose from five different colors and styles: blue, black, navy blue, red, and charcoal. The benefit of the blue & charcoal options is the fire-resistant merino wool fabric it’s made out of. That means there were no chemicals needed in order to make the fabric flame-resistant. A wide weight capacity of 4-35 pounds means you can safely use this car seat for your preemie.
Aside from the weight capacity, the harness straps were also made to adjust to small frames. An included insert can be used for infants from 4-8 pounds to provide even more padding and support for their delicate head and neck. A wedge is built into the car seat in order to properly angle your baby’s body for a safer ride.
Installing this car seat is extremely easy to do, both with and without a base. The harness was made to adjust easily so you don’t need to rethread it as your child grows. If you already have a UPPAbaby stroller or plan on getting one of the UPPAbaby travel strollers, then you can definitely attach this car seat to it. The benefit of getting a travel system is a ton of convenience. Overall, UPPAbaby offers great quality as well as very stylish options for parents.
- SMART, easy to instal secure system
- Adjustable headrest that doesn’t require a rethread
- Integrated Side-Impact Protection
- Storage pockets for any loose harness buckles and straps
- Can be attached to UPPAbaby Vista & Cruz strollers – no adapters needed
- Adjustable canopy with SPF protection
- Weight capacity of 4-35 pounds, suitable from preemie to toddler years
- Fabric options with chemical free, fire-resistant merino wool
- Overall stylish and aesthetically pleasing design
Our next car seat review is of the first tested in a rollover test: the Evenflo SafeMax Infant Car Seat. Thanks to an anti-rebound bar, your child gets more safety and support. Being made for use between 4-35 pounds, the smallest harness settings can be used for smaller infants and preemies. You can also make adjustments for a taller, longer child to keep them seated rear-facing for longer.
While the seat may feel expensive to the touch, it’s actually a very affordable option coming in at under $200. The canopy can extend far to help protect your child from UV rays. EPS foam is provided throughout the entire interior where your child sits to provide impact protection and energy absorption from bumps. A one-pull harness helps make adjustments and securing your child easy and effortless.
This carseat is greatly recommended for your child is they are premature, thanks to Evenflo’s design that holds your child at an angle that is comfortable and natural. Harness and buckle covers help make this seat all the more comfortable for your child to ride. Stash away any loose buckles and straps in provided buckle pockets to keep them away from wandering hands by tucking them away.
- Full interior padding for impact protection and energy absorption
- All fabric was made breathable to avoid overheating and to keep your child cool
- Weight capacity of 4-35 pounds that can be for preemies and small infants up to toddler years
- The first of its kind to be rollover tested
- Anti-rebound bar to keep the car seat more secure and in place in cases of car accidents
- SafeZone base made for energy absorption
- Breathable harness and buckle covers for additional comfort
- Extended canopy coverage to ensure protection from UV rays
- Ergonomic handle design for ease of carry
- Buckle pockets to store loose buckles and straps
- Seat belt lock off system to ensure an accurate installation every time
While our next car seat comes in at a steep price tag, there are many reasons parents are praising it. The CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat offers a sleek, modern design and 8 different colors to choose from. A weight capacity of 4-35 pounds makes this car seat usable for a long time and is even suitable for preemies.
A nice advantage with this car seat is that the LATCH installation process is easy to follow and can even be done with the help of online videos. Many parents like that this seat is a bit easier to use in terms of putting their child in compared to other car seats. Choose to use this car seat with our without the base without having to worry about safety. This is especially useful for families that use switch between cars on a regular basis.
Padding provides impact protection as well as comfort in cases of accidents or bumps in the road. The CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat is actually considered one of the best car seats to help protect your child’s spine in a case of an accident. Side impact devices located on the handle is also another layer of added protection.
- Lightweight design that is easy to carry around
- Shell that provides energy absorption for crash protection and comfort while riding on rough terrain
- Adjustable Led to prevent seat rotation in the case of a car crash, helping to protect your child’s spine
- Euro Belt Routing that allows use with or without the base
- Linear side-impact protection that absorbs side impact energy
- Base comes with a belt tensioning system to help make LATCH installation easier
- 3-position handle for carrying, riding, resting, as well as storage
- Shoulder and buckle pads for comfort and smaller infants
- Open torso angle to accommodate better breathing and digestion for your baby
Moving onto another affordable option in our list, the Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat is our next review. Being able to accommodate babies from 4-35 pounds and 8 different colors to choose from – all under $200 – this is a car seat parents love. This car seat features lots of safety, a one-year warranty, as well as an easy to install LATCH system.
The four point harness system is comfortable for your child and easy for you to use. An extra large sun canopy ensures your child can stay covered from the strong sun and allows them to rest peacefully. This car seats sides are layered with impact-resistant foam to absorb impact energy as well as any sorts of bumps you may run into along the road.
A drawback worth mentioning is that your child may not be as comfortable in the deep cradle as they grow bigger. However, this deep cradle design is especially beneficial for smaller infants. A lightweight frame and design helps make carrying and bringing your child around an easier experience for parents. You can choose to go with the Britax B-Agile/B-Safe Travel System if you would like the convenience of using this car seat with a stroller.
- Side impact protection
- Impact absorbing base
- Durable, steel frame
- Easy to install LATCH system and built in seat belt lock-offs for extra security
- Spring recline and indicators for optimal installation angles
- Ability to attach to any Britax Single Stroller system thanks to built in adapters
- Weight capacity of 4-35 pounds
- Height capacity of 32 inches or less
- Easy to adjust 4 point harness system
- Newborn body pad for smaller infant protection
- One-year warranty to help with any issues you may experience
Our final review is of the affordable Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat. This car seat was designed to accommodate babies from 4-35 pounds and 32 inches and less. You can choose from 3 different color options to suit your preference. The smaller size pairs well with smaller vehicles and you can use it with a Graco Click Connect Stroller for your convenience.
While this car seat is very affordable, it’s important to consider a few disadvantages. There aren’t really any impressive feats of this car seat. It’s a simple, affordable option that gets the job done. Parents don’t like how it’s sometimes hard to remove from the base and how the fabric isn’t cool & breathable. That being said, we should not leave out that the Graco SnugRide 35 has a more than reliable safety-record, making it more than a viable choice for tight budgets.
For the combination of price and safety, you really can’t go wrong with the Graco SnugRide 35. You get all the essentials you need and the security of a good safety record. Despite not having many additional features or perks, this car seat is an extremely popular choice among parents because it is still a great option.
- Ultra-lightweight design that is easy to transport
- Can be used with the Graco Click Connect Stroller for ultimate convenience
- Weight capacity of 4-35 pounds
- Height capacity of up to 32 inches
- Small size is suitable for smaller vehicles
- Removable newborn head support cushion for comfort
- Expandable canopy for sun protection
- Foot & leg cover for additional protection both in and out of the car
- Easy to adjust 5-point harness system
- Choose from 3 different colors
We took the time to review 7 of the best infant car seats in the market, taking into consideration safety, price, and additional features. The right car seat for your family’s circumstances will be different than the family across the street from you. Whichever car seat you choose on our list, feel at ease knowing that it is a safe option for your child.
The most important thing is safety. If you have any trouble with the installation of your new infant car seat, you can typically contact your local fire or police station to help you out for free. If you need to use more than one car seat, choose slimmer models and place your forward facing child in the middle. We hope you found our guide useful. If you would like to read our guide on the best strollers, make sure to check that out too!