Choosing the best baby car seat for your newborn is an important decision, and you won’t be able to drive home from the hospital without one. There are so many different brands and styles of safety seat, it can be difficult to know which is the best. Here, we will help you lean what to look for in a great seat, as well as review what we feel are some of the best, to help you find one which is right for your family’s needs.
Considerations When Choosing an Infant Travel Seat
The main thing to look for when shopping for a newborn car seat is safety. Make sure the seat meets or exceeds current safety standards, and look for extras such as side-impact testing. You should also check the capacity of the seat to ensure it will fit your baby for a decent length of time. Many infant seats are designed for babies up to 30 pounds in weight and around 30 inches long, although this does differ from seat to seat.
Depending on how you plan to use the seat, you might want to check whether it can be used as a part of a travel system or if it comes with a base which stays in the car for example. Also check how many headrest and harness positions there are, so you can make sure your infant will be secure and safe in the seat as they grow. Some convertible car seats can be used from birth, so you might like to go straight for one of these, as it will last longer.
15 Best Baby Car Seats Reviewed
Below, you will find comprehensive reviews of some of the best safety seats for infants. These seats have great safety features or practical extras which make them easy for parents to use and comfortable for little ones. You are sure to find the perfect seat for your family’s needs here. If you’re in a hurry you’ll find our best car seat at the end.
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite
This Britax infant seat is designed for safety. It has two layers of side impact protection, with a deep foam-lined shell. It comes with its own base, which also features impact-absorbing materials. The Britax B Safe 35 base has super easy LATCH installation, and there are two level installations, so it’s easy to see if the seat is installed correctly.
The Britax B Safe features a removable cover which can easily be washed by hand. The seat is suitable for infants weighing at least 4 pounds and up to 35 lbs. The Britax baby seat has an adjustable headrest, meaning baby will be safe and comfortable as they grow. The 5-point safety harness also adjusts with the headrest, so it’s easy to get the perfect fit every time. The seat is compatible with any Britax stroller, meaning you can create your own travel system, for an easy transition from car to stroller when baby is sleeping.
Graco SnugRide 35
This lightweight seat is compatible with all Graco Click Connect strollers to create a custom travel system. The Graco infant seat has an easy one step installation which allows it to be transferred from the car to stroller in seconds. The seat can be used by infants weighing between 4-35 lbs and up to 32 inches tall. This means it will last a good length of time before you’ll need to upgrade to something bigger.
Safety 1st Onboard
Chicco KeyFit 30
This convertible seat can be used from birth until your child no longer requires an additional seat, or 4-120 pounds. It’s ideal for newborns as well as older children, because there are removable inserts which make the seat a better fit for small babies. The Graco Forever has a harness which is adjustable into many different positions, meaning it can easily be tightened enough for newborns.
The Graco Forever has great safety features which means it is sure to keep your child safe if there is an accident. It has been side-impact tested and has a steel-reinforced frame meaning it is strong and durable. The Graco convertible seat has a headrest which is adjustable into 10 different positions. This means it is safe even for tiny babies, and there are also 6 different recline positions so your baby can sit comfortably as they grow. Overall, this is a great investment for parents who are looking to get the most for their money – it could potentially be the only car safety seat you will ever need.
Britax B-Safe Ultra
This highly-rated offering from Britax prides itself on having excellent safety features – it comes with a dual layer of side impact protection. It fits from birth to 35 pounds,and comes in a choice of six different color schemes. The seat can be installed in the car using the seat belt, without the base, which is easier for taking it in a friend or family member’s car. The seat harness is easy to adjust and grows with your child. If you have a Britax stroller, there’s a good chance this seat is compatible, or can be made compatible with the additional purchase of adapters.
Graco SnugRide 35
This Graco baby car seat is really easy to install in the car – a lifesaver for new parents! There is an indicator which clearly shows when the seat is correctly positioned, and has a 3-stage installation process which works with either the LATCH system or the vehicle belt. Babies and toddlers up to 35 pounds can use this seat as long as their height doesn’t exceed 32 inches. There are four different reclining positions available when using the seat with the base. The seat has been thoroughly tested using advanced tests such as rollover crashes and extreme temperatures, so you can be sure this is one of the safest options out there.
Graco SlimFit Convertible Seat
This seat from Graco could be the only one you ever need for your child right from birth until they are 100 pounds. It can be used in front and rear facing modes, so it can become a booster seat for bigger kids. There are rotating cup holders for convenience, and the harness and headrest adjust together. The seat reclines into different positions to ensure it is safe for infants as well as older children. It even has a washable seat cover which is a feature sure to be appreciated by parents!
This seat comes with a multi-position base which allows kids to easily ride rear-facing until they are 2 years old. It reclines more for babies up to 9 months, at which point it can sit more upright giving extra legroom to older babies and toddlers. It does this without requiring any more room in the car, so even for smaller cars it’s not a problem! There are bubble levels to show the seat is correctly positioned in the car, and the seat comes in a choice of three stylish color schemes.
Maxi Cosi Magellan
This all-in-one seat is designed to be the only one your kid needs for the first 10 years of life. There are five different modes to choose from so it’s tailored to your child’s needs at various stages of life. It can be used both rear and front facing as well as functioning as a belt-positioning booster seat. Despite all these great features, the seat is easily installed using one-click LATCH connectors, which also release easily when the seat needs moved. The harness can easily be installed inside the seat when it’s time to move to another mode.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
This Italian-made seat is suitable for babies between 4 – 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall. There are loads of different colors to choose from, so it can suit baby boys or baby girls. There is an additional layer of cushioning for the youngest babies to ensure they are sitting properly and safely. You’ll also find side impact protection on this seat, which can be adjusted between six different positions to ensure your baby always has maximum protection in the event of a crash. The seat works with the base or the vehicle belt, and has a easy-to-follow path if you wish to install it using a seat belt.
Maxi Cosi Mico 30
Here we have another excellent seat from Maxi Cosi, this time it’s the Mico 30, which is suitable for babies between the weight of 5 – 30 pounds and below 32″ tall. It comes in a choice of five different colors so there’s something to suit everyone. It’s compatible with Maxi Cosi strollers as well as many other leading brands, so you can use it as a travel system for more convenient travel with your baby. The handle is designed to make carrying the seat easier and more comfortable, and the fabrics can be removed for quick and easy cleaning.
This stylish seat can be installed in a matter of seconds, so if you have to take it in and out of the car, it’s quick and convenient. The headrest has side impact protection attached, and is also adjustable with the harness so you can be sure the proportions are always correct. The seat is soft and comfortable for babies to travel in and is flame resistant. There are four nice colorways to choose from – gray, black, white or red.
This cute seat is perfect if you are looking for a cheaper option, but it still has all the features you would expect from a more expensive model. It’s fitted with a 5-point harness which can be adjusted into various positions to ensure a perfect, snug fit as your baby grows. In fact, there are three shoulder height positions and two crotch strap positions. The seat comes with a base but also has belt guides if you’d prefer to use the vehicle’s seat belt. There is a foam liner which absorbs energy for comfort as well as added safety in the event of an impact. This seat is only suitable for babies up to 22 pounds, so you will need to upgrade sooner than with most of the other options reviewed here.
Doona Racing Green Stroller and Carseat
Our final pick is this awesome and unique stroller and travel seat combo. Unlike your typical travel system, this seat actually transforms into a stroller, and it does so in a matter of seconds. It’s fitted with a five-point harness as well as an adjustable handlebar. The padding of the seat contains memory foam for maximum comfort. It can be used rear facing only and is for babies under 35 pounds in weight and 32 inches tall. The classic racing green color is stylish for both boys and girls, but other stylish options are available including navy, gray, black and pink. It’s one of the top rated car seats by parents thanks to its convenience and range of features.
Best Buy Overall
The Safety 1st Air is one of the safest seats for newborn and young babies, so it takes our top spot as the best infant car seat. It is one of the few seats which has been tested against impacts at all angles, including rollovers. It uses the latest technology to ensure it performs exceptionally well in the event of an impact. It’s also very padded and comfortable even for tiny babies, and will last a bit longer than some other seats, as it can hold up to 35 pounds.
Best Budget Pick
The Evenflo Nurture is our top pick if you’re not looking to spend too much money on your seat. Whilst it can’t be used beyond 22 pounds, it’s excellent for starting out before moving on to a toddler seat. The cute pink floral design makes this a perfect seat for little girls! It is one of the best infant car seats for the price.
Best Brands of Newborn Car Seat
There are so many brands of seat available these days, working out which one to choose can be a challenge. It’s a good idea to stick to well-known names, as you can be sure these seats are practical and have been thoroughly tested to meet current standards. Some good choices are classics such as Chicco, Graco, Maxi-Cosi and Britax. Safety 1st, as the name suggests, is also a great manufacturer which makes extra-safe baby seats.
What is the Law for Car Seats for Newborns?
The law differs from state to state, so it’s very important to check local laws, especially if you travel between states often. In many cases, babies must be restrained in a rear-facing seat until they are 1 year old or weigh more than 20 pounds. Many states also have laws for kids up to around age 8, so it’s best to check before buying a seat to ensure it is suitable for your state’s laws and regulations.
How Much are Car Seats for Newborns?
Infant car seats come at a variety of price points, and generally depends on the brand as well as the features it has. In general, the cheapest seats come in at around $150, whereas the most expensive can cost up to $500. The seat will take up a large part of your budget for a new baby, but choosing the safest car seats is one area you don’t want to skimp on.
When to Change an Infant Car Seat?
Most of the carseats above can be used until your child reaches 30 or 35 pounds in weight, and usually 30 – 32 inches long. However, there are a few which can be used beyond this if they can convert into different modes. Be sure to check the height and weight of your baby often to ensure they don’t outgrow the seat. As we’ve mentioned, each state has its own set of rules regarding child restraints, but it’s recommended to keep your child in their infant seat for as long as possible before progressing to a new seat.
It’s safer to stay rear-facing for longer, and to use a harness rather than strapping your child in with the vehicle seat belt for as long as possible, before they outgrow their seat. As a general rule, rear facing until at least age 1 is required in many states, but until age 2 or beyond is better where possible.