The Best Infant Car Seat in 2016 for Your Little Baby

Finding the Best Infant Car Seat: When you leave the hospital with your new bundle of joy, you’ll need an infant car seat to safely carry him or her home for the first time. It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking moment and you’re probably feeling “I have to get this right!” just like I did. Well, take a breath and relax – we’ve already done the research and here are our recommendations for the Best Infant Car Seat.

See The Seats

Infant vs Convertible Car Seat

There are two types of car seats that can safely fit your baby: Infant and Convertibles.

We prefer infant seats for newborns because these seats have a single purpose: to safely transport your infant compared to convertibles which aim to adjust to accommodate your growing baby. This is not to say convertibles are bad by any means – it’s a personal choice:

Infant vs convertible car seat - decision guide
The choice between an infant and convertible car seat

 

Some convertibles are not designed specifically for infants, with starting weight and height minimums above the size of your newborn. This article focuses on infant car seats, so if you’re interested in convertibles for infants, check out our recommendations here.

Our Criteria

We look for 5 main things in all the products we review:

  • Safety
  • Function
  • Quality
  • Aesthetics
  • Price

Products fall within a range in each category and we target our recommendations to include products in the sweet spot – high quality, safe yet functional, that will last you years at a fair price.

Within each product category we have our must-have list of features.

Must-have Features

To pick the best infant car seat on the market, here’s what we (and most people) are looking for:

Extensive Safety Testing

In the US, safety rules are established in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards which requires they pass a test simulating a 30mph front-end crash with latches, buckles and other systems intact.

Side impact testing isn’t required yet, but Federal standards have been proposed by the NHTSA. Since the rules are pending, manufacturers can vary in their marketing for side impact.

Rear-facing

This is absolutely required. Rear facing seats all for the force of a collision to spread out across your baby’s back, instead of being isolated to the area of the strap. This reduces the force tranferred to a given part of your baby’s body by a huge margin, resulting in statistically fewer and less serious injuries.

LATCH Installation

chicco_keyfit_latch

In response to problems with installation and seat compatibility, the US began requiring an fastening system called LATCH. Cars built after 2002 have hooks affixed to seats that your car seat can connect to rather than using the seat belt. LATCH systems have weight limits that may differ from your car seat, so make sure to write them down and store it wherever you may track your child’s health records (for height and weight).

Canopy For Sun

baby-with-sunglassesYou may think it’s never too early for your cool kid to start wearing sunglasses. They look cute and awesome, but the reality is your kid is going to throw them or chew on them within 2 minutes. This means you need sun protection using a canopy on the carrier. These are great for dealing with the baby paparazzi, too!

Easy to Install

A safely constructed chair is not safe if it’s not properly installed. We want it to be easy for you and your partner to install or switch between cars.

Stroller Compatible

If you plan to take your baby on errands you’ll want a compatible stroller. Fortunately there are many compatible strollers and optional adapters for nearly every car seat.

Machine Washable Padding

Your baby may be perfect, but that doesn’t mean its not going to make a mess of your seat! You’ll want to be able to easily toss the padding in the wash.

Airplane Compatible

Travelling by plane with your young baby might be the last thing on your mind, but it’s

Lightweight

Chances are you’re not a bodybuilder, so the lighter the better (while still being sturdy and safe) so you can carry it around.

Additional Bases Available

Installing an infant car seat base is not something you can do every time you drive, so if you have more than one car you’ll want a base in each. Many manufacturers sell extra bases without forcing you to buy a whole extra seat.

With all this in mind, here are the best infant car seats:

Best Infant Car Seat: Chicco Keyfit 30

 

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat - Best Infant Car Seat

The incredibly popular Chicco Keyfit 30 is a favorite of ours (and Consumer Reports, too!) because of its sturdiness, ease of use and great safety record in tests and real accidents. It’s an easy-to-install infant car seat with 5-point harness and attachment base. The built-in bubble level and ReclineSure system promises an accurate fit. It comes in 11(!) different colors.

Check Reviews on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Okay, so how does it stack up to our must-haves?

Extensive Safety Testing

Rear-facing

Check!

LATCH

Yes ma’am!
chicco_keyfit_latch

Canopy For Sun

The KeyFit 30 does have a canopy, but it’s not a large as some other models. It’s one of the few weaknesses of this model.

Easy to Install

chicco-keyfit-30-seat-installThe ReclineSure leveling base allows this seat to fit any seat angle. Some rear car seats are flat while others are more bucket-like where the end underneath your knees is higher than your butt. The level bubble tells you when it’s installed correctly. It’s really a snap.

Stroller Compatible

Chicco makes a strollers specifically designed to hold the KeyFit 30, the KeyFit Caddy and Cortina (discontinued). Unfortunately, the KeyFit Caddy is only designed to work with an infant seat, so you’d need to buy another stroller once your baby outgrows the seat.

Luckily our favorite stroller company, BOB, makes an adapter that lets you use the KeyFit 30 and as a normal stroller that can hold larger toddlers.

Machine Washable Padding

The KeyFit 30 has washable insert padding. Check out this helpful video that shows you how it works:

Airplane Compatible

This seat is FAA Certified for flight.

Lightweight

Te KeyFit 30 carrier weighs in at 10 lbs without the base. It’s about 3 pounds heavier than the lightest on the market, but we think the sturdiness of it makes up for this minor drawback.

Additional Bases Available

Chicco does sell additional bases separately for about 1/3 of the price of the seat & base combination.

Conclusion

The KeyFit 30 checks all our boxes and it’s safe, cute and practice. It also gets great reviews (it’s not just us!) and is priced right considering all the features it has. We recommend it to any new parent looking for a great value infant car seat.

Check Reviews and More Info on Amazon

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