Car seats are one of the most important purchases a new parent will make. They keep your precious baby safe in the car from the very first ride home up until the are old enough for a booster seat. Car seats get daily use for most families, so they have to be not only safe but durable, convenient and comfortable as well.
As a new parent you have some choices to make when you choose your car seat. Do you want an infant seat or a convertible car seat? You can also choose whether you want a travel system or separate car seat and stroller set. Each option comes with positive and negatives, and the answer is different for every family.
Infant car seats are designed for infants only, accommodating babies from usually around five to 30 lbs. They are the safest option for small babies because they cradle them in a reclining position and protect against impact from all sides. The other great thing about infant car seats is that you can remove them and either carry or attach them to a stroller, so you do not have to wake a sleeping baby every time you get out of the car. This is a lifesaver while running errands! Parents of twins will especially appreciate the ease of transporting their babies in and out of the car using a car seat compatible stroller.
Convertible car seats are in it for the long haul. They are used from around five to 100 lbs, lasting well into your child’s toddler years without the need to upgrade to a new seat. They can be more expensive than infant seats and are much heavier, often with heavy duty stainless steel frames for maximum impact protection. Most convertible seats have adjustable headrests that grow with your child and can be used in both rear and front facing configurations.
Car seats are essential for new parents, which makes them great baby shower gifts as well. Here are our favorite picks for 2017 to match any style and budget.
1. Baby Jogger 2016 City Go Car Seat
Baby Jogger is a leading brand in strollers for active parents, with a three wheel design that makes it easy to push the stroller on any terrain. They also make safe and stylish car seats that easily latch on to their strollers for easy transfers to and from the car. The City Go car seat can be attached with out without a base, so you can take it in your own car or in a taxi or any other vehicle using the seat belt. There is an easy push-button latch system for quick and easy base installation as well. The base has six adjustable positions and is easy to install in your car. This is a rear-facing only seat, which fits babies from 4 to 35 lbs and up to 35″. Baby Jogger car seats are engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed US standard FMVSS 213.
According to reviews, the car seat fabric is very soft, and has plenty of padding for newborns. It comes in two unisex colors – Black or Steel Grey. The seat is also wide enough to be comfortable for chubby babies, and has a smoothly rounded bottom for easy rocking when placed on the ground. This is a great way to soothe fussy babies or gently rock your baby back to sleep if they wake up in their car seat, but with some other car seats the rocking motion is not very smooth, so this is a great feature on the Bay Jogger City Go.
Price: $229.99 with free shipping
Watch an introductory video here.
- Easy to transfer from car to any Baby Jogger stroller
- Can be installed with or without the base with equal safety ratings
- Has soft, plush fabric and an extended UV 50+ canopy
- Stroller adapters are not included
- The canopy is loud when you extend it
- Does not convert into a front facing toddler seat
2. Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat
This infant car seat from Baby Trend is a great option for smaller budgets that does not compromise on quality. If you purchase an infant-only car seat, your baby is only going to be in it for about the first eight months or fewer, so for some people it just does not make sense to spend hundreds of dollars when a less expensive seat is just as safe for baby. This seat features an easy to use, one-hand adjust five-point harness with a quick push button release. This is a great feature when you consider how many times you are going to be taking your baby in and out of the seat. This car seat also snaps into Baby Trend jogging strollers and regular strollers for a custom travel system.
The base is easy to install with Baby Trend’s Flex-lock latch system and four-position push button adjuster with a level indicator. This seat features an easy to use, one-hand adjust five-point harness with a quick push button release. This is a great feature when you consider how many times you are going to be taking your baby in and out of the seat. The base is easy to install with Baby Trend’s Flex-lock latch system and four-position push button adjuster. And best of all, Baby Trend goes above and beyond safety requirements with this car seat, proving that you do not have to sacrifice safety for a cheaper price tag.
Price: $89.99 with free shipping
Watch a review video here.
- Narrow footprint makes it easy to install next to additional car seats
- Very affordable compared to other options
- Reviewers loved the breathable seat material and handle design
- The buckle can be difficult to use until you get used to it
- Not suitable for very small babies under 5 lbs
- Does not have strap protectors
3. BOB B-SAFE 35 Infant Car Seat
Stroller manufacturer BOB has teamed up with car seat manufacturer Britax to bring you the B-Safe 35 car seat. BOB car seats are known for their durability, style and easy fold and go storage. Using an adapter (sold separately) you can easily attach this infant car seat to your BOB stroller for a custom travel system.
The B-Safe car seat comes with Safecell Impact Protection, Britax’s world class safety components including steel frame, compression base to absorb energy curing a crash and topside impact protection. There is also a deep shell with energy absorbing foam to protect baby in a side collision – the most common form of collision and the kind that results in the most serious injuries as well. This car seat also has a space saving design to take up less room in the car, and with extra easy installation.
Price: $184 with free shipping
Watch a review video here.
- Easily integrates with BOB strollers
- Includes Britax standard safety features and a solid steel frame and impact-absorbing base
- Quick and easy to install with or without the base
- Stroller adapter is sold separately
- Seat is heavier than some other options
- Some reviewers found it hard to install on older model BOB strollers
4. Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat
If you are a fan of Britax products but do not need easy integration with a BOB stroller, the B Safe Elite is their top of the line infant car seat. It includes Britax’s exclusive SafeCell Impact Protection system and has an added extra layer of side impact protection for even more security for your baby. This car seat is made in the U.S. of imported materials. The cover is easy to remove for washing, and the harness is super easy to adjust as baby grows older. This means you do not have to rethread it to make it fit your growing baby. Britax is the #1 brand in car seat safety technology, and their SafeCell system includes an all steel frame and compressing base that absorbs impact energy. The base is super easy to install with pull straps and quick, push button latch connectors.
Price: $189 to $199 depending on color, with free shipping
Watch an installation video here.
- Constructed with a steel frame, extra layer of side impact protection and compressing base to absorb impact energy
- Premium fabrics, padding & easy-remove cover
- Contoured shell was designed to take up less space in the car than most scar seats
- More expensive than most other car seats
- Car seat is heavier than some other models
- The extra head foam may be too bulky for some larger babies
5. Britax USA Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
Here is another fantastic car seat from Britax, this time a convertible seat that will last until your baby is a toddler and facing front. This model includes the same SafeCell Impact Protection system, with a steel frame, impact energy absorbing base, staged-release stitching to slow and reduce forward movement,and V-shaped tether to minimize seat rotation. A deep foam-lined shell provides serious side impact protection by absorbing energy and shielding baby from the most dangerous type of collision. The harness is quick to adjust in any of 12 positions and the buckle also has two positions to choose from. This provides a more comfortable and secure fit for your baby as they grow. This car seat also features a seven position reclining feature with an automatic level indicator, giving you the best installation angle for your vehicle as well as maximum comfort for your child at any age. Britax’s Click Tight installation also makes it incredibly easy to install the base in your car.
Price: $255 with free shipping
Watch a manufacturer’s video here.
- Extra deep side impact energy absorbing shell for maximum safety
- The push button shoulder height adjustment can get stuck from time to time
- The strap adjuster is a recessed button which collects a lot of crumbs and is hard to clean
- The car seat is bulky and takes up a lot of room, especially when front facing
- Reviewers had difficulty adjusting leg and crotch straps
- The car seat is very heavy compared with others
6. Maxi-Cosi Mico AP Infant Car Seat
Here is a sleek and stylish car seat from Maxi-Cosi that has all of the safety features you would expect in an infant car seat. The Mico includes Air Protect side impact protection and an easy to install base to keep in your car. The car sear itself is the lightest on the market and fits babies from five to 22 lbs, up to 29″. They have an innovative design for their cover fabrics which allows you to remove the cover for easy cleaning without having to rethread the harness straps. Believe me, you will appreciate this! The fabric itself is self-wicking with premium padding underneath to keep your baby dry and comfortable. This car seat comes in five colors and is the only one I have found that offers solid colors with no highlight colors or patterns. You can even use this stroller with a Maxi-Cosi Quinny stroller for an easy custom travel system.
Price: $199.99 with free shipping
Watch a review video here.
- Lightest infant car seat on the market
- The only car seat that comes in a solid color option with no highlight colors or cutesy patterns
- Self-wicking fabric cover keeps baby dry and comfy, and is easy to remove without rethreading harness
- Some reviewers felt that the shade canopy is flimsy
- Very narrow, which can be too small for broad shouldered babies
- The car seat does not fit in many “one size fits all” travel bags
7. Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat
Chicco is a classic brand for car seats, and you can count on the utmost safety when you purchase their products. Their Keyfit infant car seat is listed as the easiest car seat to install, and the number one rated infant car seat in America. it has an easy adjust five point harness that can be adjusted one handed, and a spring assisted level foot, bubble levels and center pull adjustment for easy installation. The car seat is designed for babies from four to 30 lbs and comes with an insert for infants from four to 11 lbs to protect their wobbly heads.
The seat is lined with energy absorbing foam for impact protection and it has an adjustable canopy as well. The handle is ergonomically designed for easy carrying, and the seat is compatible with multiple Chicco strollers to create a custom travel system.
Price: $199.99 with free shipping
Watch a demo video here.
- Super easy installation, and seat can be used with or without base
- Base has a smooth underside to protect vehicle seats from any damage
- Lasts longer than other seats at a 30 lb max
- The seat sits higher than some others and is not light weight
- Reviewers had issues with the canopy
- The fabric is not breathable so it can get hot and sweaty
8. Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
Here is another fantastic car seat from Chicco with a lot of great features. The NextFIt is a convertible car seat, so it will fit your baby from infancy to toddlerhood or from four to 65 lbs. The seat can be rear facing from five to 40 lbs, and forward facing from 22 to 65 lbs. There are also a number of special features that this seat has that you will not find in other seats.
The NextFit is designed for easy and secure installation in any car. It has a nine position levelling recline feature, the most out of any convertible car seat for an accurate fit in more vehicles. It also has a SuperCinch latch tightener that makes it easy to secure the base super tightly with the seat belt with less effort. The seat also comes with a removable infant insert and a height adjustable headrest that grows with your child at the push of a button, also adjusting the harnesses automatically when you move the headrest up and down.
Price: $299.99 with free shipping
Watch a review video here.
- Easy to install in more vehicles with nine position reclining and SuperCinch latch tightener
- Securely fits babies from four lbs to 65 lbs
- Takes up less space in the car than other seats
- Some reviewers had a hard time with seat belt installation and found it hard to understand
- Reviewers found this car seat hard to transport
- The fabric is not breathable and gets hot
9. Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat
Graco has long been one of the top brands in car seats, and the my Ride 65 goes to show why. This car seat is affordable, super safe and has a lot of the features you find on more expensive seats. This car seat is equipped with energy absorbing foam for impact protection, a LATCH equipped harness system, easy to adjust five point harness and level indicators for easy and quick installation. The cover is fully removable and machine washable. The My Ride car seat accommodates children from five to 40 lbs rear facing, and 20 to 65 lbs front facing.
Price: $100 with free shipping
Watch an unboxing video here.
- Less expensive than many other convertible car seats
- Meets all required safety standards for infants and toddlers
- Includes two built in cup holders
- Harness has to be rethreaded to adjust shoulder height
- The seat does not have a recline feature
- Does not have the easy installation features of more pricey seats
10. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat
Last but not least, here is a great infant car seat from Graco that is very affordable. I personally used this car seat with my son when he was a newborn up until he was about 6 months old. He is a very big boy so we ended up upgrading to a convertible car seat before hitting the 30 lb limit for the SnugRide. This is a safe and well designed seat, and it comes with an infant insert to keep your tiny newborn’s head and neck secure. This seat easily integrates with a number of Graco strollers, including jogging strollers. It has a big canopy to protect your baby from the sun, and is very easy to install with or without the base. Some of the negatives that I experienced with this car seat are that the fabric is not breathable or comfy against a baby’s skin, and on a big baby the shoulder and leg straps are awkwardly placed and may leave marks on their skin.
Price: $107.99 with free shipping
Watch a review video here.
- Less expensive than many other car seats
- Rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed safety standards
- Click Connect assures you that the seat is properly installed every time
- The fabric is not breathable at all and gets hot for baby
- The car seat is heavier than many other infant seats at 7.5 lbs
- The infant insert feels flimsy and does not have much padding