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When it comes to your newborn, arguably one of the things that need to be of the best quality and highest safety standards is your infant’s car seat. Not only is it imperative to keep your baby safe while driving, but it’s also used to transport your baby from the car to your home, the store, the park, and many other places. The problem here is that there are so many infant car seats to choose from and not every car seat is good for infants. Each promises to be better than the last, so how do you know which car seats truly deliver on their promises and which ones are less user-friendly and a waste of money?
The Drive’s staff are parents many, many times over and our handy buying guide and product recommendations will have you making a great selection in no time.
Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
- Comprehensive all-in-one system
- Material is easy to clean and machine washable
- Car seat base is substantial
- Stroller basket doesn’t secure items very well
- Front wheels can be tough to steer on uneven ground
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
- Subjected to rigorous safety tests to ensure quality
- Compatible with Chicco stroller systems
- Two-point buckling allows for quick and easy cinching of harness
- Must purchase stroller separately
- Cleaning can be difficult
Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat
- Will grow with your child through all stages
- Audio cue lets you know when the seat is properly installed
- Quick-adjust headrest features 10 positions
- Bulky and not portable
- Best Overall: Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
- Best Value: Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
- Best Convertible Car Seat: Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat
- Honorable Mention: Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat
- Best for Small Cars: Britax B-Safe Gen2 Flexfit Infant Car Seat
- Best Lightweight: Evenflo LiteMax Sport Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat
- Best for Travel: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Car Seat
- Best to Toddler: Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
When it comes to infant car seats, we are no strangers to the trials and tribulations of selecting, installing, and cleaning these bulky baby transporters. We’ve had a few ragtag groups of infants we’ve had to transport over the years and we recognize that there’s no one perfect car seat out there for everyone. So in choosing our list of top picks, we wanted to offer a diverse range of seats.
We stuck to the name-brand offerings, kept the price within reason, and ensured that safety was our highest priority in terms of offerings. And if you’d like more about our selection criteria and methodology, check out The Drive’s Gear About page.
Best Infant Car Seats: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
A comprehensive all-in-one system
Material is easy to clean and machine washable
Car seat base is substantial
Stroller basket doesn’t secure items very well
Front wheels can be tough to steer on uneven ground
In terms of practicality, design, reliability, safety, and price, the Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System is our top pick for the best overall infant car seat. Available for the price of an average car seat, this two-in-one seat/stroller will save you money but still deliver the reliability and safety you want. The multipurpose set is equipped with an ultra-safe car seat as its base, an anti-rebound bar that limits movement in front-impact accidents, and a stroller that the seat clips into.
In addition, the seat can face forward or toward you in the stroller, at the click of a button, and an integrated belt-lock system provides you with peace of mind knowing that the base is secure at all times. Handling up to 50 pounds, it’s a great option if you're looking for a multipurpose product that grows with your infant. One drawback is that the basket at the bottom of the stroller could be deeper, as items reportedly can fall out of it too easily. The front wheels are also not the best on uneven or rugged terrain, but the stroller is icing on the cake in this instance.
Best Value: Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Subjected to rigorous safety tests to ensure quality
Compatible with Chicco stroller systems
Two-point buckling allows for quick and easy cinching of harness
Must purchase stroller separately
Cleaning can be difficult
Routinely rated as one of the best infant car seats in the United States, the Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat makes for a great choice for your baby. Made from durable materials that have been tested to the highest standards, the seat is meant to be cushioned and comfortable for any infant. Newborns and smaller infants can be supported by the removable head and body supports, making it a customizable and safe fit for even the smallest of babies. And tightening the 5-point harness for a snug fit is a breeze with its one-pull strap.
Attach the base of the car seat to your vehicle’s LATCH system and the stay-in-car system gives the seat great ease of use. Another great feature is that it clicks into compatible Chicco strollers with equal ease, making the perfect travel system. The one downside we noticed is properly cleaning the car seat can be a bit difficult, as removing the cushioned pads means disassembling a large part of the seat itself, making the task quite an ordeal.
Best Convertible Car Seat: Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat
Will grow with your child through all stages
Audio cue lets you know when the seat is properly installed
Quick-adjust headrest features 10 positions
Bulky and not portable
The Graco 4Ever is a convertible car seat that’s designed to offer up to 10 years of use as it can transform from a rear-facing car seat (supports 4- to 40-pound infants to toddlers) to a forward-facing car seat (supports 22- to 65-pound children), a high back seat booster (supports 40- to 100-pound children), and a backless booster (supports 40- to 120-pound children). The headrest can be adjusted 10 ways and the seat can recline to six positions to keep your child comfortable as they grow. It’s designed with a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, which allows you to adjust both the harness and headrest in one motion. Graco’s InRight Latch system features an audible click cue that lets you know that the seat is secured.
The seat is designed to protect from frontal, side, and rear impacts, and the cover is machine-washable. However, all these frills don’t come cheap and you should expect to spend a decent amount of money on this car seat, though it’s from the best in the business. It’s also quite bulky and heavy, and it’s not designed with portability in mind. Managing Editor Jonathon Klein actually owns two of these car seats and he can attest to how much of a pain these are to move from one car to another.
Honorable Mention: Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat
Designed for a lifetime of use
In-seat reclining feature protects your baby’s neck
Easy to install
Bulky and cumbersome
Harness isn’t as user-friendly as some other models
The Evenflo EveryStage is a convertible car seat that will grow with your infant until they are 120 pounds. Its three-in-one design includes a rear-facing position, a forward-facing position, and a booster iteration to ensure your growing child is safe no matter their size. And the 5-position in-seat reclining feature helps to keep the seat at a comfortable angle to prevent head slump and to keep the child’s airway open as they sleep.
Installing it is easy-peasy thanks to the EasyClick Latch system that helps to ensure the seat stays put, no matter how much the vehicle moves around or your infant wiggles. Since it has a no-rethread harness, you can adjust the height of the recliner with just one hand by pulling it up or pushing it down and the seat also includes two dishwasher-safe cup holders, as well as a removable and machine-washable car seat pad. However, it’s a bulky design and may take up a lot of space in the rear seat of some car models, which can make for an uncomfortable sitting experience for the other passengers in the rear seat.
Best for Small Cars: Britax B-Safe Gen2 Flexfit Infant Car Seat
Super soft and comfortable padding
Added safety features to protect your baby in a crash
Deep seat design cradles your infant
Heavier than some models
Installation instructions lack clarity even though they use LATCH points
As the name suggests, the Britax B-Safe is a car seat that comes with a plethora of safety features. Everything is designed to protect your baby from impacts, starting from the deep, narrow seat with two layers of energy-absorbing foam for side and head impact protection. An impact-absorbing base coupled with an impact-stabilizing steel frame helps to limit forward movement or seat rotation in the event of a collision. And LATCH points secure the seat base to the car.
It has a built-in seat belt lock-off feature, which ensures that the infant seat remains secure on the car’s seat, as well as a level indicator that lets you know if the seat is at the right angle. A European belt guide allows for safe installation when the base is detached and for added comfort, the seat is designed with breathable mesh fabric for enhanced airflow, which helps to keep the seat cool. The cover is removable for easy cleaning, however, it’s a bit on the heavy side because of the steel frame.
Best Lightweight: Evenflo LiteMax Sport Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat
Clean, modern design
Ergonomic carrying handle
Only designed for rear-facing needs
Not sold as part of a travel system
If you’re looking for a highly portable and an easy-to-carry infant car seat, check out the Evenflo LiteMax Sport Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat. Weighing in at a mere 8 pounds, this is one of the lightest car seats on the market. It’s designed for rear-facing set-ups only, with approved weight ranges between 4 and 35 pounds and 17 and 32 inches in height. It features a well-designed, ergonomic handle that is easier and more comfortable to carry than a lot of competing models.
This seat also meets or exceeds all federal safety standards to provide your infant with reliable protection in a crash and has a straightforward and sleek canopy that helps keep your baby guarded against wind, sun, and rain. The drawback to this seat is that it doesn’t come as a travel system, so you’ll need to purchase your stroller separately. It’s also only meant for the rear-facing position, so it won’t last you as long as some other options on our list.
Best for Travel: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Car Seat
Lightweight and portable design
Energy management system absorbs impact forces in a crash
Substantial cushioning to cradle your baby
Only suitable for rear-facing needs
Designed for travel in mind, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is an infant car seat that both protects the baby from the elements and the impact of a collision, as well as is designed for easy-of-movement. It features a seat base, load leg, and an anti-rebound bar, which can help to prevent car seat rotation by about 50 percent in the event of a collision. Also, an Energy Management Foot at the base of the load leg helps to transfer the impact energy away from the baby.
Elsewhere, when it's too sunny in the car or when you need to use the infant seat on a stroller, you can fully extend the UPF 50+ hood to protect the baby from the elements. And it has a mesh side netting to provide ventilation. In addition, it features a Dual Stage Cushion System that’s designed to provide continuous support to a growing baby. Stage 1 protects the newborn's neck and bottom, while Stage 2 cushions your growing baby. Though the car seat has plenty of cushioning to keep your baby comfortable, it can be quite challenging to adjust the straps, and you may have to readjust them every time you strap in the baby. Also, it’s quite expensive.
Best to Toddler: Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Seat can rotate up to 360 degrees for easy access
Designed to be used for the entirety of your child’s car seat needs
14 position quick-adjust headrest
Seat padding is not as thick and cushioned as on some other models
The newer designs of rotating car seats provide quick and easy access to your child from anywhere in your car, and the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat makes getting your baby in and out of the seat a breeze. It provides 360 degrees of rotation so you can get to your child quickly and without dealing with awkward angles. This model features the Sure360 Safety Installation System with a substantial tether that’s designed to minimize motion and jarring in the event of an accident.
Like many others, this convertible car seat will provide comfort and protection for your child for years to come. It’s suitable for use in children ranging between 4 and 120 pounds, which is good because it comes with a very hefty price tag. It also offers a fun on-the-go recline feature that adjusts quickly and easily without the need to uninstall and reinstall, saving you time and frustration. Dual cup holders are a nice added feature, and though the padding on this seat is not as thick or cushioned as on some other models, it’s very soft.
Our Verdict on Infant Car Seats
With such a vast selection of infant car seats on the market, it’s tough to choose just one, but our top pick for the best overall infant car seat has to be the Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System. Available for the price of an average car seat, this two-in-one seat/stroller will save you money but still deliver the reliability you need. For a safe and reliable budget-friendly option, we like the Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat. It’s got a lot of high-end features that you find in pricier models.
What to Consider When Buying an Infant Car Seat
When it comes to infant car seats, the choices are widely varied and can be very confusing. Our informative buying guide, as well as our Everything You Need to Know About Car Seats article, will have you weed through the options and quickly and confidently selecting the best infant car seat to suit your needs in no time.
Types of Infant Car Seats
These seats are rear-facing, often have carrying handles, and are attached to the car via a stationary base. They’re intended for babies that weigh between 4 and 40 pounds. You can move the base from one car to another, or even latch it into a stroller system. The major benefit is that the carrier itself is highly portable and doesn’t require you to take the baby in and out of it whenever you want to go anywhere.
Convertible Car Seat
An easy-to-install convertible car seat is designed for toddlers and babies in both rear-facing and forward-facing positions. A good rear- and forward-facing convertible car seat may have the ability to convert to either a highback booster seat or backless booster seat. The weight limit is usually between 65-120 pounds, depending on whether the convertible seat can be transitioned into a booster seat.
Infant Car Seat Key Features
Make sure you know how much space your backseat has for a car seat, as they’re larger than you might initially think. And keep in mind that the safest spot for your child’s car seat is in the middle position, so measure the size of the seat and shop with those measurements in mind. A larger car seat might not fit in a smaller car, for instance. Likewise, if you have multiple children, and all of them are in car seats, you’ll have to keep those measurements in mind as well.
Infant car seats typically come with one of three harness systems: the three-point, the five-point, and the T-shield. Five-point harness systems are the safest, as they reduce the neck and crotch forces on your baby in the event of a crash. They’re also the most adjustable and customizable, making for a safe, secure, and comfortable fit for your child.
Safety and Comfort
Padding, support, and cushioning all play a role in the safety and comfort factor. Basic seats will often lack some of these important safety features, so look for side-impact protection in the form of foam or air pads on the sides as a minimum. The best car seats will have additional safety and comfort features in the form of an anti-rebound bar, a boot to protect the baby’s feet, and a larger canopy.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) has been a safety requirement for car seats in the U.S. since 2002. Vehicles are fitted with three seat anchors that you attach your car seat to in order to provide added safety and security in the event of an accident. The maximum weight limit of the car seat and child combined should not exceed 65 pounds in order for the LATCH system to function reliably. ISOFIX (Internal Standards Organisation Fix) is the EU equivalent of LATCH.
Infant Car Seat Pricing
When it comes to infant car seat pricing, there is a wide range of options. For under $100, you can get a decent, reliable car seat that’s mainly constructed from rugged and durable plastics. Fabrics are basic and easy to clean, but may not be super long-lasting or soft on baby’s skin. Between $100 and $250 is where the main bulk of infant car seats live. These options include higher safety standards and more features, like dual cup holders, softer fabrics, and more ergonomic setups. Once you get over $250, you’re getting into the upper echelon of car seats that are made from the most rugged and lightweight materials, extra padding that is super soft and quick drying, and the most user-friendly features.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!
Q: How long can my baby stay in an infant car seat?
A: This depends on the growth and development of your child. Most guidelines used to suggest that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach two years, but the modern guidelines are based on their weight and height. Those exact guidelines, however, varies from brand to brand. Convertible seats are a good option as well, as these will last through the toddler years until your child is ready for a booster seat.
Q: Do infant car seats have an expiration date?
A: It might sound strange that a car seat can expire, but that’s the case for infant car seats. Most will have a date of expiration stamped on the manufacturer label, while others show the date of manufacturing. In general, infant car seats expire between 7-10 years after manufacturing, depending on brand to brand. For safety reasons, don’t use an expired infant car seat.
Q: Is it safe to use a second-hand car seat?
A: Generally, it’s not a good idea to rely on a second-hand car seat to keep your child safe. New seats are tested for their ability to withstand the forces of a crash and will offer the best protection for your child. Used car seats may have weakened structurally from use, even if they look undamaged from the outside, so it’s worth investing in a new, quality seat.
Q: Where should I position my infant car seat?
A: The right position inside your car will make all the difference in keeping your baby safe. It’s important to remember that rear-facing car seats should never be placed in the front seat. The middle position is preferred since it’s away from side passenger airbags that may cause injury to your young child.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more