Reviews

Best Infant Car Seats (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Keep your baby safe, snug, and secure with these top-of-the-line infant car seats

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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON November 10, 2021

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.

Best Overall
Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Comprehensive all-in-one system
  • Material is easy to clean and machine washable
  • Car seat base is substantial
Cons
Cons
  • Stroller basket doesn’t secure items very well
  • Front wheels can be tough to steer on uneven ground
Best Overall
Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
Best Value
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
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Summary
Summary

Made from durable materials that have been tested to the highest standards, the seat is cushioned and comfortable.

Pros
Pros
  • Subjected to rigorous safety tests to ensure quality
  • Compatible with Chicco stroller systems
  • Two-point buckling allows for quick and easy cinching of harness
Cons
Cons
  • Must purchase stroller separately
  • Cleaning can be difficult
Best Value
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Honorable Mention
Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat
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Summary
Summary

This 3-in-1 design convertible car seat that will grow with your infant until they are 120 pounds.

Pros
Pros
  • Designed for a lifetime of use
  • In-seat reclining feature protects your baby’s neck
  • Easy to install
Cons
Cons
  • Bulky and cumbersome
  • Harness isn’t as user-friendly as some other models
Honorable Mention
Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat
Infant Car Seat Close Up
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Our Methodology

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 Seat Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System

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.


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Evenflo
  • Model: ‎560131993A
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-35 pounds

Pros:

  • A comprehensive all-in-one system
  • Material is easy to clean and machine washable
  • Car seat base is substantial

Cons:

  • Stroller basket doesn’t secure items very well
  • Front wheels can be tough to steer on uneven ground
Best Value
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat

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.


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Chicco
  • Model: ‎05079578160070
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-22 pounds

Pros:

  • Subjected to rigorous safety tests to ensure quality
  • Compatible with Chicco stroller systems
  • Two-point buckling allows for quick and easy cinching of harness

Cons:

  • Must purchase stroller separately
  • Cleaning can be difficult
Honorable Mention
Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat

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. 


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Evenflo
  • Model: ‎‎39212240
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-120 pounds

Pros:

  • Designed for a lifetime of use
  • In-seat reclining feature protects your baby’s neck
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Bulky and cumbersome
  • Harness isn’t as user-friendly as some other models
Best Convertible
Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat

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. 


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Graco
  • Model: ‎‎2074900
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-120 pounds

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Bulky and not portable
Best for Small Cars
Britax B-Safe Gen2 Flexfit Infant Car Seat

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.  


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Britax
  • Model: ‎‎‎E1C749S
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-35 pounds

Pros:

  • Super soft and comfortable padding
  • Added safety features to protect your baby in a crash
  • Deep seat design cradles your infant

Cons:

  • Heavier than some models
  • Installation instructions lack clarity even though they use LATCH points
Best Lightweight
Evenflo LiteMax Sport Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat

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.


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Evenflo
  • Model: ‎‎30512387
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-35 pounds

Pros:

  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Clean, modern design
  • Ergonomic carrying handle

Cons:

  • Only designed for rear-facing needs
  • Not sold as part of a travel system
Best for Travel
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Car Seat

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.


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Peg Perego
  • Model: ‎‎IMPV04US35DX13TS13
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-35 pounds

Pros:

  • Lightweight and portable design
  • Energy management system absorbs impact forces in a crash
  • Substantial cushioning to cradle your baby

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only suitable for rear-facing needs
Best to Toddler
Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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.


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Evenflo
  • Model: 35312310
  • Weight Allowances: 4-120 pounds

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Seat padding is not as thick and cushioned as on some other models
Best Stroller Combo
Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System

If you’re looking for the ultimate travel system with a high-quality stroller that can work on almost any type of terrain, consider the Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System. As with every other infant seat, the construction includes a five-point safety harness with easy one-hand adjustment and the push-button release to secure your child, while an adjustable leveling base attaches the seat securely to your car. EPS energy-absorbing foam creates superior side impact protection, and the seat pads are removable and washable.


As an added benefit, the set includes a stroller that features extra-large bicycle-type tires that easily maneuver over almost any surface. A convenient parent tray with cup holders, a front swivel wheel with a locking mechanism, a covered storage compartment, an extra-wide ergonomic handle, and an easy-trigger fold round out the feature set. Overall, this is a great value pick that will accommodate kiddos up to 50 pounds and 42 inches tall, so your little one won’t outgrow it too quickly. 


Product Specs:

  • Brand: Baby Trend
  • Model: ‎TJ94312
  • Approved Weight Range: 4-50 pounds

Pros:

  • Large wheels allow the stroller to traverse uneven terrain with ease
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam protects your baby during a crash
  • Can accommodate babies up to 50 pounds

Cons:

  • Components aren’t the most durable quality
  • Stroller is big and bulky compared to some other styles

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 weeding 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

Rear-Facing

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

Car Fit

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.

Harness System

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/ISOFIX

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 Brands To Know

Britax

Founded in 1938, Britax has been in the business of making quality childcare products for over 80 years. Headquartered in the UK, it’s a global innovator in car seats, strollers, and high chairs. Its most popular products include the Britax Allegiance 3-Stage Convertible Car Seat and the B-Safe Ultra.

Graco

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graco has been innovating practical solutions to parenting problems for over 60 years. Manufacturing high-quality car child seats, it’s a name you can trust. Some of its most popular products include the Graco SnugRide Snuglock 35 XT and the Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat.

Evenflo

Evenflo has been engaged in the design, research, and development of childcare products since 1920. This established global brand is based in Miamisburg, Ohio, and is one of the best on the market. The Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat is one of its best-selling infant car seats. 

Chicco

Chicco is an Italian company that was founded by Pietro Catelli in 1958. The former developer of pharmaceutical devices dedicated himself to developing and improving solutions for parents and babies following the birth of his own son. Today, the Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat is one of the top selling and highest safety rated infant car seats sold in the United States.

Peg Perego

Peg Perego is another Italian company that was founded by Giuseppe Perego in 1949. He single-handedly revolutionized the stroller industry by developing modern strollers that were constructed from “rubberized fabric” versus the traditional materials of wicker and sheet metal. Today, the Italian-made Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Car Seat is considered by many to be one of the most top-of-the-line infant car seats on the market.

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.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and infant car seats. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Always be sure to follow installation instructions and tutorials when installing a new car seat to ensure the utmost safety. 
  • Consider having your car seat setup checked by a professional as an added level of precaution.
  • If you have a compact or smaller car, be sure to measure your back seat prior to purchasing an infant car seat to be sure you’ll be able to fit it in your vehicle.
  • Never leave a child alone in the car unattended. If necessary, purchase a car seat alarm or download an app to ensure that you don't leave your child in his or her seat.
  • For rear-facing car seats, consider installing a headrest mirror that allows you to quickly and easily view your baby from the front seat of your car while driving.
  • If the seat and the child combined weigh more than 65 pounds, do not use the LATCH system. Instead, attach the car seat with a seat belt.

FAQs 

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.