A Complete Guide to the Best Baby Car Seats
As a parent, you always want the best for your baby. A good car seat can save your baby’s life in case of a collision. An ideal baby car seat needs to be comfortable, safe, sturdy, in accordance with your baby’s height/ weight and in compliance with the safety standards. Also, it needs to be of good quality and should be reasonably priced. An expensive baby car seat may not be the safest one, so you need to make sure you have done your research because the safety of your baby is what matters the most.
Types of Baby Car Seat
There are four main types of car seats:
An Infant Car Seat is the one you will bring home your baby in. It is rear-facing and generally has a detachable top to serve as a baby-carrier. Ideal for newborns till they are around 8 to 10 months old, you need to upgrade to a bigger car seat once your baby exceeds the height limits or reaches around 40 lbs.
Once you notice your little one outgrowing the Infant Car Seat – which is normally around the time of his first birthday, you need to go for a Convertible Seat which can be installed in both rear and forward-facing manners – depending upon your baby’s age. Many manufacturers allow forward-facing car seats once your baby blows his first candle, however it is generally recommended to go for a rear-facing baby car seat until your baby is 2 years old or reaches a bodyweight of 65 lbs. Once this age/weight limit is achieved, you can turn the car seat and your baby can enjoy a forward-facing ride till he is old enough to qualify for a Booster Seat.
A Booster Car Seat may have a high back or can be backless. It provides a comfortable base to your child’s body and raises him so that your child can use the car’s seatbelt. As a rule, your child needs to be 85 lbs. or at least 9 years old to qualify for a booster.
You can always go for an All-in-One Car Seat, that can be with your child from the day he is born till he is 10 years old. These car seats transition from an infant car seat to a booster by handling a 4 lbs. baby till he is 65 lbs. and saves the parent some money. However, the all-in-one car seats are generally large and heavy, and often they don’t have a detachable carrier for newborns.
What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?
An Infant Car Seat is your newborn’s very first car seat which will bring your bundle of joy from the hospital to his very first home. So, if you find yourself being overwhelmed by the choices that your local baby-store or the internet offers, you are not alone. It is quite natural to feel nervous about the process of researching and purchasing the most perfect infant car seat for your most perfect little thing. Let us help you out.
There are few things you need to keep in mind while looking for an infant car seat:
- your baby’s weight, height, and age
- whether the car seat meets safety standards
- level of ease in installation and handling
- your budget
The acceptable weight limit depends upon the model and specifications of your infant car seat company. A general rule is to use an infant car seat for a baby who is between 4 and 40 lbs. of weight. Babies often reach the maximum height allowed in an infant car seat before they reach the maximum weight level. A good way to check the height limit is if the distance between the top of the car seat and the top of your baby’s head is less than one inch, it is time to move on to a bigger car seat.
Best Baby Car Seats – Our Top 5
Here are our top 5 baby car seats for you:
Graco 4Ever 4 in 1 Car Seat
Wouldn’t it be great to have a car seat that your baby can use from his first day till he is 10 years old and finally outgrows the need for using a safety seat? Graco’s 4Ever 4 in 1 Car Seat feature its TrueShield technology that promises you 10 years with one car seat. It transitions from a rear-facing infant car seat (4 to 40 lbs.) to a front-facing convertible seat (22 to 65 lbs.), and then to a high-back booster seat (40 to 100 lbs.) to finally a backless booster (40 to 120 lbs.). Easy to take off machine-washable seat covers ensure that your baby is protected from not only accidents but germs too.
Keeping your growing baby in mind, Graco provides a 5-point harness and 10-position adjustable headrest which you can set without rethreading the seatbelt, something which is a blessing for parents. The seat has 6 different reclining positions, and the latch can be easily attached using an audible click sound that ensures its secure installation. The buckles and chest-clip are easy to use and strong enough to keep your baby comfortably tight.
The only drawback could be its 24 pounds of weight which does not make it convenient to switch between cars. However, keep in mind that this extremely sturdy car seat is made of steel and would probably be the only car seat you’ll ever have to buy for your baby.
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is built to grow with your baby. From rear-facing infant seat (5 to 40 lbs.) to front-facing baby seat (22 to 65 lbs.) and finally transitioning to belt-positioning booster seat (40 to 100 lbs.), the Go 3-in-1 promises to serve your baby at every stage, and weight! When in a rear-facing position, the car seat is designed to provide extra legroom in the front seat without compromising on your baby’s protection. And while your growing child is bound to spill stuff, the seat pads are machine-washable and dryer-safe.
The easy-in and easy-out belt-hook technology guarantees to make buckling a breeze. The side impact protection provides extra safety to your little traveler, and although most parents dread adjusting the harness and headrest, the Grow and Go introduces QuickFit harness that makes sure that the seat can be adjusted very easily.
Some new parents find the first-time installation process a little hard. However, if you install it a couple of times (only if you have to take it out frequently) it should not be a problem. In short, if you are looking for a convertible car seat that can be with your baby from day one to the time he won’t be needing any additional car safety anymore, this could be the one for you.
Chicco KeyFit 30
If you believe that safely installing a car seat is no less than rocket science, Chicco KeyFit 30 is for you. KeyFit 30 is easy to install and has a 5-point harness with one pull-tightener. Its removable canopy provides shade to your little traveler. The stay-in-car base has the technology of level indicators to make sure your baby is at a proper angle in the car seat. What sets it apart is the ease at which latch connectors and tightener work to make the car seat super secure without taking much time or effort.
Specially designed for parents who are on the go, the KeyFit 30 can be used with compatible strollers from Chicco. The base of the carrier fixes securely with the stroller with a reassuring audible click.
Chicco KeyFit 30 does not only take care of your baby but the vehicle as well. The EPS energy-absorbing foam ensures greater impact protection for the baby, whereas the seat’s smooth underside helps protect your seat from any potential damage. It includes removable head and body support, making it ideal for preemies.
The only drawback it has is the weight/ height limit. While many competitors offer a wider weight and height limit, your baby can safely travel in Chicco KeyFit 30 till his height is 30 inches or weight 30 lbs.
Britax Advocate ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat
The Britax Advocate Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB) Car Seat could well be the one you are looking for. It promises easy installation and an extra layer of protection for your baby. The Click Tight feature ensures that every time you install the car seat, it will be safe, secure and easy to do so. Once you get the hang of it, installing the seatbelt can be a quick process. All you need to do is do rotate the Click Tight feature clockwise and pull the seat up. You do not need to undergo the hassle of getting under a heavy baby seat to make sure the installation is secure.
The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB Convertible Car Seat is ideal for a rear-facing baby of 5 to 40 lbs. and a forward-facing baby of 20 to 65 lbs. When used rear-faced, the Anti-Rebound padded steel bar is designed to minimize the crash force in case of an accident.
If you need to install your baby’s car seat in and out of the car multiple times a week, you may find Britax Advocate a bit heavy on your muscles. For some, this could be a drawback but in case of a collision, the weight of this convertible car seat is a big plus. Weighing a little over 30 lbs., the Advocate Car Seat has an impact-absorbing base. Its SafeCell Protection feature offers three strong layers of side energy absorption, side cushions, and head protection, which will shield your baby from the most serious accidents – not to forget the rear-facing Anti-Rebound Bar.
A very comfortable car seat for your baby, the Britax Advocate has a 14-position easy-adjust harness that grows along with your baby. You can easily adjust the height of the seat with a single push, and the sound of the Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator is all you need to hear while taking your baby to a drive.
Cybex Cloud Q Infant Car Seat
The Cybex Cloud Q Infant Car Seat can probably be a gamechanger when it comes to ergonomics, luxury, and safety. It can be used by your baby until he is 35 lbs. and comes with many features that parents can use while in their car and beyond.
In case of a collision, the Cloud Q Infant Car Seat has 3 levels of protection. The first layer is at the sides where there are two telescopic Linear Side Impact Protection (LSP) systems that extend out and absorb the first wave of shock. The second layer of protection is the infant seat frame that has EPS foam. The third layer of headrest also has EPS foam in it, and in case of an accident, all these layers of protection will make sure your child is completely protected. Another safety feature is the load-bearing leg which reduces collision forces on the front-facing infant seat.
Another feature of the Cybex Cloud Q Infant Car Seat is the 11-position height adjustment which is great even for premature babies. As your baby grows, you pull the lever present at the back of the headrest and the belt moves with it.
What sets this versatile car seat apart from its competitors is how beautifully it is designed keeping ergonomics in mind. Instead of sitting in an upright position all the time, your baby can lie in a relaxed flat position on its carrier when outside the car. The canopy of Cloud Q gives it a unique look, and you can easily adjust its height.
All these amazing features come at a high cost – the Cybex Cloud Q Infant Car Seat may cost you more than many other car-seats in the market, and considering it is not a convertible car seat and can only be used till your child is 35 lbs. means this is not a one-time expense.
Purchasing your baby’s car seat is an investment. It could be the factor that distinguishes between a baby who survived a traffic accident to the one who didn’t. So which car seat is the perfect one for your baby?