5 Best Car Seats

Graco SnugRide Click Connect Capacity — 45 lbs. Best compact convertible car seat. Diono RadianRXT. Best cheap compact convertible car seat. Safety 1st Guide Best convertible car seat. Chicco NextFit. Best cheap convertible car seat. Types of Car Seats Infant. Compact Convertible.

Infant Infant car seats are designed to be lightweight and portable. Convertible Convertible car seats are heavier than infant car seats and are designed to stay put in the car. Compact Convertible For parents used to infant car seats, the sheer bulk of convertibles can be a shock -- especially when they end up hogging half the backseat.

Our Sources 1. Infant Car Seats. Compact Convertible Car Seat. Convertible Car Seats.

Car Seat Ratings. Air Mattresses Updated June 26, Dehumidifiers Updated June 26, Mattress Toppers Updated June 20, All-in-One Printers Updated June 20, Mattresses Updated June 19, Cat Food Updated June 15, Mini Cribs Updated June 08, What every best Car Seats has: Adequate height and weight limits. LATCH system for easy installation. Adjustable harness heights. A simple upward tug on the carry handle will further confirm that the carrier and base or stroller are securely connected. Intended for use with infants as little as 4 pounds, each Chicco infant car seat also features removable head and body support to accommodate newborns and smaller babies.

Infant stage, for babies zero to twelve months of age, features more reclined seating with newborn head and body support. Designed for children between 9 and twenty-four months of age, toddler stage accommodates a more upright seated position and extended leg room.

A 7-position headrest accommodates growth throughout both stages. Chicco understands that you quite literally have a lot on your hands, so we recognize the value of one-handed adjustments for things like the carry handle and base leveling to allow you to keep moving throughout your routine with ease. The arrival of your little one will be a time where time is most precious, and you should be able to savor it all.

We also talked to scores of parents about their car seat experiences, scanned hundreds of Amazon reviews, and read dozens of articles from reputable sites such as Consumer Reports , BabyGearLab , and Car Seats for the Littles. Personally, I am familiar with government rules and regulations after spending almost a decade working on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Commerce.

For this review, I traveled to Burlington, Wisconsin, to witness a team of engineers at MGA Research crash-test several top-rated infant car seats. Most hospitals, complying with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines , do not discharge newborns until a staff member visually confirms the presence of a car seat to transport the baby safely home.

Several qualities distinguish infant car seats from larger convertible car seats , many of which have weight and height ranges that include most newborn infants. Most important, an infant seat is designed to be used only rear-facing, the position that is known to be far safer for small children.

Best Car Seats of | SafeWise

Unlike convertible car seats, infant seats also come with a detachable base, allowing parents to easily click the seat in and out of the vehicle and to carry the baby in the seat or attach it to a stroller. Babies outgrow most infant car seats by the time they reach 30 or 32 inches tall or between 30 and 35 pounds, whichever comes first.

The typical kid reaches that height range at 12 to 19 months and will be older than 3 by the time they weigh 35 pounds, so for most people the height limit is more relevant than the weight limit. Many of the parents we interviewed said they moved their child to a rear-facing convertible car seat far before the child officially outgrew their infant seat, typically when they felt the baby had become too heavy to carry in the bucket seat. For travel, we recommend that parents use their existing infant car seat, without the base, and for parents who expect to travel quite a bit, or rely heavily on car-sharing services and want to have a single car seat and stroller combination, we recommend the Doona , a pick in our forthcoming guide to travel car seats.

The best convertible car seat, according to The Wirecutter

We started by researching the most popular infant car seats, about 30 models in all. We interviewed nearly 20 experts on car seat safety, policy, and installation, and we looked closely at the results of government NHTSA testing, as well as at the findings of Consumer Reports and BabyGearLab, the two other media outlets that have conducted independent laboratory crash testing of infant car seats.

Proper installation is generally a far bigger problem for people than seat safety, so we searched the NHTSA ease-of-use installation database to determine which seats offer easy installation and come with clear instructions. Our 20 total hours of background research helped us conclude that the ideal infant car seat should have several features and attributes.

Using the above criteria, we narrowed the original list of 30 down to seven top infant car seats:. Zeroing in on these seats was not easy. Though some seats have higher safety marks than others, figuring out how much of a difference these small variations in the scores makes—if any—is a challenge, even for experts. Ensuring consistent, proper installation and use is more likely to offer a safety edge than buying a seat that scored a sliver higher in a crash test. Also, many brands have multiple, similar infant car seat models, reflecting variations in height and weight limits or the addition of optional features such as push-button latches instead of the metal hooks found on less expensive seats , self-ratcheting latches that assist in creating tension for a tight install, a lock-off plate on the base to aid in seat belt installation as opposed to LATCH installation , or a no-rethread harness, which allows you to adjust the strap height from the front of the seat rather than having to turn it over and rethread the straps back through.

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After extended discussions with experts, we concluded that most of those optional features are generally not necessary and not worth paying more for though we did find that a push-button latch was typically easier to use than a simple hook, particularly when uninstalling the base. We subjected our seven infant car seat finalists to a series of at-home tests that mimicked everyday use.

For each seat, we read and analyzed the instructions, practiced installing the seat with the base, using both the latches and a seat belt, as well as without the base , repeatedly adjusted the straps and handles, and evaluated the experience of clicking the seat in and out of its base. We discovered that, counterintuitively, more babies are injured in infant car seats when outside of the car than in car crashes themselves see our Care, use, and maintenance section below for more on proper car seat use.

The danger comes down to how balanced or tip-prone a seat is, so we attempted to determine if some seats were more susceptible than others to falls off tables, beds, or other raised surfaces by checking how much the seat moved when jostled. After running seven seats through these at-home ease-of-use and cleaning tests, we were able to narrow the field to four seats that we found were the easiest and most intuitive to use:.

We know that federal authorities have been considering adding a side-impact test to their existing standards and upgrading the test bench they use for front-impact testing to a more modern model. Both efforts are currently stalled. However, the proposed US standards exist, similar regulations have been in place in Europe and Australia for years, and many US manufacturers are already testing their seats to meet such standards. We decided to conduct tests that would reflect those proposed future standards. We commissioned MGA Research—an independent lab in Burlington, Wisconsin, that both government agencies and car seat manufacturers contract with—to carry out front-impact and side-impact testing on our four infant car seat finalists.

A study showed that side-impact crashes accounted for 40 percent of car-crash fatalities for children ages 5 and younger this figure included crashes that were considered unsurvivable as well as cases in which there was gross misuse of the car seat. Several key notes: The tests we commissioned MGA to conduct are not part of the current federal compliance standard. MGA conducted all our tests at its Burlington, Wisconsin, facility. While we paid all the fees associated with the tests and went to observe the trials, only professionals from MGA conducted the seat preparation, testing, and analysis.

In all cases, we used brand-new seats delivered directly to the Wisconsin facility and handled exclusively by MGA staff. An MGA technician installed each seat to the research testing bench, which then accelerated to between 28 and 30 mph before simulated impact. Each crash test took only seconds and relied on a CRABI month-old dummy with three head-acceleration sensors and three chest-acceleration sensors attached to its urethane skin. On the first of two days of testing, the technicians subjected our four infant car seats to the front-crash testing, which resulted in three metrics: HIC head impact , G-clip chest impact , and maximum seat-back angle which measured how far the seat rotated forward during a crash.

The second day, MGA put the four seats through the side-impact test, using the same CRABI month-old dummy without sensors and the bench model as outlined in the side-impact NPRM this bench model is different from the current and research frontal benches. As is consistent with all crash-testing protocol, technicians manually dismantled and disposed of the seats after the tests. It fits kids up to 30 pounds or 30 inches—beyond the point most people want to use an infant seat. The Chicco KeyFit 30 stands out from its peers in safety.

The side of the Chicco base has a lock-off for a shoulder-belt installation, which you should use for the shoulder strap with seat belt installs in cars older than that do not have locking seat belts. A bubble indicator on either side of the Chicco base provides a straightforward, intuitive gauge for measuring the accurate seat angle. The NHTSA awarded the Chicco KeyFit 30 four stars out of five for ease of installation; during our at-home testing experience, it was the easiest seat to install, and securing a tight fit took relatively little time or hand strength.

In contrast to other car seats we tested, many of which use pictures, labels, or diagrams to explain installation, the Chicco KeyFit 30 was the easiest to figure out how to use, with little room for misunderstanding. An intuitive tightening system makes it a no-brainer to tighten the base third photo and the car seat straps last photo. Photo: Michael Hession.

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We also found the Chicco KeyFit 30 to be one of the easiest seats to click in and out of its base. The handle is easy to adjust, and the straps are simple to tighten and loosen. With the handle locked down in a triangle position, the seat is as stable as any other seat on an uneven surface, such as a bed or lawn. The Chicco KeyFit 30 is light at 9. The synthetic material is a snap to clean—we easily wiped up any graham crackers or applesauce we spilled on the seat cover. The KeyFit 30 is compatible with our main stroller pick, the Baby Jogger City Mini 2 ; our upgrade pick, the Uppababy Cruz ; our jogging stroller picks, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and BOB Revolution Pro ; our budget travel stroller pick, the Mountain Buggy Nano ; and many others with the purchase of an adapter if not included with the stroller.

The KeyFit 30 comes in seven colors : papyrus beige , orion gray , moonstone light gray , eucalyptus dark green , nottingham heather gray , lilla polka dots , and oxford navy. The warranty is for one year, and the seat expiration is after six years. The Chicco KeyFit 30 can hold a child up to 30 inches tall or 30 pounds. Those limits are 2 inches shorter and 5 pounds lighter than the limits of several of the other seats we tested, notably the Britax B-Safe 35 and the Uppababy Mesa, which are each rated to 32 inches and 35 pounds. Car seat technicians we spoke with agreed that a child is likely to reach the height limit of an infant seat before the weight limit.

On a practical level, though the Chicco KeyFit 30 has a lower overall inch rating than competing seats, it may actually fit your child longer than a seat with a height limit a couple of inches higher. Unlike other seats we tested, the Chicco KeyFit 30 does not have any of the options we identified as being enticing to parents but unnecessary, such as self-ratcheting latches a distinguishing feature on the Uppababy Mesa , a no-rethread harness, or central lock-off plates on the base.