Best infant car seats 2020

Best infant car seats 2020

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You can’t take your baby home from the hospital without an infant-ready car seat and using a used or second-hand seat isn’t safe. our site analyzed actual mom and dad threads in the our site Community to discover parents’ top 5 most recommended infant car seats. We then asked our editors for the new or high-quality infant seats they think deserve wider recognition. Together, these seats are the our site Love It winners for the best infant car seats.

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  • Infant car seat basics

    What you need to know

    Infant car seats are the way to keep your newborn to 30-ish pound baby safe in your car or when you’re taking a ride-share from place to place. Safety experts recommend that, like with all car seats, buying a new infant car seat is a must-do because older seats may have expired, been damaged, or fallen out of step with current safety standards.

    To be approved for sale, all car seats meet the same basic safety standards, which means that a higher price may not mean you’re getting a materially safer seat. A higher price seat may have more safety features, but in terms of the basics of keeping your child secure while riding around town, all seats provide the same essential protection. This means that shopping around means choosing a seat based on extra safety features, how heavy the seat is, how comfortable it is to move the seat around, the seat’s overall size (and if it’s a good fit for your backseat), and, well, its looks (do you like its fashion?).

    Given the option of a convertible or all-in-one car seat, why bother with an infant seat? The most important reason is safety. Although most newborns fit in a convertible or all-in-one car seat, experts generally agree that infants under 20 pounds are best secured in an infant car seat.

    Infant car seats are also more convenient for parents. They have a base that's secured to your car in rear-facing mode and a carrier that can be snapped in and out of the base. This means you don't have to unharness your child every time you get in or out of the car, which can be quite handy if your baby's asleep or fussy. Infant car seats can be installed using your car's seatbelts or with the LATCH system and your baby is secured using the car seat's built-in five-point harness (old-fashioned seats had three-point harnesses but those are pretty much phased out now).

    In contrast, convertible car seats are installed more permanently in your car. They can also be installed in your car using seat belts or LATCH, but they can rear- or forward-face, depending on your child's age and development, and you must fasten and unfasten your child in the seat's five-point harness each time you drive with them.

    The following infant car seats are the 5 most recommended by our site parents and 2 chosen by our site editors. All are good choices for parents like you in terms of features, looks, and ease of use and are the our site Love It winners for best 2020 infant car seats.

  • Quick look

    The best infant car seats

    Parents' Picks - recommended by parents

    Seatour site Rating
    Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

    Most recommended

    Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat

    Highly recommended

    Graco SnugRide SnugLocl 35 LX Infant Car Seat

    Highly recommended

    Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat


    UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat


    Editors' Choice - chosen by our site Editors

    Seatour site Rating
    Clek Liing Infant Car SeatMost recommended
    Doona Infant Car Seat & Stroller

    Highly recommeded

  • Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

    Our site Parents’ Pick

    The KeyFit 30 can be used with or without its stay-in-car base (making it useful if you’re taking a rideshare somewhere). The base that you can leave in your car is very easy to install securely. It features leveling bubbles that let you see when things aren't quite right and confirm when you have everything properly sitting in your back seat.

    Like many seats in this class, the KeyFit 30 has a head and body support to accommodate newborns as small as 4 pounds and a shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection.

    Heads Up

    If you’re shopping for an infant car seat for a stroller from a different brand, you should double check whether or not this Chicco seat will work without an adapter.

    Parents’ Say

    “I have a Chicco KeyFit 30 and love it. I like the Chicco brand for car seats. My KeyFit last though 2 babies but expired so I plan on buying the Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler for this baby because the weight limit is higher.”

    “One of the things I like about the Chicco KeyFit is it is spacious and I used it all the way up until all 3 of my current kids turned 1. My oldest was always in the upper 90's on the weight/height percentage chart and she didn't outgrow it until she was pretty much a year old.”


    • For infants from 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches tall
    • Seat weight 9.6 pounds; with base 17.15 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 27.5 x 17 x 24 inches

    Available at Amazon starting at $199

  • Nuna Pipa infant car seat

    Our site Parents’ Pick

    The Nuna Pipa has a great “feel” from its quality construction and materials to its lightweight that's accentuated by its very ergonomic carry handle. This makes the Pipa super easy to move around and with its “5-second install” a cinch to get into your car. The base has a load leg to stabilize the seat in a collision, which means it has one of the latest extras in safety features.

    The shade and its “Dream Drape” feature is a cut above most other seats and basically covers a little one down to the toes, which allows you to create a cocoon for your baby that makes strolls a napper’s paradise.

    Heads Up

    The Nuna Pipa base is great. It has the solid LATCH and the aforementioned load leg. But used on its own without the base, say, in grandma’s car or a rideshare, the Pipa doesn’t install as easily with seatbelts alone as some other infant car seats.

    Some taller parents may also find that if they choose to pair a Nuna stroller with the Pipa, the stroller may be too short for comfortable everyday use. If you’re on the tall side and definitely want to have both a Nuna seat and stroller, consider a test drive first to make sure the fit is right for you.

    Parents’ Say

    “My sister swears by the Pipa, that’s the car seat I will be using. Only ‘issue’ is not all strollers have adapter to connect the seat too it so if you go with the Pipa, make sure you have a compatible stroller. The BOB and the Maxi Cosi strollers work with the Pipa.”

    “Nuna isn’t treated with fire retardants or chemicals, that was one of the reasons it was my first choice in the list when I was shopping.”


    • For infants from 4-32 pounds and up to 32 inches tall
    • Seat weight 8 pounds; with base 21.4 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 22.6 x 17 x 26.5 in

    Available at Pottery Barn Kids starting at $300

  • Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX

    Our site Parents’ Pick

    The Graco SnugRide car seat is a baby-gear classic that’s had a model among the top-5 infant car seats since our site began its baby products awards in 2015. The SnugLock 35 LX has risen to the top 5 in 2020 by continuing Graco’s tradition of offering parents a popular mix of safety, price, and convenient features such as a handle you can fold with one-hand, an easily adjustable base, and no-hassle compatibility with Graco strollers.

    While not as light as other seats, the SnugRide is not exactly heavy at under 10 pounds. Parents also note that the seat can transfer between different cars with ease – meaning that the seat’s size and latch system work well with your car, your relative's car, etc. Another plus: its shade, which is big and adjusts without noise.

    Heads Up

    The SnugRide passes all safety tests (Graco says they exceed the government standards) but its base does not have the extra features some other seats have, notably a load leg.

    Parents’ Say

    “We’ve loved our Graco. I’m personally glad we didn’t go with something more expensive since this has held up so well. I understand there are things you purchase in life where ‘you get what you pay for’ but this was one where we’ve gotten the most out of our money! It’s simple and exactly what we have needed.”

    “I actually liked our Graco infant seat so much that I decided to try out a Graco convertible for the first time after ydd moved up and out. Of the many brands of car seat I've had, it's my absolute favorite.”


    • For infants from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall
    • Seat weight 9.75 pounds; with base 26 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 30.9 x 20 x 15.5 inches

    Available at Amazon starting at $199.99

  • Britax B-Safe 35

    Our site Parents’ Pick

    The Britax B-Safe is easy to install with auto-level indicators and built-in Lock-offs to ensure a proper vehicle fit. The quick-adjust harness for your baby's belts has long been a favorite Britax feature and ensures your family can get in the car and on your way quickly.

    Also easy to adjust is the seat’s LATCH system, which is designed to allow you to quickly tighten the connection of the B-Safe's base to your car.

    Finally, the seat is also one of the narrower models on the market, which some parents love because it allows the B-Safe to work in their smaller car or makes getting twins from here to there easier to do.

    Heads Up

    The Britax B-Safe has all the standard safety features and touts its “impact-absorbing base,” but it doesn’t have a load leg or rigid LATCH connections.

    Some parents also felt that at 10 pounds, the Britax seat plus a baby can add up to everything feeling like it weighs a lot, making toting around a sleeping baby a workout.

    Oh, did we mention this seat is svelte? Some parents love that quality; others felt the B-Safe's narrow profile limited how long their baby was able to use the seat.

    Parents’ Say

    “I opted to go with the Britax B-Safe 35. I loved the safety features.”

    “I got the Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing 4 to 35 pounds. I've used Britax for my older son throughout and love them.”

    “I used Britax B-Safe 35 with my dd (dear daughter) and loved it. She was below the 10th percentile in everything (except head size, of course! Lol). She was just over 5 pounds when we left the hospital with her. It's for 4 pounds and up and they won't let you take babies smaller than that home yet. Dd used it until she was about 13 months. I'm currently expecting twins as well and got a second Britax B-Safe 35 for our twinsies.”


    • For infants from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall
    • Seat weight 10 pounds; with base 19 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 26.5 x 25 x 17.75 inches

    Available at Amazon starting at $199

  • UPPAbaby Mesa

    Our site Parents’ Pick

    The UPPAbaby Mesa seat design uses a base that tries to take some of the guesswork out of installs. It’s LATCH system automatically retracts the connections to your car to create a secure attachment and a red-green indicator lets you know whether or not the seat is installed properly. That said, the seat can be used easily without its base for rideshares or quick trip in grandma’s car.

    The finish of the seat is of high quality, including a couple of the Mesa models having chemical-free merino wool fabric. The seat is compatible with the popular UPPAbaby Vista stroller.

    Heads Up

    Some parents have complained that the Mesa is a bit heavy compared to other seats. Other parents who have the seats outfitted with the wool-blend fabric say their seats are causing their babies to sweat during the summer months.

    The canopy, while a lovely design in terms of its integration into the seat, is a bit small.

    Parents’ Say

    “Loved my Mesa car seat. I was very happy with it and will use it again for June LO. It was a bit heavy, but, honestly, I usually wasn’t carrying it far without the stroller. Also, we lived in a big city until LO (little one) was about 9 months so I loved how easy it was to install without a base plus the extra weight made it feel super sturdy and secure without the base. We took a lot of Uber’s and taxis since we didn’t have a car so quick, easy, and secure baseless install was a major upside for us.”

    “My friend just had twins and loves the mesa and how easy it is to use with the stroller. It’s a little heavier but if she can doesn’t mind with two, I figure I’ll be safe with one!”

    “I vote for the Mesa! I debated long and hard on what to get for my twins. I can say I have absolutely loved the Mesas and am so glad I went with them. We are still using them at 13 months. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve had from people on how much they liked my car seats.”


    • For infants from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall
    • Seat weight 9.9 pounds; with base 18.9 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 26.5 x 17 x 23 inches

    Available at Amazon starting at $349

  • Clek Liing

    Our site Editors’ Choice

    The Clek Liing is catnip for car-seat lovers in its mix of all the safety bells and whistles available today (load leg, rigid LATCH) with exceptional fit and finish (a base with seven recline positions, several fancy fabric options).

    While its safety extras are most pronounced in the base design, the Clek seat itself meets all standards and can be used without the base when necessary.

    Heads Up

    This is not a cheap seat and can run nearly $400 depending on the fabric choice. Extra bases cost roughly $200. This can be a real consideration for some families considering that the usable lifespan of an infant seat can be as short as 5 months (if your baby is among the fastest growing).

    Speaking of that fabric, removing it for cleaning is not a quick job.

    Editors’ Say

    “This is the 'price is no object' infant car seat.”

    “Anyone who’s ever installed a car seat knows that the process can end in doubt. Is it really in there? Is it really safe? The Clek takes a lot of that guesswork away. The base is super easy to deal with and the combination of rigid LATCH and the load leg make the seat feel like it is not going to go anywhere at any time.”


    • For infants from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall
    • Seat weight 9 pounds; with base 28 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 26.8 x 16.9 x 22.6 inches

    Available at Amazon

  • Doona

    Our site Editors' Choice

    The Doona combines the infant car seat and stroller into one single integrated piece of gear, which means when you leave the house, you just need to wrestle one thing into your car (and you don’t have to worry about compatibility between your seat and a stroller).

    The seat-stroller comes with a latch base and can be used with belts in a rideshare or airplane. One other advantage of the Doona: Having the stroller as part of the seat means that you won’t have to stuff an extra piece of gear in trunk when you take the car.

    Heads Up

    Because the seat combines a stroller and seat into one item, it’s heavy at more than 16 pounds. Add a growing baby and it starts to add up. If you can find one in the store, we suggest you try it out and imagine lifting and placing, lifting and placing, and lifting and placing to see if the weight will work for you.

    The Doona is even more expensive than the Clek at almost $500. But if you consider it’s an infant car seat and a frame stroller in one, it might not be too expensive. Infant car seats can be purchased for anywhere from $50 to $400; simple frame strollers from $70 to $100. So, if you're already buying on the higher end, the Doona might make sense.

    Experts’ Say

    “The Doona is super cool looking. If you can handle the weight, the convenience of the all-in-in infant seat and stroller is a winner.”

    “It's the kind of product that makes you want to have just one more baby so you can use it. We can envision a Doona-user wheeling it into the park and quickly being surrounded by other parents who wonder "What is it?" and want to see the Doona do its trick.”


    • For infants from 4-35 pounds and up to 32"inches tall
    • Seat weight 16.5 pounds; base weight 10 pounds
    • Seat dimensions 28 x 20.5 x 18.5 inches

    Available at Amazon starting at $499

  • Infant car seat buying guide

    What to look for in infant car seats

    If you’re buying a new car seat in the United States through a reputable retailer, you can be assured you’re getting a safe seat. Every seat sold in this country must meet basic Federal laws and protections. There are differences in how seats meet those requirements. Here are features to look for as you shop infant car seats:

    Ease of use:Look for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's five-star rating system. The more stars a car seat has, the easier it is to use. The NHTSA ratings take into account how easy it is to install the seat in your car and secure your child in it, as well as the content and clarity of the instruction manual.

    A car-seat base: Most infant car seats come with a plastic base you install in your car; some parents buy an extra base for a second vehicle. Snap the car seat into the base, and buckle up your child when you're ready to go. When you reach your destination, unsnap the car seat from the base and take it with you. Some car-seat bases have add-ons like an adjustable foot that can help get the proper recline angle, or level indicators that use a ball bearing or bubble to show you precisely when the correct angle is reached. Increasingly, seat bases are coming with a “load leg,” which is a strut that extends from the front of the seat base to the floor of your car. This leg reduces the rotation of the seat and rebound that can occur during a collision. Some manufacturers claim that the load leg can reduce the crash forces exerted on a car seat by an impact by 40 percent.

    Easy adjustments:You'll need to adjust the harness and headrest as your child grows. Better car seats allow you to easily adjust the straps and harness height from the front. The most user-friendly models have single-hand belt adjustments with quick-release buckles, no-rethread harnesses, and single-hand height-adjustable headrests.

    LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) style: All car seats and vehicles must be compatible with the LATCH system (including two-seat convertibles). LATCH allows you to attach the car seat directly to your vehicle instead of using the seat belt to secure it. This can make installation easier, although correct installation using seat belts is just as safe. Most infant car seats use the lower anchors only, not the tethers. LATCH connectors come in two styles: attached to a flexible strap that threads through the car seat, and “rigid LATCH” that sticks straight out of the seat back. Many experts consider the rigid LATCH connectors easier to operate.

    Easy cleaning: Babies and messes go hand in hand, but a surprising number of car seats come with covers you can't take off. A detachable, machine-washable cover makes cleanup much easier.

    Comfort: A well-padded seat with plenty of head support gives your baby a better ride.

    Side-impact protection: Some car seats have special energy-absorbing foam and other features designed to better protect your baby's head and chest in a side-impact accident.

  • Infant car seat safety notes

    Installation tips and seats to avoid

    You might think that anyone who can read an instruction manual and follow directions can install a car seat correctly. Yet according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many car seats are improperly installed.

    For safety's sake, have your car seat and its installation checked by a professional. To arrange an inspection in your area, use the NHTSA's car-seat-inspection-station locator.

    For advice on avoiding the most common car-seat-installation mistakes, see our article on installing a car seat. You can also talk to parents in our Car Seat Questions group.

    Where to install

    Install the car seat facing the rear of the car. Experts including the AAP say it's safest to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, until your child reaches the maximum rear-facing height and weight limits for your car seat. (Most newer convertible seats can handle kids up to 40 pounds or more in a rear-facing position, allowing them to stay rear-facing until age 4 or older.)

    Secondhand or damaged seats

    We don't recommend used car seats. They could be missing important parts, have been involved in an accident (even unseen damage can affect the way a seat functions), fall short of current safety standards, or may have been recalled due to faulty design. Moreover, plastic gets brittle as it gets older, so a seat that's too old could break in a crash.

    If you absolutely must use a secondhand seat, the AAP recommends avoiding any car seat when it:

    • Has an unknown history
    • Has been in a crash
    • Is too old – look for the expiration date on the seat’s plastic parts, generally on the bottom of the seat. If there’s no expiration date, contact the seat’s manufacturer to find out when it expires
    • Has visible cracks
    • Lacks a label with the model number and date of manufacture so that you can check for recalls
    • Was recalled – contact the manufacturer, the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or check the NHTSA's child seat recall list to find out
    • Does not come with instructions that explain how to use the seat (unless they are easily available online)
    • Has missing parts
  • What an infant car seat is going to cost you

    Typical prices

    Infant car seats range from about $50 to $500.

    If your baby will ride in more than one car, you can buy a car seat and base for each car or – a less expensive option – buy additional bases and move the car seat from car to car. Extra bases range from $25 to $220. Convertible car seats, as well as 3-in-1 and all-in-one car seats, go for $50 to $400 and up.

    Given the size of the investment, we highly recommend that if you can “test drive” a seat you try to do so. Even without a baby in the seat, you can learn an awful lot from lifting and carrying it around a store. Better yet, if you have a friend who has a seat you’re interested in, see if you can try it and even install it in your car with and without the base. That way you’ll know if the seat is the right kind of easy for you.

    Also, seats can vary as to the strollers they’re compatible with. Some seats will work without an adaptor while others require one – which might add to the total cost. If you’re wanting to take any guesswork out of seat-stroller combos, see our suggestions for best travel systems.

    For more product recommendations for every stage of the pregnancy and parenting experience, see BabyCenter’s Baby Products channel. And if you’re starting a registry, don’t miss our Registry Checklist.

  • Watch the video: Best Infant Car Seat 2020 TOP 7 PRODUCTS (August 2022).

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