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For new parents, purchasing the right car seat for their child may be one of the most important decisions they will ever have to make. Front or rear-facing? Narrow or wide? How do I install it? Which seat is the best?

From the day your newborn leaves the hospital until the day they can use a regular seat belt, they will need to be in a child safety restraint of some sort. With the continually changing recommendations and all the choices, it’s hard to know what type of seat to choose for every stage of your little one’s life. 

Should you get a rear-facing infant seat? Convertible car seat? What is a booster seat?

We have put together a guide that will take some of the guesswork out of it so you will save time finding the best car seat for you and your child. Let’s start with infant car seats.

This page may contain affiliate links, however, I will never recommend anything that I do not believe in and use myself. You can read more about my disclosure policy here. 

INFANT CAR SEATS

Infant car seats are made explicitly for infants. They are rear-facing and are used from the day your baby leaves the hospital until he/she reaches the seat’s weight (typically 25-35 pounds) and height limitation. 

Chicco KeyFit 30

Our Top Pick!!

Most recommended by neonatal nurses for its safety standards and comforts. The Chicco KeyFit 30 is easy to install and has just one tightener in the middle that pulls it firmly into place. It has a built-in, easy to read level and a “click” sound when the carrier is securely inserted into the base.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Recommended for premature infants
  • Smaller and more compact
  • Compatible with Chicco strollers
  • Click system

Cons:

  • Canopy is small
  • The handle can be difficult to move
  • Fabric is not breathable
  • Difficult to clean

 

Graco SnugRide 35

Our Second Favorite!!

The Graco Snugride 35 is lightweight, weighing in at a mere 7 pounds, and is designed for babies weighing 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. It also has a “click” sound when the carrier is secured into the base.

Pros:

  • Machine washable cover
  • 4-position recline feature
  • Compatible with Graco strollers
  • Click system

Cons:

  • LATCH system installation can be difficult
  • The large canopy can get in the way of the handle 
  • No frills
  • Fabric not very breathable for warm weather 

 

Nuna Pipa

Our Third Favorite!!

This stylish, sophisticated car seat can hold babies from 4 pounds up to 32 pounds. It is lightweight (under 8 pounds) and is one of the safest infant car seats on the market. Its True Lock safety system uses color-coded indicators, so you know when it is securely installed. 

Pros:

  • Luxurious 
  • Easily installed with or without the base
  • Has a preemie insert
  • “Dreamdrape” canopy can extend for extra protection

Cons:

  • Base is heavy
  • Costly
  • Magnet closure on “Dreamdrape” canopy may be difficult to maneuver
  • “Dreamdrape” canopy zipper can be flimsy

CONVERTABLE CAR SEATS

Before you know it, your infant will need a toddler car seat. Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a huge milepost in your little one’s life. If you start with an infant seat, this would be the time to consider switching to a convertible car seat.

A convertible car seat will grow with your child. It starts as a rear-facing car seat for infants and babies, then can be switched to a front-facing car seat for older children. Eventually, it can be used as a booster seat for school-age kids

Graco 4ever 4-in-1 

Our Top Pick!!

The Graco 4ever 4-in-1 is a meant-to-last car seat that converts from rear-facing to forward-facing to a high back or backless booster seat. It has cupholders on each side for drinks and snacks and has six reclining positions. It has soft padding and exceeded standards in crash tests.

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • Comfortable
  • 6-position recline
  • One-Click LATCH
  • Machine washable cover
  • Weight limit of 120 pounds

Cons:

  • Heavier at 23 pounds
  • Difficult to install

 

Britax Boulevard ClickTight

Our Second Favorite!!

If you’re concerned about safety, then purchase the Britax Boulevard ClickTight for your child. The ClickTight lock system is a breeze to use. There are energy-absorbing guards on the sides of the seat for protection in case of a collision. The safety harness can be adjusted to 14 positions without having to rethread.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • ClickTight system
  • LATCH connectors
  • Non-twisting harness
  • Built-in lockups

Cons:

  • Weight limit of 65 pounds
  • Wider than most car seats
  • Heavy 

 

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1

Our Third Favorite!!

This car seat was designed with convenience in mind. Not just in the installation, but also daily use and cleaning. Safety 1st car seat has harness clip holders that make it easier to get your child in and out of the seat. Additionally, it is budget-friendly, has three recline positions, two cupholders, and pads that snap on and off. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Harness system
  • Machine washable cover
  • 3-position recline
  • Cupholders
  • Weight limit of 100 pounds

Cons:

  • Wide and bulky
  • Long
  • Cupholders difficult to clean

 

BOOSTER SEATS

Some parents prefer to switch to a separate booster seat when their child is school-age to maximize rear-seat space.

These are best for kids at least four years old and 40 pounds. It helps your child sit up higher, so the car’s regular shoulder and lap belts can go over the body at the right points to hold your child safely and securely.

Britax Frontier ClickTight

Our Top Pick!!

Britax car seats are some of the safest and most dependable car seats on the market. The Britax Frontier ClickTight holds toddlers within a weight range of 25 pounds to 120 pounds. 

From 25-90 pounds, you can use the 5-point harness by attaching the booster seat to your vehicle with the LATCH system or the seatbelt. At 40 pounds you can opt to switch to using the seatbelt only. 

Pros:

  • Easy ClickTight installation
  • Highest harness height for tall children
  • 5-point harness system
  • 3-position recline
  • Machine washable seat covers
  • LATCH connectors for booster

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Cupholders aren’t removable for washing

 

Graco Affix Booster Seat 

Our Second Favorite!!

The Graco Affix was rated “Best Bet” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It can be used as a high booster or a backless booster seat. The LATCH system secures the seat in place with a one-hand front adjuster. The headrest is adjustable, and it has a secret drawer so your little one can keep snacks and small toys stored within reach. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight 
  • Optional LATCH keeps seat secure
  • Pull out drawer for storage
  • Well-padded
  • Converts to a backless booster

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to uninstall LATCH
  • Armrest padding difficult to take off for washing
  • Seatbelt loop can be uncomfortable
  • The drawer can be hard to pull out

 

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1

Our Third Favorite!!

This was also rated a “Best Bet” by IIHS. The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 is designed for safety first, but it does come with some nice features that make commuting comfy. It has an adjustable backrest that can recline and foam padding with Side Impact Protection to keep your child safe. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • 10 adjustable back heights
  • Converts to a backless booster
  • Easy to put a child in the booster
  • Machine-washable seat cover and armrests
  • Removable cupholders

Cons:

  • LATCH may not work in some cars
  • Seatbelt must be used in high back mode
  • Vehicles with an unmovable headrest may prevent a secure fit
  • More expensive than competitors

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Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing the right car seat, there is no right or wrong answer. An infant seat, convertible car seat, or a booster can work for you at different stages of your child’s life. 

If you want something that will make it easier to transport your baby to and from the car, go with the infant car seat. If you want to save money over the long haul, go with the convertible as you will only need to buy one car seat. If you want to save space in the rear seating area or have another baby on the way and want to hand-down the car seat, go with a booster for your older child.

The most important thing to consider is your child’s safety and what your needs are. If your child is safe and your needs are met, then you have made the right choice.

Happy Trails!!


Guest Poster Bio:

Keren Simanova is a busy mommy by day and a passionate writer by night. While spending countless hours researching car seats for her children, she created an educational car seat blog, CarSeatsMom.com to educate other mothers about the importance of car seats. Further, along the way, the blog became an invaluable source for research of a variety of car seat brands, unique features, and mommies’ reviews. 

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