When you’re a new parent safety is your number one priority when it comes to finding the best car seat for your little one. We have put together the best car seats for every stage of your child’s growth.
Car Seat Safety
When you first find out that you are having a baby, right away you want to make sure you get the best and safest baby items. Knowing how to properly use and install a car seat is one of the most important things you need to know before your baby arrives.
How To Install An Infant Car Seat
When you’re a new parent installing a car seat can be intimidating. I highly recommend to try it and get comfortable with it before your baby arrives. After you see where the seat belt goes and have the seat at the right angle, it will come very easy to you.
Most car seats come with an angle indicator so you know if the car seat is reclined enough. If the seat is up right too much it can cut off the baby’s airway and cause suffocation. If your baby needs more head support, you can roll up a towel or small blanket and put it around the head support insert of the chair.
How To Install A Convertible Car Seat
Installing a convertible car seat is a lot like an infant seat. You can use either the LATCH technique, where you hook the latch that is on the chair, or you can use the car’s seat belt. If you use the seat belt be sure you pull the belt as tight as you can and the make sure the belt is locked.
Move the car seat to see if it is tight or loose. The seat shouldn’t move more than 1 inch. If you are using a convertible car seat for an infant under 6 months, make sure it’s reclined no more than a 45 degree angle.
How To Buckle An Infant and Toddler In A Car Seat
Buckling a child into the car seat is one of the most common things that parents tend to make a mistake on. So, these tips will ensure your child’s safety.
- Make sure to take off any jacket or coat that your baby is wearing. If the coat is left on it makes too much room between the baby and the seat belt, and keeps from your baby to be tightly strapped in. Put a coat or blanket over the harness of the car seat to keep your child warm. Tuck it tightly for your younger baby so it doesn’t go over its face.
- When you strap your child in, tighten the strap to where you are unable to pinch any material together.
- Move the harness buckle aligning with their armpit. If it’s too high up or too low it will cause serious injuries to your child if there were to be an accident.
- Again, make sure your baby isn’t inclined too much. Newborns can’t hold their head up and in car seats their heads tend to flop to the side. If you recline the seat to the position the products indicates, you will avoid cutting off their airway.
Please note: Post may contains affiliate links, see our disclosures for more information
Where To Place Seat In The Car
Never place a car seat in the front seat. It might seem like common sense, but some people don’t know it’s not okay. Back in the day it was “okay” but since they did studies and did more testings they found out that it wasn’t a smart idea.
It is ideal to place an infant seat in the middle of the back seat. However, if there isn’t a good spot in the middle, either side of the back seat is okay. If you have a third row vehicle place the car seat in the middle row.
When To Go From Rear-facing to Front-facing
New guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics states that two years is the best age to switch your child to front facing, or until they reach the height or weight limited according to the car seat manufacturer.
AAP said one year and 20 pounds is the minimum to switch your child to front facing. Even though front facing is so much easier and temping, rear facing is by far the safest for the child.
Injury Prevention did an article that Parenting cited, “Found that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.”
Can You Use A Car Seat After An Accident
It is the best to not reuse a used car seat. If you know the person and the history of the car seat and you feel 100% comfortable than sure, you can.
Know the history of the car seat. Know if it was in a car crash. Although it might look like it wasn’t damage, the accident could have messed with the seat, and the damage might not be completely visible. To be safe avoid car seats that were used and were in car accidents.
Also did you know that car seats have expiration dates? Make sure you check those to make sure the materials of the car seat are still durable and safe. You can find it on the side or base of the car seat.
Where To Donate Car Seats
Now that you know that it’s best to not reuse car seats, you’re probably thinking how can I get rid of my car seat? There are programs out there that take old, expired, and used car seats and recycle them. Once a year Target does a car seat recycle program. You can bring in infant seats, convertible seats, booster seats, bases etc. They will give you a 20% off coupon for a new car seat, stroller, or selected baby gear. Check your nearest Target and see when their next event is.
Also you can google car seat recycling programs in your state. Here in Colorado they have a car seat recycling program, and they list where you can drop them off and what cities. Some places like fire stations will take them, call and do research first.
Best Infant Car Seat
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat
The easiest to install seat Heavy
Durable Small Sunshade
Easy to Adjust
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide SnugLock Is a comfortable seat for your infant, and easy to install. This seat is budget friendly, and is a very safe seat. Has a thick removable padded body and head pillow to give your baby extra support. Has an easy read level indicator so there is no second guessing on the right position of the seat.
Easy to install Canopy big gets in the way of the handle
Great for small infants as small as 4 lbs Heavy
Great canopy that covers the sun
Easy to clean
UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat
The UPPAbaby Mesa is the first car seat to pass the federal safety standard without fire retardant chemicals making this infant seat all naturally fire safe. Has a SMART secure system making it really easy to install, using an indicator that goes from red to green letting you know that the seat is at the right angle.
SMART secure system installation Warning sign on back of seat blocking the breathable fabric causing some babies backs to be sweaty
Breathable Washable Fabric Expensive
Chemical-Free Fire Retardant
Optimized For Preemies 4+lbs
Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base
The Doona Infant Seat is a one of a kind car seat. What can make a parent’s life more easier than a car seat that is also a stroller!? Quick one motion transition. The handle is adjustable and is also used as a anti-rebound bar for the infant seat while in the car. The seat was designed alongside of medical and engineer experts to ensure it fits your baby and is comfortable with the ergonomic design.
Extremely convenient Expensive
Ergonomic design Heavy
Insert ensures the baby’s head and
back are aligned for perfect comfort and safety
Fits in narrow places
Makes riding on a bus and train so much easier- stroller turns into a carrier
Best Toddler Car Seat
Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat
Easy to install Straps a little uncomfortable
Great for traveling on a plane- very light
Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
The Britax Frontier Clicktight a great booster seat to transition your toddler to a big kid’s seat. The booster seat was well thought out for protection. They made the frame out of steel, an impact absorbing base, V-shaped tether to keep the chair from rotating during a crash, and two layers of protection padding. Has multiple reclining position for you child’s comfort.
Great for protecting your child Easy To Install Harness difficult to tighten due to the back of booster seat pushing up against the seat
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Convertible Car Seat
Long lasting with the 3-1 transition Hard to fasten in some cars
Narrow, great for back rows with three across
Easy to install
Easy to adjust
Safe and sturdy
Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Seat
Really good reviews Cup Holder issues
Slim good for three seat back row
Best Convertible Car Seat
Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
This Graco 4Ever Extend 2Fit is just what you need for your infant. It grows with your child. It is a 4 in 1 convertible seat with rear-facing infant position, to a harness toddler seat, to high back booster, to backless booster. It provides extra legroom allowing your child to be rear-facing longer.
4 in 1 Fabric may start unthreading near feet
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
The Safety 1st Grow and Go is one of the safest convertible seats that grows with your child. From rear-facing infant seat 5 lbs to big kid booster-100 lbs. They made the seat easy to clean so you can get all those goldfish and cheerios out. Has 2 reclining position for comfort and your infants safety.
Grows with child Difficult to install LATCH straps
3 reclining position
Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
The Graco Milestone 3 in 1 converts from rear-facing to belt-positioning booster seat. The harness and headrest adjusts together so it grows with your child and ensure your child will always be comfortable. The 5 point harness is extended to keep your kid in a harness long which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Extended harness Heavy and big
4 reclining positions
Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat
Safe Max weight 65 lbs
9 reclining positions
Almost 5/5 stars
Best Car Seat Stroller Combo
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
The Chicco Bravo Trio includes the stroller KeyFit 30 seat and base. Has multi-position reclining to ensure your child’s comfort. It is very easy to click in and remove the seat from the stroller. Easy one-hand collapse system for the stroller, making it easy for the busy parents.
Convenient system Small up holders
Seat extremely safe No child tray with cup holder
Parent tray with cup holder
Storage under stroller
Evenflo Pivot Modular System
Stroller lightweight Can be hard to open stroller
Baby tray and cup holder Car seat doesn’t come with strap pads
Parent tray and cup holder Stroller wheels sometimes get stuck
Infant seat is light
Baby Trend Nexton Combo
The Baby Trend Nexton comes with a Flex-Loc seat and base. This set is convenient for those on the go parents, that don’t have time for hassles. The stroller has three wheels which makes it easy to maneuver and have a smooth ride. The base also has 4 adjustable height for extra comfort.
Convenient storage under stroller The removable headrest doesn’t keep head supported well- baby’s head falls forward. Need to fold blanket and put it around headrest.
Car seat attaches super easy to stroller
One hand stroller closure system
Britax 2017 B Agile & B Safe 35 Travel System
The Britax B Agile is all about the safety. The infant seat has layers of impact protection, steel frame, and impact absorbing base. This set comes with a lightweight seat, and stroller, with a car seat adapter. This seat is FAA approved without the base, and you can use the adapter to securely attach the seat to the stroller.
Very safe Heavy seat
Easy to steer
Collapse with one hand very easily
Huge canopy and basket
We hope this is very helpful for you, and makes it easier to choose what the best car seat for your little one.
Remember if you aren’t sure how to install a seat or if you want it checked, you can ask a fire department, or a car seat technician at the hospital.
If you are wondering what other baby items you need whether you’re having twins or one baby, check out our life saving baby items. These are the only items I needed with all four of my boys, no wasting money on items you don’t really need.
Do you know someone that needs help looking for the best and safest car seat for their child please share this with your friends.