Best Baby Car Seat
The only way that you and your newest member of your family will ever be able to go on any adventures together is if you have a baby car seat loaded and ready in your car. All design options out there on the market meet the government standards for safety, but not all are created equal. Spending just a little bit more money will give you extra features such as an easier installation process, more comfortable chairs and buckles, or a larger canopy. Plus, high end models are typically compatibles with more types and ages of cars, so you can easily pop your little on out from your vehicle and fasten them into grandma’s vehicle without even waking them up. We have done our research to find some of the best baby car seats out there on the market so you and your little one will be ready for adventure!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 4 hrs of research
Tested: some users that have been in accidents have reported that their child was unscathed
Top 10 Picks
1. Britax Marathon
Tested: some users that have been in accidents have reported that their child was unscathed
Some users feel that the harness ride up too high, especially for toddlers
What users really like most about this design is that it is incredibly comfortable, and it is also is a cinch to install. Britax is known for being a brand that makes safety its number one priority, and with this unit users can feel confident that it has been installed the right way.Read more
What parents like most about this design is that their little one will feel incredibly comfortable in this unit. It is composed of a breathable fabric that it perfect even on those hot summer day, and is surrounded by a plush layer of foam padding for those bumpy roads.
Ease of use
The most notable feature about this design is that every point of contact to ensure that it is installed securely makes an audible click when it is in place. Britax knows that most of these devices fail because they are not mounted into the back of the automobile property, so this option ensures that even those that don’t know how these units fit into their back will be able to figure out this design.
The strong and durable 5 point harness along the front will ensure that your little one will stay in place in the even of a impact, and the the heavily padded sides are shock absorbing in the event of size crash.
This unit weighs in at 28.5 pounds, and has a capacity from 5 pounds all the way up to 65 pounds.
This is one of the most expensive designs out there on the market, but there are a ton of parents that find that the price point is well worth it based upon the easy of use as well as comfort.
If you have the money to spend on this expensive option, we feel that it is well worth the padded price tag. Parents love that they can easily unsnap it from their vehicle and mount it in another chair with just the click of two buttons.
2. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1
Easy to install in back seat
Infant insert for added comfort and protection
Tested: some users that were in an accident claim their child was unharmed while in this product
Headrest pushes child's head forward slightly
Graco is a name that parents have come to love and depend upon when it comes to gear for their children. They were founded in 1942, and have been making quality gear every since. Parents love this option because it is made to grow with you little one, and provides optimal comfort and protection.Read more
What parents love about this option is that they can place the padded inserts for their newborns to add a level of comfort and stability, and can take them out as their little one grows. It also is able to reclines to 6 points to help facilitate naptime, and dual cup holder can store a road drink and a snack.
Ease of use:
Installing this unit into your vehicle is quick and easy, Simply set in front facing or rear facing, and check the level located on the side of the unit to ensure that it is installed properly. It also make an audible clicking noise once it is in place to know you are ready to go.
This unit has been tested time and time again to ensure that your little one will stay safe and secure in the event of a crash. It has a steel reinforced frame and energy absorbing foam.
This unit is perfect for newborns to little ones that weigh up to about 50 pounds. The unit itself weighs 23 pounds, so transferring it from one vehicle to the next is simple and easy.
The cost of this unit makes it one of the more expense designs out there on the market, but the ease of use as well as safety features and comfort makes it well worth the padded price tag.
If you are in the market for something that comes from a trusted brand and and will keep you little one safe as well as comfortable, this is an excellent option.
3. Graco Contender 65
Comes with a side cup holder
Some users found that it is a little difficult to move from vehicle to vehicle
This is another great option from the trusted company of Graco. It is able to grow right along with your child, and it comes with all of the safety features that parent come to expect from this company. What is great about this option is that it comes in at an affordable price point.Read more
This unit has EPS inserts that are incredibly comfortable as well as energy absorbing in the event of a crash. It uses a breathable material that is perfect for hot temperatures, and feels comfortable to the touch. The bad news about this option is that it doesn’t have any reclining options.
Ease of use:
This uses a non-threaded harness that can be placed in the back either rear facing or front facing with just one hand. What parents love about this design is that it has a level mounted on the side that will show parents that their chair is affixed perfectly into the backt.
Parents can expect the highest level of safety with any Graco product. This unit uses materials that are reinforced with energy absorbing foam in the event of a crash, and it has been tested to product you little ones in the event of a side crash as well. The secure 5 point harness will also make sure your little one stays securely in place.
This unit can support and grow with little ones that weigh from 5 pounds all the way up to 65 pounds. Weighing in at just 15.2 pounds, this option is lightweight enough to transfer from one vehicle to the next simply and easily.
What parents love most about this option is that it comes in at a really affordable price point. If you want the safety and quality that could only come from a Graco product, this is a really great option that won’t break the bank.
Parents love that this option is incredibly easy to use, tested to be safe for front as well as side impacts, and kids love that it is nice and comfortable. Plus, it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
4. Chicco KeyFit 30
Easy to hook up
Isn’t compatible with some vehicles
Some feel that it is a little heavy
Chicco might not have the same immediate brand recognition as companies such as Graco, but they have been in the business for making excellent children’s gear since 1946. What parents love about this model is that it seems to just hug your little one while driving, and it has a high canopy with a handle to make the transition from car to adventure quick and easy.Read more
This design has inserts that are perfect for smaller newborns, and it cradles them in comfortable and breathable fabric that it great for cold or warmer weather. The high canopy is also great for keeping the sun off of your little one while riding in the car as well as when you are off on adventures together.
Ease of use:
To install this unit securely into your vehicle, simply lock it in place using the belt found in the back of the automobile. To place it rear-facing, there is a level bubble mounted on the side of the unit to show parents when it is secured in the right spot before securing it down with the belt.
All of the fabric lining this unit is reinforced with EPS foam, which will absorb much of the impact in the even of a crash, leaving you little one safe and secure, even for side crashes.
This unit really isn’t designed to grow with you little one like some of the more versatile Graco options. The Chicco KeyFit 30 is designed to be used for newborns that weigh 4 pounds, and has a max weight of 30 pounds.
The price of this unit is a little bit more expensive than some of the other more affordable and average priced options out there on the market, and it won’t be able to grow with your little one. However, if you were in the market for something that only had newborns in mind for its design- this is a really great option.
For parents that are willing to pay just a little bit extra for something that was made to cater only to newbies that range from 4-30 pounds, the Chicco KeyFit 30 is going to be a really great choice.
5. Maxi-Cosi Pria 85
Very sleek and stylish
Easy to install
Air Protect headrest
Style is something that the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 has in spades. Don’t worry, however, because it still exceeds all of the safety requirements as well as being constructed from high quality materials that will keep your little one comfortable and safe while you are out on all of your high class adventures.Read more
This design is made from breathable and high quality fabric that looks are great as it is comfortable. It also used a air headrest to promote comfort as well as safety. It also adjusts to three different positions to make for a more comfortable ride when it’s time for a nap.
Ease of use:
Strapping this unit into place is simple and easy. Parents will simply need to use the existing belt in their automobile to secure this unit into place. Plus, the headrest can be adjusted simply by squeezing it and moving it up or down.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 uses something called Air Protect to keep your little ones safe and secure in the event of a side crash. It also utilizes a 5 point harness on the chest to keep them safely in place without sacrificing comfort.
This isn’t something made for newborns. The weight requirements start at 14 pounds and max out at around 40 pounds. The entire unit weighs just shy of 20 pounds.
By far, this is one of the most expensive designs out there on the market. However, it uses some of the top of the line materials, and may be one of the only models out there that uses genuine leather trim.
If you want something that reflects you own personal style, while still keeping your little one safe, secure, and comfortable- this is going to be your best option. Just keep in mind, however, that it does pack a wallop of a price tag.
6. Graco SnugRide
Weight limit is only to 30 pounds
No body pillow for newborns
It is no surprise that Graco is making our list yet again with the incredibly popular and affordable SnugRide. What we liked most about this design is that it comes in at a very affordable price point that won’t break the bank, yet it still has all of the safety features that parents would want when hitting the road with their little ones.Read more
This unit uses lightweight but breathable materials that will be breathable against your little one’s skin in the summer as well as in the wintertime. It comes with a fairly large canopy that will keep the sun out of their eyes while in the car or when on the go.
Ease of use:
Graco prides itself on the safety of their products, and if a product isn’t installed correctly, it isn’t as safe. That’s why they have a simple set up that can be completed via their Click Connect system.
Just like with any other Graco product, this unit either meets or exceeds many of the U.S Safety standards. It uses a 5 point harness to keep your little one securely in place by distributing pressure over 5 safe points on your little one’s body, and it is also approved to be safe for side impacts as well.
While this unit is perfect for newborns that weigh at least 4 pounds, this isn’t really going to be able to grow with your little one. The maximum weight limit is 30 pounds, which is slightly less than some of the other newborn designs out there on the market.
The good news about this design is that it comes in at one of the most affordable price points out there on the market. If you were looking something that comes from a name brand company but don’t want to pay the high price point- this is an excellent option.
Parents love that this unit is deemed incredibly safe by U.S. standards, and has received the market of approval by past users. Just keep in mind that while it is affordable, you child will grow out of this unit rather quickly.
7. Evenflo Tribute
Easy to adjust
Lightweight and easy to carry
Some find it is not as comfortable as some of the more expensive options
Evenflo might not have the same brand impact as Graco, but they have actually been in the business of making children gear far longer than Graco- since the 1920’s. Parents love this design because it is simple, easy to use, and most importantly- it is incredibly affordable.Read more
Comfort is going to take a bit of backseat, so to speak, when it comes to this design. While users claim that this unit isn’t exactly uncomfortable, it just doesn’t have the same level of padding and cushioning as those designs from companies such as Britax or Graco.
Ease of use:
Users love that this design is actually a little bit easier to install than some of the other options out there on the market. It also sports a more compact size and foot print, making it easier to fit in almost any make and model of vehicle.
Evenflo meets and sometimes exceeds the standard safety regulations required of these types of products. This unit uses a 5 point and easy to adjust harness that will distribute impact over 5 space places across your child’s body. It has also been side impact tested, so your child will still be safe and sound in the even of a side crash. There are also 4 harness positions to adjust for various heights to ensure for a perfect fit.
This unit is design for children that range from 5 pounds and it can support a maximum weight of 40 pounds, which is about standard for these basic designs.
From our research, you aren’t going to find a product out there on the market that is offered for any less than this design. This is, by far, one of the most affordable options currently for sale.
You are going to sacrifice a little bit of comfort and cushioning with this product, but you will make up for that deficit in the affordable price point as well as how easy it is to use as well as adjust.
8. Evenflo LiteMax
Easy to install
Max weight limit is 35 pounds
Some users don’t like that it won’t fit into a shopping cart
If you like the brand of Evenflo but you wanted something that had a little bit more padding than the Evenflo Tribute- this is going to be a great option for just a slightly higher price point. Parents love that this design is easy to use, comes with removing padding for when your little one grows, and it comes in at an affordable price point.Read more
With just one look, you can tell that this unit has a lot of padding for added comfort as well as support. It also comes with the addition of a neck pillow that is able to be removed when your little one starts to grow.
Ease of use:
Placing this unit in your car is simple and easy. Secure your base with the help the the belt in your vehicle. Once your base is placed, secure the chair to the base with locking mechanisms. This feature makes it simple to pluck your child out of the vehicle without taking them out of their chair.
Just like any other design out there on the market, it meets or exceeds all U.S safety standards. We loved that the addition of the neck pillow will give even the tiniest newborn snug and secure in this unit.
This design can hold newborns that weigh 4 pounds, and maxes out at 35 pounds. The entire unit weighs about 16 pounds, making it easy to pick up out of your vehicle and take with you without breaking your back.
Users love that this unit comes in at an incredibly affordable price point. While it is still slightly more expensive than the Tribute design, it is still one of the more affordable options out there on the market.
We love that this unit comes in at an affordable price point, and parents love how lightweight as well as comfortable it is for their little ones. If you were looking for a great unit for your newborn, this is an excellent option that won’t break the bank.
9. Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite
Easy to install
Great for children from 5 to 100 pounds
Not designed to be used on bench seats in an automobile
Some users found it difficult to adjust
What we really liked about this option is that it is able to grow right along with your little one, and it is still offered at a pretty affordable price point. Parents love that it is incredibly comfortable for their child, and it can be adjusted in a myriad of positions for newborns to toddlers.Read more
At a glance, users can tell that this unit has a lot more padding and cushioning than other options. The harness used to hold your little one securely in place it just a little bit more padded to provide a more comfortable fit.
Ease of use:
Users won’t need a complicated latch system in their car in order to set this unit up. Simply use the belt located in the back of your vehicle to securely place the base of this design. Once the base if mounted, click the unit into place either front facing or rear facing and you are ready to hit the road.
There were actually a few accounts of accidents that ranged from minor to severed the proved that this option will keep your little one safe and unharmed in the event of a crash. The 5 point safety harness is designed to keep them securely in the chair, and it is surrounded by shock absorbing EPS foam.
What’s really impressive about this unit is that it is designed for children that are 5 pounds, and can work as a booster for children up to 100 pounds.
Taking into consideration how versatile this design is, the price point is quite impressive. This is one of the more affordable options out there on the market, and it equipped with all of the high end materials that you would find on some of the higher end designs such as EPS foam.
The incredibly affordable price point and materials used for this option makes it work checking out. It might not come from a brand that carried the same weight such as a Britax or Graco, but it has a long line of satisfied users behind this design.
10. UPPAbaby MESA
Doesn’t coat fabrics with chemicals
Tested: users in traffic accidents found their children to be unharmed when using this unit
Some find it to be a little too heavy
This is another unknown brand option that we really feel is worth checking out. While it comes at a higher price point, this unit is made from natural and safe materials, and it doesn’t coat the surface with chemical such as fire retardants that are found on some of the other designs out there on the market.Read more
When looking at this unit, the very first thing that we noticed is that is has a lot of padding, and the design makes it look like it just sort of hugs your little one when you place them inside.
Ease of use:
Parents love that this option is easy to install and will work for most style of automobiles by working the the existing belt. Once the base is mounted, click you unit into place until it feels snug and secure.
There were a few accounts of users being in pretty bad car accidents while using this product, and their children are also completely unharmed. Parents love that this unit also comes with a UV safe canopy when on the go.
This unit works for newborns that start out at 4 pounds, and maxes out at 35 pounds- which is a little lower that some of the other options out there on the market.
The price tag for this unit really packs a wallop, but many parents feel that the padded price tag it worth it considering how easy it is to use, and well as that fact that UPPAbaby doesn’t use any hard chemicals on their fabrics.
We think that while this product is pretty expensive, it will be well worth the price tag for parents that are concerned about exposing their children to chemicals that they believe can be harmful.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Making sure your little one is comfortable is the key to a pleasant trip for all involved.
Parents know that uncomfortable babies are fussy babies, and that is a recipe for one terrible trip. When conducting out research, we wanted to make sure that each design was made from high quality materials. Breathable fabrics means that they will be more comfortable, especially when traveling on hot summer days. We also wanted to make sure that each design came with a lot of extra padding. A material called EPS foam is a material that we loved because not only does it add a little bit of extra padding, but it also is shock absorbing in the even of a bumpy road or even a crash. One of the most important features is a 5 point harness to keep them securely in place. These harnesses distribute tension more evenly throughout the body so that your little one will not feel any pressure points from their restraints. Adjustable units that could click backwards or forwards were something that parents loved because it allowed them to recline the chair back so their little one could get a little cat nap while on the road. Some little ones are a little more sensitive than others, so if you know that you child gets fussy when they are even just a little bit uncomfortable, you might want to opt for a more padded option.
Ease of Use
A properly installed unit is the key to keeping your child safe. The easier it is to install, the safer you child will be.
To ensure that your unit is safe, it needs to be anchored down correctly. Designs that have an unnecessarily complicated design run the risk of not being installed correctly. We wanted to select options that had clearly labeled and easy to use design options. The Graco design, for example, uses Click Connect design that will make an audible clicking noise when it is secured in place. Many of these options out there on the market are mounted to the chair using the existing belts in your automobile. One of the features that we found to be the most helpful was the addition of a bubble level that is mounted on the side of each design. For rear mounted models, this level will indicate when your unit is at the right angle before mounting it securely into place. Ensuring that it is properly in place will keep your little one is safe in the event of a crash. Plus, sometimes you will have users such as aunts and grandparents using these options in their automobile, so the easier that it is to use means the higher chance that it will be mounted properly.
The most important aspect to these products is that they can keep you little one safe.
Of course, safety is the most important thing that we considered when researching these options. Sure, things like cup holders and canopies are a nice addition, but the number one goal when it comes to traveling with your little one is to keep them safe. From what we have seen from some of the provided user reviews, even after some pretty nasty accidents these chairs hold up and their little one walks away without a single scratch or bump. There are two things that make these units incredibly effective- and they are in the materials that are used to compose each item, as well as the inclusion and quality of a 5 point harness. This harness distributes the force from an impact evenly throughout the body so that it lessen the severity of an impact. EPS inserts are something that users really love that are included in some models. While the harness is effective enough to keep your little one from going anywhere, EPS material is shock absorbing so even if you are in a minor fender bender, your little one may not even notice.
How your product will grow with you little one is another important feature that we considered.
We wanted to make sure that we selected design that were going to be able to grow with you child, but still give you a few options that were designed specially for infants. The designs that are able to grow with you child often have insert that are placed into the chair to protect the neck of an newborn. These inserts are typically able to be removed, and in some cases they can be tossed into the washing machine for easy cleaning. The average weight range for these units is between 4-40 pounds, with some exceptions. There are some units out there on the market that are only designed to hold up to 30 pounds, which means your little one might grow out of it rather quickly. On the other hand, there are some higher end options that will support a wider weight range that starts at 4 pounds and ends at 65. The cost of these units are a little bit more, but parents feel like they truly get their use out of it.
All of these products are considered to safe, so a higher price point doesn't mean it is more safe.
As a parent, you will likely be willing to spend any amount of money to ensure that your little one is safe while you travel or just run every day errands. The truth of the matter is that the higher end models aren’t considered to be more safe than the more affordable options. Each company has to comply with a certain set of safety regulations as well as testing before their product can even hit the market, so you can feel confident that you little one is completely safe even if they are in the most affordable option on the market. With this in mind, we made sure to select options that weren’t going to break the bank, but still offered features that parents would love and appreciate- such as chairs that grow right along with your child.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are the more affordable options considered to be less safe?
It’s natural to assume that the least expensive options might not be as safe as some of the higher end designs, but that simply just isn’t the case. All designs must meet certain safety requirements in order to be able to be sold to the public. The higher end designs are priced to be more expensive because they often have certain bells and whistles that other designs just don’t have. For instance, some options use high end and breathable materials, as well as using certain types of foam. These features don’t make the unit any more or less safe, it just makes it a little bit more comfortable. Some options have simple and easy to use locking mechanisms that make it easier to take in and out of your vehicle, and might be the reason that they are offered at a higher price tag.
q: How should I clean it?
We know that these products can get messy pretty fast. So, how do you go about cleaning them? With some Graco options, users can remove the fabric on the base and toss it right into the washing machine. However, you if have a design that doesn’t have fabric that is able to be removed, wiping it down with a warm, damp cloth is a great way to get it clean. Using a shop vac from your garage or at the car wash is also a great and safe way to get rid of all crumbs that seem to follow your little one wherever they go.
q: Do I need to buy a rear facing option?
For some states, it is required by law that all children under the age of 2 years have to sit in a rear facing option when riding in any automobile. The reasoning behind this is because it is just simply more safe for your child. Many options out there on the market that will grow along with your child have the option to mount the unit in the rear when they are under 2, and then it will be able to turn around and mount to the front when they are over 2 years of age. It’s important that you never put a rear facing option in the front of an automobile because many vehicles now have airbags that deploy on the passenger side.
q: How will i know if it is mounted in my vehicle properly?
One of the most common errors when it comes to these products is that parents sometimes do not secure them properly. When they are not secured down properly, they are significantly less safe. Sometimes, even if the parents know how to secure them down into the car, grandparents might run into trouble when the design is a little complicated. There were many options on the market that have simple clicking designs with big buttons that even those that do not have any experience with these products will be able to figure out. Another feature that will help users determine if it is mounted right is a bubble level that is mounted to the side of the unit. If the bubble is within the designated lines, that means that it is mounted in the proper place.
q: Can I take it on an airplane?
Yes, this is an excellent way to free up your lap while you travel and it is actually more safe for your little one in the event of severe turbulence or even a crash. There are a few downsides to traveling with one of these products, however. The first downside is that you will likely need to buy an extra ticket for their own chair to ensure that you will have enough room. If not, you will have to hold the entire unit on your lap for the duration of the flight. Sometimes, depending upon the airline, they will allow you to place your chair onto an empty chair in a flight that isn’t completely booked.
q: Where should I place the buckle to the 5-point harness?
This is something that a lot of parents also tend to get wrong. The best place to put the buckle to the 5 point harness is in the center part of their chest. Many parents think that placing it on their stomach is where they should put it, but they would be wrong. In the event of a crash, the ribcage is far stronger that the soft part of the stomach. The key of the 5 point harness for these chairs is how it distributes the force evenly at 5 places so that the impact isn’t concentrated in one section such as the neck or stomach. That’s why it is important to slide the buckle up to the chest when strapping them into place.
q: Will they fit into most vehicles?
For the most part, these options will fit into most makes and models of automobiles. Many options use the belt found in the back of any vehicle to mount it securely in place. There is one thing that some users run into with some of these options, and it has to do with fitting into places such as shopping carts. Some of the wider options may fit into your vehicle, but they might be a little difficult to carry, and also to place on shopping carts.
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