Choosing a car seat can be overwhelming. How do you figure out which one to buy? Start with your travel needs. How will you be using the car seat? Will it fit in your vehicle? We’ve got recommendations for all sorts of different needs! See here for a discussion of what to take into consideration when making a decision.
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. It might even be the most commonly asked question. There’s no easy answer, unfortunately. The safest and best car seat is the one that will install securely in your vehicle, that fits your child’s age, height, and weight, and that you can operate correctly every time. Looking at safety ratings is important but isn’t enough, because if the seat rated “safest” doesn’t fit securely in your vehicle, or if you can’t figure out how to operate it, it is NOT the best seat for YOU. All car seats are safe and will protect your child if properly used. We’re here to help you find the best one for your specific needs.
Your car seat has to work for YOU. If you travel a lot and are constantly installing and uninstalling your seat, your seat should be easy to install. If you take taxis/uber or use rental cars frequently, buy a lightweight seat that’s optimized for frequent installation. If you walk everywhere, the car seat needs to fit on your stroller — but you should base your stroller purchase on the car seat, not vice versa, since the car seat and not the stroller may one day save your child’s life (see our Stroller Compatibility page). If you plan on having a second child soon, buy a car seat with a long lifespan, so that you can pass it down to the next child, and buy one that can be installed in multiple locations in your vehicle, since a second child may change your seating positions.
Our guide lists the seats that we consider user-friendly, since the easier a seat is to install, the more likely you are to install it properly. Most of these seats have built-in ease-of use features that help out during installation. While we can’t make a specific recommendation about which specific car seat will work best in your particular vehicle without speaking with you, we’ve created some categories to help guide you towards the right seats for specific situations, like fitting a car seat in a tight space, or choosing one for the side seating position versus the center position.
Car seats are expensive! Buy a seat that has high height and weight limits. This will allow you to use the seat for longer and will push off your next purchase for as long as possible. An infant or convertible car seat with high height and weight limits will allow you to keep your child rear-facing for longer, and since rear-facing is significantly safer than forward-facing, it’s the best way to keep your child safe in the car.