We’ve curated a list of our favorite infant car seats, ones that we highly recommend you consider when shopping.
Why did we pick these particular seats? They all offer two important things we’d like all families to benefit from:
1. Enhanced or specialized safety features
2. User-friendly features
Being user-friendly is actually a safety benefit itself, since we know that the easier a seat is to operate, the more likely parents are to use it correctly.
Which is safest? Certain safety features are more or less beneficial depending on your specific travel needs, and we’ve highlighted this in our discussion below each car seat.
Basic Requirements: In order to be on our recommended list, an infant seat must have all of the following:
Extras: We’ve also provided extra info for each seat, including price, specific features we love and specific features we don’t love.
Why only these three seats? Numerous studies about decision fatigue show that we make better choices when presented with fewer options. Rather than tell you the pros and cons of ten or more different seats, we really limited the options to the ones we truly believe are the most user-friendly and have the best specialized safety features.
The basics: This seat has superior safety technology on its base and a very easy to use carrier. It’s a top pick for us in both safety and user-friendliness.
Who should get this seat: Families looking for a very easy to use, versatile car seat with fantastic safety features and who don’t mind the higher price point.
Why we love it:
Superior performance in crash tests: Crash test results show the Liing is the safest seat in the US (when installed with rigid LATCH and load leg).
Choose your installation method: The Liing installs tightly and quickly using either the seat belt OR the rigid latch. Our first choice installation method would be rigid latch, which limits the Liing to placement on the side seats, as usually only these seats (not the center seat) have the required anchors. However, unlike other car seats featuring rigid latch,the Liing base also installs quite easily and nicely with the seat belt! That means it can also be installed on the middle seat. Why does this matter? Having both methods work well means the Liing can continue to work in different seating positions in the car as a family grows and seating positions become occupied by additional children or car seats. Note: If you have a choice of installation locations/methods, Clek recommends using the rigid latch and load leg.
Great for small vehicles or for behind tall adults: The Liing also fits well behind tall adults, making it a nice choice for both smaller vehicles and tall families.
Visual indication that carrier is locked into base: No need to wonder if the carrier is locked properly–the seat tells you!
The basics: Long lasting and easy to install both with and without the base, often works great in 3-across situations.
Who should get this seat: Because of its longevity and installation versatility, the Fit2 works for a lot of different needs:
Why we love it:
Longevity! The Fit2 will last about a year longer than most other infant car seats. For city-dwellers and those who travel frequently, that extra year is amazing! Having a stroller-compatible, portable car seat with a 30 second taxi installation makes getting around with a 12-24 month old baby so much easier. No other car seats for kids in this age group can fit on strollers or install so quickly. This longevity makes the Fit2 our top choice for families that don’t have their own vehicle.
It fits everywhere! The Fit2 base typically fits in narrow, rigid or otherwise strange seating positions where other seats don’t work. It’s great for small cars since it almost always fits in the middle seat, nestling in between the two front seats. The Fit2 is also a great choice for 3-across scenarios since it tolerates being slightly off-center.
What we don’t love:
Long length: Not a great choice for placement behind very tall front seat occupants, since it’s fairly long and can’t touch the seat in front of it. Still a great choice for small vehicles though, if it can be placed in the center (it will almost always fit there)
Weight: The Fit2 carrier is heavier than the other infant seats on our list, but that’s because it’s big enough to last a year longer than the others. We think the longevity is well worth the extra pound or two.
Lacks load leg and rigid latch: We wish the Fit2 base had these features (we wish all infant seats had them!)
The basics: Easy to install base which fits in tight spots, easy to use carrier, at a lower price than other car seats with similar features. Lacks movement limiting devices.
Who should get this seat: Families on a tight budget who want a user friendly and easy to install car seat.
Why we love it:
Note: Our recommendations include ONLY the Snugride Snuglock 35 DLX, Elite and Platinum models. These models have the base shown in the above photo, wiht a gray u-shaped Snuglock arm. Other models of Snuglock 35 have a different base and are not recommended, because the u-shaped Snuglock arm is significantly easier to operate than other similar (but not identical) Snuglock base designs.
Easy and flexible installation with the seat belt: Thanks to the Snugride’s Snuglock belt tensioning and locking device, this base often tolerates a seat belt installation positioned closer to the door than other car seats, which is necessary if you are trying to install this car seat next to another car seat or passenger.
Easy LATCH installation: Smoothly pulling LATCH adjustment strap is easy to make tight.
Longevity: One of the longest lasting infant car seats.
Fits behind tall drivers. The Snugride Snuglock takes up less space from front-to-back compared to other infant seats, so it tends to fit better behind taller drivers or passengers. This means its more flexible in where you can install it in the vehicle–you are not limited to a behind-the-passenger position (for this reason anyway).
Super safe: Crash test results show it’s one of the the safest infant seats in the US
What we don’t love:
Harder to use Euro belt path: While the Snugride Snuglock uses a European routing path when installed without the base, we find the Liing and the Fit2 are easier to install with this method. If you plan to use the carrier without the base regularly, you may want to consider the Fit2 instead.
Lacks load leg and rigid latch: We wish the Snugride Snuglock base had these features (we wish all infant seats had them!)
FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this page. No monetary compensation was provided, however, a few of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions are those of The Car Seat Lady, LLC.