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The Best Infant Car Seat - 2021

Last updated on October 12, 2021

We looked at the top 20 Infant Car Seats and dug through the reviews from 133 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Infant Car Seats.

Best Infant Car Seat

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Our Picks For The Top Infant Car Seats

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Best Overall

Graco SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Graco

SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

Overall Take

Adjustable BaseThis infant car seat is designed for babies weighing 4 to 35 pounds.

Experts Included
DWYM Baby and Kids Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  Easy to Clean

COOLBEBE 3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

COOLBEBE

3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

Overall Take

Comfy and EffectiveThis infant car seat pad is easy to remove and clean in a washer and dryer.

Experts Included
DWYM Baby and Kids Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  Easy Set Up

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

Graco

SnugRide SnugLock 35 Adjustable Infant Car Seat

Overall Take

Hassle-Free InstallationThere's no need to fight with your infant car seat to get it installed, as this model only requires three steps to get it travel ready.

Experts Included
DWYM Baby and Kids Experts plus BestReviews, Experienced Mommy, Lucie’s List, Motherly, Car Seat Blog, Baby Gear Lab and 4 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" Accommodates rear-facing riders up to 40 lbs. Lined with energy-absorbing foam for maximum protection during crashes."
Cons
"On the flip side, this car seat probably isn’t ideal for those who have big babies."
  We Also Like

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Chicco

KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Overall Take

Versatile PickThis budget-friendly pick has great crash test results and an array of versatile installation options. Plus, this infant car seat is easy to level.

Experts Included
DWYM Baby and Kids Experts plus Consumer Reports, BestReviews, New York Times Wirecutter, Top Ten Reviews, Baby Gear Lab, The Nightlight and 5 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart and Target.
Pros
" One of the best seats overall for balancing crash protection, ease-of-use, and vehicle fit."
Cons
"Fabric can make babies sweat if they are heavily bundled."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
27

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the infant car seats available to purchase.
20

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

133

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Experienced Mommy, Today's Parent, Healthline, Verywell Family, Babylic.

59,233

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 20 Infant Car Seats and also dug through the reviews from 133 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Infant Car Seats.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval
Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Graco SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

User Summarized Score

9.6
2,660 user reviews

Our Take

This infant car seat's base includes a level indicator to remove the guesswork from installation. Parents will appreciate that the base is also adjustable to four different positions. The seat even includes a 2-piece infant head and body support.


The Best Bang For Your Buck

COOLBEBE 3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

User Summarized Score

8.8
5,381 user reviews

Our Take

Give your baby the extra support he or she needs during those first few months of life with this infant car seat insert. The insert is designed to attach to any 5-point harness and can even be used in a stroller as well as a car seat. The hypoallergenic insert is also breathable and absorbent, which is welcome on a hot summer day.

Overall Product Rankings

Graco SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

1. Graco SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 9.7
Reviews Included: 1

COOLBEBE 3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

2. COOLBEBE 3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 1

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

3. Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 14

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

4. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 14

Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat

5. Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 11

Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat

6. Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 9

Britax B-Safe 35 1 Layer Impact Protection Infant Car Seat

7. Britax B-Safe 35 1 Layer Impact Protection Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 13

Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 Infant Car Seat

8. Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 13

Safety 1st Grow And Go 3-In-1 Infant Car Seat

9. Safety 1st Grow And Go 3-In-1 Infant Car Seat

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 15

Peg Perego Primo

10. Peg Perego Primo

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 13

Graco SungRide 35

11. Graco SungRide 35

Overall Score: 7.7
Reviews Included: 13

UPPAbaby Mesa

12. UPPAbaby Mesa

Overall Score: 7.6
Reviews Included: 12

Chicco Fit2

13. Chicco Fit2

Overall Score: 7.1
Reviews Included: 13

Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe

14. Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe

Overall Score: 7.1
Reviews Included: 8

Baby Trend Inertia

15. Baby Trend Inertia

Overall Score: 7.1
Reviews Included: 6

Cyber Aton

16. Cyber Aton

Overall Score: 6.8
Reviews Included: 10

Recaro Performance Coupe

17. Recaro Performance Coupe

Overall Score: 6.7
Reviews Included: 7

Baby Trends EZ Flex-Loc
Overall Score: 6.6
Reviews Included: 10

Britax B-Safe 35

19. Britax B-Safe 35

Overall Score: 5.7
Reviews Included: 12

Maxi-Cosi Mico NXT

20. Maxi-Cosi Mico NXT

Overall Score: 4.5
Reviews Included: 7

Our Infant Car Seat Findings


Graco SnugRide Hailey Infant Car Seat

What We Liked: This infant car seat’s base includes a level indicator to remove the guesswork from installation. Parents will appreciate that the base is also adjustable to four different positions. The seat even includes a 2-piece infant head and body support.


COOLBEBE 3-in-1 Infant Car Seat Pillow Insert

What We Liked: Give your baby the extra support he or she needs during those first few months of life with this infant car seat insert. The insert is designed to attach to any 5-point harness and can even be used in a stroller as well as a car seat. The hypoallergenic insert is also breathable and absorbent, which is welcome on a hot summer day.


Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

What We Liked: Designed for infants of up to 35 pounds, this infant car seat installs with ease. It has a special cover that can be removed in seconds for a good cleaning. Parents will also appreciate the adjustable base that offers four recline positions and a removable set of head and body cushions.


Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

What We Liked: With versatile installation options, and crash test results that are on par with more expensive options, this infant car seat is a safe and budget-friendly pick. It is highly recommended to comfortably cradle preemies and we like that it comes with easy-leveling features built right in.


Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat

What We Liked: This heavily safety-tested infant car seat has the comfort of both parents and babies in mind with an ergonomic carry handle and soft, temp-regulating cushioning. Even though it is rated for little ones up to 35 pounds some parents find it to be a tight fit over 20.

Our Expert Consultant

Dr. Niket Sonpal   
Gastroenterologist and adjunct assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine

Dr. Niket Sonpal is an adjunct assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and clinical instructor at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn, who specializes in gastroenterology.

He is a graduate of the Medical University of Silesia-Hope Medical Institute in Poland. After completing his residency in internal medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, he was selected to be the 2013‐2014 Chief Resident at Lenox Hill Hospital–Northshore LIJ Health System. Dr. Sonpal completed his fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at Lenox Hill Hospital and continues his work in the field of medical-student and resident-test preparation. He now serves as the associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brookdale University medical center.

He is also the co‐author of several medical test prep books and serves as the chief operating officer for Medquest Test Prep and director of medical education for Picmonic Test Prep.

Our Infant Car Seat Buying Guide

You’re probably already nervous about your first ride home with your tiny bundle of joy. On top of that, you have to try to pick the best infant car seat from a seemingly endless array of options. From the ease of installation to fabric comfort and whether or not it works with your stroller system, it can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s simple to break down the basics of what you need in an infant car seat so you can find the right infant car seat for your growing family.

Take your time before making a purchase, as this is a significant investment in your baby’s safety.

“This is one of the most important purchases a parent will ever make,” says Dr. Niket Sonpal, a doctor based in New York City.  “This is not the time to seek out a budget item. Buying quality can literally save your infant’s life.”

Infant car seats — sometimes called bucket or pumpkin seats — are rear-facing and made for infants and toddlers up to two years old. The height and weight requirements vary from seat to seat but they typically work for babies from around 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. Some seats, like the Chicco KeyFit 30, are preferred for preemies but only go up to 30 pounds and 30 inches. The seat usually clicks into or attaches to a base that stays in the car.

Many infant car seats have a carrying handle and an adjustable shade. They also have various types of cushions and inserts that can be used for the smallest infants and then taken out as your child grows.

Experts recommend that children stay rear-facing at least until two years old or when they reach the height and weight limit for the seat. According to the federal government, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury in a car crash by 71 to 82%. Overall, kids may end up using a car seat or booster up to the age of 12, based on their height and weight.

Knowing that their child will be using a car seat for such a long time prompts many parents to opt for a convertible car seat. Unlike the infant car seat, a convertible car seat starts rear-facing and can change its configuration to a front-facing car seat and then finally a booster. They are just as safe as an infant car seat and must meet the same standards. While this option can certainly be budget-friendly and you may be able to keep your child rear-facing longer, there are some trade-offs.

For some, the biggest deal-breaker is giving up the ability to easily transfer a sleeping baby in and out of the car while still in the seat. Since convertible car seats are meant to stay in the car most of the time, they also don’t typically work with strollers and don’t have carry handles. And, since they’re larger to accommodate a growing child, they may not fit well in all vehicles. You’ll want to make sure to consider how you’ll be using the car seat and if it’s important for you to be able to keep your child in the car seat when you’re out and about. Many infant car seats work with a complimentary stroller or travel system and you may save money buying this as a package deal.

The most important part of any car seat purchase is safety. Each car seat uses different materials and features, but they all have to meet the same federal safety standards. Some may choose to do additional safety testing. There are a few things you’ll want to look out for, such as a five-point harness and a base that clearly indicates when the seat is attached and positioned correctly with a color change or a bubble level.

Actually installing and using the seat the right way can be stressful for any new parent, so the easier it is to do, the better. The government maintains an ease-of-use rating system to help parents find seats that have clear instructions and are easy to install and use. Anything rated 4 or 5 tends to be more intuitive.

Be sure to take the time to thoroughly and properly understand the installation instructions for your car seat, says Dr. Sonpal.

“A poorly installed seat leaves a child vulnerable in a crash,” he says.

All cars are now required to have a LATCH system (which stands for lower anchors and top tethers) that allows you to attach the car seat with clips near the seatbelt base and behind the headrest or seat. It can sometimes be a struggle to make the connectors the right length so a self-retracting option may be a major plus if you have to take the base in and out more frequently. 

Finally, it’s important to consider overall comfort, for you and for baby. Look at features like the weight of the car seat, the ergonomics of the carry handle and quality or type of fabric. Infant car seats can vary widely in weight. For example, one model may only weigh 16 pounds, while another weighs 25 pounds. That can make a big difference if you plan to tote the seat any distance with your little one inside.

If you live in a warm climate you may want to look for a cooler fabric, like breathable jersey. Moisture-wicking merino wool, which is also naturally flame retardant, is another good choice. While buying online can be the most cost-effective and convenient, you may want to go to a store where you can compare the feel of the fabric and other materials.

DWYM Fun Fact

As of 1985, all states finally have laws requiring the use of car seats on the books. But in 1987, only 80% of people were using them. It wasn’t until 2003 that all cars we required by federal regulation to be manufactured with LATCH systems (lower anchors and top tethers) for car seats. This helped promote usage by making it easier and more consistent to install car seats.

Still, according to the federal government, car accidents and related injuries are the leading cause of death among children (ages 0-12) in the United States. They also found that in one year, 618,000 children did not use a car seat or booster seat at least some of the time. While there are a number of factors that cause injury in car accidents, the government did a study that found that 46% of car seats and booster seats are misused in some way. Front-facing car seats are the most common misuse, at 61%.

The federal government urges the use of car seats as the best way to reduce the risk of injury. In addition to following the recommended stages for car seat use, you can also find a certified child safety technician in your area to get installation instruction and tips one-on-one. The bottom line: it’s better to use a car seat or booster as recommended than not and there are resources to help you install and use your seats correctly.

The Infant Car Seat Tips and Advice

  • Any parent or caregiver who has cleaned a car seat mess will tell you how important easy-to-clean fabric is. Even better, look for car seats that allow you to remove the lining or pad entirely and toss it in the washer.
  • If you travel frequently or live in a city where you may need to use your car seat in a taxi or rideshare you may want to opt for an infant car seat that can be used with or without its included base, giving you more flexibility when on the go.
  • You are not alone when it comes to learning how to install a car seat properly. The federal government offers free car seat inspection locations (usually at local fire stations) with trained technicians who can show you how to install it and use it.
  • Believe it or not, car seats expire. That’s why it’s not recommended to purchase a car seat from a yard sale or online reseller or reuse one from a friend. Most infant car seats expire in five to six years. Some convertible car seats last up to 10 years. You may be able to find the expiration date on the car seat itself or in the owners’ manual. If you can’t find a date, note the model number and call the manufacturer. Most car seats do end up looking kind of beat up, but the real risk is caused by plastic getting hot and cold repeatedly over the years. This may cause hairline cracks or brittleness that aren’t easy to see, and are very dangerous in a crash.
  • Once you’ve chosen the perfect seat, you also have to make sure you’re strapping in your little one correctly. Straps should be at or below the shoulder without any looseness or slack. Your child may protest but you should only be able to fit a couple fingers behind the strap. The chest clip should be at armpit level in the middle of the sternum. If it’s too high, it could cause neck injury and if it’s too low, your child could be thrown from the car seat.
  • As an added safety precaution you can add a luggage tag or label to the side of the seat with emergency contact info. Include details like your child’s name, parents’ name, address and phone numbers, pediatrician name and any medical conditions. This way, first responders can find valuable information quickly, in case the parent or caregiver is injured or unable to speak.

About The Author

Amanda Stout 

Amanda Stout has been a professional writer for 15 years and is a mom to a precocious elementary-aged daughter. Before her daughter was born, Amanda was the type to research every product she bought for her in great detail until she was confident it was the highest quality, safest and also the best deal. She's still always out for a deal and more than happy to share the fruits of her obsessive research. She's also interested in child development and psychology which she uses to better navigate parenting.