While there aren’t a lot of problems with this seat, there have been a few issues. Some parents noted a lot of wear and tear on the straps after several months of use. Other parents had difficulty getting their child at the proper recline position in rear-facing mode, so their child’s head fell forward when sleeping. Adjusting the angle with a pool noodle or towel is recommended.
Reviewers on Amazon complain that the wide base means it is hard for kids to buckle the seat on their own, as the edge of the seat nearly overlaps with the seat belt buckle, but none of our testers had significant issues with this. The wider seat means that parents who want to install three booster and/or car seats across or two next to each other may not be able to do so with the Diono. If you feel that the Diono is too wide for your car, you may want to consider getting the Chicco, which is also 17 inches wide at the base but an inch narrower at the headwings, or the even-slimmer Graco, which is 16 inches wide at the base and 17 inches at the headwings. Note, though, that if you need to fit only two across, you may find that this seat is a fine fit in a small car. A Wirecutter editor has been using this seat installed in the back seat of her compact car, a Chevy Bolt, for the past three months (alongside the Britax Marathon ClickTight, our convertible car seat pick) and doesn’t feel it overly crowds the space. Another tester, though, noted that the bigger headrest prevents kids from seeing as much out of the side of the seat, as compared with the other models we tried.
We test all of the features, install the car seats in multiple vehicle types, read all the manuals, and pull together opinions from dozens of parents involved in our testing program. This year we came away with about a dozen of the best infant car seats. Note that these are all rearfacing seats only. You can also check out our reviews of convertible and all-in-one car seats, and our booster seat reviews. For more details about what we considered in our hands-on tests of infant car seats, scroll down to the bottom of this article. 

The Graco is easy to clean, and lightweight at 8.4 pounds—5½ pounds less than the Diono and 2 pounds less than the Chicco. One tester noted that the seat’s lighter weight made it easy to switch between cars, but another complained that the hook latches weren’t as easy to use as the push-button ones on the Chicco (the Diono also has hook latches). Another tester, who had personally owned this seat for several years prior to our testing for this guide, noted that the headrest kept sliding down on the Graco. So although the headrest is easy to pull up, it will sometimes inch down on its own. Besides the standard plastic cupholder, the Graco has a plastic drawer that slides into the bottom of the seat, though it was much harder to slide in and out than the Diono’s.

About $200-230 depending on whether you go for the regular B-Safe 35 (usually around $170), the B-Safe Elite (usually around $200), or the newest B-Safe Ultra (usually up to $230 depending on pattern choice). The one pictured is the 35 Ultra with Cool Flow fabric. There's a reason that the Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat is the #1 best-selling infant car seat on the market this year, because moms and dads love it, and you can't beat the Britax safety reputation. The B-Safe 35, B-Safe Elite, and B-Safe Ultra infant car seats come with a seat base that easily attaches into (and detaches from) your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. Made right here in the USA, moms love the form and fit of these seats, and we found that any of these models do a really nice job supporting even very small (4+ lbs) infants with use of the included infant padding insert. As the baby grows, you can remove the additional body and head padding to give your baby a bit more room. The car seat also has simple to adjust head protection pads, a 35-pound weight limit (which is at the higher end of the range), two crotch strap positions (in the Elite and Ultra), multiple shoulder harness strap positions to fit a growing baby, and we found it very easy with the Elite and Ultra versions to make on-the-fly adjustments to suit different size babies. The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite have three primary differences: the elite adds quick-adjust head protection, adjustable shoulder straps without rethreading (this is truly worth the cost), and a bit more padding and higher quality fabric. The B-Safe Elite and B-Safe Ultra have a few differences as well: the B-Safe Ultra adds a European belt path and the Cool Flow fabric option. The European style belt guide allows you to secure the seat without the base using the vehicle's seat belts; this is great for people who don't want to spend the extra cash for another base, have multiple cars, or want to be able to travel (and use a ride-sharing or a taxi) without bringing the base along. The Cool Flow fabric is amazing and provides extra ventilation for the warmer months to avoid a sweaty back and discomfort. Overall, we believe the extra $40-50 is worth all of the advantages of the Ultra version. But all those features mean a car seat that weighs about 20 pounds (seat is 11lb + base is 9lb), which we understand may be quite heavy for some parents. All three B-Safe versions use the Britax SafeCell technology, which combines side impact protection, a steel-reinforced frame, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. Those safety features really set this seat apart from the crowd, and we think it's worth the added weight. Relative to the Chicco car seats (see below), the B-Safe Elite and Ultra have slightly plusher and premium-feel fabric, and we found the fabric much easier to clean with wipes, and to remove for machine washing. The B-Safe also has the same weight capacity (35 pounds) as the Chicco Fit2, but a lower maximum baby height of 32" as opposed to the Chicco Fit2's 35". Related to sizing, in our testing we did find that the B-Safe can be a bit tight in the shoulder area for bigger babies, especially after they are about 10-12 months old. That's the only real limitation of this Britax car seat, though it won't impact you if you have a relatively normal-sized baby, or if you're going to switch a convertible car seat around 12-16 months anyway. A final point is that the B-Safe canopy is larger than most others and truly covers a baby during bright sun, rain, snow, or simply for privacy and during a nap. The B-Safe is made in the USA by a company with a stellar reputation for quality and safety, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and toddler booster seats. As a bonus, it comes in a variety of colors/patterns. Yes, it's expensive, but we believe the quality, features, and safety reputation are well worth the cost. It is definitely one the best infant car seats available this year, and worthy of this spot on our list (and its spot at the top of our best travel systems list). Interested in our top-pick, the B-Safe Ultra? You can check it out here: Britax B-Safe 35 Ultra.


The Chicco KidFit is for kids who weigh between 30 and 110 pounds and are between 38" and 57" tall. The back of the seat can be removed, depending on your and your child’s preferences, and the booster seat has easy-to-use seat belt guides. Further, it features 10-position head and shoulder side-impact protection, as well as a contoured, reclining seat with double foam padding for both protection and comfort. Finally, both the seat and ​armrests have removable, washable covers, making it easy to keep the car seat clean.
Among them were certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Lani Harrison, a seasoned tech in Los Angeles who installs more than 300 car seats each year; Aditya Belwadi, PhD, a biomechanics research scientist who leads the Child Passenger Safety research team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Julie Mansfield, a research engineer with the Injury Biomechanics Research Center at The Ohio State University College of Medicine; and Bill Horn, head sled testing engineer at Calspan in Buffalo, New York, one of the country’s top crash-testing facilities.

Dorel: (parent company of Cosco) “The Cosco Finale exceeds all federal safety requirements, and out of the 350,000 in use, there have been no reported injuries. The recent Consumer Reports dynamic crash testing of the Finale was done far in excess of the NHTSA standards, so much so, that the Dorel Juvenile crash test team has been unable to recreate the results at its onsite crash test facilities.  Most importantly, even in the Consumer Reports crash tests, the Cosco Finale performed the primary function of restraining the child (test dummy), controlling excursion and avoiding injury at the elevated crash forces used by the Consumer Reports protocol.  In fact, this seat passes NHTSA testing without the use of the tether.   We stand by the quality of this seat.”
The design of the Diono Monterey XT is notably better at positioning the shoulder strap of the safety belt onto a kid’s shoulder and preventing the strap from twisting or coming out—a convenience for parents. Our kid testers found the seat comfortable and had no difficulty buckling themselves in and sitting properly in it, making it easier for parents to ensure that their kids use the seat correctly and ride safely. Like our other picks, the Diono converts from a high-back to a backless booster, and comes with a LATCH option. It’s one of the widest seats we looked at, however.

Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; no re-thread harness; 2 buckle positions; innovative SuperCinch LATCH tightening system; premium push-on LATCH connectors; 9 position base; energy-absorbing EPS foam; non-twist straps; built-in lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; anti-slip base; “ZIP” models feature zip-off cover for easy washing


Our child development expert, Jonas, has this to stay on the subject: “Consider the recall history of a brand before making a purchase. If they’ve recently pulled products from store shelves, what was the reason? Products may be recalled for regulation changes, missing or incomplete labels, manufacturing defects, or reported injuries. Not all recalls are the fault of the manufacturer, so it’s important to understand the reason behind the incident. Recalls may be voluntarily initiated by the manufacturer or mandatorily by the NHTSA — the government branch that’s responsible for vehicle safety.”
You might already know that the backseat is safer than the front, but just how much safer required some investigation. Enter the researchers from University of Buffalo who studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location. It turns out the backseat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat. More astounding (at least to us) is that the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats in the back.
Our comments: This unique “kid-positioner” fits kids bigger, older kids when traditional boosters don’t. Its short stature boosts those bigger kids up just enough for proper belt fit while its plain design makes it look more like a vehicle cushion than a booster. Shorter adults have even been known to use it to improve belt fit! See our preview and kid-written review of this terrific product.
The slim design means that your car will be able to carry more people in the back seat comfortably. Most car seats are safer in the middle of the back seat anyway, and if you have older children, they won’t be cramped on either side. In rear-facing mode, it also provides more front seat legroom than many other seats on the market. Two built-in cup holders come in handy for toddlers and beyond.
Another addition to the all-in-one car seat category, the Safety 1st All-in-One takes you from newborn bucket seat to toddler (rear-racing to 40 pounds) to elementary school (front-facing to 50 pounds) and, finally, to a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds. It’s all the seat you’d ever need – or want, considering this baby has side-impact protection and meets or exceeds Federal and ASTM Safety Standards. Keep in mind its front-facing weight limit (50 pounds) is lower than its competitors (65-70 pounds) – but its price is, too.
The Britax Pavilion is one of the most popular, adjustable car seats on the market today – and for good reason. With a sky-high weight capacity of 70 pounds, this seat will take you from newborn through elementary school. Even better, the Pavilion upholds Britax’s incredible safety standards and features, scoring top ratings for its side-impact protection, integrated steel bar construction, and SafeCell technology, which keeps your child safe in the event of a crash.
Once your little one grows too big for their car seat is it important to move to the next step. Booster seats for the car are important for your child’s safety. They come in multiple colours and patterns to match your child’s personality. Add some of the accessories to make the car journey more enjoyable. Follow the guidelines for weight requirements for the different types and brands. Save money and live better.
But here’s the other thing: as parents, we all agree that car seats should be a hot topic because they’re one of the most important aspects to keeping our kids safe. The average family spends a lot of time in the car: grocery runs and after-school sports and weekend jaunts and, well, all those interminable minutes and hours you spend going to and fro, hither and thither.
A car seat that has been involved in a moderate or serious accident should also be thrown away, though you can continue to use a seat after a minor crash if all of the following criteria are met: You are able to drive away from the crash site; airbags did not deploy; the passengers are uninjured; the car seat has no visible damage; and the vehicle door nearest the car seat is undamaged.
Our comments: The Scenera NEXT is a good budget-friendly seat for babies and small toddlers. Just don’t expect it to fit many kids over age 2 or 3. Also nice for traveling since it’s so lightweight. If installing with LATCH isn’t an option then you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt.  See our full review of the Cosco Scenera NEXT.  Also check out our Comparison of Convertible Seats Under $100.
Though this seat meets or exceeds all safety standards in the US, it is made in China, so there can be some quality control issues. Some parents noted that food can get caught in the harness tension latch, which could hinder proper tightening. Always check the latch and clean any loose debris before using it. There is no backless booster mode, which some parents didn’t like.
Our comments: Both Nautilus models offer a no-rethread harness. Both are generally easy to install and use correctly although the new Nautilus SnugLock model has a nifty tensioning and locking feature that makes it super easy to achieve a secure installation. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 45 lbs. Since the original Nautilus models lack a lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install that model with seatbelt. The original Nautilus models and the Nautilus SnugLock DLX have a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode.
While your child may fit into a booster seat after outgrowing an infant seat, it’s not recommended. Booster seats are forward-facing only. It’s safest to keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. Convertible car seats have higher rear-facing weight limits than nearly all infant seats. This means when your child outgrows the infant seat, they can use a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position until they grow another 10-15 pounds.
Our comments: Excellent overall if you are planning to use an infant seat from birth and then transition to a convertible when your baby is bigger/older. The 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit gives parents the option to keep their kids rear-facing longer but the top harness slots aren’t especially tall (16″) so it will be outgrown by height in the forward-facing position long before the 65 lbs. weight limit is reached. Rava is one of the most expensive convertibles on the market but the quality and features are all top-notch and the styling and fashions are luxurious. LATCH weight limits are 35. lbs in the rear-facing position and 40 lbs. forward-facing but Nuna recommends installation with seatbelt so you don’t have to remember to switch from one installation method to another when your child reaches a certain weight. See our complete Rava review here.
The Diono is recommended by Car Seats for the Littles and is one of BabyGearLab’s Best Value booster seats. Car Seats for the Littles calls the Diono “a dream come true for kids who may not fit into smaller seats and for kids who prefer a more padded booster seat” and Amazon reviewers praised both the look and feel of the fabric and the sturdy nature of the seat.
You probably know Peg Perego for its hip, Italian-made strollers, but did you know the brand also has car seats on offer? Excellent ones, in fact: the Primo Viaggio is a highly adjustable, extended rear-facing car seat with top safety ratings and glowing reviews. We love the Primo Viaggio’s safety features – side-impact protection, 10 adjustable positions for safest fit, energy-absorbing foam, shock-absorbing foam, and a quick-release 5-point harness – and love it even more for accommodating children up to 45 pounds for rear-facing and a whopping 70 pounds for front-facing.

Cons: Booster function is outgrown in height very quickly after the harness is outgrown by height, does not convert to backless, harness must be fully removed when switching to booster mode, lower weight limit than other combination seats, must remember to move crotch buckle out when child reaches 40 lbs, and narrow set harness straps may dig into child's neck.

Usually about $300. This is a stylish, simple, sophisticated infant car seat made by Nuna International, a boutique baby gear company based in Amsterdam. They have European styling and simplicity, and some safety features that are very common in the EU but relatively rare in the USA. The Nuna Pipa seat itself is made in China, like most on this list, and can be pretty hard to find. It's generally available at Nordstrom and a few other high-end department stores. In our testing, we really loved this infant car seat. It has super soft and high-quality feel materials, with micro knit fabrics, soft and thick padding where it's needed most (like on the crotch buckle!), and a truly amazing canopy that has a nifty "dream drape" extension that basically covers the entire baby to protect from the elements (UPF 50+). It supports babies as little as 4 pounds with the included infant insert, making it an ideal infant car seat for premature babies. And it supports up to 32 pounds or 32 inches long. All that weight and height range while weighting under 8 pounds! The base is about 14 pounds, but nobody walks around with the seat attached to the base. This is one of the safest infant car seats we've ever tested, for a few reasons. First, it has the basic 5-point harness, but also deep and thick side-impact protection and EPS energy-absorbing foam. Second, it includes a stability leg, which is becoming very common in the EU: the stability leg attaches to the back of the seat and extends down to your car's floor. It limits rotational forces by absorbing impact in the event of a crash. Installation was a breeze using the easy LATCH connectors. Note that the LATCH installation connectors on this seat are stiff and attached to the base. For that reason, they will not allow you to connect to non-traditional LATCH positions (like the center seat), you'll need to use the car's seat belt for that. In our testing, we were really impressed with this infant car seat, and thought that it was quite luxurious with its fabrics and overall fit and finish. And we loved the safety features, which are a welcome addition to the typical US features. Downfalls? Well, it's difficult to find in the online and brick-and-mortar stores you might be used to. It also does not have a quick-adjust harness unlike most others on this list; this means you need to re-thread the harness from the rear every time you need to adjust its height. That issue, combined with the high price (about $300), are the primary factors bring this car seat down on our list. Also, it can be difficult to find a stroller that fits it, unless you also purchase a Nuna stroller (though they do have some great ones!). Finally, no steel-reinforced frame, unlike the Britax B-Safe, and no anti-rebound bar like the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio or the Chicco Fit2. Is it one of the best infant car seats available on the market? Yes, especially if you value the style and lightweight build quality, but you'll need to shell out some extra bucks and possibly be annoyed by having to manually rethread the harness straps and the lack of modern safety features. Interested? You can check out the Nuna Pipa here. 
You might already know that the backseat is safer than the front, but just how much safer required some investigation. Enter the researchers from University of Buffalo who studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location. It turns out the backseat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat. More astounding (at least to us) is that the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats in the back.
In many states, it is required by law for children below 1 year of age to be in a rear-facing car seat. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until at least 2 years of age. It’s safest for children to remain in that seating position until the rear-facing weight limit of your convertible car seat is reached, which can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of age depending on your child’s growth and the seat you choose.
Features: 4-50 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; 4-position legrest extension panel for rear-facing only, no re-thread harness with 10 height positions; 2 buckle positions; base has 6 positions; EPS foam; push-on LATCH connectors; harness storage pockets to hold harness out of the way during loading/unloading; infant insert; dual integrated cup holders.
In many states, it is required by law for children below 1 year of age to be in a rear-facing car seat. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until at least 2 years of age. It’s safest for children to remain in that seating position until the rear-facing weight limit of your convertible car seat is reached, which can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of age depending on your child’s growth and the seat you choose.
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In many states, it is required by law for children below 1 year of age to be in a rear-facing car seat. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until at least 2 years of age. It’s safest for children to remain in that seating position until the rear-facing weight limit of your convertible car seat is reached, which can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of age depending on your child’s growth and the seat you choose.
Our comments: Both Nautilus models offer a no-rethread harness. Both are generally easy to install and use correctly although the new Nautilus SnugLock model has a nifty tensioning and locking feature that makes it super easy to achieve a secure installation. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 45 lbs. Since the original Nautilus models lack a lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install that model with seatbelt. The original Nautilus models and the Nautilus SnugLock DLX have a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode.
Also called car seat / stroller combos. Several infant car seats you’ll see here can either be bought alone or as part of a travel system. The seat will simply click onto the stroller. You may already have a stroller. But keep in mind that not all infant seats are compatible with all strollers, as is the case with the UPPAbaby MESA, which only fits the Vista and Cruz UPPAbaby strollers.
About $250. This is truly an adorable infant car seat, with some really plush and soft fabric. One of our most popular Pinterest posts of all time, the Maxi Cosi infant car seats not only look amazing, but they are definitely the coziest and comfiest infant car seat on our list. It is, indeed, Maxi-Cosi! The soft fabrics are not just comfy for the baby, but also for you, and they are easy on the eyes as well. This infant car seat supports from 4 to 30-pound babies. The infant insert can be used with babies from 4 to about 11 pounds. A great specification with this car seat is that the height range is up to 32" tall, without having the higher weight limit (which in our opinion isn't usually as important as the higher height limit). It's also a very light-weight car seat and features a detachable canopy. The Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 uses the inflated air side protection cushions, which our reviewers thought was a big deal and made them feel more secure. Couple those with the EPP energy-absorbing foam (not EPS, which can be more brittle) and the anti-rebound bar, and you've got yourself a very safe car seat. We thought the fabric was very easy to wipe clean, and easy to remove for machine washing. The canopy covered a good area over the baby, but was a bit flimsy and didn't do a great job blocking the wind or rain. We have a few more gripes. First, the base was really large and will definitely be an issue if you're trying to squeeze three seats in a row, or trying to fit a passenger in between two car seats in a smaller vehicle. Second, to adjust the carry handle you need to squeeze both adjustment buttons (one on the left and one on the right) at the same time, which is a bit of a pain. Third, when you adjust the handle, it makes a loud clicking noise, which our test reviewers thought was loud enough to wake a light napper. Finally, the tightening strap tends to flop down under the seat and get trapped when attaching to the base. That means you need to take the seat back out of the base to tighten the shoulder straps. And no steel-reinforced frame, if you're looking for that feature. Overall, this is a super comfortable and safe infant car seat with a great height limit, good styling (especially the $400 Rachel Zoe styled Maxi Cosi 30), and reasonable functionality. There are several limitations that have bumped it down on this list, and we're not 100% certain it's worth the high price tag (usually around $250). Interested? You can check out the Maxi Cosi Mico Max here.
The Evenflo Embrace Select Infant car seat is the least expensive option on our list, at less than $100! If you're interested in seeing some of our best infant car seats under $100, check out our reviews here. This car seat accommodates infants from 4 pounds up to 35 pounds. The car seat itself weighs about 13 pounds and most moms commented on how lightweight it feels compared to some other car seats. This seat includes an easy to use LATCH system for the base and the seat is easy to snap into and out of the base, and EPS energy-absorbing foam (though it does not have a steel-reinforced frame). The fabric is easy to clean though some complained that the fabric can get warm and is not very breathable. This car seat also comes with 3 shoulder harness positions so that you can adjust the seatbelt straps to their appropriate positions as your baby grows. It's important to note that this car seat can only be used rear-facing. One of the biggest complaints that parents had about this car seat is that the canopy is not very large. Parents were also disappointed that there weren't many color options to choose from. Overall, though, this is one of the best infant car seats for the price, and great for the budget-conscious buyer! Evenflo also makes the Evenflo Nurture Infant Car Seat, which is super cheap (like $50), but also super flimsy-feeling and limited in features. Here is the Evenflo Embrace LX Infant Car Seat, with different color options: Evenflo Embrace Select Infant Car Seat 

Never buy used: It’s tempting to spring for a deal on a used seat, but you should know that age, wear, and accidents (even just a teeny, tiny fender bender) can compromise a car seat’s safety features. Unless you are 110% sure of a seat’s history – never been in an accident, never left in a spot where the sun shines brightly, etc. – don’t risk your child’s safety for a discount.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests all car seats before they are approved to be sold in the United States. Unlike safety testing for cars, ratings on a 5-star scale are not available for comparing overall car seat safety in the event of a crash. Child car seats are basically given a pass/fail safety grading by the NHTSA; if a car seat is available for sale in 2018, then it has passed current crash safety standards.

Differences Between Size4Me/MySize & Contender: Size4Me 65 and its “clones” (MySize 65 & Fit4Me 65) are rated from 4 lbs. because of their infant insert cushion which helps to fit smaller newborns better than Contender, which doesn’t have the same insert and starts at 5 lbs. Contender has a different base design with a flip foot that you move back and forth for rear-facing and forward-facing. Size4Me has premium push-on LATCH connectors while Contender has basic hook-style connectors. Contender is generally about $30 cheaper, a few pounds lighter and its headwings are shaped differently.
About $200-230 depending on whether you go for the regular B-Safe 35 (usually around $170), the B-Safe Elite (usually around $200), or the newest B-Safe Ultra (usually up to $230 depending on pattern choice). The one pictured is the 35 Ultra with Cool Flow fabric. There's a reason that the Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat is the #1 best-selling infant car seat on the market this year, because moms and dads love it, and you can't beat the Britax safety reputation. The B-Safe 35, B-Safe Elite, and B-Safe Ultra infant car seats come with a seat base that easily attaches into (and detaches from) your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. Made right here in the USA, moms love the form and fit of these seats, and we found that any of these models do a really nice job supporting even very small (4+ lbs) infants with use of the included infant padding insert. As the baby grows, you can remove the additional body and head padding to give your baby a bit more room. The car seat also has simple to adjust head protection pads, a 35-pound weight limit (which is at the higher end of the range), two crotch strap positions (in the Elite and Ultra), multiple shoulder harness strap positions to fit a growing baby, and we found it very easy with the Elite and Ultra versions to make on-the-fly adjustments to suit different size babies. The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite have three primary differences: the elite adds quick-adjust head protection, adjustable shoulder straps without rethreading (this is truly worth the cost), and a bit more padding and higher quality fabric. The B-Safe Elite and B-Safe Ultra have a few differences as well: the B-Safe Ultra adds a European belt path and the Cool Flow fabric option. The European style belt guide allows you to secure the seat without the base using the vehicle's seat belts; this is great for people who don't want to spend the extra cash for another base, have multiple cars, or want to be able to travel (and use a ride-sharing or a taxi) without bringing the base along. The Cool Flow fabric is amazing and provides extra ventilation for the warmer months to avoid a sweaty back and discomfort. Overall, we believe the extra $40-50 is worth all of the advantages of the Ultra version. But all those features mean a car seat that weighs about 20 pounds (seat is 11lb + base is 9lb), which we understand may be quite heavy for some parents. All three B-Safe versions use the Britax SafeCell technology, which combines side impact protection, a steel-reinforced frame, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. Those safety features really set this seat apart from the crowd, and we think it's worth the added weight. Relative to the Chicco car seats (see below), the B-Safe Elite and Ultra have slightly plusher and premium-feel fabric, and we found the fabric much easier to clean with wipes, and to remove for machine washing. The B-Safe also has the same weight capacity (35 pounds) as the Chicco Fit2, but a lower maximum baby height of 32" as opposed to the Chicco Fit2's 35". Related to sizing, in our testing we did find that the B-Safe can be a bit tight in the shoulder area for bigger babies, especially after they are about 10-12 months old. That's the only real limitation of this Britax car seat, though it won't impact you if you have a relatively normal-sized baby, or if you're going to switch a convertible car seat around 12-16 months anyway. A final point is that the B-Safe canopy is larger than most others and truly covers a baby during bright sun, rain, snow, or simply for privacy and during a nap. The B-Safe is made in the USA by a company with a stellar reputation for quality and safety, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and toddler booster seats. As a bonus, it comes in a variety of colors/patterns. Yes, it's expensive, but we believe the quality, features, and safety reputation are well worth the cost. It is definitely one the best infant car seats available this year, and worthy of this spot on our list (and its spot at the top of our best travel systems list). Interested in our top-pick, the B-Safe Ultra? You can check it out here: Britax B-Safe 35 Ultra.
Most booster seats have a lower weight limit of between 30 and 40 pounds and an upper limit that’s often close to 100 pounds and 5 feet tall. But just because your kid has met the minimum weight requirement doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to rush to move them to a booster seat. To safely ride in a booster a child must also be able to sit still in the seat without slouching or leaning over. After reviewing the available data, some of us who have worked on Wirecutter’s car seat guides have opted to keep our own kids in a convertible car seat through kindergarten and beyond. Many of those seats, including our pick from our convertible car seat guide, can accommodate kids up to 65 pounds or 49 inches, which is well into grade school for most kids. 

The most important thing is to follow all the proper installation and weight limit guidelines so you’ll know when it’s time to change seats (or convert to a different mode). Keep your user manual handy (preferably in the car) so you can refer to it quickly. Some seats even have special compartments just to store the manual so you’ll always have it on hand, even if you’re traveling in a different vehicle.
A. Rear-facing car seats are designed to protect the fragile skeletal and muscular structure of their occupants. When an infant or toddler faces forward during a crash, the head snaps forward, causing softer neck and spinal bones to separate. This is an injury worse than whiplash. A rear-facing car seat is designed to cushion the head and prevent those whiplash-like injuries. Parents may want to have face-to-face time with their children, but safety should be a larger concern when transporting a fragile young passenger in a vehicle.
Over the last several years, Consumer Reports has developed their own setup and methodology for testing car seats.  Their testing scenario relies on real world models that seem to mirror the types of configurations that many families use.  They’ve tested a few types of car seats using this methodology so far.  Their latest set of tests focused on combination car seats.
The Extend2Fit is the best overall car seat for one reason. The 10-position headrest and extra legroom provide longevity. Your child will grow. Thus, this car seat lets them grow. You do not need to buy another car seat after a year. Instead, buy the safest car seats 2019 and enjoy the car seat for a long time. Check the specifications for the proper sizing!
Most booster seats have a lower weight limit of between 30 and 40 pounds and an upper limit that’s often close to 100 pounds and 5 feet tall. But just because your kid has met the minimum weight requirement doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to rush to move them to a booster seat. To safely ride in a booster a child must also be able to sit still in the seat without slouching or leaning over. After reviewing the available data, some of us who have worked on Wirecutter’s car seat guides have opted to keep our own kids in a convertible car seat through kindergarten and beyond. Many of those seats, including our pick from our convertible car seat guide, can accommodate kids up to 65 pounds or 49 inches, which is well into grade school for most kids.
Another addition to the all-in-one car seat category, the Safety 1st All-in-One takes you from newborn bucket seat to toddler (rear-racing to 40 pounds) to elementary school (front-facing to 50 pounds) and, finally, to a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds. It’s all the seat you’d ever need – or want, considering this baby has side-impact protection and meets or exceeds Federal and ASTM Safety Standards. Keep in mind its front-facing weight limit (50 pounds) is lower than its competitors (65-70 pounds) – but its price is, too.

Graco adds another to our list with the Size4Me, an adaptable and well-priced entry to the convertible car seat market. It is incredibly safe, thanks to demanding side-impact testing, energy-absorbing foam, and a five-point harness that earns the seat high safety ratings. We also love that the Size4Me has a low, low weight minimum (just 4 pounds), so even if you’re expecting a premie (or multiples!), this seat will still take you from hospital to elementary school.


The amount of padding and the side impact protection far surpasses industry standards but can be a bit too cushy, especially for younger children. Some parents didn’t like the side cup holders because they added bulk and were not removable for easy cleaning. The seat and headrest covers are machine washable on a gentle cycle. Some parents have reported fabric discoloration after multiple cleanings.

Our comments: One of the easiest convertibles to install correctly with either LATCH or seatbelt. Installing with SuperCinch is so quick and easy that it’s downright revolutionary. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. Fits newborns (even small newborns) very well. Doesn’t take up a lot of space when rear-facing so it’s a good option for smaller vehicles. Generous rear-facing height and weight limits. Almost all kids will be able to rear-face in the NextFit until they reach 40 lbs. Well-padded and very comfortable. We love the extra convenience of the zip-off cover found only on Zip models. See full review of the Chicco NextFit here.
While we fully acknowledge the disparity between the standardized FMVSS213 test bench and some aspects of the real world, the Consumer Reports test bench is not an FMVSS213 approved bench.  All car seats sold today are designed and tested around this FMVSS213 test bench.  They’re not designed around Consumer Reports’ setup or methodology.  Or around any other well-intentioned organization that may choose to develop their own test setup and methodology.  They’re designed around FMVSS213 and they pass or exceed all criteria for FMVSS213.
The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat is for kids between 30 and 100 pounds and from 38" to 57" tall. It can convert to a backless booster, as well, but you should only do this if your child is between 40 and 100 pounds and 40" to 57" tall. The Graco booster seat features a unique one-hand, front-adjust latch system that makes installation easy, and it has seat belt guides to ensure your child is secured properly. As an added bonus, this product includes both a cup holder and hide-away storage, making it easy to keep your kids comfortable and entertained on long rides.

For infant car seats, height and weight limits vary greatly, with many of them topping out at about 25 – 30 pounds. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) now recommends that children ride rear-facing for as long as possible (as opposed to 2 years old). So car seat manufacturers are designing more infant seats with higher weight limits of 35 pounds and more. This allows extended rear-facing well past 2 years for most children.
Be easy and convenient for an adult to use and clean: Seats that are lighter in weight and are designed with handling in mind will be easier to move in and out of a car. Seats that are narrower or have a more streamlined design will fit better in a wider range of cars. The headrest should be easy to adjust and, once adjusted, should stay in place. Wiping up any messes and cleaning both the seat and cupholders should also be easy.

All car seat models, convertible and otherwise, are subject to state laws regarding their safe use. Before car seat installation, parents and other caregivers must understand the regulations that apply to their state. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start. After all, nothing is more important than the health and safety of your precious cargo.
Our comments: The Aton Q is part of the “Platinum” series lineup from Cybex and has some unique features not found on the other Aton models. The load leg vastly improves crash protection and telescoping L.S.P. enhances protection in side-impacts. The addition of a no re-thread harness and an improved, integrated canopy on this model are nice upgrades. This particular model will fit preemies and small newborns better than the other Cybex Aton models. Like all Aton models, the Aton Q has a compact shell which means it will fit well in small backseats but the drawback is that it will be outgrown by height more quickly than most other infant seats. Since the tensioning plate does not act as a built-in lockoff when installing with seatbelt, you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this seat. See our full review of the Cybex Aton Q here.
The infant car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make as a new parent. To help you make the best decision possible, three times a year we pull together new infant car seats and put them through hands-on tests to find the best and safest infant car seats of the year. In our testing, we consider Ease of Use, Flexibility, Baby Weight and Height Ranges, Safety, Car Size, and Stroller Types. Below we list the top 5 infant car seats of the year, followed by full reviews of over a dozen different models.

Another addition to the all-in-one car seat category, the Safety 1st All-in-One takes you from newborn bucket seat to toddler (rear-racing to 40 pounds) to elementary school (front-facing to 50 pounds) and, finally, to a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds. It’s all the seat you’d ever need – or want, considering this baby has side-impact protection and meets or exceeds Federal and ASTM Safety Standards. Keep in mind its front-facing weight limit (50 pounds) is lower than its competitors (65-70 pounds) – but its price is, too.
You might already know that the backseat is safer than the front, but just how much safer required some investigation. Enter the researchers from University of Buffalo who studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location. It turns out the backseat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat. More astounding (at least to us) is that the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats in the back.
Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 20-65 lbs. forward-facing; Advocate model has “MAX” side-impact protection features including external energy-absorbing cushions. These models have ClickTight installation system which also acts as a built-in lockoff device for the seatbelt; deep headwings with EPP foam and energy-absorbing headrest; no re-thread harness with 14 height positions; 2 buckle positions; non-twist harness straps; energy-absorbing HUGS harness pads; “rip stitch” energy management tether; anti-slip base with impact-absorbing technology and 7 recline positions; optional newborn insert and optional harness strap covers. Optional anti-rebound bar (sold separately).
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