Some of our favorite brands have introduced new infant car seats this year, and we can’t wait to tell you about them. You’ll find them below, along with highly rated car seats from years past. Read on to find a safe and comfortable ride for your baby, along with tips on how to use your new car seat.
5 Pro Tips When Choosing an Infant Car Seat
1. Try out your car seat in your car to make sure it fits well.
2. Select an infant car seat and stroller that are compatible with one another, or check if there’s an adapter that allows you to use them together.
3. If baby will commonly travel in more than one car, consider buying a second base so you don’t have to reinstall the base each time baby is traveling in a different car.
4. Read your manual to find out the height and weight maximums for your car seat so you know when to purchase a convertible car seat.
5. If your car seat comes with an infant insert, find out when to take out that extra padding to keep baby comfortable.
6. Before your baby takes their first ride, visit a car seat inspection station to confirm that you've installed your seat correctly. They can also help you install one if you're having trouble. Find a car seat inspection station near you.
New for 2021
Bugaboo Turtle Air by Nuna Car Seat with Recline Base
Developed by Bugaboo and car seat brand Nuna, the Turtle Air is ultra-light at just over 7 lbs., and has a washable merino wool insert to regulate body temperature. The baby inlay and adjustable head support help keep your baby comfortable from the very first ride. It's compatible with Bugaboo strollers using adapters and comes with a sun canopy with UPF 50+ protection, peekaboo window and a shade for on-the-go naps.
Available at bugaboo.com, $449.
New for 2020
Nuna PIPA lite r and PIPA rx
Nuna has released two new infant car seats this year: the PIPA lite r and PIPA rx. The lite r (shown above) is super light (just 5.3 pounds without the infant insert or canopy), thanks to aerospace aluminum and feather-weight fabrics. The PIPA rx doesn't require a car seat base, making it easier to bring baby in a taxi or in others' cars. It also boasts a Dream Drape, which attaches quietly with magnets for shaded car-seat snoozes. The materials on both car seats are flame-resistant and contain no added fire-retardant chemicals. And both have a removable, two-position UPF 50+ canopy with flip-out eyeshade, four-position recline and side-impact protection. The included RELX car seat base contains a stability leg to absorb impact and reduce force transferred to baby in the event of a collision.
Available at nunababy.com, $399.95 for the PIPA lite r plus RELX base; $349.95 for the PIPA rx plus RELX base.
Clek Liingo Infant Car Seat
An infant car seat that doesn't require a base? This is a game-changer, especially for families who don't have or use a car regularly. The Liingo comes with LATCH connectors on the car seat carrier but can also be attached via the seat belt, and it can be used with the brand's infant car seat base, if desired. The Liingo is compatible with several stroller brands and can be detached from the stroller easily, thanks to a one-handed quick release. There's a three-position SPF 100+ sun canopy for sun safety, as well as a mesh peekaboo window for airflow and visibility into the car seat. Made in Canada, this innovative car seat comes in three fabrics, including a fire-retardant Merino wool, and can be sent back to the company through the brand's recycling program when you're done with it.
Available at clekinc.com, $199-$299.
More Infant Car Seat Favorites
Chicco KeyFit and KeyFit30 Infant Car Seats
You can’t go wrong with the Chicco KeyFit or Chicco KeyFit 30. These car seats are a longtime fave of parents and Consumer Reports because they're easy to use and offer key features for baby’s safety and comfort, including: a removable newborn head and body support, a removable shade canopy, a carrier shell with EPS energy-absorbing foam for crash protection, and a two-position carry handle. The KeyFit and KeyFit 30 have the same features and use the same base. The primary difference is the weight limit: The KeyFit is suitable for babies up to 22 pounds, while the KeyFit 30 goes up to 30 pounds. As a result, the KeyFit 30 costs a bit more.
Available at chiccousa.com, $159.99 (KeyFit) and $199.99 (KeyFit 30).
This stylish car seat is equally focused on safety: The base contains a visual indicator that changes from red to green when it has been installed correctly. The car seat has an adjustable headrest with side impact protection to minimize head trauma in the event of a collision. Other clever touches include small pockets on either side to hold the open belt buckle; this both simplifies getting baby into the seat and keeps the metal buckles cool on hot days. For an additional cost, you can purchase a travel bag to protect your car seat on flights and a handy cabana to keep out rain, wind and bugs.
Available at uppababy.com, $299.99-$349.99.
Cybex Aton 2
The Aton 2 weighs less than 9 pounds, which makes it easier to carry and install than some of its peers. Although it’s lightweight, it has packed in a lot of safety and design features. This seat comes with an infant inlay for comfort, side impact protection and boasts a straightforward installation to help you install it quickly and properly. There’s a sleek foldable canopy, and the instruction manual stores underneath the seat so you always know where to find it when you need it.
Available at cybex-online.com, $279.95.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35
There’s great attention to detail in this car seat, from the Italian textiles and tailoring to the compact carry handle that makes it easier to insert and remove from your car. The EPS-lined shell enhances safety protection and is perforated for air circulation to increase baby’s comfort. The seat offers infinite recline with an indicator to help you find the right seat angle as your child grows. Extras include a seat cover that increases warmth on chilly days and cools baby down in the heat, a travel bag and an igloo that fits over the car seat on the coldest days.
Available at buybuybaby.com, $299.99.
We love the dream drape that pulls out from the canopy and shades baby from light to help them fall (and stay) asleep, as well as the mesh peekaboo window on the canopy to help you keep an eye on baby. The removable UPF 50+ canopy also features a flip-out eyeshade and can be set in two positions. This sleek car seat also features side impact protection, and it can be easily installed either with the base or without if needed for taxis and travel. Extras include a rain cover and wheeled travel bag.
Available at nuna.eu, $299.95.
Integrated wheels turn the Doona car seat into a stroller in seconds, making this the perfect purchase for city dwellers and families on the go. The wheels then tuck up under the car seat for easy placement into your car. The unique construction adds a level of safety in the car, with the stroller handle absorbing impact in case of a collision. Like the other car seats on this list, the Doona provides side impact protection and comes with an infant insert, and it’s made in nine stylish colors. Extras include a padded travel bag, protective cover, vehicle seat protector, insect net, sunshade extension, rain cover and snap-on storage bag. While the car seat is pricier than others on this list, the addition of a stroller adds cost savings and tons of convenience until baby sizes out to a convertible car seat.
Available at shopdoona.com, $499.
Britax B-Safe 35
An impact-absorbing base, impact-stabilizing steel frame and side impact protection are just some of the valuable safety features on this Britax car seat. Additional features simplify the process of installing the car seat, attaching and removing the seat from the base, adjusting the straps and reclining the seat to your desired angle.
Available at amazon.com, $199.99.
Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30
Car seats are notoriously messy spots, and Mico Max 30 has that covered: The seat pad is machine-washable and dryer safe, easy to remove and replace (without rethreading the harness, a big plus), and the fabric is self-wicking, drawing away liquid from the skin to keep baby dry and comfortable. This car seat is also lightweight at only 8.2 pounds and comes with side impact protection, an extended canopy with flip-out visor, and an ergonomic handle for carrying comfort, an infant insert and a foot muff to keep baby warm in cold weather.
Available on amazon.com, $199.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35
Graco's car seat boasts a secure install in just three easy steps, thanks to its SnugLock technology. The car-seat base is adjustable with four recline positions to help you get a good fit in your car, and it features a level indicator to ensure a correct angle. There's removable support for an infant's head and body, and a rotating canopy for shade and sun protection. It attaches securely to Graco’s Click Connect strollers in one easy step.
Available at gracobaby.com, $149.99.
Evenflo LiteMax 35
From the machine-washable seat pad and removable head and seat pillows to the four recline options and buckle pockets for baby’s comfort, this lightweight car seat ticks a lot of boxes for baby's comfort and parents' convenience. It doesn’t skimp on safety either, as Evenflo reports it meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards, as well as side impact and rollover test standards. It’s budget-friendly and comes in six color combinations.
Available at evenflo.com, $150.
—Eva Ingvarson Cerise