The 7 Best Infant Car Seats of 2018

Everything you need to know about car seats to safely get your baby home from the hospital.

Congratulations, you now have extremely precious cargo to tote in your sensible family sedan. That means you’re about to learn more about automobile safety than a NASCAR spotter at a seatbelt factory tour, starting with infant car seats. These novel baby buckets are part carrier, part backseat bassinet, and many of them even snap into a stroller or stroller frame for seamless baby-to-grocery-store-to-crib transfers. These highly-rated/tested, beyond-safe, and occasionally innovative infant car seats are guaranteed to work until your baby is big enough to ask for more leg room or demands to be turned around. But first, a few things to note.

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Car Seats

How To Choose An Infant Car Seat

Infant Car Seat Fit

Your lifestyle, budget, car, kid, and stroller should all come into play when choosing an infant car seat. It’s a lot to consider, which is why this process takes extensive research and is, frankly, extra complicated. Sorry. Regarding size, height capacity is more important than weight, because where their noggin rests on the thing determines when it’s officially too small. Most infant seats these days fit babies up to 35 pounds and 32-inches-tall but look for a seat that at least fits infants up to 28-inches tall and 25 pounds. Also, because you’ll be toting it around a lot, the lighter the actual seat the better. Remember, the baby adds extra weight.

Infant Car Seat Base

Any infant car seat can be strapped in using seat belts, but most also have a base that sits snugly in the back seat of your car. Almost all of these bases now install using either the car’s seatbelt or the LATCH system, which are metal anchors that every modern car (2002 and later) is equipped with. While both systems keep the base securely in the car, most latch anchors are in the center seat, which is 43-percent safer for car seats than behind the driver or front passenger.

Infant Car Seat Compatibility

You didn’t spend all that time choosing the perfect stroller (or jogger) to have your car seat not fit into it. Sadly, not every seat fits into every stroller. Naturally, most manufacturers make their seats compatible with their strollers, although adapters are available for some models. This is a big deal — you’re going to want to stroll (rather than carry) that car seat whenever you can. Make sure the seat fits the stroller you have, or intend to buy ⏤ or at least has an adapter (sold separately, of course).

Britax B-Safe 35

Britax B-Safe 35 -- best infant car seats
The Britax B-Safe 35 boasts two big safety features: a steel-framed, impact-absorbing base that uses compressible cells to absorb crash energy, and a shell with Side Impact Protection to completely shield the baby in an accident. The base uses LATCH connectors or seat belt lock-offs to ensure a secure fit in the car and has auto-level indicators to make sure it’s positioned properly. In addition to a removable headpad and a large canopy, the seat also boasts a “Click & Go” travel system so it’s compatible with both Britax and BOB running strollers. Even better, it’s only $168.
Child Weight/Height Limit: 4-35 lbs; up to 32-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 10 lbs (without base)

Buy Now $168

Cybex Aton Q

The Cybex’s Aton Q stands out for a number of innovative safety features, but the most noteworthy is the “Telescopic Linear Side-impact Protection (L.S.P. System).” It’s essentially a brace (two really, one on each side) that slides out of the seat and is secured against the car door to absorb the force of a side-impact collision. This is in addition to the seat’s energy-absorbing shell and a load-leg base that extends to the car floor for yet another point of contact ⏤ not a lot of car seats include this feature. The Anton Q has an 8-position adjustable headrest, no-rethread harness system, removable newborn inlay, and SPF 50 sun canopy. The newer model M costs about $50 more but uses a SafeLock base with anti-rebound design.
Child Weight/Height Limit:4-35 lbs; up to 30-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 11.6 lbs (without base)

Buy Now $300

Chicco Keyfit 30

A consumer favorite that consistently sits atop Consumer Reports ratings, the Chicco Keyfit 30 offers a lot of bang for the buck. Not only does the base boast a “SuperCinch LATCH tightener” that easily secures with a pull, but it has an adjustable leveling foot and bubble indicator to ensure proper positioning. The seat itself is narrow at 16.6-inches wide (so good for small cars) and light at 7 lbs (so good for travel), uses EPS energy-absorbing foam for safety, includes a removable newborn support, and clicks in and out of Chicco strollers.
Child Weight/Height Limit: 4-30 lbs; up to 30-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 7 lbs (without base)

Buy Now $200

UPPAbaby Mesa

UPPAbaby Mesa -- best infant car seats
Awarded five stars by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and a ‘Very Good’ rating from Consumer Reports, the UPPAbaby Mesa is reportedly the first car seat on the market that uses naturally fire-resistant (and moisture wicking) fabrics. It also features a one-button-release system with automatically retracting connectors and a red-to-green tension indicator to ensure it’s been safely installed, reportedly another industry first. It gets rave reviews for easily installing without the base, as well ⏤ making it ideal for travelers and urban parents who frequently use Uber or ride in cabs. As for other bells and whistles, there’s an adjustable headrest with side-impact protection, infant insert, and no-rethread harness that doesn’t require tweaking as the baby grows.
Child Weight/Height Limit: 4-35 lbs; up to 32-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 9.9 lbs (without base)

Buy Now $300

Peg Perego Viaggio 4/35

Peg Perego Viaggio 4-35 -- best infant car seats
With both high crash-test ratings and a sleek Italian design, the Viaggio stands out for its combination of safety and atheistic. The shell is lined entirely with energy-absorbing EPS foam and the base features both a “Right Tight System” for secure locking and a built-in anti-rebound bar for additional collision protection. The non-rethread, side-impact head panel secures in one of six positions, there’s a dual-stage cushion system to accommodate preemies and newborns, and it’s even FAA-approved for use on a plane.
Child Weight/Height Limit: 4-35 lbs; up to 32-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 9.5 lbs

Buy Now $300

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite

The big sell with Graco’s popular SnugLock series is the easy three-step installation. The base, which has an absorption core for added safety, usese a leveling bubble, 4-incline positions, and a decisive “click” sound so parents know it’s secure. And if they use the InRight Latch system instead of a seatbelt, install time is cut down to about second. The seat itself features a one-handed adjustable harness and headrest that move in unison, a rotating canopy, and a quick remove seat cover for easy cleanup. Better still, the price is under $200.
Child Weight/Height Limit: 4-35 lbs; up to 32-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 9.6 lbs (without base)

Buy Now $186

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller

Is the Doona is a car seat with a built-in stroller or a stroller with an integrated car seat? Technically, both, and it remains one of the most innovative baby products on the market. Simply pop it out of the base, press a button, and it converts to fully-functional stroller in under five seconds. Ideal for urban parents, the Doona integrates three-layers of side impact protection, builds anti-rebound technology into the handlebar for added safety, and a has a one-touch brake. It’s certified for air travel and, since it collapses before you board the plane, there’s no stroller to gate check on the jetway. The only catch, it’s neither light at 16.5 lbs nor cheap at $500 ⏤ but then again, you also don’t have to buy a separate stroller and car seat.
Child Weight/Height Limit: Up to 32-inches tall
Car Seat Weight: 16.5 lbs

Buy Now $500