December 8, 2016

The Best Infant Car Seats

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Find the best infant car seats. Learn what factors to consider and see our top picks.

Best Infant Car Seats
Best Infant Car Seats © CreditDonkey

New parents will undoubtedly make many big decisions over the course of their child’s life. One of the biggest begins with the choosing the right infant car seat. CreditDonkey is here to help you sort through the choices and narrow down the best car seat for your parental needs.

Congratulations

When a newborn is finally ready to journey from hospital to home, some maternity nurses will go with you to inspect the integrity and installation of the infant car seat. They’ll want to know that this new baby, with its rubbery, unsupported neck, will be protected from harm—at least during car rides. And as a new parent, you may find you rely on a mini seat not only in the car but as you carry the child to and from places, making pit stops along the way.

Modern car seats are more complicated than conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. As a new parent, you will soon have a firm grasp of the latest and greatest safety features such as impact-absorbing bases, anti-rebound bars, side impact protection, and more. In addition, you must be aware of technical characteristics like height and weight limits.

Some of you may prefer a car seat compatible with a stroller. These important variables are on top of all the cost and style considerations you’ll need to make.

What to Consider When Shopping for Infant Car Seats

To make your search as easy as possible, CreditDonkey presents some of the best car seats in a range of different categories.

This review evaluates 5 highly rated car seats against the following factors:

  • Safety: Any brand-new car seat you purchase has to live up to today’s safety regulations or it wouldn’t be on the market (that’s why it’s one type of purchase you never want secondhand). Also be sure to look for design features that go above and beyond, like impact-absorbing bases that act like the suspension in your car. You can never be too safe when purchasing your child’s infant car seat.

  • Affordability: Expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $450 on one seat. You could find the higher price is worth it—some expensive car seats have features that will make your life easier. Looking back, I always wished I had a protective cover to shield my children from rain and wind. In addition, nothing was more convenient than a car seat that simply clicked into my stroller system.

  • Practicality: We assessed whether the car seat is convenient (ease of install and non-vehicular transportation), its compatibility with stroller systems, and weight ratings.

Best convertible car seat

When it comes to safety, the Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat has all the bells and whistles and is clearly an industry leader. In addition to standard features like side impact protection, the Marathon comes with unique design inclusions like an impact-absorbing base that minimizes the force of a crash by functioning like a suspension system. And this car seat has a steel frame to provide increased strength and durability during a crash.

Lastly, the Marathon includes a staged release system that is designed to decrease the baby’s forward momentum during a collision. The manufacturer emphasizes child safety.

While the Marathon excels in the area of safety, it has a number of drawbacks in terms of practicality. This car seat is not compatible with a stroller system, which is a negative for many parents. However, this issue may be offset by the fact that the Marathon converts to a toddler seat and is rated for children up to 65 lbs. This feature alone will save you from purchasing a new toddler car seat as your baby grows. For this reason, CreditDonkey considers the Britax Marathon to be the best convertible car seat.

Here’s a big however: Because the car seat is designed to accommodate larger children, it is not convenient or easy to carry around.

Marathon is among the safest selections you can make. The Marathon converts to a toddler seat and will be useful up until your child is a whopping 65 lbs. On the flip side, drawbacks include its inability to integrate with a stroller and the fact that parents cannot easily carry or transfer this car seat.

Overall, the Britax Marathon is an excellent option for parents seeking a convertible car seat.

Compare Prices: Walmart / Target / Babies R Us

Best Premium Infant Car Seat

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Infant Car Seat is a practical car seat to make your life easier.

Retail price for the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is $299.99, making this one of the more expensive seats.

While the Primo Viaggio is pricey, it more than makes up for it with an abundance of safety features. The base includes the highly-coveted anti-rebound bar to further protect the baby in an accident. This seat also features an Energy Absorbing EPS lined shell designed to protect the baby from blunt force in an accident.

And the Primo Viaggio’s side impact protection system is adjustable to six different settings, letting parents properly protect the head and neck as the baby grows.

As for practicality, the Primo Viaggio has several attractive features. It’s compatible with strollers in the Peg Perego product line and does not require any ancillary equipment or adapters.

The Primo Viaggio contains a hood that adjusts for inclement weather, a dual cushion system to support the baby’s growth, and color coded seatbelt paths that make it easier for parents to move the car seat to other vehicles without the base.

Perhaps one of the best technical characteristics of the Primo Viaggio is that it can accommodate children up to 35 pounds, meaning parents can use the car seat for a longer time period.

The primary drawback to the Primo Viaggio is its relatively expensive price.

All in all, the Primo Viaggio is a very appealing option for parents who are willing to pay the premium price.

Compare Prices: Babies R Us / Target

Best Infant Car Seat for the Money

The Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air+ infant car seat retails for around $179.99.

The onBoard 35 Air+ includes basic safety features such as the 5-point harness and latch system that keep the baby securely in place and minimize neck movement. In addition, the car seat includes the Air Protect® advanced cushion system to further protect the baby’s head and torso.

Compare Prices: Babies R Us / Amazon / Walmart

Best Affordable Infant Car Seat

Listed at just $129.99, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX is the cheapest of the five car seats evaluated by CreditDonkey. This falls in the top affordability threshold, with car seats ranging from $100-$150.

In spite of the cheaper price, the SnugRide does not sacrifice much in the way of product safety. In addition, the car seat was crash tested and meets U.S. standard FMVSS 213. Like the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air+, parents who choose the SnugRide will sacrifice some design features intended to improve convenience and practicality.

Perhaps most discouraging, the SnugRide is only rated for children up to 30 pounds. This means consumers will be forced to buy a toddler car seat on the early side.

The manufacturer advertises the SnugRide as an “ultra-lightweight” car seat. However, it is only 2 pounds lighter than its model that is rated for children who reach 40 pounds while using it. The rotating canopy is a nice feature, but it’s certainly offset by the lower weight rating.

In total, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX biggest positives are its cheap price and meeting U.S. safety standards.

Compare Prices: Target / Walmart

Best Infant Car Seat for Overall Value

Retailers list the Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 infant car seat at $149.99, which also falls in the highest affordability threshold. Similar to the Graco SnugRide, the LiteMax is compatible with its manufacturer’s stroller product line (in this case, the Evenflo Platinum INVIGOR8 jogging stroller).

The LiteMax does include a few added features, especially for a relatively cheap car seat alternative. The car seat includes OUTLAST performance fabric that helps regulate body temperature. Additionally, there is a full-coverage canopy with zip-out panel to protect the baby from weather elements and bright sun. Lastly, the car seat is rated for children up to 35 pounds, maximizing the product’s usage.

Ultimately, CreditDonkey considers this car seat to be the best overall value for parents. At $149.99, it is impressive that the LiteMax does not sacrifice safety and still has a few nice add-ons to make parents’ lives easier.

To learn more, visit Babies R Us.

Where to Buy Infant Car Seats

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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