You will agree with me when I say that carrying your child in your arms or on your lap anytime you are driving can be tiring if not outright dangerous. Thank God that if you can get your hands on a top rated light weight infant car seats, you do not have to carry the child when you do not have to.
If you a baby weighs at least 30 pounds and has a height of 32 inches, you need to buy an infant car seat. An infant car seat differs from a convertible car seat in that the infant car seat is suitable for babies in the 95th percentile (typically age 1 and below)
There are many brands of baby car seats from a variety of manufacturers that you can buy online. However, for an inexperienced eye it is not that easy to tell how one seat differs from the next. As such in this section I will analyze the different aspects and features of infant car seats and discuss them in terms of ease of use, installation, price and safety.
Many baby car seats will claim to offer utmost safety, but it is always better to be informed before proceeding to buy one. Check out the safest infant car seats reviewed below.
Infant Car Seat Comparison Chart
|Car Seat Brand||Price||Safety Rating||Weight (lbs)||Warranty|
|Chicco Keyfit 30||$199.99||4.0 stars||9||Not Indicated|
|Graco SnugRide Connect||$134.49||4.5 stars||7||One Year|
|Britax B-Safe||Check on Amazon||4.0 stars||9.8||One Year|
|UPPAbaby Mesa||$328.88||3.0 stars||11.2||2 1/2 Years|
|Safety 1st onBoard 35||$127.99||3.5 stars||14||Not Indicated|
Why Buy a Lightweight Infant Car Seat
If you are buying a booster or convertible car seat then buying the lightest car seat may not be a factor given that these seats will for the most part be left installed on the vehicle. However, the infant car seat is made to be carried around and one of their biggest advantages is that:
- You can click them in and out of their bases very easily.
- You can also click them onto stroller systems and have the convenience of your kid without a heavy weight on your arms.
- Given that they are also very small they are the best fit for small cars as they will not take up too much space or increase the load on your compact vehicle.
Features of Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats are different from convertible car seats both in function, weight, and look. Given that they are made for younger babies they come with features and functionalities that make it easier for you to move them around in a stroller or in the vehicle.
Detachable Seats/Separate Bases
Baby car seats come with detachable bases that you can install permanently on your vehicle. You can then click the seat onto the base when ever you want to use it and remove it to carry the baby out of the car into a stroller. This feature makes the seat very convenient as you can take the baby out of the car without disturbing them as you would in a convertible car seat.
Rear Facing Only
Unlike convertible car seats that may be front and rear facing,infant car seats are only front facing. However, this is an advantage particularly if you are involved in a head on collision as it is the recommended position for a baby riding in a car seat.
The canopy is one of the features that makes this one of the best car seats for newborns. Unlike convertible car seats infant safety seats come with canopies to protect your baby from the sun. This canopy can be very useful whether you are using a stroller or are in the car.
Smaller Height and Weight Limits
Since they are made for children usually below the age of 1, most car seats have smaller height and weigh limits. However, this is an advantage if you travel a lot. Given that they are lightweight car seats, they are very easy to lug around. Infant car seats will usually be suitable for children weighing from between 4lbs up to an average of about 30lbs.
How to Install an Infant Car Seat
The following videos and tips will guide you on how to install an infant car seat. You can also read the infant baby seat manual on the specifics of installation for your car seat and also your vehicle owners manual: Two important points to keep in mind are:
- You should always install the infant seat in the rear facing mode, and never in the forward facing mode
- Always install the infant seat in the back seat and even better in the center of the seat
Installing the Infant Car Seat with Base
- Go over your owners manual and the baby car seat manual to find important tips for installing the infant seat. Some of the most important information include, how to lock the seat belt and how the vehicle's seat belt system works. This is important given that every vehicle has its won peculiarities affecting the installation of the car seat.
- Position the car seat base on the car's back seat.
- Thread the seat belt through the rear facing belt path and be careful not to have any twists in the belt when you are done.
- Buckle and lock in the seat belt.
- Firmly press down on the car seat base before tightening it as fast as possible. Ensure that the base is not moving more than one inch from back to front or from side to side.
- Ensure that after the installation, the car seat is at the appropriate recline angle:
- As the child grows, be sure to mark the important dates in the car seat manual and adjust the recline angles accordingly
- Use the inbuilt angle adjustors and indicators to assist you in appropriate installation.
- Ensure the child rides in a semi recline angle so that their air paths can remain open
- Click on the infant carrier onto the base
Installing the Infant Car Seat with Lower Anchors
- Just like with seat belts you need to read your vehicle owners manual and the infant car seat manual carefully before installation. Be careful to read all instructions on how to locate the lower anchors and how to install the car seat on them
- Install the infant seat on the vehicle's back seat since this is usually the safest place for an baby car seat. Given that the seat is installed rear facing, it protects the child's spine, neck and head from serious injury.
- Find your lower anchors on the back seat
- Connect the car seat base's lower anchors to the lower anchor attachments on the car seat and ensure that you do not twist the straps.
- Firmly press down on the car seat base and tighten the straps to ensure that the car seat that the car seat does not move back to front or side to side for more than an inch.
- Ensure the appropriate recline angle of the seat for child's age and comfort according to manufacturer recommendations.
- Attach the infant seat to the base
Best Infant Car Seats Reviewed
The Chicco Keyfit and the Keyfit 30 are among the top infant seat that you could buy.
Coming with LATCH Technology, the Chicco has performed well in tests conducted by Consumer Reports and Baby Gear Lab
Itis one of the safest infant car seats out there
- Easy to install with seat belts and LATCH
- Has a built in level indicator that makes it easy to tell if the car is correctly installed
- One of the best lightweight infant car seats Weighing in at 9 poundsmaking it easy to transport
- Comes with energy absorbent pads for greater safety and comfort of the baby
- Adjusting the shoulder strap height is a bit harder than it should be
- It is made of coarse and unappealing fabric
- Canopy is on the small side as compared to similar infant seats
One of the highest ranking car seats from the Graco line of baby car seats
It is similar to the Chicco Keyfit 30 though it has more weight and height limits meaning you can use it for longer
It has also scored well in several industry standard safety tests
- The Graco infant car seat comes with eight recline positions to fit your growing kid
- Its click connect technology makes it compatible with a variety of popular strolers
- One of the safest seats on this review far exceeding Federal safety standards
- Provides ease of installation with its five point harness system that can be operated with one hand
- Has a fairly soft head rest and body cushion for better comfort for the baby
- Comes with a big canopy that comes with a peek-a-boo window
- Canopy is a bit frumpy especially when you are using the handle
- Fabric on the seat feels a bit stiff
- Installing the carrier can be quite difficult particularly for first time users
The Britax B Safe car seat is relatively affordable as compared with similar car seats.
It has also performed considerably well in the many crash tests by the several industry sources such as Consumer Reports and Baby Gear Lab
It is a far better choice than the Britax B Safe 35 which is relatively more expensive though it offers relatively little to justify the higher price
- Relatively affordable price as compared to other seats in its class
- Foam liner and tangle free harness makes it a very safe car seat
- LATCH makes for easy installation and release
- Comes with adjustable base that has up to 5 positions for utmost comfort and safety
- Compatible with Britax B Series of strollers
- Large canopy offers better comfort while the ergonomic handle makes for easy handling
- Relatively heavy making it not the best choice if you move around a lot
- Threading the seat belt is quite a pain as the path is not color coded
- Buckle is stiffer as compared to other car seats such as the Uppababy
- LATCH anchor storage sometimes get in the way of installation of the seat to the base
One of the best seats if for the urban parent that frequently uses cabs or ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft
The 2015 updated model seems to have added and improved a lot of the features of this elite car seat
It is a very good infant car seat particularly if you have a small car
- Removable and washable fabric
- EPS foam wings offer better crash protection for the infant
- Unique 5 point harness that makes for easy shoulder adjustments
- Can be used without a base making it ideal for the urban parent
- Unique 5 point harness that makes for easy shoulder adjustments
- Can be used without a base making it ideal for the urban parent
- Incompatible with many stroller brands on the market
- Level indicator for tightness and fitness is a bit finicky
- Handle seems to be of average durability
The best value infant car seat you could ever buy even though it performs quite average on other metrics.
It stands out as compared to similar priced baby car seats especially when it comes to safety and ease of installation
- A top lightweight infant car seat and so lugging it around is not much of a problem
- Five angled positions making it ideal for your growing child
- Full body impact protection through the hexagonal shaped foam
- Easy to thread belt path
- 3 crotch positions and 4 shoulder height options ensuring best possible fit
- Fabric is soft and skin friendly
- Limited compatibility with many strollers on the market
- Installation with LATCH is a bit harder as compared to seats such as the Chicco
- Straps are relatively harder to tighten once connected
- Buckle is somewhat stiff
Out of all the five seats above, I like the Chicco Keyfit 30 as the best infant car seat. Receiving accolades from parents and institutions for its robust performance in crash tests and safety standards, it is one of the top rated infant seats.
It is easy to install, it is lightweight, and has some of the best features of many car seats in its class.
It also goes for quite an affordable price when compared to other car seats in this review.
Frequently Asked Questions About Infant Car Seats
Can my baby wear a jacket while in the newborn seat?
It is never advisable to dress your child in any type of bulky clothing such as a snowsuit or jacket as these make it hard to tighten the harness to the snugness required to keep them safe. If you feel that the child may feel cold, you are better off covering them with a blanket over the straps.
Can my baby sleep in their infant car seat?
If your car seat s properly secured, and you are going on a very short trip, it is perfectly safe ofr the child to sleep in their infant seat. However, according to the Journal of Pediatrics, you should never leave the child sleeping in the car seat if unsupervised. To ensure your child is not a victim of sudden death syndrome you need to supervise them while traveling in the car and have them sleep on their back in the cot while at home.
Can I place the infant car seat in the shopping cart?
Most modern infant car seats are made to lock onto shopping carts. While this can be very convenient while shopping, it can be very dangerous too. The wight of the infant and the car seat may make the shopping cart top heavy which increases its likelihood of tipping over. Instead use a stroller, baby carrier, or a sling or else take extra care when you have the child in the shopping cart.
When should i move from the infant car seat to a convertible car seat?
According to a new study by Consumer reports, it is advisable to move your child to a convertible car seat when they are about a year old. A convertible car seat offer a greater height and weight limit and hence will provide more protection for your child aged a year or more.
Can I use an infant car seat on a flight?
While you do not have to use a car seat for a child under the age of two in an airplane, the FAA recommends that you use a car seat for better safety. You can use your infant car seat on the plane as long as it is certified for use on airplanes by the FAA. Check out some FAA approved car seats you can use on an airplane on this page.