Worry to buy best infant car seats consumer reports 2020 is here to help you. Read baby car seats reviews consumer reports car seat buying guide.
With a Car travel system, you’re getting products that the manufacturer has designed to work together.
Load-leg seats are becoming more regular in the U.S.; however, our analyses unveil that not all designs are built alike. Usually, a load leg fulfills a crash protection position.
However, depending on the car seat’s overall design, our tests show that there may still be instances where the baby’s head can come in contact with the back of a front seat, increasing the risk of injury.
That impact with the simulated front seat back in our tests leads to deductions from the crash protection score. Some load-leg seats are more comfortable to use than others, which can also influence the car seat’s fit-to-vehicle and ease-of-use scores. Eight of the load-leg car seat models score “Best for crash protection.
You can, however, mix and match some strollers and car seats from different brands to build your own travel system with an adapter that you buy separately. But our testers found that you get the best and easiest fit between a car seat and stroller when you stick to a single brand.
Our experts rate five types of car seats so that you can find the safest and most easy-to-use model for your family.
Best Infant Car Seats
- Chicco KeyFit
- Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX
- Chicco KeyFit 30
- Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite
- Chicco Fit2
- Uppababy Mesa
- Combi Shuttle
Best Convertible Car Seats
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight
- Britax Marathon ClickTight
- Chicco NextFit Zip
- Nuna Rava
- Cosco Scenera Next
- Evenflo SureRide
Best High Back to Backless Booster Car Seats
- Evenflo Big Kid Sport (model number starting with 319)
- Evenflo Big Kid Sport (model number starting with 365)
- Nuna Aace
- Chicco KidFit
Best All in One Car Seats
- Graco Milestone
- Graco 4Ever
- Evenflo Symphony (With SureLATCH)
- Evenflo SafeMax All-in-One
Best Toddler Booster / Combination
- Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX
- Cosco Highback Booster
- Evenflo Maestro Sport
- Graco Nautilus 65 LX
Best for Limited Budget Under $200
Graco Snug Essentials i-Size Infant Car Seat
As it’s so light, this i-Size infant car seat is ideal if you make lots of short trips and will be carrying your baby between the car and the house a lot. It comes with a cosy newborn insert, and the headrest has energy-absorbing foam. It’s compatible with selected Graco pushchairs to create a travel system, and is suitable for use with the Graco Snug Ride-Size base.
This is a nice, simple car seat, and is one of the lightest to carry. It seems comfortable enough and the foam pillow feels squishy, but the fabric is less luxurious than on other car seats. The hood is a good size but it’s tricky to remove, and gets in the way when pulled back. It’s a good, basic option, but not my favourite.
This is simple yet practical. It’s one of the easiest seats to install, with colour indicators to show it’s secure. I like that you can pull the seat closer to the backseat to create extra room for passengers. Getting Poppy in and out is easy, and she seems comfy. However, it’s a little fiddly to remove from the car, and the hood gets in the way.
It has 3.6KG Weight and is suitable for 0-12 Months.
I like this seat because it’s so light, and relatively easy to install. It’s also good value for money but, as you’d expect from the price, it’s fairly basic. The covers are easy to remove for washing, and the seat is easy to wipe clean. But I’d prefer one of the more expensive car seats for long journeys – and I’d rather pay more for something plusher.
Get Smart About Car Seats
More than 5 millions infant inclined sleepers, including the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper, were recalled last spring after a Consumer Reports investigation linked them to dozens of deaths.
Consumer Reports has been working to get all inclined sleepers—now associated with 73 deaths—banned. That prompted some CR readers to ask whether car seats pose a similar risk, because many also have an incline.
Sleeping on an incline does pose risks, as it can cause an infant’s head to tilt forward, chin to chest, and compress the airway, increasing the risk of suffocation, says Emily A. Thomas, Ph.D., an automotive safety engineer at CR and an expert in pediatric biomechanics.
That can happen because infants don’t have the neck strength to keep their head up on their own. “But there are crucial differences between inclined sleepers and car seats,” Thomas says.
First, infant car seats—which are all rear-facing, the safest position for a baby in a crash—have a five-point harness system.
The snug harness helps keep infants upright and from moving into a position that could block their airway. “Infant car seats have been designed and tested not only to protect your baby in a collision but also to ensure that if your baby does fall asleep in the seat, the risks of slumping down, chin to chest, and blocking airflow, are low,” Thomas says.
“Recent recalls of infant inclined sleepers have some parents worried that babies falling asleep in car seats might be dangerous, too.”
Second, the incline angle in rear-facing car seats has been tested extensively by car seat manufacturers and government regulators, which was not the case with inclined sleepers such as the Rock ’n Play Sleeper.
The design of car seats balances protection of a baby’s head and spine in a collision with a recline angle that keeps the head from falling forward, Thomas says. And last, unlike the Rock ’n Play Sleeper and similar products, car seats are not marketed specifically for infant sleep.
Instead, car seats—even those that you can remove from a vehicle to lock into a stroller—are designed for safe travel.“While the risks of sleeping on an incline are serious, they are vastly outweighed by the protection a well-designed and properly installed car seat offers in a crash,” Thomas says.
Proper Use of Car Seats
Stay rear-facing as long as possible: That means until the child reaches the seat’s height or weight restriction, which could be up to age 4. Rear-facing seats should be at a 30- to 45-degree angle. “Most manufacturers provide a label or a bubble indicator to show you how to position the seat,” says Sarah Haverstick, a certified child passenger safety instructor at Evenflo, which makes car seats.
Buckle up the five-point harness: That helps prevent injuries and ejections during crashes, says Jennifer Stockburger, head of car seat testing at CR. Even during uneventful drives, the five-point harness keeps babies from sliding down or rolling over or onto their side, which could lead to suffocation. If you use a positioner such as an infant insert to help babies fit more securely, “use only what is approved for and provided by your car seat manufacturer,” Haverstick says. Others might not perform properly in a crash or support the baby’s head enough to allow airflow.
Monitor your child: Check on your child when in the car seat, and periodically stop to let your baby stretch, Stockburger says. If your baby is sleeping when you get to your destination, don’t loosen the harness and let him sleep unattended. He could become entangled in the straps or turn and cut off airflow. Instead, move him to a safe sleeping space, such as a firm, flat crib or bassinet.
Which Kind of Car Seat is Right for Your Child?
The first three seats below are best for most families: an infant seat for your baby’s first year, a convertible until age 5 or 6, and a belt-positioning booster until your child fits your car’s seat belt alone. The other two seats can be good choices for some people—for example, an all-in-one for a caregiver who occasionally travels with children and a toddler booster/combination seat for parents who want to pass a convertible to a younger sibling.
Infant Car Seats
Child’s Weight from 4 to 35 pounds. Infant car seats, which are rear-facing only, are best for babies from birth to age 1. They can also be used for children up to age 2 if they meet the seat’s height and weight requirements. But CR’s testing shows that a convertible seat may offer added head protection for babies 1 year or older. And though some infant seats are designed for babies weighing up to 35 pounds, most children outgrow the height limit first. These seats attach to a base installed in the car and can be removed to serve as an infant carrier or snapped into a compatible stroller.
Convertible Car Seats
Child’s Weight 5 to 50 pounds when rear-facing and 20 to 85 pounds when forward-facing. Convertible seats are typically best for children between ages 1 and 3 when in the rear-facing position, and for children ages 3 through 6 when forward-facing. The seats may also be used for kids of other ages if they fit the seat’s height and weight limits. These seats are good options for several reasons. CR’s tests show that convertible seats, when rear-facing, offer better head protection for children 1 year and older than do infant seats. And they allow kids to stay rear-facing longer. When your child reaches the height or weight limit of the rear-facing mode, the seat can be turned forward-facing.
Belt Positioning Booster Car Seats
Child’s Weight 30 to 120 pounds. These seats, which raise children up so that a car’s seat belt fits correctly, should be used after a child outgrows a convertible seat, generally around age 6. Boosters should be used until a child is tall enough (4 feet, 9 inches) to properly fit just the car’s seat belt, typically some-time between ages 8 and 12. These seats come in three main styles: high-back, backless, and models that can convert from high-back to backless. CR recom- mends using boosters in high-back mode: That better positions the shoulder seat belt and provides some side-impact protection.
All in One Car Seats
Child’s Weight 4 to 50 pounds when rear-facing, 20 to 80 pounds when forward-facing, and 30 to 120 pounds in belt-positioning booster mode. All-in-one seats can serve as a child’s car seat from birth up to age 12, providing good value. But CR’s tests have found that by trying to do too much, they don’t do any single task all that well. These seats also lack the convenience of a detachable carrier, are usually large, and might not fit smaller babies or small cars well. Still, they make good backup seats and may work well for caregivers who only occasionally drive with children in their cars.
Toddler Booster / Combination Car Seats
Child’s Weight 22 to 90 pounds in harness mode and 30 to 120 pounds in belt-positioning booster mode. These seats, which are forward-facing only, can be used with a harness or, with the harness removed, as a booster using just the car’s own seat belt. Harness mode is best for kids who are at least 2 years old until about age 6. After that, children can sit in booster mode until they are tall enough (4 feet, 9 inches) to go without a booster, typically between ages 8 and 12. These seats are safe for kids who have outgrown a rear-facing seat but aren’t ready for a belt-positioning booster, and can be an option if you need to pass a convertible seat to a younger sibling.
What to Know Before You Buy
Know Your Child: Keep track of your child’s height and weight. These factors, along with age, will determine the type of car seat you need. Health problems that affect muscle control or breathing, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, can also affect your choice.
Know You Car: Check the child-safety sections of your vehicle owner’s manual, and study up on relevant features such as the car’s seat belt and anchoring hardware that allow you to attach a car seat to the vehicle. That anchoring system is known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children).
Know Your Stores: Choose a retailer that accepts returns. Some car seats are not compatible with the backseat cushion angle or seat belt placement in some cars, so you may find that you need to return your car seat if it isn’t a good fit for your car.
Know Your Seat’s Expiration Date: Yes, car seats have one, typically between six and 10 years. Do not use an expired car seat, because it might not provide as much protection, include the latest safety features, or be tested to the most current standards. It’s especially important to find out the year a car seat was manufactured—and whether it was involved in a crash—if you are considering buying a secondhand seat or using a hand-me-down.