As every parent knows, safety and comfort are of paramount importance for your child.
That’s why a car seat is one of the most important investments you will ever make. Car seats will be needed for first bringing them back from the hospital to their first trip to school.
This first purchase should make your baby comfortable and you totally assured and confident in your choice. So what are the best infant car seats of 2021?
There are many models in the market, but purchasing a baby car seat needn’t be a daunting decision.
This guide outlines the key features to look out for and lists the pros and cons of the top-rated best infant car seats on the market today. Covering all budgets, I’m confident we have the best baby car seat for you!
Look at the comparison table. I will provide you with more information that will help you in our Buyer’s Guide later.
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10 Best Infant Car Seats in 2021 – Quick Comparison:
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10 Best Infant Car Seats in 2021 – Detail Reviews:
1. Chicco KeyFit 30 – Best Infant Car Seats Overall:
The #1 top-rated infant car seat in America, look no further if you are looking for a secure and reliable option to keep your pride and joy safe. With nearly 60 years of experience in the baby products market, Chicco has created an enduringly popular product at a competitive mid-range price point.
On the first impression, the KeyFit 30 looks and feels like a premium baby seat utilizing the quality production values one expects from a leading brand. It is certainly durable, boasting an enclosed underside to protect the seat from damage and the carrier shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection.
This sturdy construction instills confidence but, at 17lbs, this clearly isn’t the lightest baby seat out there – a factor you may wish to consider if you haven’t been hitting the gym lately!
Read complete review: Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat Review
Fitting the seat into the car is a breeze and, for peace of mind, bubble level indicators let you know that the seat has been inserted at the correct angle. SuperCinch technology allows one to tighten the seat with one simple pull for a snug fit.
This Chicco car seat features removable head and body supports to ensure your baby remains comfortable as it grows and a five-point body harness keeps it secure.
The adjustable canopy provides some protection from the sun but is slightly too small for my liking. Also, I feel the cushions could benefit from being made of more breathable material. These issues could lead to your child getting a little warmer than one would like when riding in direct sunlight.
In conclusion, this is a well-constructed and easy to install car seat from an established brand. However, it is let down by a small canopy which offers little protection from the sun and there are certainly cheaper options out there to consider.
2. Graco Connect 35 – Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat:
Graco is a long established brand known for their top of the range baby car seats. The Click Connect 35 is their attempt at capturing the mid-range market, coming in at roughly half the price of the Chicco Keyfit 30.
Available in pink or gender-neutral black, this car seat makes a striking first impression that belies its low price.
The Click Connect 35 weighs a mere 7.5lbs but underestimate this car seat at your peril! It boats some of the best crash test results out there, which is definitely a boon for the safety-conscious consumer. EPS energy-absorbing foam is used in construction as standard.
A five-point harness keeps your child secure and is easily adjustable from the front. A head support, ideal for a newborn, can be removed as your child outgrows it.
Unique to this product is the ‘boot.’ This is a cover for the feet and legs that keep your child’s lower extremities snuggly and warm at all times. This complements a canopy, which provides excellent protection from the elements, be they hot or cold. It would be nice if the canopy extended further than it does currently but this is only a minor niggle.
The main selling point of this product is how lightweight it is. If you’ve ever carried a baby around for any length of time you will definitely appreciate this feature! Transport from car to stroller and everywhere in-between could not be easier.
Read more: Best Affordable Crib Mattress
A level indicator is included to aid installation, however, I must admit, I found removing the seat from the car base to be a little tricky at times – It has to be lifted at exactly the correct angle.
Overall I feel this is an aesthetically pleasing premium product sold at a non-premium price point. Safety features and ultra-lightweight design make it an attractive proposition despite the minor ease of use concerns.
3. Peg Perego Primo – Best Safety Infant Car Seat:
Retailing at close to $300, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio sits opulently at the very top of the high-end newborn baby car seat market. If nothing is too good for your precious prince or princess, this may be just the ticket!
Immediately upon unboxing I noticed the fine Italian fresco jersey upholstery and realized I was dealing with a superior product. This fabric is fully breathable so no more sweaty journeys on a hot summer’s day – Moreover, this seat looks and feels so comfy that I wouldn’t mind sleeping in it myself if it was up-scaled to adult size!
Weighing in at a whopping 21lbs, one of the heaviest seats on the market, maximum protection for your child is the name of the game. The clever shell design is lined with energy-absorbing EPS foam but is also perforated to encourage air circulation.
The scalloped-shaped base of the unit includes a fully integrated anti-rebound bar and the side impact protection can be adjusted to six different positions as your baby grows. This is a really nifty feature that sets this seat apart.
Read more: Best Lightweight Stroller for Newborn
Similarly, two sets of removable cushions are included to support the neck and bottom throughout your child’s development and ensure the head is correctly aligned.
It is clear to see that a lot of thought has been put into the design of the Primo Viaggio. For example, the belts are color-coded to help belt routing if a base is not in use and the short compact handle makes it easy to move the seat in and out of the car.
In summary, the Viaggio has been exquisitely designed right down to the smallest detail and is a product easy to recommend for protecting the one dearest to your heart – if money was no object that is… The fact that it’s built like a tank, and is subsequently on the heavier side, is one of the only negatives I can find, besides the high price tag.
4. Evenflo LiteMax 35 – Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat:
At first glance, you wouldn’t suspect that the LiteMax 35 is a car seat for those on a budget. The seat looks and feels very comfortable, although admittedly the materials aren’t as luxurious to the touch as the Viaggio’s.
This model comes in a choice of three tasteful color schemes, which is a nice touch. Evenflo has been in the baby products business for over a century and have used their expertise to cram more features into a lightweight package than one might imagine possible.
A padded, ergonomic handle makes carrying the seat in and out of the car a piece of cake and the easy to install base is equipped with a two-step vehicle belt lock-off for quick and secure installation. This provides four recline options for the discerning baby who likes to change it up!
The canopy is one of the best I’ve seen as it provides full cover from the elements, a feature, which can easily be overlooked on overcast days. Another nifty element is the buckle pockets in which you can tuck the knuckle tongues away.
Like many other more expensive seats on the market, the LiteMax 35 also comes with removable head and body pillows. Unlike some other models, however, the LiteMax uses removable and machine washable pads, which are a godsend for parents with mucky kids!
To summarize, this is a budget infant car seat that definitely doesn’t feel cheap. Chock-a-block with innovative features, it is not as plush as more expensive models but, at this price, is hard to fault. Ideal for the busy mom or dad on the go…
5. Maxi-Cosi Mico AP – Best Affordable Car Seat:
Available in vibrant blue and purple editions in addition to the more subdued black, the Maxi-Cos Mico AP is very pleasing to the eye and makes an immediate impression. Inspired by bohemian handcrafted items and patterns, this is a very good-looking unit for a low price.
I must say, the fabric feels very soft and I’m sure many an infant has enjoyed a good sleep in this seat. A patented air-cushion system protects the baby’s head and the seat utilizes a 5 point harness, an impressive feature at this price point.
This is a functional unit – its lightweight nature makes it very easy to get in and out of the car and the latch hooks are intuitive and adjustable. The material is easy to clean with wipes and the covers can come off when a machine wash becomes necessary. This sounds like not a big deal but all parents with small infants will know the importance!
Although cute, comfortable and practical, there are few areas where the Mico AP lets itself down – The fabric, although nice, isn’t very breathable which will lead to a sweaty and possibly uncomfortable baby.
Also, the canopy is prone to coming loose. This can be a pain, especially in sunny weather when keeping cool is of the utmost importance. In addition, the seat is quite narrow and holds only up to 22lbs, which means it may not be future-proof if your baby is a fast grower.
The build quality isn’t top notch and this was demonstrated on my model when the tracks on the bottom that connects to the car broke off.
These issues, unfortunately, for me, mean I can’t recommend the Mico AP despite its attractive design and low price.
6. Graco SnugRide 30 – A Top Brand You Can Trust:
This is Graco’s foray into the budget end of the market and, by all accounts, it has been a phenomenal success. The Click Connect 30 is the #1 best-selling infant car seat on Amazon.com. The opportunity to grab a quality product by a leading brand at a low price is obviously very tempting. But is it too good to be true?
The answer, broadly speaking, is no – The materials used look and feel just as good as those on the other Graco models. The Click Connect 30 utilizes a tasteful teal and charcoal color scheme. Graco has done a fantastic job of incorporating some of the key features from their much more expensive units into the Click Connect 30.
For example, the familiar five-point harness has been retained, as has the canopy. It is also just as light as its dearer cousin and the brilliant carrying handle ensures lugging it in and out of the car is no problem. I can see why it has been such a hit with the American public.
So what’s missing? A big omission for me is the head support inserts and ‘booty’ to cover the legs and feet. Also, the angle of recline of the seat cannot be adjusted.
In my opinion, these features provide extra comfort and security for your child and are well worth paying an extra $40 or so for. However, this is an excellent purchase if you have a strict budget and this is borne out by the sales figures.
7. UPPAbaby MESA – Best Safety Infant Car Seat:
Sporting a subdued color scheme, the Jake makes an unassuming impression. However, upon closer inspection one begins to notice the superior craftsmanship of this premium product.
The seat fabric is very soft and is breathable and has been designed to wick away moistures – so no more sweaty journeys! It is also removable and machine-washable, which is a feature which will make mommy and daddy’s life just that little bit easier.
The canopy extends to cover the whole child and neatly hides away when not in use. The MESA is one of only two seats on the market with an SPF 50+ rating to protect against harmful UV rays – a very notable feature in these safety-conscious times. Hopefully, more car seats will follow UPPAbaby’s lead in the future.
As one would expect at this price, a five-point harness and this includes two crotch buckle positions. Removable inserts ensure ultimate comfort as your baby grows and the headrest is adjustable with integrated side impact protection for the extra piece of mind.
The seat incorporates EPP energy absorbing foam and feels solidly built so I was pleasantly surprised when I picked it up and discovered how light it was. The ergonomic handle makes carrying the seat in and out of the car a joy.
Installation of the seat was a walk in the park due to a host of clever features. These include dual-sided level indicators, a red to green tightness indicator and the option of lap belt installation with or without the base. It is for these reasons that the Jake was awarded 5-star ease of use rating from the NHTSA.
In summary, a plethora of innovative features coupled with a lightweight design and ease of use make for a very attractive proposition. If you can afford the hefty price tag, then this could be the car seat for you.
8. Cosco Light N Comfy DX – Best Cheap Car Seat:
The Cosco Light N Comfy DX is at the budget end of the market and this is noticeable when using the plastic handle, which has a seam running right the middle through it. The seat feels durable however and is nice and lightweight.
The padding inside doesn’t feel as comfortable as some of the other models reviewed but does the advantage of being removable and washer/dryer safe. This shows that Cosco has thought about what features are important to parents while trying to keep the cost down.
The most important thing is the safety of your child and Cosco haven’t skimped here – EPS energy absorbing foam and side impact protection are incorporated into this low-cost package. The lack of a five-point harness is a negative though. I also found installing and removing the seat from the car to be a bit more fiddly than with more expensive models.
It is important to note that this seat can only withstand a weight of 22 lbs, as opposed to 35, so is not as future proof as other models. This can be easy to overlook when purchasing a car seat.
Overall, I think that the cheap feel of this infant seat and a lack of features let this product down in relation to other ones in the same price bracket. This is a shame as I am really rather fond of its charming design aesthetic.
9. Combi Shuttle Car Seat – Best Affordable Infant Car Seat:
This car seat from Combi has recently been discontinued so if you act fast, you may just pick up yourself a bargain. But a word to the wise – be sure to check compatibility with your stroller before doing so!
With a sleek black and grey design, the Shuttle Car Seat has the look of a high-end, if conservative, product. The unit is very solid and incorporates an anti-rebound bar, which is designed to minimize rotational forces in front and rear-end collisions.
In addition, energy-absorbing foam lines the deep walls for further protection. Despite this reinforcement, the seat is very light and I liked very much the handle, which has the feel of real quality.
The headrest is fully adjustable and the seat covers removable and machine washable. Like other quality child car seats, this one features a five-point harness.
The main criticism I have of the Shuttle Car Seat is the canopy. Although a decent size, it is a bit flimsy and doesn’t seem to hold its shape very well. I also found it installing the seat to be not quite as straightforward as with other designs. This one needs to be clicked in at exactly the right angle or it won’t stay put.
My overall opinion of the Shuttle Car Seat is that it is solid but unremarkable. If you can find it going cheap online, it may be worth a look.
10. Baby Jogger 2016 City Go – Best Infant Car Seats:
The Baby Jogger 2016 City Go is available in both black and steel grey versions. Both provide a very comfortable and safe in-car experience for a baby. The seat material used is very luxurious, although the head cushion is a bit smaller than I would prefer.
The canopy is the best I have seen. Made of sturdy material, it extends fully to protect the child head to toe from the elements, be the sun, rain or snow. SPF 50+ protects from UV rays, a feature found also only on the more expensive UPPAbaby model.
The marketing tagline for this product is ‘Go Anywhere From Day One.’ Thusly, Baby Jogger has gone to great pains to make installation and removal of the seat a hassle-free experience.
The 6-position base is adjustable to ensure a proper and level install in your car. And dual bubble level indicators provide peace of mind that it’s been installed correctly.
An ingenious design quirk is the ability to fasten the seat to directly to a vehicle’s belt, without the need for the base. This is ideal for the busy mom, hopping in and out of taxis and other modes of transport.
I was very much impressed with the innovative and clever design of this car seat. Ease of use paired with good protection makes a winning combination. It’s the third most expensive product in this list, but I feel is well worth the money if you can spare it.
Best Infant Car Seats of 2021 Buying Guide:
Do I get a rear facing or forward facing car seat?
It is recommended and in many countries advisable by law that infants up to the age of two sit in a rear facing car seat. All of the seats mentioned are for infants and therefore rear-facing. One less complicated parenting decision you have to make.
Are rear-facing car seats safer?
Most studies show that rear-facing car seats are safer. Everyone would be safer in this position in the event of a collision. Rear-facing might be dreary and there are some little aspects which might make you feel like having your child forward-facing remember that in the bigger picture, keeping them rear-facing could potentially save your child’s life.
But what about rear-end collisions?
Rear-end collisions tend to be a lot less deadly. We are looking at protecting your child from frontal and side collisions, which tend to be the fatal kind.
So if you ever feel guilty for turning your little one backward, out of the action even a little car sick – DON’T BE. YOU ARE KEEPING YOUR CHILD SAFE.
My child gets carsick riding backward – what should I do?
Make sure you put the car seat in a place with the best possible view of the rearview mirrors.
Side windows make you feel sick.
Put the seat in an upright position to allow a full view of the rear window.
Think audio rather than visual entertainment. We all know reading a book in a car or your phone is a great way to bring on the sickies. It’s the same for your baby. Don’t give them books or toys they will be staring down at. Instead distract them with music or audio books so they can look out of a window instead, or even close their eyes and go for a nice nap.
Avoid carbs and other foods that might make them feel even sicker or even worse, that might lead to vomiting. Try to get food out of the way a few hours before.
Another tip – It might be good to look at car seats with detachable and machine washable cushions just in case of little accidents. This keeps the seat cleaner and smelling better, which in turn will help your little one feel less nauseous.
Why should I buy an infant car seat as opposed to a convertible seat? And what is the difference?
The difference is that an infant car seat may last a shorter time, as your baby grows (one to two years) whereas a convertible seat can last through the toddler years. There is no reported safety difference. However, an infant seat has a hidden superpower. It is easily transferable and detachable. As a parent that quiet time when a baby is sleeping can be priceless.
One of the main advantages of an infant car seat is the ability to move your baby out from the car, and carry them in the infant car seats without waking them – minimal disturbance, minimal fuss. Priceless. Even if the car seat lasts for little more than a year you have saved yourself a year worth of tears and tantrums.
Which infant car seat is safest?
This is a primary concern for any parent. While there are some minor safety differences, which I mention in the reviews, car seats on the market have all been tested and approved for the current safety standards (Always check for the JPMA stamp on packaging).
As a good rule of thumb the safest seat a new one – as technology and safety technology moves very fast. So buying a brand new seat is the safest thing you can do for your baby. DO NOT GO FOR SECOND HAND INFANT SEATS.
What You Need To Know Before Buying An Infant Car Seats?
- It is a requirement of the law, if traveling by motor vehicle with your infant, to use a car seat at all times. This includes the first time you bring him or her home from the hospital, so start planning now!
- Your baby must be kept rear facing until they are at least two years old. Fear not, all of the car seats reviewed above are rear facing car seats.
It’s important for an infant to ride sitting semi-reclined, about halfway back or 45 degrees from horizontal.
Check the recommended weight allowance for the seat you are buying and allow some wiggle room for your baby – In the colder months, you may want to bundle them up so keep this in mind! For the added security when restraining your child, look out for seats with a five-point harness. This secures your child at the hips, as well as the shoulders and between the legs.
Many baby boy car seats are only compatible with baby strollers of the same brand. Be sure to bear this mind when budgeting for your purchase.
Avoid used car seats. Normal wear and involvement in accidents may limit their effectiveness. Also, they may not conform to present safety standards. It is definitely worth spending a little more on your infant boy car seat in case, heaven forbids, the worse was to happen.
CONCLUSION – Which One Is The Best Infant Car Seats in 2021?
I have reviewed a wide range of infant car seats, which cater to different needs. With such a wide range of products, it is impossible to pick one definitive winner. So instead, I have picked a favorite from each price-range:
Low Cost – For those on a budget, I heartily recommend the Evenflo LiteMax 35.
Lightweight and convenient, it sports one of the best canopies on the market to protect fully your pride and joy from the sun. Another great feature is the removable and machine-washable pads, which makes keeping things clean just that little bit easier. Cheap infant car seats are not hard to find these days, but one of this quality certainly is.
Mid-range – At this price point, the winner is the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35.
An attractive and very lightweight design featuring five-point body harness and removable inserts. The ‘booty’ cover for your infant’s legs and feet sets this Graco infant car seats apart from its competitors.
High cost – If only the best will do for your little darling, to hell with the cost then, the car seat for you is the UPPAbaby MESA.
Breathable materials, unrivaled adjustability, and ease of use all add up to a comfortable and hassle-free experience for child and parent. This is the most expensive option for a reason and that is because it is simply the best of the best infant car seats on the market.