Infant Car Seat FAQsBefore getting started, let’s go over some of the most common questions asked about car seats and their use.
Does a car seat expire?Yes. Most car seats expire six years after the date it was manufactured. Manufacturers stamp the expiration date on the manufacturer label.
What do I do with my expired car seat?You can’t sell an expired car seat, but it can be recycled. In some cases, you can donate your expired car seat to a recycling center for a small fee that is given to local charities.
Are car base seats universal?Usually no, but some bases accommodate several different seat models. Do not use a car base seat that doesn’t fit your car seat.
When should I switch to a convertible car seat?It’s time to switch to a convertible car seat when your child has outgrown their infant car seat either in height or weight. The car seat manufacturers typically set measurements for height and weight limit, so you should be able to know that information when you buy one. Also, there are belt-positioning booster seats that are especially meant for those children who have outgrown their current seats but are still too small to snuggly fit in an adult lap and shoulder belt.
When do babies grow out of infant car seats?Babies may grow out of their infant seat between nine and 18 months.
How long are infant car seats good for?Infant car seats can be used for 6 years, but some newer ones can be used for up to 10 years.
How long does a baby need to face the back?The American Association of Pediatrics recommends using a rear-facing seat until at least age two.
When can a child face forward in their car seat?Switching to a forward-facing seat is possible after age two, but you can choose to wait.
Do I have to buy an infant-only car seat?No, if your baby fits safely in a convertible car seat, then you don’t need to buy an infant-only car seat. The most important feature is fit: your little one’s shoulders must be even with the harness slots when facing the back.
What’s a usual infant car seat’s weight limit?Rear-facing infant car seats usually have a weight limit between 35-40 pounds. There should be an inch between the top of your child’s head and the top of the car seat. Your child’s legs can touch the seat as he faces backward.
What’s a usual child car seat’s weight limit?After switching from an infant seat to a front-facing car seat, these usually last until your child weighs 90 pounds.
Types Of Infant Car SeatsYou’ll find three different types of car seats widely available on the market: rear facing, convertible rear facing, and all-in-one newborn car seats. They mostly come with an infant insert where your baby will be seated. The infant insert also serves as an added support for a more comfortable fit.
Rear-Facing Baby Car SeatA rear-facing car seat is designed specifically for infants and will only fit into your car in a rear-facing fashion. Most rear facing seats also double as a carrier. Installation varies by model. Some can be strapped directly into the car, but others require a base that is also strapped into your car.
Convertible Rear-Facing Newborn Car SeatConvertible rear facing car seats are seats that can be used from infancy until your child is ready to move to a booster seat. Use them as rear facing car seats for the first two years and then switch them around when they’re ready to sit facing forward. Buying a convertible car seat means you don’t need to buy a second car seat when your infant outgrows their rear facing seating. Convertible seats vary from rear facing seats in that they don’t usually require a base and they aren’t portable. The seats are typically larger and strap directly into the car, making them more difficult to transition between vehicles. A convertible seat will also be larger than a rear facing seat and may not be suitable for smaller infants.
3-in-1 Newborn Car SeatAn all-in-one or 3-in-1 carseat adds another feature to the convertible seats by transforming into a booster seat. Like convertible seats, an all-in-one is often bulky and remains in place in one car. It can be used as a rear facing seat and then a forward-facing seat. Parents like these because if it fits, they can use it from infancy until the time their child is ready for a seat belt only.
Safety Features the Best Baby Car Seats Will HaveFinding the best car seat means looking for the one that includes all the essential safety features. Here are a few of the must-have safety features in any car seat.
Load Leg Infant Car SeatA load leg infant car seat includes a safety feature called a “load leg,” which works as a leg between the car seat and the floor of the vehicle. A load leg adds extra stability in the event of the crash by reducing energy transfer from the car seat to the infant. It also adds an extra measure of security by aiding in keeping the car seat in the car after a crash.
Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB)An anti rebound bar (ARB) is found near the foot of the car seat and fits against the seat back. The bar prevents violent movements in a crash. It’s only found on rear facing infant car seats.
Linear Side Impact ProtectionLinear side impact protection is a feature fitted on the back rest of the car seat. It protects the baby from side impact while also absorbing impact force in the event of a side-impact collision.
No Rethreaded HarnessA no-rethreaded harness is a feature that allows you to adjust the baby’s car seat harness without manually rerouting the straps.
Rigid LatchA rigid latch is hard to find on U.S. car seats, but it’s a useful safety feature. With a rigid latch, the lower anchor connectors on the car seat aren’t place on a strap but instead are connected to the steel frame of the car seat.
Push Button Latch ConnectorsPush button latch connectors seem like a convenience feature, but they’re also a safety feature. This feature allows you to push a button on the connectors to release the car seat, meaning it’s easier to remove the whole car seat both when transferring it and in the event of an emergency.
Seat Belt Lock OffsSeat belt lock offs clamps or pinches the seat belt that locks your car seat into to hold the seat in place even in an emergency stop.
Latch Car SeatLatch car seat systems come standard on all car seats manufactured after 2002. They connect the car seat to the vehicle’s seat itself and include tether anchors for the top of the seat.
Reviews of the Best Infant Car SeatsThe best car seat for you is one that fits both your baby and your car – and of course, one that you can install safely and quickly. We’ve put together a list of our favorite car seats that include our favorite safety features but aren’t too complicated to install.
Britax B Safe-35 Infant Seat
- Looking for B-Safe 35. B-Safe Gen2 is the next generation of Britax infant car seats, made with a spacious seating area...
- BRITAX SAFETY: Sturdy build with a high-strength steel reinforced base and SafeCell crumple zone; protective shell with...
- INSTALL WITH CONFIDENCE: 3 easy steps with SafeCenter LATCH: connect lower anchors, pull straps to tighten, click...
- Easy to snap in and out
- Works well with a stroller
- Security doesn’t sacrifice comfort
- Larger babies outgrow the seat faster
- Car seat is heavy
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
- Built to grow with your child, this safety 1st car seat supports infants from 5 pounds to toddlers of 40 pounds as a...
- An adjustable 3 position recline makes it easy to get a good fit for the seat in your car, assembled product dimensions...
- Harness holders keep the harness open, making it easier to get into and out of the seat; Front seat passengers can enjoy...
- Extra 7” of extendable leg room
- Removable, machine-washable cover
- Gender neutral colors
- Recline isn’t fully accessible in small cars
- Complicated latch system in rear facing
Chicco Keyfit Infant Car Seat and Base
- #1 rated infant car seat in America for babies from 4 to 30 pounds
- ReclineSure leveling foot adjusts to fit vehicle seat angle
- RideRight bubble-level Indicators show when a proper fit has been achieved
- Added tools for easy installation
- Foam-lined harness
- Comes with a base
- Doesn’t fit well in small cars
- Needs an additional sun shade
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Convertible car seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (4-50lbs) to forward-facing harness (22-65 pounds)
- Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
- Up to 50 pounds rear facing, allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer
- 10-year expiration
- 4 positions and 6 reclines for comfort
- Simple safe harness system with storage
- Extendable base grows with baby in rear facing position
- Labels on car seat get hot
- Small cup holders
- An industry first, UPPAbaby Mesa's smart secure auto-retracting mini latch connectors combined with a red to green...
- Adjustable headrest with side impact protection
- No-rethread harness
- Finished bottom to protect your car’s upholstery
- Sleek, easy-to-assemble design
- The canopy of the UPPAbaby Messa is reported to not extend to protect your baby fully from the elements, and sometimes stains in the rain.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Car Seat
- Made In Italy. Rear facing infant car seat for babies 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall; Includes a base with an...
- Dual stage cushion system-first stage for 4 pound and up offers extra support on baby's neck and bottom, second stage...
- Car seat dimensions: 25.9 x 17.0 x 23.9 inches and base dimensions: 21.6 x 14.6x 11.5 inches . Side impact protection...
- Plush and comfortable first-stage and second stage cushion
- Easy to install
- Features an anti-rebound bar
- Cushions are not machine washable
- Needs an adapter if used on a stroller base of different brand