The infant car seats in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices. During this process, we considered dozens of brands and models.
For testing, our team ordered the five infant car seats that fared best in these categories. We installed each seat in a sedan and tried every adjustment mechanism.
Every car seat we recommend complies with U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. To determine our rankings, we compared adjustability, material quality, and ease of use. We also considered customer opinions represented by reviews on websites such as Walmart.com, Target.com, and Amazon.com. Additionally, we referred to safety ratings published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Ease Of Use
Even a car seat that meets federal guidelines is unsafe if installed incorrectly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are used incorrectly. When a car seat is simple to install and includes easy-to-follow directions, the chance of user error is lower.
A car seat’s lower anchor clips can make a big difference with ease of installation. While testing car seats, we encountered two types of anchor clips: a simple metal anchor and a buckle anchor (both displayed below). The buckle LATCH is much easier to attach and release. Seats with this type of lower anchor scored higher in the ease-of-use category.
You’ll want to adjust your car seat so it’s properly aligned in relation to your car. Features such as a built-in level can help you perfectly set up your infant car seat. Car seats with more harness positions and incline positions scored best in this category. Being able to adjust items like rethread harnesses also resulted in a higher score.
Quality Of Materials
Each of our best infant car seats uses strong and secure straps for safety. However, not all safe car seat pads are equally comfortable. Infant car seats with ultra-soft materials, extra padding, and quality stitchwork scored best in this category. We also evaluated how easily the material can be cleaned after messes and whether the material is flame retardant.
Infant Car Seat Testing Process
To test each infant car seat, our review team installed each product into a sedan. In addition to inspecting the materials of each seat in person, we noted the ease or difficulty of the installation process. We also tested each adjustment mechanism to ensure it worked smoothly.
We could attach each of the car seats using the car’s built-in infant seat anchors or the seatbelt. For our testing, we installed each seat using the built-in lower anchors when possible.
Why You Can Trust Us
Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.
We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.