Finding the best infant car seat isn’t just a matter of seeking out the best deal – your child’s safety is on the line. Fortunately for parents, car seats sold in the United States must meet federal safety standards, making it hard to go wrong. But even a quality car seat is unsafe if you install it improperly or choose the wrong type of seat for your child.

In this review, we recommend several safe infant car seats suitable for children up to three years old. Our review team has tested each of these car seats for ease of use, quality of materials, and adjustability. Learn how to select the best infant car seat and explore options at multiple price points.

5 Best Infant Car Seats

infant car seats

  1. Editor’s Pick: Bugaboo Turtle Air
  2. Easiest To Use: UPPAbaby Mesa
  3. Most Comfortable: Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35
  4. Most Adjustable: Chicco KeyFit 30
  5. Best Value: Baby Trend EZ Ride

Infant Car Seat Buyers Guide

Infants should be placed in a rear-facing car seat from birth until they graduate to a forward-facing seat (typically between the ages of 2 and 4, according to the CDC). Any seat you purchase will have minimum and maximum weight and height limits to help ensure you use the right seat for your infant.

When selecting an infant car seat you’ll want to consider materials, ease of use, and seat type, in addition to safety.

Safety

Every car seat sold in the United States must meet federal safety standards. However, it’s still possible to buy untested car seats online. The best way to determine if a seat meets federal standards is to look for labels that clearly indicate a seat has been properly tested. Don’t buy an infant car seat if you’re unsure if it meets these standards.

Type Of Seat

In addition to ensuring your seat meets federal safety guidelines, you need to buy the best infant car seat for your child, based on their height and weight. Infants typically require a rear-facing car seat. Consult this chart, developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to determine which type of car seat you need.

Materials

Better materials can mean an easier installation process and a more comfortable ride for your child. Look for car seats with machine-washable padding that’s plush and well-stitched.

Extras

Most infant car seats are designed as carriers that attach to a base you keep installed in your vehicle. Many seats come with stroller compatibility, transforming your car seat from road to sidewalk use. Consider whether you want a car seat that attaches to a stroller, and if you prefer a seat with a shade hood.

Installation

After purchasing your car seat, make sure it’s properly installed. To check your installation, a professional can inspect your car seat. The NHTSA website features a handy tool for locating the nearest child passenger safety technician.

#1 Editor’s Pick: Bugaboo Turtle Air

car seat infant bugaboo turtle air

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The Bugaboo Turtle Air is a luxuriant infant car seat lined with high-quality merino wool. The detachable infant carrier has a shade canopy and is compatible with the Bugaboo stroller. It meets FAA requirements, meaning you can use it on commercial aircraft.

As a Bugaboo product, the Turtle Air is compatible with a number of baby gear accessories, such as a detachable changing bag, parasol, seat liner, and a footmuff (a baby sleeping bag). Most of these accessories are designed for use with the stroller and not while the Turtle Air is in your vehicle.

Pros Soft merino-wool lining Lightweight Can be attached to a compatible stroller
Cons Expensive Bulky smart visor

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $480
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 32.0 pounds
  • Height range: 32.0 inches or less
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 8.6 pounds

Our Experience

car seat infant bugaboo turtle air

The quality of the materials stood out the most when testing the Bugaboo Turtle Air. Not only are all the belts and buckles easily adjustable, but the lining material is the softest of any car seat we tested.

The base of the Turtle Air has an extendable load leg that adds extra stability. We were unable to attach the base to our vehicle’s anchor hooks and needed to install the Turtle Air using the car’s seat belt. This method worked well, and the seatbelt easily tucked into its required spot.

Once installed, the basket easily clicks into and detaches from the base. We found this to be among the easiest infant car seats to use.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on 20 ratings.

Amazon has only a few customer reviews for the Bugaboo Turtle Air, but they are mostly positive. Google also rates this seat highly, awarding it an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 120 reviews.

Users are happy this seat is easy to install, includes useful safety features, and is made from quality materials. Among the most common praises users heap on the Turtle Air is that it’s exceptionally light.

“The polyester fabric looks and feels amazing, and it seems like it can withstand some wear and tear. The cushions around the handle feel sturdy yet comfortable, and I love the option to customize with accessories.” – Julian via Amazon

One of the few common complaints we found pertains to the attached sun visor. Some people believe it’s bulky and difficult to tuck away when not in use. We didn’t have any issues with the visor during our testing.

#2 Easiest To Use: UPPAbaby Mesa

car seat infant uppababy mesa

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The UPPAbaby Mesa is an infant car carrier designed for quick and easy installation. Suitable for infants up to 35.0 pounds, the Mesa features an adjustable headrest, no-rethread harness, and side-impact protection. The infant insert is a soft wool blend.

The Mesa is compatible with Vista and Cruz strollers and is available in three colors.

Pros Easy to install and adjust Durable construction Soft lining materials Can be attached to a compatible stroller
Cons Seat angle too steep for some babies Expensive

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $350
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: 32.0 inches or less
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 9.9 pounds

Our Experience

car seat infant uppababy mesa

The SmartSecure® latch system makes the Mesa one of the easiest infant car seats to install. Holding a button loosens the straps, which automatically tighten once you release the button. A handy indicator window shows you when the base is properly installed.

The Mesa features soft materials and quality stitching. The attachment mechanism works well, and the base is simple to install and remove from the car seat base. Everything feels like it clicks firmly into place.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 2,600 ratings.

Satisfied customers say the Mesa is easy to install. Parents have peace of mind that the seat is properly secured, and the durable materials seem to last for many years.

“Very easy to install. Feels extremely safe and secure. Straps are easy to adjust, even with a small preemie.” – SW via Amazon

A few reviewers say the angle of the seat is too steep. Their babies are uncomfortable in a seat unable to recline further.

#3 Most Comfortable: Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35

car seat infant graco

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The Graco SnugRide®SnugLock®35 is a mid-priced infant car seat that installs easily and securely. The adjustable base offers four incline positions for optimal safety and comfort. Like many of the best infant car seats on this list, the SnugRide is attachable to a stroller without any adapters.

This infant car seat has undergone rigorous testing and includes a five-point harness system that has been side-impact tested for baby retention. It also features a quick-remove seat cover for easy cleaning.

Pros Easy to install and adjust Can be attached to a compatible stroller Removable head and body support cushions
Cons Large, bulky canopy

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $200
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 32.0 inches
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 7.5 pounds
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

car seat infant graco

Despite its lower price tag, the SnugRide is comparable to any top-tier infant car seat. It features soft, energy-absorbing foam padding and removable inserts that ensure your child is snugly secured.

We had no problems installing the SnugRide, and the entire process took around a minute. The seat anchors clip into place and are easy to adjust. The straps and buckles secure easily, and the Click Connect™ system works well.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 3,000 ratings.

Some reports from parents say this car seat saved their infant’s life after a crash. Many positive reviews also mention the comfortable lining and excellent head support the SnugRide offers.

“This car seat saved my 9-month-old daughters life. A few days ago we were in a car accident […] When we opened the back door to check and make sure our baby was okay, she looked at us smiling […] Completely unharmed.” – William Justice via Amazon

A few parents don’t care for the canopy attachment, which some say is bulky and cumbersome and gets in the way of the carrying handle.

#4 Most Adjustable: Chicco KeyFit 30

car seat infant chicco keyfit

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The Chicco KeyFit is a highly adjustable infant car seat that attaches securely to most any back seat. The leveling system is spring-loaded for easy use, and the carrier base features a bubble level to help parents ensure they have the proper setup.

You can detach the infant carrier from the car seat base and insert it into a Chicco stroller. This lightweight infant car seat can accommodate infants up to 30 pounds and includes a removable canopy and machine-washable lining.

Our Take

Pros Easy to install and adjust Can be attached to a compatible stroller High-quality, comfortable lining Includes adjustable canopy
Cons Lower maximum weight limit and height limit compared to other brands

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $230
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 30.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 30.0 inches
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 9.5 pounds
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

car seat infant chicco keyfit

Of the car seats we tested, the KeyFit was the simplest to install. The instructions were simple to follow, and the adjustment mechanisms work well. It’s easy to properly tighten the straps because of the SuperCinch® force-multiplying tightener.

It’s also easy to adjust the angle of the KeyFit once attached, making it a solid choice if you want a high-quality car seat with a straightforward installation process. The padding is made from EPS foam covered with a soft lining.

Our Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Adjustability5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 5,400 ratings.

Several reviewers like being able to adjust the carrying handle and unclip the seat from the base without waking a sleeping infant. Others praise the ease of installation.

“[I] didn’t have any experience with car seats prior to this, but I have heard a lot of people say they can be hard to install and so on… however, this one was extremely easy to install and use. It took me less than 5 minutes to install it for the first time.” – Timothy C. via Amazon

One reviewer didn’t applaud the release handle’s location. If the KeyFit is installed so it’s jammed against the front seat, the release handle can be hard to reach.

#5 Best Value: Baby Trend EZ Ride

car seat infant baby trend ez ride

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You can attach each car seat on this list to a stroller made by the same company, but the Baby Trend EZ Ride sells as an all-in-one travel system that includes a stroller. This combo package is cheaper than other car seats.

Though it doesn’t feature wool lining or removable, machine-washable paddings, the EZ Ride is a safe infant car seat for children up to 35.0 pounds. It also has a comparable amount of recline positions.

Pros Includes compatible stroller Relatively inexpensive Has special configuration for underweight newborns
Cons Can be difficult to adjust straps Lower quality lining materials

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $220
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 32.0 inches
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 8.8 pounds

Our Experience

car seat infant baby trend ez ride

We found the EZ Ride more difficult to install than the other infant car seats on this list. While we could attach the seat in under 10 minutes, the straps weren’t easily adjustable compared to other infant car seats. The anchor latch connectors are also hard to remove. But even so, the EZ Ride is a great option for its price.

While you only need to install the base once (and leave it in your car), you’ll likely end up regularly detaching the carrier from the base, especially if you plan to use the stroller. While not particularly difficult, the EZ Ride doesn’t easily detach from the base and requires some jiggling. We also found it tough to adjust the seat angle. For use outside the car, it may not be the best stroller for every child.

Our Rating3.5 out of 5
Ease of Use3.5 out of 5
Adjustability3.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on nearly 11,000 ratings.

As with many of the best infant car seats, at least one verified review is from a parent who experienced a wreck while using the product. Real-life crash tests show the EZ Ride is safe in the event of the worst.

“This seat saved my daughter’s life [after] my wife, our 2-day old daughter (at the time), and I were involved in a car accident.” – Count Davido via Amazon

Other, less-extreme positive reviews mention the lightweight of the carrier and the utility of the included stroller. We thought the materials were of middling quality, but many reviewers say their children find the EZ Ride comfortable. While the padding isn’t removable and machine-washable, you can easily wipe it down to clean.

Some parents report the vehicle seat is uncomfortable for their little one, and others find it difficult to attach the belt path around a struggling infant.

How Long Does An Infant Car Seat Last?

Newborns can safely use infant car seats until they meet the height and weight limit designated by the manufacturer. The best infant car seats can last at least until your child reaches 30.0 pounds or 32.0 inches. A convertible seat can serve as a forward-facing or rear-facing car seat and last for many years.

Depending on the child, the transition to a convertible car seat usually happens around age two. If you’re in an accident with a car seat, you should replace it. Keep in mind that car seats (even convertible car seats) have an expiration date. Many infant car seats expire around six years after the manufacture date.

Our Review Standards

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.

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.

Ease Of Use

All car seats sold in the U.S. must pass federal safety standards. But even an approved car seat is unsafe if you install it incorrectly. The easier a car seat is to install, the lower the likelihood of making a mistake.

Most infant car seats feature a base (that you leave attached to your car) and a carriage that snaps in and out of place to serve as a baby carrier or stroller when you reach your destination. An infant car seat that you can easily detach from its base scores higher in this category.

Tether design is important for ease of installation. The two primary types of car seat anchor clasps are a plain metal anchor and a buckle anchor (both displayed below). The buckle anchor is easier to use, so we gave a higher score in this category to the car seats with this type of anchor.

Plain Metal Anchor

car seats hooks

Buckle Anchor

car seats hooks

Adjustability

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.

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.

Best Infant Car Seats: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.