There are so many things to consider and research when you are about to bring a child into the world. It can seem very overwhelming at times.
What kind of diapers will you use?
Will you breastfeed or formula feed? What kind of formula? What type of bottles is best?
What type of swing should you get?
Do you need an air purifier or a humidifier or both? What is the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier? (A legitimate question we had.)
Do we need a wipe warmer?
How many bibs will we need? (According to my husband, we needed about 100).
What will we need for tummy time?
And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
Another question that you will be asking yourself before the baby arrives is, “What infant car seat should we get?”
This is one of the most important questions to be asking, seeing as you cannot take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat.
I was thankful enough to be pregnant at the same time as my two sisters-in-law. We split up the research on everything we would need for our babies and collaborated, which helped so much. Not everyone has that luxury, so here I am to help you with some of the research you need to do!
In this article you will find:
- 5 helpful tips for finding the right infant car seat
- 3 different types of car seats
- Top-rated infant car seats.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the information and products out there (we definitely were), I am here to help you!
Below are some helpful tips on what to look for when shopping for an infant car seat. I have also added some top-rated car seats as well to help cut down on what you have to do because let’s face it, you have enough to get done before your amazing little one gets here.
Here are my top five pieces of advice/helpful tips when looking for a new car seat. These should help make the car seat buying adventure just a little easier.
#1 – While all car seats have to follow all of the same safety standards/guidelines, not all are going to be perfect for you. Like many big decisions in your life, keep your budget in mind when looking for a car seat. There are car seats in every price bracket; some have everything you can imagine (but not necessarily need), and some will be more basic.
#2 – Make sure to take into consideration your type of car(s). Measure your backseat and compare it to the size of the car seats you are looking at. Some car seats are a slimmer fit, others are bulkier in size. If you have a smaller car, a slim fit car seat will probably fit better. If you have a larger car, then you could probably fit a bulkier car seat in the back.
#3 – Some car seats are made more basic and some come with all of the “extras”. If you choose to go basic at first and then buy the extras (also known as aftermarket products) in the future, this could be less than safe for your child. The last thing any parent wants is to make anything less safe for their child(ren). Just something to keep in mind when you are looking at the different car seats that are available.
#4 – When it comes to safety, it is safer to buy a brand-new car seat. Used car seats from garage sales or resale stores do not come with a history report, so you do not know if they have been in an accident or if they are missing any pieces. When it comes to car seats, it is always best to buy brand-new.
#5 – Make sure your car seat is the right fit for your child. To do this, you will need to read the specifics on the car seats you are looking at, for example, what are the height and weight restriction for your infant seat. If you are buying in person, there is usually a label on the side of the car seat where this information can be found. If you are shopping online, this information can be found under “specifics”.
Types of Car Seats
Now let us look at the three different types of car seats you will find when on the hunt for the perfect one.
1. The Infant Car Seat
This car seat is designed to carry your child from birth to about two years of age (depending on your child’s height and weight). As always, look for the height and weight requirements for the infant car seats you are interested in, to see about how long it will last you.
These types of car seats are only meant for rear-facing. They should be placed in the middle of your back seat (if possible), as it is the safest place for your baby.
Some infant car seats can be buckled into your backseat or clicked into a base that is buckled safely into your back seat. We had an infant car seat that was a carrier and clicked into a base in our backseat.
We liked that we did not have to buy multiple car seats, just multiple bases, that were a fraction of the cost of car seats. We also liked that we could put our son in his car seat wherever we were and then could carry him in the car seat to the car and click him into the base.
Infant car seats can usually last up to 24 months or so. This all depends on the weight and height of your child. Once your child’s weight OR height exceeds the limits on your car seat, it is time to get a new car seat. This leads us to our next type of car seat – the convertible car seat.
2. The Convertible Car Seat
This option helps on saving money, due to the fact that it can hold your child from birth until they outgrow a car seat. This type of car seat is more versatile because it can be either rear-facing or forward-facing. (Keep in mind, it is recommended for safety reasons that children should be rear-facing until about the age of three.)
Some cons for this type of car seat is that you cannot carry your infant in this car seat. These seats tend to be bulkier, so they are harder to move from car to car. This causes you to buy more than one, depending on how many cars you have that need a car seat. Convertible car seats also do not come with a base, unlike the infant carriers.
Onto the last type of car seat, the 3-in-1 car seat.
3. 3-in-1 Car Seat
3-in-1 car seats are very similar to convertible car seats. One thing that is different about 3-in-1 car seats is that it has the added bonus of becoming a booster seat for when your child outgrows their car seat.
This is a one-stop-shop kind of car seat. This car seat changes with your child from birth until booster. These car seats can face backward for when your child is small and then it can face forward once they outgrow the rear-facing requirements. 3-in-1 car seats also turn into a booster seat, which is the last step before your child no longer needs a car seat. This car seat can save you in the long run as you would only need this one seat.
Make sure to keep an eye on the expiration date if this seat is moving with your child through the years so it does not expire.
Again, like the convertible car seats, you cannot carry your infant in this type of car seat like you can with the infant car seat.
We started with an infant car seat and got multiple bases for our cars as well as our parent’s cars, seeing as they were helping us watch our son. We liked the fact that we could buckle our son in his infant car seat in the house and then just carry him out to the car and click the car seat into its base.
This came in handy in the winter when it was cold outside. Our infant seat also clicked into our stroller which was an added bonus! There are some infant car seats that come with or connect, to strollers. Our stroller and car seat came in a bundle together, which was nice because then we did not have to go searching for a stroller that fit with our car seat.
We moved onto a 3-in-1 car seat when our son grew out of his infant seat. There is no right or wrong way to buy car seats, it is all about your preference. We also asked friends and family members who already had children, their input on different car seats (among A LOT of other questions on baby items).
Now that I have given you some tips for when you are buying car seats, and broken down the different types of car seats, below are some top-rated infant car seats for you to check out when you start to look for the perfect one that fits you and your little one.
Top-Rated Car Seats
(Voted Best Infant Car Seat by 2019 What to Expect Awards)
- Easy installation
- For babies up to 30 lbs and/or 30 inches tall
- Comes with inserts for premature babies.
- Click Connect Technology, which means really easy installation
- For babies up to 35 lbs and/or 32 inches tall.
(New York Times Runner-Up for Best Car Seat)
- Stroller adapters for multiple types of baby strollers available
- Similar crash safety ratings when compared to the Chicco KeyFit 30
- Easy to click in and out of the base.
- Rear and forward-facing
- Can hold up to 100 lbs
- Can recline into 4 different positions.
We have this car seat and absolutely love it. We have used it since our son was out of his infant seat. He is almost 6 now and in the booster seat portion of this car seat. We love the cup holders (also great for holding cars and dinosaurs).
- Rear and forward-facing like the Graco Slim Fit
- Can hold up to 120 lbs
- The headrest has 12 different positions.
- Can hold from 5 lbs to 100 lbs
- Adjustable recline in 3 different positions
- Has a quick fit harness.
When we were researching everything we would need for our little one, we did both in-person and online searching. Back when we were pregnant, Babies “R” Us was still around and our go-to for baby shopping. We spent HOURS in that store, looking at everything, and comparing items. Then we came home and went online to compare what we found in-store to what was online.
In-person shopping is favored by most soon-to-be parents because you can actually see and feel the items you are looking at. Now, with Covid-19 affecting the way everyone is doing things, more and more people are shopping on the internet.
If you are unable to go into a store to physically see or touch an item you are looking at, ask friends and/or family members for their advice. Who knows, someone you know might have the car seat you are researching and you can ask to see it in person.
My last piece of advice, if you are buying off Amazon, make sure to read the reviews. Customer reviews have helped us so much when looking for items for our son, from before birth, and even until now.