Of the dozens of products you'll need for a new baby, there's only one so essential that you can't even go home without it.
Your infant car seat will protect the most important cargo you've ever had, from baby's hospital homecoming trip through most of their first year.
Safety is every new parent's top concern, but there are many other factors involved with choosing the best infant car seat, like ease of use, budget, and compatibility with your stroller.
In this guide, we'll review the best infant car seats in several categories, including the safest car seats, lightest car seats, best car seats for travel, easiest car seats to install, and more.
Check out our video for the Best Car Seats of 2023, stay tuned for our new 2024 edition coming soon!
Most Popular Infant Car Seat
Nuna offers three infant car seats: Nuna PIPA RX, PIPA aire RX, and PIPA urbn . The versatility of the Nuna infant car seat line-up offers Nuna fans the ability to select the perfect options for their specific needs.
The PIPA urbn is a one-of-a-kind baseless infant car seat. This model has rigid latch built into the body of the seat, eliminating the need for a base. The PIPA urbn offers convenience without sacrificing safety, making it a great choice for city families utilizing public transportation,
PIPA aire RX, and PIPA urbn are both lined with Nuna's proprietary Aeroflex foam. This foam is lighter weight, than the standard EPS foam typically used in car seats, and therefore contributes to the overall lighter weight design of the PIPA aire RX, and PIPA urbn.
Furthermore, all Nuna PIPA Series infant car seats are made with flame resistant materials and do not contain any flame retardants. All of Nuna's car seats are also GREENGUARD Gold Certified.
No matter which PIPA you pick, you're choosing an infant car seat that's highly regarded for its safety, versatility, ease of use and style.
Rated "best" in crash protection by Consumer Reports, the Nuna PIPA and its counterparts include a steel load leg that extends from the base to the floor of your car—a feature shown in studies to reduce the risk of head injury by nearly 50 percent.
A PIPA car seat is also among the easiest to use, whether you're installing it, attaching it to your stroller or simply carrying it. Nuna car seats weigh less than most competitors and are compatible with strollers from Nuna and dozens of other brands.
All Nuna infant car seats also boast parent favorite feature the Sky Drape. The Sky Drape is a canopy extension that is stored within the main canopy and revealed to provide full sun coverage and privacy.
Best Rated Infant Car Seat for Safety
Thankfully, all infant car seats are safe: they wouldn't be available for purchase if they didn't meet strict federal safety standards.
But what is the safest infant car seat on the market?
There isn't a single definitive answer, as the federal government rates car seats not on crash protection but on another important safety consideration: ease of use. After all, crash test results don't mean as much if parents can't install the car seat correctly.
Here are the best infant car seat ratings, according to three leading sources.
*It is essential to acknowledge that the information provided by these sources is derived from third-party private reporters. Manufacturers of US car seats are not obligated to disclose their crash testing reports; however, they are required to pass standard safety tests. Notably, Clek stands out as the sole US car seat manufacturer that transparently publishes its crash testing statistics on their official website. While considering these third-party reports, we strongly advise parents to evaluate various factors. User-friendly installation, with thorough indicators ensuring proper and complete installation, is crucial. Additionally, prioritize safety features such as anti-rebound protection and enhanced side impact protection. Opting for a rigid LATCH installation is highly recommended, as it not only facilitates easy installation but also ensures maximum stability for advanced safety.
BEST RATED INFANT CAR SEATS BY CONSUMER REPORTS
The best-rated car seat by Consumer Reports is the Clek Liing, which the organization ranks higher than any other infant or convertible car seat.
To determine overall infant car seat rankings, the organization uses a 100-point scale that considers not only crash protection, but also ease of use and the seat's fit to LATCH and seatbelt.
Consumer Reports ranks these as the top five best infant car seats overall:
- Clek Liing (score of 90)
- Graco Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT ft. Load Leg Technology (score of 89)
- Chicco Keyfit (score of 89)
- Cybex Cloud G Lux (score of 84)
- Graco Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT (score of 83)
Consumer Reports conducts independent crash testing, using a "good, better, best" system to rate car seats on their safety performance.
BEST RATED INFANT CAR SEATS BY NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes ease-of-use ratings for infant car seats. Although the ratings don't consider the car seat's crash performance, ease of use is a safety feature in itself—a car seat can't be safe if it isn't used properly.
The NHTSA uses a five-star system to evaluate the ease of installing and seating the child in the car seat, as well as the clarity of the product manual and labels.
Not all models have been rated, but here's a sampling of NHTSA ratings for popular infant car seats.
- Baby Jogger City Go 2: 4 stars
- Chicco KeyFit: 4 stars
- Clek Liing: 4 stars
- Cybex Aton M: 5 stars
- Doona: 5 stars
- Maxi-Cosi Mico 30: 4 stars
- Nuna PIPA RX : 4 stars
- Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido: 4 stars
- UPPAbaby Mesa: 5 stars
BEST RATED INFANT CAR SEATS BY BABY GEAR LAB
Pediatrician-founded Baby Gear Lab brings a scientific approach to testing products like infant car seats. Independent crash testing and ease of installation with the LATCH system each account for 20 percent of testing scores, with considerations like ease of use, comfort and size rounding out the rankings.
According to Baby Gear Lab, these are the top six infant car seats:
- Clek Liing (Best Crash Test Analysis Infant Car Seat)
- Chicco KeyFit 35 (Best Car Seat with High Stroller Compatibility)
- UPPAbaby Mesa Max (Best Infant Car Seat for Quality & Comfort)
- Chicco KeyFit 30
- Chicco Fit2
- Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido
Lightest Infant Car Seat
To a first-time parent testing infant car seats in a store, all models can feel heavy—and that's before adding the weight of an actual baby (7.5 pounds at birth, on average!)
But a few newer infant car seats are starting to lighten the load. UPPAbaby's newest infant car seat the Aria - offers a simplified designed, achieving the title of the lightest weight infant car seat!
The Nuna PIPA aire RX and Nuna PIPA urbn feature Nuna's proprietary Aeroflex foam. This foam is significantly lighter weight than the standard EPS foam typically found in car seats. The incoropation of Aeroflex foam put the PIPA aire RX and PIPA urbn on the list of lightest weight infant car seats.
See a complete list of the lightest car seats here. The top four lightest infant car seats are:
- UPPAbaby Aria: 6 lbs (true weight)
- Nuna PIPA aire RX: 6.2 lbs (without canopy and insert)
- Nuna PIPA urbn: 7 lbs (without canopy and insert)
- Bugaboo Turtle Air: 7.1 pounds (without canopy and insert)
Best Infant Car Seat for Travel
A car seat and stroller are essential for traveling with an infant—and the innovative Doona is both products in one. Use the Doona as a stroller as you're walking through the airport, then retract the wheels to install it in an Uber like any other infant car seat.
As a stroller, the Doona has its downsides, like a lack of storage and a shorter lifespan than most strollers. Like any other infant car seat, it can be used for about the first year, while regular strollers will last through toddlerhood.
If you're looking for a car seat to pair with your stroller during travel, consider a lightweight option that features a European belt path for a secure seat belt installation without a base, like the Nuna PIPA aire RX or the UPPAbaby Aria.
That allows you to leave the car seat base—the heaviest part of the seat—at home so you can travel lighter. With only a few exceptions, the majority of infant car seats can be seatbelt-installed.
You may also find that a baseless car seat, like the new Nuna PIPA urbn or the Clek Liingo, would be an easier option for your family's on-the-go lifestyle. With the PIPA urbn's integrated pipaFIX rigid LATCH and the Liingo's flexible LATCH connectors, you can securely install your car seat in seconds.
Some of the best infant car seats for travel include:
- Clek Liingo
- Nuna PIPA RX, Nuna PIPA aire RX, or Nuna PIPA urbn
- UPPAbaby Mesa V2, UPPAbaby Mesa Max or UPPAbaby Aria
Best Infant Car Seat for Comfort
The main setting for a car seat is, of course, your car. But many parents love the convenience of using an infant car seat outside of the vehicle, too. When baby falls asleep, they can simply carry the car seat inside or attach it to a stroller while running errands.
The problem: Experts caution against using a car seat for more than a couple of hours at a time. Car seats require an infant to sit slightly upright, which isn't ergonomic for a developing head and neck—and isn't safe for prolonged sleeping, considering baby's restricted airways.
Two innovative car seats offer a solution: The Cybex Cloud G Lux and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Lounge are the only infant car seats on the market with a recline function. Outside of the car, the seats recline to a position that's more similar to a bassinet than a typical car seat, allowing the baby to lie flat in a safer and more comfortable position.
Best Infant Car Seat and Stroller Combo
With the exception of umbrella strollers, all strollers can accommodate the attachment of an infant car seat—it's just a matter of which ones.
Some manufacturers offer strollers and car seats that connect seamlessly, while in other cases, you can mix and match brands with the purchase of a car seat adapter. See our Car Seat Compatibility Guide and Stroller Compatibility Guide for help designing your ideal "travel system."
The best car seat and stroller combos either don't require adapters or use an adapter that actually makes life easier.
In most cases, attaching a car seat to your stroller involves the alignment of slots on both sides of the seat—a task sometimes made tricky by the weight of a baby (especially a crying one).
Nuna devised a unique solution: a ring-shaped adapter that allows you to quickly attach and detach the car seat with one hand, no alignment necessary. The ring adapter, which fits all Nuna PIPA series car seats, is included with purchase of the Nuna DEMI Next, Nuna MIXX Next, and Nuna TRIV Next strollers. Nuna also manufactures a similar ring adapter for the UPPAbaby Vista and UPPAbaby Cruz.
Of course, an adapter-free connection means one less piece of gear to worry about. The UPPAbaby Mesa V2, Mesa Max and UPPAbaby Aria attach to both the Vista and Cruz without adapters, and the same is true for Nuna PIPA series infant car seats on the Nuna TAVO Next and Nuna TRVL, as well as the Stokke PIPA car seat on the Stokke Xplory stroller.
The best infant car seat and stroller combos include:
- Doona (all-in-one stroller and car seat)
- Nuna PIPA series with Nuna TAVO Next or Nuna TRVL (no adapters required)
- Nuna PIPA series with Nuna DEMI Next, Nuna MIXX Next, or Nuna TRIV Next (ring adapter included)
- Nuna PIPA series with UPPAbaby Vista or UPPAbaby Cruz (ring adapter sold separately)
- Stokke PIPA car seat with Stokke Xplory (no adapters required)
- UPPAbaby Mesa Series or UPPAbaby Aria with UPPAbaby Vista V2 or UPPAbaby Cruz V2 (no adapters required)
Easiest Infant Car Seat to Install
Most infant car seats come with a base that allows you to click the seat off and on while leaving the base safely installed. Bases can be installed using either the LATCH anchors in the seat back of your vehicle, which was designed for convenience, or with the equally-safe seatbelt.
There are a couple infant car seats that are baseless, which means the LATCH attachments are integrated with the car seat itself--allowing a simple installation within seconds. The Clek Liingo and Nuna PIPA urbn can be installed using their buit-in LATCH clips or with a vehicle seatbelt.
A few infant car seats with bases are easier to install than others, thanks to extra features that simplify installation and troubleshoot common issues.
Nuna's RELX base, as seen on the Nuna PIPA RX, and Nuna PIPA air RX car seats, has greater adjustability than most bases. The LATCH connectors are extendable to four positions, allowing the base to fit more easily and tightly in a wider variety of cars, and the adjustable load leg helps to fit the base in cars with a center seat hump.
The Bugaboo Turtle Air by Nuna, also includes a recline base. Steel-reinforced rigid LATCH connectors extend to four positions, creating a tighter fit against your vehicle seat, and four bubble-free recline angle guides allows your baby to sit in a more upright position, adding comfort as they grow.
The Clek Liing base offers similar functionality, with a seven-position recline that helps find a safe and level fit whether your vehicle seats are sloped or flat. The LATCH connectors on the base can be extended and shortened to meet the anchors that are hard to reach in some vehicles.
The UPPAbaby Mesa Series and UPPAbaby Aria take the guesswork out of car seat installation with features like LATCH connectors that self-retract and a tightness indicator that turns green when the installation is adequately secure. That's why it's one of the only infant car seats to earn the highest 5-star ease of use rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The easiest infant car seats to install include:
- Bugaboo Turtle Air (with base)
- Clek Liingo (baseless) or Clek Liing (with base)
- Nuna PIPA RX, and Nuna PIPA aire RX (with base) or Nuna PIPA urbn (baseless)
- UPPAbaby Mesa V2, UPPAbaby Mesa Max or UPPAbaby Aria (with base)
Best Infant Car Seats without Flame Retardant Chemicals
Some parents are concerned not only about how a car seat will protect their baby, but about how they can protect their baby from the car seat's materials.
Most car seats incorporate flame retardants, while a few models instead use merino wool or bamboo—fibers that are naturally fire-resistant, with fewer health concerns.
All Nuna infant car seats use a bamboo blend fabric that's free of flame-retardant chemicals. The PIPA aire RX and PIPA urbn models also include merino wool infant inserts. Select styles of the UPPAbaby Mesa V2, UPPAbaby Mesa Max, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido, and Clek Liing are made with merino wool—which is hypoallergenic and helps regulate your child’s body temperature, keeping kids cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The best infant car seats without flame retardants are:
- Clek Liing
- Nuna PIPA RX, PIPA aire RX, and PIPA urbn
- Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido (Merino Wool version)
- UPPAbaby Mesa Max (Greyson Charcoal Melange and Gregory Blue Melange styles feature Merino Wool)
- UPPAbaby Aria
Best Infant Car Seat Technology
Car seats are built to protect your child in a crash, but collisions aren't the only dangerous situations your baby could face in his car seat.
Cybex infant car seats - Aton M and Cloud Q— are offered with technology called SensorSafe to notify parents of lapses in safety. A sensor in the chest clip pairs with a vehicle receiver and your smartphone, sending alerts about dangerous temperatures, an unbuckled harness or a baby inadvertently left in a car.
Cybex infant car seats also include a unique side-impact protection feature: energy-absorbing pods that can be extended from the side of the seat to serve as the first line of defense in a crash. Plus, Cybex infant car seats include a load leg, considered the leading safety feature in infant car seats.
Best Infant Car Seat Warranty
No matter which infant car seat you choose, you'll use it for about a year. While the weight limit for most infant car seats is 32 to 35 pounds, it's common for babies to first outgrow the seat by height, when they reach 32 inches.
Still, you'll want a car seat that's built to last—especially if you plan to use it for additional children in the future.
Most infant car seats are covered by a manufacturer's warranty for about one year and expire after a period of about seven years. But a few manufacturers offer a longer warranty, ensuring your car seat can be repaired or replaced in the event of defects down the line.
UPPAbaby and Clek offer limited lifetime warranties on their infant car seats, until the car seat reaches its expiration date.
- UPPAbaby Mesa V2, Mesa Max, Aria: Limited lifetime warranty
- Clek Liing: Limited lifetime warranty (for purchases on or after January 1, 2024 AND manufactured on Jan 1, 2023 or later)
Strolleria is dedicated to making the baby gear buying experience less overwhelming for parents. If you have more questions about the best infant car seats for 2024, feel free to chat with us on our website or email us at email@example.com.