Is It Safer to Install an Infant Car Seat Using the Base or Seat Belt?

 Nuna PIPA RX car seat installed with the seatbelt and no base

Almost all infant seats can be installed using a base or using the seat belt without the base. There are a few car seats that do not use a base, and a few car seats that cannot be installed without a base. However, the vast majority can be installed both ways. Always refer to your car seat manual. 

So which is safer?

The simple answer: Neither, they are both equally safe! Both pass crash tests and are safe to use. Many people believe installing the infant car seat with a base is safer and more secure, but as long as you follow the manual for seat belt installation and achieve a tight install, it is just as safe.

The more complex answer: If you are not able to achieve a tight install using the seat belt, installing the car seat with the base is going to be safer. Whatever method you feel more confident in and can achieve a better install, is the safest!

Let’s break it down! Typically installing an infant car seat base is quite straightforward and pretty simple. It’s hard to screw up, and a tight install is achieved every time you click the car seat into the base. You do not have to reinstall the car seat every time.

Nuna PIPA infant car seat installed with the base

Installing an infant car seat using the seat belt takes more practice, time, and effort. It’s a good idea to practice a few times before you plan to install without a base, and always test to make sure the seat is secure. To do this hold the car seat where the belt path is and pull and push the car seat side to side. If the car seat moves more than one inch, it is not tight enough. It may take a few tries to get the seat secure and tight.

Bottom line: Installing the infant car seat with the base is more of a foolproof method for installation, and a great option for caregivers and others not as familiar with installing car seats. Plus you don't have to keep reinstalling the seat every time you use it! Just click in and you're ready to go! Installing with the seat belt is a great method for travel and ride-shares, or those that live in the city. If you don’t feel comfortable installing with the seat belt, you can always move the base as most install within a minute or two. The portability and options infant seats give you makes them super convenient!

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