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Best Baby Car Seats
Why Baby Car Seats Are Important
We spent over 40 hours researching baby car seats online to determine which were not only the safest but also the most convenient. Our research helped us discover that the Chicco KeyFit 30 is the best car seat overall. NICU nurses highly recommended it for premature infants because of the insert that offers extra support for small babies. It has also been through extensive crash testing and offers excellent safety features, like energy absorbent foam that adds extra protection in the event of an accident.
The Evenflo Embrace LX is by far the least expensive car seat we evaluated while still being a safe option. It weighs less than the others, which makes it easier to carry. The cushions are machine washable so you can easily clean them. It’s important to note is that this seat is only meant for infants – it does not convert to a front-facing car seat for when your child gets older.
The Combi Shuttle also has a sturdy design and is extremely easy to use. This seat accommodates larger babies than the other two, with its weight limit of 35 pounds and a height limit of 33 inches. It offers a stay-in-car base and has multiple stroller options that you can easily connect to the car seat.
Baby Car Seats: What We Found
While we didn’t conduct crash testing as part of our car seat reviews, we selected products whose manufactures thoroughly tested each device for safety, going beyond the standards required by regulatory agencies. We also chose seats that have convenience features that make them easy to install and adjust to the changing needs of your growing child.
These were our primary areas of focus when considering the best baby car seats:
Safety: Safety is the most important consideration by far when it comes to baby car seats. All car seats we reviewed are thoroughly crash tested and certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), although neither the NHTSA nor the manufacturer is required to publish the crash test results. A rear-facing car seat is safest for your baby, so you'll want to keep your child in this position for as long as possible. Look for a rear-facing car seat with a high weight and height limit to account for your growing child. You can turn around convertible car seats when your child is grown enough, so you can get a few more years out of these seats.
Adjustability: Look for a reclining seat that you can adjust for your child's weight. Also, a center-pull adjustment gives you a strap you can tighten with one hand. Adjustable head support allows the car seat to grow with your baby. Infant car seats usually have a canopy to shield your baby from the elements. Baby car seat features are fairly consistent across the different models.
Durability: Baby car seats are designed to be secured in a car or a stroller for maximum safety. The only time its durability will be significantly tested in the real world is in the event of an accident, which is why crash testing and NHTSA certification are so important. But you also want a seat that is sturdy and versatile so you can keep your baby in the seat if you go shopping or secure the seat to a stroller for physical activity. The more the stroller is used in its various roles, the more its durability will be tested. The seats in our lineup are built to last through all types of use.
Ease of Use & Convenience: Along with its adjustability we assessed the car seat’s overall ease of use. A car seat should be easy to install; look for a model that will quickly snap in and out of its base. Most car seats have a stay-in-car base that make it considerably more convenient and versatile than the few models without a base. Maintenance is another consideration with regard to ease of use. Removable cushions that are machine washable will make it easy to keep the seat clean.
What Else Is Important With Baby Car Seats?
Other considerations when choosing a baby car seat include price and weight range. Also consider warranty information and the quality of customer support you can expect.
In our review, we looked for the best seats we could find within a price range that most families can afford. Some of the seats are specifically designed for infants, but others can be converted to accommodate toddlers who weigh up to 65 pounds and are 50 inches tall. Such devices start as backward-facing seats and convert to forward-facing when the child gets older.
The warranties for the car seats in our lineup vary from 90 days to two years, though the majority of seats we reviewed are covered for one year. As with any warranty, longer is better. We like to see manufactures stand behind their products with generous warranties. We also scored each manufacturer based on how responsive they were to our questions. Attentive service will be important if you have questions or concerns when buying your seat.