Best Baby Car Seats of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We have evaluated baby car seats for the past six years. In our most recent evaluation, we spent more than 40 hours comparing 10 products looking for the best safety and convenience features. The Chicco KeyFit 30 edged out the other car seats because of its excellent safety features for smaller babies. In fact, NICU nurses highly recommend this car seat for premature infants. It has been crash tested, uses energy-absorbent foam and gives extra head support to keep your little one safe in case of a crash. It also offers several convenience features such as an adjustable handle and machine-washable cushions.   

Best Overall

Chicco KeyFit 30

The Chicco KeyFit 30 provides several safety features to give you peace of mind. It's also compatible with six different strollers, has an adjustable handle and features machine-washable cushions.
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Best Budget

Evenflo Embrace LX

The Evenflo Embrace is the least expensive baby car seat that still provides excellent safety and convenience features. It comes with adjustable head support, an adjustable five-point harness and a one-year warranty.
Best For Large Babies

Combi Shuttle

The Combi Shuttle is built to provide protection for larger babies. It can handle up to 35 pounds and has a maximum height limit of 33 inches. Additionally, it is safe and convenient to use.
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Our Test Results

Product
Price
Overall Rating
9.5
9.3
9.2
9.2
9.1
8.5
8.1
Safety
8.8
9.4
9.4
9.4
9.4
9.4
10
Convenience
10
8.8
8.5
8.8
8.1
8.1
5
Additional Features
10
10
10
10
10
7.5
9.4
Help & Support
9.4
9.4
10
7.5
10
8.8
9
Depth (inches)
22
19
25.8
26
28
29
20.9
Weight Without Base (pounds)
9.6
11
9.5
7.5
11.1
9.5
30.8
Width (inches)
17
15
17.3
18
17
17
19.3
Weight With Base (pounds)
16.4
20.2
16.9
13
20.4
16.5
N/A
Height (inches)
24
25
25.8
23
25
22.5
26.8
Adjustable Harness
Installation Instructions
Install Without Base
N/A
Number of Compatible Strollers
6
5
9
4
2
7
None
Adjustable Carry Handle
N/A
Machine-Washable Cushions
N/A
N/A
Convertible
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Stay-in-Car Base
N/A
Airplane Compliant
LATCH Connectors
Maximum Weight Limit
30 lbs
35 lbs
35 lbs
35 lbs
35 lbs
35 lbs
65 lbs
Energy-Absorbent Foam
Level Indicators
Minimum Weight Limit
4 lbs
4 lbs
4 lbs
4 lbs
4 lbs
4 lbs
5 lbs
Crash Tested
Side-Impact Protection
Five-Point Harness
Maximum Height Limit
30 inches
33 inches
32 inches
30 inches
32 inches
32 inches
49 inches
Cup Holder
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Canopy
N/A
Adjustable Head Support
N/A
Reclining Seat/Base
Center-Pull Adjustment
Warranty
1 Year
1 Year
2 Years
90 Days
2 Years
1 Year
1 Year
Responsiveness
50%
100%
100%
100%
100%
50%
25%
Local Retailer Search
N/A
N/A
N/A
User Manual
Email & Phone
Best Overall

Chicco KeyFit 30

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a compact car seat that works especially well in small and two-door cars. NICU nurses recommend it for premature infants due to its infant cushion insert, which offers extra support and keeps your baby more secure. When your child grows, you can easily remove the insert. It can hold up to 30 pounds and has a height limit of 30 inches.
You can use this car seat on a flight, as it is airplane compliant. It works with six strollers so you can choose the one that works best for you. The base is easy to install and comes with a storage compartment to keep your baby's necessities nearby but out of the way. While the cushions can be difficult to take off, they are machine washable, which will help you save time. You can install the seat with or without the base, which makes it convenient when you need to place the baby seat in someone else's car. You can adjust the harness and base to fit your growing child. The head support is also adjustable so you can make sure that your little one is getting the help they need. This car seat comes with a one-year warranty, and you can get answers to questions by contacting Chicco's customer support.
Pros
  • It provides a long list of safety features.
  • It is compatible with six strollers.
  • The cushions are machine washable.
Cons
  • It cannot switch to a front-facing car seat.
  • The cushion material could make your child hot.
  • The canopy is difficult to use with the carrying handle.
$209.99Amazon
Best Budget

Evenflo Embrace LX

The Evenflo Embrace LX offers all of the safety and convenience features to help you and your growing baby, and yet it is much less expensive than other carriers. It is compatible with four strollers, so you have options to choose from. It also has a reclining base that adjusts to fit your child's height. The car seat has met all crash-testing certifications, has extra head support for infants, and is built with both side-impact protection and energy-absorbent foam to keep your baby safe.
This is a rear-facing car seat that supports children from 4 pounds to 35 pounds and up to 30 inches tall. The cushions are machine washable, which can help you save time so you can focus your attention on other things. An important thing to note: The fabric has been known to irritate some babies' skin, so if your child is on the sensitive side, this might not be a good choice. This car seat is lighter than the others, which makes it easier to carry between the stroller and car. Some users have found the harness difficult to adjust, but once it is in the proper place, you can secure both shoulders at the same time. Unfortunately, this car seat's 90-day warranty is the shortest of any we evaluated. On the plus side, Evenflo's customer support is easy to contact and fast to respond if you have questions about the product.
Pros
  • It is much less expensive than other car seats.
  • This carrier weighs less than others.
  • It offers extra head support for infants.
Cons
  • The fabric can cause skin irritation for some babies.
  • It cannot convert to a front-facing car seat.
  • It only comes with a 90-day warranty.
Best For Large Babies

Combi Shuttle

The Combi Shuttle has met safety certifications and comes with additional safety and convenience features to keep your baby safe and make your life a little easier. It has a higher weight and height limit than other infant carriers, which makes it a good fit for larger babies. The maximum height is 33 inches, and the maximum weight is 35 pounds.
You can choose between five different compatible strollers to find the one that fits your budget and lifestyle best. The cushions are machine washable so you can focus your time on more important things. The canopy is a little noisy, so there is the possibility that moving it could wake a sleeping baby. Unlike some other products, this car seat cannot be used without its base. As for safety features, it uses energy-compliant foam, LATCH connectors and level indicators to keep your child safe and help you install it correctly. If you lose the instruction manual, you can easily find it online. Combi's customer support is easy to reach and gives you answers quickly, so you shouldn't hesitate to contact them if you have questions. This infant car seat comes with a one-year warranty, which is pretty standard for this kind of product.
Pros
  • It is compatible with five different strollers.
  • It can be safely installed without the base.
  • It has a relatively high weight and height limit.
Cons
  • The groin buckle cannot be adjusted to fit a growing child.
  • The canopy can make loud noises when moved.
  • It cannot be converted to face forward when your child grows.
$199.99Amazon

Why Trust Us?
We've been evaluating baby car seats for the past six years. While we didn't conduct crash testing ourselves, we chose to only evaluate products whose manufacturers had thoroughly tested each device for safety. Since being a parent is a full-time job, we wanted to find products with convenience features to make your life a little easier. We looked at user reviews, safety certifications and convenience features to compare the products in adjustability, durability, ease of use and overall safety.

We gave products higher scores when they offered more convenience features or options to choose from. Products with longer warranties also scored higher. While we didn't score points based on price range, we did note whether or not a device was on the affordable or expensive side. 

How We Evaluated

Safety
We chose to evaluate only car seats that had undergone thorough crash testing and were certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Keep in mind that the NHTSA does not require manufacturers to publish crash test results. We looked for rear-facing car seats that had high weight and height limits to accommodate growing children. Car seats that could account for larger babies scored higher. We also awarded more points to car seats that could convert to face forward when your child is old enough.

Adjustability
We looked for center-pull adjustments, since you can typically tighten these safety restraints with one hand. We gave more points to car seats with adjustable handles and moveable canopy shields, as these allow you to use the car seat and move your baby around easier.

Durability
We wanted to make sure that the car seats in our comparison would stand the test of time. The only time your car seat will be fully put to the test is if there is a crash, but there are certain features that can add to its durability. We only chose car seats that offered side-impact protection, LATCH connectors and energy-absorbent foam, as these features raised the durability of a carrier. The length of a car seat's warranty can often portray the confidence the manufacturer places in the product. For that reason, we gave more points to car seats with longer warranties.

Ease of Use & Convenience
In our assessment, we considered how easy it was to install and remove the device. We gave more points to car seats that included stay-in-car bases as these helped save time. For these same reasons, we scored a device higher if it had an adjustable carrying handle, could be used on a variety of strollers, came with machine-washable cushions and could be installed without the base.

Other Things to Consider with Baby Car Seats
The most important part of any car seat is its safety features. While all baby car seats in the United States must pass federal crash tests, the companies are not required to publish the results. Adjustable five-point harnesses are the most secure restraints on the market. They help secure shoulders, chests, hips and groin from dangerous movement and can be tightened or loosened to fit your baby. A car seat made of energy-absorbent foam and engineered with side-impact protection will keep your baby safer in case of an accident.

Look for a car seat that will fit you and your child's needs. Weight and height limits vary from product to product, so you should find one that best fits your baby. Many car seats are compatible with a few different stroller types, so choose a carrier that attaches to a stroller that fits your needs and budget. If you travel a lot, look for a baby car seat that is airplane compliant.

To make your life easier, consider finding a car seat that has removable and machine washable cushions – because, let's face it, babies can be pretty messy. Having a stay-in-car base can make it easier for you to insert and remove the carrier whenever you use your car. Additionally, some carriers can be installed without the base, which makes it easier for you to transfer the car seat between cars.

Look for a carrier that comes with a canopy to shield your baby from bright lights and the elements. Infants have weak neck muscles and will need plenty of support to keep them safe and comfortable; look for adjustable head supports to accommodate them. A typical car seat warranty lasts about one year and covers replacements and repairs for defective seats within the warranty time. This is a good reason to consider the car seat that has the longest warranty within your budget. 


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