Keeping your baby safe is one of your top priorities, so finding the correct seat is one of the most critical (and overwhelming) tasks that new parents need to tackle.
But with so many different brands, models, and price ranges, how do you know which one to choose?
All car seats sold in the U.S. have to meet the same federal safety standards, so you can rest assured that these car seats meet those requirements. However, it’s also important to factor in the ease of installation, as a poorly installed seat can compromise the safety of your child. Plus, some car seats have added features that others do not.
Here are the best picks for both infant car seats with bases, and convertible car seats that can grow with your child.
I’ve also included top budget picks for those looking to spend less, but don’t worry–they’re still super safe. In fact, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 that I listed as a budget pick is actually the seat I chose for all three of my kids when they were born.
The Chicco KeyFit 30 gets recommended more than any other infant car seat out there. This seat is the perfect choice for babies 4 to 30 pounds, and up to 30 inches tall.
Highly praised for its ease of installation, even the most nervous of parents can install it quickly and simply. The base easily adjusts to change the seat angle, and a built-in bubble level indicates when it’s been correctly positioned. Plus, you’ll always hear the trusty “click” when the carrier is properly inserted into the base.
Much like the Chicco KeyFit 30, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 fits babies 4 to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches in height. This one has an advantage over its more expensive counterpart, though: it’s very lightweight, weighing in at only 7 pounds.
My favorite part about this car seat is that it’s compatible with Graco’s large line of Click Connect strollers, plus many non-Graco strollers. That means that you can transfer a sleeping baby from car to stroller in a cinch without worrying about waking them up.
While infant seats with bases can be convenient, you’ll get more use out of a convertible car seat like the Chicco NextFit Zip. This seat can be used for babies and young children from 5 to 40 pounds (rear-facing). Plus, you can continue to use it from 22 to 65 pounds forward-facing.
The Chicco NextFit Zip is extremely easy to install thanks to the “SuperCinch” LATCH system. It also has nine recline positions to make sure you get the proper installation angle, and a handy built-in bubble level that indicates when it’s been correctly positioned.
Even though the Evenflo Triumph LX is the best budget pick, it doesn’t skimp on features that are often found with car seats that cost twice as much. It has thick, gel-infused padding, dual integrated cup holders, plus buckle pockets to help out when it’s time to buckle your child up.
My favorite feature on this car seat, though, is the Infinite Slide harness feature. That means that the straps can be tightened or loosened without moving the seat.
Unfortunately, this convertible car seat has a low rear-facing height limit (37 inches), so keep that in mind if you plan on keeping your child rear-facing for as long as possible.