Babble Best Picks:
There might not be a more important baby product that you'll buy than a car seat. You can skimp on hand-me-down clothes, used toys or even second-hand strollers, but experts agree that car seats should be brand new - especially if you don't know the history of the particular car seat.
There are two options for babies: First there's the standard infant car seat, which is fitted more securely for a baby and is also lighter and more maneuverable for parents. An infant car seat can easily transfer between multiple cars, as well as turn into a travel system by hooking onto a stroller or shopping cart. However, infant car seats only face backwards and have a relatively short weight and height capacity, meaning you'll need to buy a bigger car seat toward the end of your baby's first year.
The second option is to just go with a convertible car seat from the jump, saving you money on the infant car seat and multiple car seat bases. Every convertible car seat that we tested can be used rear facing starting with newborns, although they generally don't have the best fit and features for the littlest ones. Convertible car seats are naturally much bigger and heavier than an infant car seat, and aren't as simple to move in and out of cars. Plus, you'll need multiple car seats for multiple cars, rather than just buying an inexpensive base (as with infant car seats).
Yet once your baby hits around 30 lbs., a convertible car seat can last you until your child is 65-100 lbs., possibly making it the last car seat you'll buy. But with so many different features, manageability and price points, it can be hard to tell just which ones are the very best. So to give you a hand, we tested the most popular infant and convertible car seats to fit your lifestyle and budget.
READERS’ CHOICE INFANT CAR SEATS | Britax Chaperone Infant Carrier
In true Britax fashion, they’ve created yet another sturdy, durable, well-made and stylish product. In fact, if we were infants, this is the seat we’d prefer to ride around in: comfortable EPS-lined, high-density foam interior; extra large sun canopy (the best by far); and a unique anti-rebound bar at the base of the stroller, designed to prevent the seat from rebounding into the back seat during a front or rear collision. It also has the same weight limits as the Safety 1st onBoard (4-35 lbs.), but won’t fit preemies as well.
However, there are a few downsides that parents might struggle with: Though it’s a sturdy car seat, it’s the heaviest one we’ve tested at a whopping 10 lbs. And while it’s relatively easy to install (more so with the LATCH system than the belt), the anti-rebound bar makes the seat longer than any other car seat, posing a problem in especially small cars. If you have a shallow back seat, we’d say skip this one. To top it off, at $229, it’s also a pricey purchase for someone who will still require a forward-facing convertible seat.
Get it from Babies ‘R Us, $229.99