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.
BEST TRAVEL SYSTEM | Graco SnugRide 30
The Graco Snugride 30 is one of the most popular infant car seats on the market, which means that stroller companies beyond Graco are willing to make their strollers compatible with this model. In fact, the SnugRide is one of the most consistent car seats that popped up as we were testing strollers.
Besides that, it’s also the hands-down lightest car seat we’ve tested at only 7 lbs. – making it an absolute must for moms on the go. This might not sound like a big deal to those yet to have babies, but you’ll be carrying the car seat (along with a 10-, 15-, 20-lb. baby) more than you know. The lighter the better.
That being said, the SnugRide 30 isn’t the most solid car seat on the market, and it doesn’t fit newborns quite as well as the Chicco Keyfit 30. But if you’re looking for something easy and light to transport during those early months, the Graco SnugRide will give you the least aches and pains.
Get it from Babies ‘R Us, $129.99