Babble Best Picks: Car SeatsThere 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 INFANT-TO-PRESCHOOL CAR SEAT | The First Years True Fit Premier C670
While we’ve found that infant car seats provide the best fit and convenience for small babies, this True Fit Premier is our top pick for a car seat that grows from beginning to end.
One problem people have with using a reclined rear-facing convertible car seat is that the extended height requires more room, pushing the front seat passenger up closer to the dashboard. What makes The First Years True Fit so smart is that the top headrest is removable, making it generally the same height as an infant car seat. And then when it is time to pop on the extended headrest, it has the tallest height of any car seat we’ve tested – making it safe for the biggest kids.
Plus, there’s a new “anti-rebound bar” underneath the front of the car seat, which is designed to butt up against the car’s back seat when in a rear-facing position. So instead of the car seat rebounding into the back seat after an accident, the bar is the buffer, absorbing energy from the crash. Not only that, but the included infant support cushion (keeping even the tiniest babies snug and secure) and the 2-position recline handle make it a great option for rear-facing infants, who are safe all the way up to 35 lbs. in the True Fit.
As your baby gets bigger, this will turn into one of the tallest, roomiest car seats, even for a 65-lb. child (which is the weight limit). But that also means that it’s one of the widest, so be aware. The Britax Advocate is wider only because of the side-impact feature, but the actual seat is roomier with the True Fit. It’s also a little on the heavier side.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for one car seat to last from beginning to end (and don’t mind the lack of portability for infants), The First Years True Fit Premier is the best value.
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