Search
Explore

Expert-Tested: The Best Infant Car Seats of 2015

When I was given the chance to do this car seat review post for the second year in a row, I was extremely excited. I know more than I did last year, both about car seats and about vehicle safety in general (I’m a Child Passenger Safety Technician now). However, I found choosing my favorites this year to be significantly more difficult than last year. Not because there aren’t great seats to choose from, but because all the seats are better than ever.

Before we get into the details, you should know that all of these seats are safe and that I put my children in each of them without hesitation. I have listed the specific safety features of each seat, however, it should be noted that we don’t have independent crash testing information, so we have no way of knowing how much, if at all, these features improve or contribute to overall safety.

The seats reviewed in this piece were provided to me by the manufacturers to test, however, none of the companies had any say in how the article was written or what was said about theirs or any other seat. The opinions expressed are mine and my husband’s and kids.

Without further ado, the best infant car seats of 2015.

Best All-Around Infant Seat: Nuna Pipa

Image source: Nuna
Image source: Nuna
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-32 pounds, up to 32 inches
  • Price: $299.95
  • Vehicle Fit: Pretty compact front to back and very narrow, particularly without the base.
  • Child Fit: Comfortable for baby without being too big or too snug. The strap covers were kind of cumbersome on a smaller infant, but they didn’t prevent a good fit. Also, it comes with a great insert to help smaller infants sit, however, it can get a little warm.

Safety Features:

  • Load leg built into the base contacts the floor of the car to provide stability and reduce forward rotation in a crash.
  • European belt routing for baseless installation means the belt goes not just across baby’s lap, but all the way around the car seat to prevent forward rotation when the base isn’t there to assist.
  • Built in crumple zone in the base
  • Rigid lower anchors, which are not inherently a safety mechanism, but they make installation easier, which reduces the likelihood of a poor install.

Installation:

The Pipa has the fastest, easiest lower anchors installation on any car seat I’ve ever seen. You just click it in and that’s it. If using the seatbelt, there is a lock off, so you don’t have to lock the seat belt itself. Also, it’s one of a very small number of seats that allows the lower anchors and seat belt to be used together if desired (and your car okays it).

Drawbacks:

Price, the recline foot (the piece that pops out to make the base more reclined) is pretty small, which is a problem in steeper vehicle seats and may result in some difficulty attaining a good recline for a young infant. Also, the harness has to be manually rerouted as baby grows and the carry handle is a little uncomfortable when rested on the forearm.

Overall Impression:

The PIPA is an awesome, awesome seat. The canopy is enormous, and it attaches with magnets, so no loud Velcro open/closing. The seat itself is lightweight and exceptionally easy to install. I cannot think of one area, aside from perhaps price, where this seat doesn’t excel.

Runner Up, Best All-Around Infant Seat: Uppababy Mesa

Image source: Uppababy
Image source: Uppababy
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, up to 32 inches
  • Price: $299.99
  • Vehicle Fit: Mesa is relatively compact front to back and side to side, especially when installed baselessly.
  • Child Fit: The Mesa fit the baby beautifully and was easy to adjust as he grew. It was easy to adjust the harness even with the strap covers, which aren’t terribly small. My son slept in it like a dream and seemed very comfortable.

Safety Features:

  • Side impact protection headwings with foam lining.
  • Red/green indicator to show when the base is properly installed.
  • European routing of seatbelt when installed baselessly, so the belt wraps around the whole seat, preventing rotation in a crash.
  • The ease of installation with both latch and seatbelt reduces the risk of poor install and improves safety overall.

Installation:

When using the lower anchors, this is one of the easiest installations out there. Both lower anchors are a ratchet system, so you click them in and then just press down on the base and it self tightens. The recline foot is easy to adjust and gets pretty tall for a nicely reclined installation for smaller babies and it has a great red/green indicator to show if the seat is tight enough as well as a good red/green indicator for the recline. The seatbelt installation is a little more difficult, but it the lock off is easy to use and the installation is still a breeze.

Drawbacks:

The fabric can get a little warm after a while in the car and it’s not as soft as many others, though it is easy to wipe clean. It’s not a lightweight seat and you can’t slide your arm between the visor and the handle for an elbow carry. The cost is pretty high for an infant seat.

Overall Impression:

I love this seat. LOVE. I can literally install the base in less than 10 seconds and the baby fits beautifully in it. While some people don’t love the fabric, I personally liked that the fabric wipes down easily, since I have a very refluxy baby. It has great safety features and is nothing short of eye catching, especially all the different colors available.

Second Runner Up, Best All-Around Infant Seat: Keyfit 30 Zip

Image source: Chicco
Image source: Chicco
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-30 pounds, up to 32 inches
  • Price: $229.99
  • Vehicle Fit: Relatively compact front to back and pretty compact side to side.
  • Child Fit: Comfortable for baby without being too big or too snug. It comes with a plush newborn insert that can be used until 11 pounds to keep baby positioned well. The seat itself is extremely well padded for comfort, strap covers are plush and seem comfortable and head cushion does a good job of keeping baby’s head snuggled without pushing it forward.

Safety Features:

  • The shell of the seat is lined with energy absorbing foam.
  • There are clear level indicators that show that the seat is properly reclined.

Installation:

Latch install is very easy with a force coupling pull strap and easy loosening mechanism. It also has seatbelt lockoffs so you don’t have to lock the seatbelt to install the seat snugly. The level bubbles are easy to read and on both sides of the base.

Drawbacks:

Even with the canopy extender, the Keyfit has a relatively shallow canopy. While plush, the fabric can get a bit warm for baby and the strap covers show drool and spit up easily. The harness has to be manually rerouted as baby grows.

Overall Impression:

Chicco does a great job with this newest iteration of their Keyfit, now with a zip off cover for easy cleaning and gorgeous color accents. The base is a snap to install, the seat is easy to use, comfortable for baby and pretty small for more compact vehicles. It fits into a large variety of strollers. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this seat, it’s great.

Best Budget Seat: Urbini Petal

Image source: Urbini Baby
Image source: Urbini Baby
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, 32 inches
  • Price: $72.29
  • Vehicle Fit: As I mentioned, it was tough to get the seat properly reclined in my car, but it fit well and was middle of the road in terms of size both front to back and side to side.
  • Child Fit: The harness was a little tough to tighten and the chest clip difficult to adjust, but nothing that would prevent me from purchasing or using the seat. The fit was good overall and I loved that the seat wasn’t enormous and that my small infant didn’t need extra support to stay centered and upright

Safety Features:

  • Seatbelt lock off to make seatbelt install easier,
  • Side impact protection foam and deep sidewalls.
  • European seat belt routing for when installed baselessly, so the seatbelt goes around the whole seat to prevent rotation in a crash.
  • Dual weight range level indicator and a special padding for small infants.

Installation:

I had a bit of difficulty getting the seat properly reclined in my car since my son was in the lower weight range and ended up needing to use a rolled towel under the base (pool noodles are not allowed), however, the rest of the installation was pretty straight forward using the seatbelt lock off.

Drawbacks:

The fabric was not very comfortable, we had a tough time keeping the seat properly reclined even with the towel, the handle was rough and the visor was pretty small.

Overall Impression:

This seat is an overall good buy, especially at its supremely reasonable price. There are few seats that offer European routing and seatbelt lock offs at this price point, so it offers a bit of luxury (and gorgeous colors!) and enhanced safety without breaking the bank.

Runner Up, Best Budget Seat: Evenflo Embrace with SureSafe

Image source: Evenflo
Image source: Evenflo
  • Height/Weight Limits:
  • Price: $89.88
  • Vehicle Fit: The seat is pretty compact front to back and side to side.
  • Child Fit: I actually really liked that this seat was a little smaller internally than a lot of others. It seemed to kind of cradle the baby a little better than some of the larger bucket seats, but it also would fit a larger baby without any issue. It didn’t look like the gigantic recliner than so many of them do.

Safety Features:

  • Lined with energy absorbing foam.
  • When the seat is in the car, the handle must be in the anti-rebound position (as far forward towards baby’s feet as possible), which helps prevent the seat from rotating into the vehicle seat back in a crash.

Installation:

Very standard installation with seatbelt as there is no seatbelt lock off, so you have to lock the seatbelt and pull to tighten it. The SureSafe latch provides anchor guides and one hand releases on the lower anchor hooks for easy installation.

Drawbacks:

The canopy is pretty small and flimsy, the handle is not comfortable for carrying, there is no force coupling latch or seatbelt lock offs, the harness has to be manually re-routed as the baby grows.

Overall Impression:

This is a great, reasonably priced, no frills seat. It is lightweight and relatively compact and overall very easy to use. The fabric isn’t super cozy, but it’s great for wiping down messes that are bound to occur in the seat. Perfect if you’re not interested in spending a lot on an infant carrier.

Best Luxury Seat: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35

Image source: Peg-Perego
Image source: Peg-Perego
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, 32 inches
  • Price: $279.99
  • Vehicle Fit: The seat is large front to back especially with the handle in the preferred position, relatively compact side to side.
  • Child Fit: This seat provides a comfortable fit for baby, with dual stage infant inserts, plush strap covers and great padding throughout.

Safety Features:

  • Anti-rebound bar integrated into the base to prevent rebound into the vehicle seat back in a crash.
  • When the seat is installed baselessly, the handle has to be all the way towards babies feet, which allows it to work as an anti-rebound element as well.
  • European routing when installed baselessly, so the seatbelt goes all the way around the seat to prevent forward rotation in a crash.
  • Side impact protection headwings and energy absorbing EPS lined shell.

Installation:

This seat has easy open and close RightTight system that works as a seatbelt/latch lock off and force coupler, so you don’t have to lock your seat belt nor struggle to tighten it. The level indicator is easily and has specific weight ranges to ensure the recline is safe for every age and the recline foot is moved up and down with a twist knob, which allows easy adjustment to attain proper recline.

Drawbacks:

Price, the canopy is very close to the handle, so it’s hard to do an elbow carry while covering the baby, fabric can get a little warm, pretty large front to back.

Overall Impression:

I love this seat. I really, really love this seat. It’s gorgeous, comfortable and highest quality. I got stopped twice by strangers in restaurants who wanted to know what kind of seat it was because they thought it looked so nice. My infant was incredibly comfortable in it, though it was a little large for my very compact car.

Runner Up, Best Luxury Seat: Britax B-Safe 35

Image source: Britax
Image source: Britax
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, 32 inches
  • Price: $209.99
  • Vehicle Fit: Neither the largest, nor the smallest, front to back. Sort of middle of the pack in terms of vehicle fit.
  • Child Fit: This fit my infant incredibly well- the head support provides some cushion without pushing baby’s head forward and compromising the airway.

Safety Features:

  • Impact absorbing base
  • Impact absorbing steel frame
  • Complete side impact protection
  • Dual level indicators make the recline angle clear.

Installation:

Lower anchor installation is very easy with force coupling straps in the base. Seatbelt installation is a little more complex but relatively straightforward.

Drawbacks:

Cost, wide carry handle is a little uncomfortable in an elbow carry, no European routing for baseless installation like other higher end seats.

Overall Impression:

This seat is high quality, easy to install, easy to use and comfortable for baby. There is very little I’d want to change on this seat and it will grow nicely with baby with little effort.

Best Safety Features: Cybex Aton Q

Image source: Cybex
Image source: Cybex
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, 30 inches
  • Price: $349.99
  • Vehicle Fit: Very compact front to back and side to side.
  • Child Fit: I was just okay with the fit on my infant. The chest clip is VERY wide so the straps sat very far on the edge of the baby’s shoulders, which I wasn’t wild about, and while the seat does allow baby to lay pretty flat, my infant’s chin rested on his chest, which made me uncomfortable.

Safety Features:

  • Load leg built into the base that contacts the floor of the car to provide stability and reduce forward rotation in a crash.
  • European belt routing, which allows the belt to go around the whole seat to provide stability from rotation in a crash.
  • Telescopic side impact protection arm is intended to reduce intrusion of the vehicle door when installed outboard.
  • Head wings provide improved side impact protection.
  • The seat allows the baby to be positioned very flatly to reduce breathing difficulties.
  • Energy absorbing shell.

Installation:

The seat has a built in seat belt tension plate and easy push latches so all you have to do is route the vehicle belt or latch belt through and close the tension plate and it’s installed pretty tightly with little effort. It also has an easily adjusted recline foot to make it more or less reclined. There is a clear level indicator with two weight ranges, which is easy to read.

Drawbacks:

Cost, the level indicator is something of an issue. Both of the Aton Qs I’ve seen and used, had issues with the level indicator balls, in that they got stuck in one spot regardless of the incline of the seat, which made it very difficult to see if the seat was properly leveled. Also, as mentioned above, I did not care for the big chest clip and the seat is a little warm at times.

Overall Impression:

As a CPST, the safety features in this seat are hugely appealing to me and I know many techs who use this seat for their infants. It’s very well thought out and very nicely put together. The fabrics are extremely nice and the seat just plain looks cool. I have had some frustrations with the base level indicator (for which Aton has been wonderful and replaced both bases) and didn’t love how big the chest clip was, but overall I still highly recommend the seat.

Best High End Travel System: Orbit Infant Seat

Image source: Orbit Baby
Image source: Orbit Baby
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-30 pounds, 19-32 inches
  • Price: $440
  • Vehicle Fit: Somewhat large front to back and has the bonus of being able to rotate on the base to load the child in with the seat facing sideways. It makes it much less awkward to put the child in than a typical rear facing seat.
  • Child Fit: My infant fit nicely into this seat, it was easy to get the harness snug, however, the chest clip was kind of difficult to adjust.

Safety Features:

  • Side impact protection integrated into the seat
  • Orbit will send a Lower Birth Weight Fit Kit (for just the cost of shipping and handling!) to fit smaller infants.
  • Strong Arm twist knob on the base makes the installation very secure with very little effort.

Installation:

The base has a feature that allows it to self tighten without you having to tug and pull on the seatbelt or LATCH strap. It literally look 15 seconds to get the base installed completely snugly.

Drawbacks:

The seat is heavy, like really heavy, and is very expensive. It is only compatible with the Orbit stroller.

Overall Impression:

I really liked this seat overall, though the heaviness was an issue for me and made it really difficult for me to carry the seat much farther than from my car into the house. The soft carry handle is a great idea and it was a nice change from the seats where you can’t slide your elbow between the visor and the handle. The Paparazzi Shade, which covers the ENTIRE seat, is amazing. If you’re looking for a high end travel system, this is the best and you can even use the toddler seat on the same base and with the same stroller later, which is a totally unique feature that Orbit has brought to the market.

Best Compact Infant Seat: Maxi Cosi Mico AP

Image source: Maxi-Cosi
Image source: Maxi-Cosi
  • Height/Weight Limits: 5-22 pounds, 19-29 inches
  • Price: $199.99
  • Vehicle Fit: The seat is pretty small, which makes it fit well in small spaces and with other seats in a back seat.
  • Child Fit: This seat fit our baby beautifully. It’s relatively compact, so he was cozy, but with plenty of room to grow. The strap covers were my favorite we worked with- just padded enough to keep our baby comfortable, but without being bulky and interfering with harness tightening.

Safety Features:

  • Air protect side impact protection.
  • Infant cushions

Installation:

Nothing particularly fancy, but also nothing complex. Push button lower anchors are easy to connect and undo, seatbelt install is relatively straight forward, requiring you to lock the seatbelt and tighten it to get the base snug.

Drawbacks:

The fabric can get a little warm and the seat isn’t going to be a long-lived seat. It has low weight and height limits as compared to others on the market. It lacks some of the more advanced ease of use and safety features, including a seatbelt lock off and no-rethread harness.

Overall Impression:

This seat has a lot of great features that are perfect in an infant seat- easy to remove cover, super lightweight carrier, padded strap covers, well positioned and placed handle that makes carrying easy with fantastic color choices.

Best Infant Adapter for Convertible: Clek Infant Thingy 

Image source: Clek Inc
Image source: Clek Inc
  • Height/Weight Limits: 5-22 pounds, 19-33 inches
  • Price: $69.99
  • Vehicle Fit: The Foonf and Fllo are relatively large front to back as compared to some other seats when in their fully reclined position, however, as baby grows and the seat can be more upright, it takes up less space.
  • Child Fit: The Infant Thingy fits average sized newborns well and grows easily with baby until they are ready for the seat without an insert.

Safety Features:

  • Provides good head support for infants.
  • Free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
  • All the incredible safety features of the Foonf and Fllo.

Installation:

The use of the Infant Thingy is a bit complex as its instructions override the instructions of the Foonf and Fllo, so there’s a bit of back and forth. Once you figure it out, it’s pretty quick and easy to use and adjust as baby grows.

Drawbacks:

The Foonf and Fllo are both pretty expensive (though they are very long lived), the insert can get a bit warm and as mentioned, the directions can be a bit confusing with the manual of the Foonf/Fllo.

Overall Impression:

This is an incredible new insert to allow one of the best convertibles to be used from birth. It’s made of an incredible fabric that repels stains and spills, it’s supportive and comfortable for baby. It’s a fabulous addition this year to the infant seat round up.

 

Best New Infant Seat: Doona by Simple Parenting

Image source: Mbeans
Image source: Mbeans
  • Height/Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds, Up to 32”
  • Price: $499
  • Vehicle Fit: This seat was pretty middle of the road, size-wise. The wheels make it a little tougher to get in/out of the car.
  • Child Fit: My infant fit well, though as he got bigger, the head insert that is required, was kind of snug on his head. His ears would fold over when he turned his head to the side. Otherwise, the fit was good.

Safety Features:

  • Double walled sides provide more side impact protection.
  • Entire seat is lined with energy absorbing foam.
  • Memory foam headwings provide improved side impact protection.
  • Handle becomes an anti-rebound bar to prevent the seat from rebounding into the vehicle seat back in a crash.
  • European routing when installed baselessly, so the seatbelt goes all the way around the seat to prevent forward rotation in a crash.

Installation:

The base of this seat has a seat belt lock off system that enables the seat to be installed even if the belts do not lock. The latch installation is very straight-forward with push button connectors.

Drawbacks:

The price is the biggest drawback of this seat. It’s a little easier to rationalize when you realize it has stroller capabilities built in, but it is still very costly. It can be a little tough to get into the car because of the size of the wheels and is also a little heavy, but ultimately, you won’t carry this seat around much because it has wheels! 

Overall Impression:

The Doona is really, really cool. I know that sounds silly, but this is one of the coolest, more innovative seats I’ve ever gotten to lay my hands on. It’s incredibly well thought out from a safety standpoint- anti-rebound bar, tons of side impact protection and impact absorbing foam and fewer chemicals than many other seats on the market. And it’s also got functionality nailed. The price is hard to swallow, but for the money, you’ll get an incredible seat that goes from the car to the sidewalk with the tug of a handle. There’s simply nothing else like it on the market right now.

Now that you’ve got the scoop on the best infant car seats on the market, test your Car Seat Safety IQ and see if you can spot the potential safety problems in these photos:

Click here to see the answer key with detailed explanations for each question.

Article Posted 2 years Ago

Videos You May Like