The 6 Best Infant Car Seats of 2020

Keep your baby safe and secure

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Chicco Fit2 at Amazon

"With a two-stage base that converts from infant to toddler position, it's easier for kids to stay rear-facing for longer."

Best for Small Cars: Clek Liing at Amazon

"The European belt path on the carrier is believed to be safer than the American belt path found on many other infant seats."

Best Budget: GracoSnugRide DLX, Elite, or Platinum at Amazon

"These three models in the series are well-rated in crash tests and provide a lot of versatility and features."

Best Budget Runner-Up: Chicco KeyFit 30 at Walmart

"Compatible with almost all Chicco strollers, the seat also works with an adapter for other stroller brands."

Most Innovative: Doona Infant Car Seat at Amazon

"This innovative infant car seat turns from a car seat to a stroller with one simple motion in a matter of seconds."

Best for Parents Who Do Not Own a Car: Clek Liingo at Albee Baby

"Parents who do not own a car can purchase the Liingo carrier for safe on-the-go travel without spending money on a base."

A car seat is a new baby essential. You want something safe, secure, comfortable, and easy to install. Infant car seats are all meant to be used rear-facing. They provide support for your baby’s delicate head, neck, spinal cord, and cute little body. Most infant seats come with a base that the carrier can easily be clicked in and out of, allowing you to carry your baby or to clip the carrier into a stroller. 

All seats must meet the same United States federal safety standards and include the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which is a way to install a car seat without using the vehicle’s seat belt. LATCH is typically just on the base of the infant car seat. If you want to use your infant car seat in a taxi or friend’s car, you'll have to install the carrier without the base (which is possible for almost all infant seats) and use the vehicle's seat belt to fasten. 

The key is making sure the car seat is installed safely. One study found that 9 out of 10 infant car seats are not installed correctly. At home, fully reading the car seat manual and vehicle manual is a great source of help. For outside assistance, get a local Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) to teach you how to safely install your car seat. Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website or other local resources to make an appointment for installation. No one seat is perfect for everybody, so pick the one that fits your car, child, lifestyle, and budget.

Here are the best infant car seats to keep your baby safe on the road.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Chicco Fit2

Smart functionality and longevity make this a top pick that will allow your baby to be seated safely from day one. It fits both preemies and toddlers, and the base has an anti-rebound bar and well-designed seat belt locking device.

This seat works well for families who will be taking taxis and rental cars, as the carrier features a European belt path, which allows for the safe installation without a base in almost any car in any country. The two-stage base of the car seat converts from infant to toddler position, making it easier for kids to stay rear-facing for the first two years—good news, considering the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your young child rear-facing to reduce their risk of serious injury in the event of a car crash.

The two-stage base also offers kids over 9 months old the option of sitting much more upright, or continuing to ride reclined as they have been, all with the flip of a lever on the base. The Fit2 is compatible with most Chicco strollers and can be used with adapters on many other stroller brands. The seat accommodates kids longer than many other infant seats in the United States—safely seating kids up to 35 inches tall and 4 to 35 pounds.

The infant seat features a seven-position headrest and padded harness as well as a removable head and body support for newborns and smaller infants.

Best for Small Cars: Clek Liing

Clek Liing

 Courtesy of Posh Baby

Recommended by both safety experts and parents, when this car seat is installed with the rigid LATCH and load leg features, its crash test ratings are nothing less than stellar. Features on the seat include a five-point adjustable harness with harness straps that don’t twist, a seat belt tensioning and locking device on the base, indicators to show when the belt is tensioned properly and the carrier is locked into the base, a great fit for preemies, and a load leg on the base.

The carrier offers a European belt path, which some people believe could be safer than the American belt path found on many other infant seats. With the European belt path, the vehicle’s shoulder belt wraps around the back of the carrier for added protection. 

Measuring 27.7 x 16.9 x 26.8 inches, Clerk Liing takes up less space front to back than other seats, which allows it to safely be placed behind driver or passenger seats (even with tall parents) or fit in smaller cars. Liing is narrow on the outside and roomy on the inside—making it a great option when trying to fit multiple car seats in the back seat. Weighing in at 9 pounds (without the base), the Liing is compatible with many major stroller brands and offers a one-hand release from the Maxi Cosi stroller adapters, making it easy to move from the car to the stroller (and back again).

The car seat offers up to seven recline positions, features a three-position adjustable canopy with SPF 100+ protection, a mesh peekaboo window for airflow and visibility into the car seat, and safely seats kids from 4 up to 35 pounds. It comes with a three-year warranty.

What Experts Say

"When searching for an infant car seat, expectant parents should look for ease of use features—like a base that installs with rigid LATCH, and a carrier with harness straps that pull smoothly and don’t twist—as they’ll make baby safer since you’re more likely to use the seat properly each time.”—Dr. Alisa Baer, Pediatrician and Co-Founder of The Car Seat Lady

Best Budget: GracoSnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX, Elite, or Platinum

This budget-friendly infant seat series (these three models only) are well-rated in crash tests and provide a lot of versatility and features—like the SnugLock seat belt tensioning and locking device, a European belt path, an adjustable base with four recline positions, a rotating canopy with window and visor, and more, all at a budget-conscious cost. The DLX and Elite carriers both have a rethread harness, while the Platinum has a no-rethread harness, so it allows the crotch buckle to be j-looped, better fitting preemies and smaller newborns.

Taking up less space front to back than many other infant seats, these Snuglock models can often be installed behind tall drivers and can work well for putting three car seats across in the back seat. Compatible with most Graco and Baby Jogger strollers (or other stroller systems with an adapter), the Platinum carrier weighs 9 pounds (without the base), so it's lightweight enough for parents who plan to tote it around.

All three models safely fit infants from 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall.

Best Budget Runner-Up: Chicco KeyFit 30

Chicco KeyFit 30

 Courtesy of Amazon

4.3

This stylish seat provides good value for the price. Appropriate for babies from 4 up to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches tall, it's a top performer in crash test ratings. Parents find the LATCH system easy to install, and a bubble indicator on both sides of the base provides a quick way to double-check if it’s reclined properly.

While the LATCH installation is notably easy, the seat belt installation is also easier than that of many infant car seats. Without the base, the seat is much harder to install, so it's best suited for parents who plan to use it regularly in a single car.

The Chicco KeyFit seat features a five-point harness with a one-pull tightener system, a carrier shell lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection, an easy-to-install American belt path, a removable canopy, and a removable head and body support for newborns.

Dr. Baer advises parents to be extra cautious when opting for an American belt path over a European one. "While easy to install, keep in mind that the American belt path doesn’t yield a tight installation in many cars—where a European belt path is much more likely to be secure," she said.

The seat’s padding is quite thick and plush, but the actual fabric is a bit coarse and can make some kids overly sweaty. Compatible with almost all Chicco strollers, the seat also works with an adapter for other stroller brands.

Most Innovative: Doona Infant Car Seat

4.2

This innovative infant car seat turns from a car seat into a stroller with one simple motion in a matter of seconds. Fitting most kids until around their second birthday, this unique hybrid seat is truly one of a kind but should only be considered for certain families.

According to Dr. Baer, because the Doona has lower crash test ratings when used with the base than other infant seats, it is recommended to install the carrier without the base using the European belt path, which is safer and maximizes the protection the seat has to offer.

For families using taxis or barely spending time in a car, this innovative choice provides a lot of flexibility. The car seat features a five-point harness, adjustable handlebar, three-layer side impact protection, removable and washable fabric, and fits babies from 4 up to 35 pounds. It weighs 16.5 pounds (without the base), so parents should keep in mind that it's on the heavier side.

Best for Parents Who Do Not Own a Car: Clek Liingo

Liingo

Courtesy of Liingo 

The Liingo is the Clek Liing carrier sold without the base. Parents who do not own a car and prefer getting around with taxis or other means of transportation will rarely, if ever, end up using a base. So instead of wasting money and space on a base they don’t need, Liingo is the perfect option.

Liingo is the same carrier as Liing. It has the same great fit for preemies, same straps that pull smoothly and don’t twist, and same European belt path for a secure installation in almost any car in any country. Liingo comes with a lower anchor strap (due to a government rule), but it’s recommended that parents remove it (it’ll make the carrier lighter) and install the seat with the seat belt using the European belt path—an easy way to make baby safest.

If your plans change and you end up getting a car or want a base for whatever reason, you can always buy a Liing base to use with Liingo. Weighing in at 9 pounds, Liingo is compatible with many major stroller brands and offers a one-hand release from the Maxi Cosi stroller adapters. The Liingo car seat will hold babies from 4 up to 35 pounds, or up to 32 inches tall.

What to Look for in an Infant Car Seat

Safety

While all car seats sold in the United States must meet federal safety standards, some go above and beyond and offer even more safety features. Things like steel frames and extra side-impact cushioning may provide even more protection should your car be involved in a wreck. Another factor to consider is how easy a car seat is to install, as it’s imperative that a car seat is installed correctly to keep your baby safe. 

Size

To choose the right size car seat, you need to consider not only how big your child is but also how big your car is and how many other car seats you need to fit in the car. Also, consider the weight of the car seat if it’s one you’ll travel with or frequently move between vehicles. 

Versatility

Some infant car seats are made to work with other baby gear, such as strollers and joggers, while others are meant solely for use in the car. If you travel frequently, you’ll want to select one that meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards for air travel or consider a car seat that fits into a stroller as well.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She's also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year-old daughter. She's gone through her fair share of car seats, and right now all three kids sit in different types of seats.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. New child passenger safety seat guidance advises kids to ride rear-facing as long as possible; drops age criterion. Updated August 30, 2018.

  2. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. What is LATCH? 2020.

  3. Hoffman BD, Gallardo AR, Carlson KF. Unsafe from the start: serious misuse of car safety seats at newborn discharge. J Pediatr. 2016;171:48-54. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.11.047

  4. Safe Ride News. What CPSTs, caregivers should know about European belt routing. Published November 15, 2014.