For parents, a car seat is an important purchase. Parents look for a seat that is within their budget but most importantly fits their child’s safety and comfort needs. Topher McGibbon, founder of Kidcar (the only vetted driver car service with properly installed, age, and weight-appropriate car seats) offers wise advice when shopping for a car seat, “EVERY car seat at our store has passed NHTSA’s safety standards. The BEST car seat is the one that fits your vehicle, the one that fits your child, and the one that you can properly install EVERY time. “
And what about COVID? While we know that car seats can get pretty darn dirty, we know many parents are thinking about how we can keep our gear sanitized. The answer is pretty simple. Sarah Huff, Baby Gear Expert of Baby Quip (the #1 baby equipment rental service) advises, “If you’re out and about with your car seat, it can pick up street dirt, exhaust, etc. from cars, so get them cleaned regularly. This is also a good idea if you have concerns about COVID-19.”
And what about car seat safety and when a child is ready to move to the next car seat? Expert Alisa Baer, MD Pediatrician & Co-Founder of The Car Seat Lady shared these helpful tips for parents:
Top Car Safety Tips
- Rear-facing to Forward-facing: Keep kids rear-facing in their convertible seats until they are too tall (usually head 1 inch below the top of the seat) or too heavy. NY state law requires rear-facing until at least 24 months, but this is a bare minimum.
- Forward-facing to Booster Seat: Car Seats are seats where the child uses a five-point harness as their restraint. Boosters are seats where the child wears the vehicle’s seat belt across them as their restraint. To use a booster seat, kids should be AT LEAST 5 years old AND at least 40 pounds AND mature enough to sit properly during the ride (no slouching, no leaning over, no messing with the seat belt).
- Booster to Seat Belt: Kids need boosters until their body fits properly on the vehicle seat and the seat belt fits properly on their body without the help of a booster. Most kids are at least 10 years old before they can ride safely without a booster (NY state law requires boosters until the 8th birthday… but injury data shows that most kids need boosters a lot longer than this). The 5 Step Test is how to know if your kid can ride safely without a booster,
Here Are Our 12 Picks for Car Seats 2020!
Best Infant Car Seat for Easy Install - Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360 Infant Car Seat
An easy to install car seat, which is important for those rushed early mornings daycare drop-offs or when the last thing you want is for the car seat to not fit efficiently. This seat design has been crash-tested from all angles and has a five-easily adjustable point harness, which is essential as if this is your second (or more) child — you know nudging a baby for a proper fit needs to happen swiftly. A deep seat structure is protected by Airprotect, which provides side-impact protection including extra safety GCell HX patented foam used for race cars. The stay-in-care base adjusts to fit your car vehicle so you can have a secure fit for your babe.
Best Infant to Booster Car Seat for Small Cars - Diono Radian rXT
The Diono Radian rXT is 17 inches wide, so you can fit three across the back seat or middle row of most cars. It also goes from infant to booster seat, so you don’t have to buy many different kinds of car seats, and the frame folds if you want to travel with it.
Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat - Chicco KeyFit 35
Pick an infant car seat that works with a lightweight stroller base — like the Chicco KeyFit 35 (car seat) and the Chicco Bravo (stroller) so that you can click the infant car seat in and out of a base in your car and into the stroller base really quickly. Especially helpful at valets or crowded parking areas where you need to be quick. If you need to walk from your car to your destination with the car seat, it needs to be light. And it’s great that the stroller folds up with one hand, so if you need to quickly fold it at a restaurant, or where they won’t allow strollers, you can do it easily, and the baby is still in the infant seat. No juggling.
Best 2 in 1 Infant Car Seat - The Doona-Expert Pick
It’s a car seat and a stroller in one, so you can click the whole thing in and out of the car and transform it into a stroller in one motion. This one is really great for traveling since you can wheel it through the airport and then use the car seat on the plane.
Best Convertible Carseat for Uber/Taxis - Cosco Scenera
If you use Uber or Lyft, you can use your own car seats. A lightweight convertible that is easy to use is the Cosco Scenera, and it’s pretty inexpensive, so if you don’t want to use it as your regular day-to-day car seat, it won’t cost you much to use this one only sometimes.
Best Transition from Rear to Forward Car Seat - Chicco NextFit Zip Max Convertible Car Seat
While most parents know it’s nearly impossible to keep gear clean — yet with COVID, many of us are taking extra precautions. The soft zip-off padding can easily be removed from the steel-reinforced frame and thrown in the machine, which is extra because it doesn’t hurt to keep a piece that is frequently used clean. Your little one can start using this seat from infancy (with a newborn positioner) to early toddler years. The change-up from the rear to forward-facing is a smooth transition, and the nine-position headrest is a thoughtful design that parents will appreciate. Zip-off padding is soft and machine washable for comfort and convenience.
Best Convertible Travel Car Seat — The Pico by WayB
If you often travel or enjoy weekend getaways — carrying a car seat, especially for a toddler, can be rough since most are heavy and burdensome. We tested the Way B Pico Travel Car Seat, which weighs about eight pounds and is surprisingly durable. The Pico works as a forward-facing portable car seat and can be installed with the latch in all modern cars or an airplane belt. It can be stored in the Pico Travel Backpack Bag, which can be purchased separately and makes for easy carrying.
I will admit, it took about 45 minutes to install it the first time, about 30 minutes longer than most tutorials. Still, once we got going on our trip, this car seat was a game-changer; it fits snug and securely.
The seat is recommended for ages 2 and up, for kids 22-50 lbs and 30-45 inches tall.
Best Infant to Older Toddler Car Seat - Nuna EXEC All-in-One
Parents soon learn that gear can add up. The Nuna EXEC All-in-One Car Seat may give some a bit of a sticker shock, but it is one of those gear pieces that are worth it. This car seat goes from rear forward to a booster seat. For many parents, this is the only car seat you’ll need at least until the age of 4. Exceptionally made with many design perks such as extra legroom design when rear-facing. It is airplane certified for traveling and has an 8-position recline. And as many parents know, we have a knack for carrying a lot with one hand while simultaneously working the gear with the other, which is perfect as the headrest has a 12 position head support.
Best Convertible Baby to Toddler Car Seat - Cybex Gold Eternis S All in 1 Convertible
The latest model from Cybex. This is a car seat bridges a high-function design car seat with high-tech technology. Equipped with SensorSafe technology — it is suitable from birth to 65 lbs. (about 4 years). The seat works with the SensorSafe app that sends alerts to your phone when unsafe conditions arise. Warnings such as if the driver accidentally leaves the child behind, if your child unbuckles themselves while the vehicle is in motion, and if the car is too cold or hot. A feature we love is an alert when your child has been in their seat too long. Also, the three-position reclining headrest helps with the nap head forward slump by keeping it secured. Plus, you get magnetic belt holders for easy entry and exit from the seat, a one-pull LATCH removal system, harness pads with anti-slip backing and comfort padded buckle cover, and many more premium features that parents expect from CYBEX.
Best Tech Car Seat - Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
Our pick if looking for a car seat that is roomy yet safe. Offering three stages of use that can last up to a decade. The Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat can start from the infant stage and is convertible to the last stage of a booster seat. Installation is straightforward and, once installed, it sits in place. The seat weighs 30 pounds, so while sturdy — for us city folk, this is a car seat perhaps better to live in the car. The car seat prices at under $300, impressive as it features Sensor Safe technology to alert you of unsafe conditions such as unbuckling (my child does this), dangerous temperatures, staying in the seat too long, and if the child is left unattended. And of course, we do not mean to leave our child in a car, but we have many alarms and ring tones in our lives to remind us of important meetings; having one that chimes for our most precious human is nothing short of a brand having your back.
Best Booster Seat- Britax Grow With You™ Harness-2-Booster
At a little over $200, this booster car seat is a great value for a well-designed booster seat. The booster Grow With You™ harness-2-booster seat is an easy installation with quick-push LATCH connectors and has two side impact protection layers. Noteworthy is the SafeCell technology in the base which is designed to absorb crash energy. At 23 pounds, this car seat is quite sturdy; while we would definitely take it for long term traveling, we suggest the Britax Skyline High Back Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat for on-the-go city rides.
Best Baseless Infant Car Seat- The Liingo from Clek
The Liingo from Clek is a baseless infant car seat(the only one in North America) and is ideal for parents on the go especially ones who hop in an Uber/Lyft as it can be installed using the European belt-path method (this video is super helpful on this method) or using the LATCH connectors (in a removable LATCH bin house) for an alternative method of installation.
The Liingo works with the Baby Jogger, BabyZen, Bugaboo, Bumbleride, Silver Cross, Stokke, Thule, and Uppababy, using the Maxi-Cosi car seat adapter made by each stroller brand stroller base.