When we found out we were expecting our third baby, we knew we had a lot of experience under our belt when it came to making gear purchases, but what we didn't know was just how much things had changed since our last child was born. Since our old infant car seat had expired we knew we needed a new one.
When using an infant car seat there are six main (standard) guidelines you should follow no matter what infant car seat you choose:
- An infant car seat should always be placed rear-facing.
- Avoid cumbersome snowsuits, and jackets-instead place a blanket tucked snugly over the child (or place child's jacket over them once they're in their seat)
- Harness should be fitted over legs, and chest with the chest clip coming making a "t" with the child's armpits, and with no slack present. (you should pitch the harness at your child's shoulders, and your fingers should slide right off)
- Check that the shoulder straps are at or just below the child's shoulder. The child's head should be more than an inch away from the top of the car seat.
- Check to make sure the base in level and that your child is sitting at the correct angle when the car seat is placed in the base. (most car seats come with an level indicator BUT you must also check your child's head and neck angle to ensure their airway is open and they are not in the "c" position).
- Infants should not remain in the child restraint when not in a vehicle or compatible stroller. (ie. no napping, placing on tabletop, soft furniture etc.)
Here are my four choices of infant car seats which made my top picks for their level of safety, comfort, and ease of use. Each one also had one or two features that made them a bit different from the others.
Britax: When it comes to safety, Britax has always been a trusted name in car seats. In addition to the many safety features offered such as "True Side Impact Protection", the Chaperone comes equipped with an anti-rebound bar that stabilizes the child seat by minimizing rotational forces. I also loved the quick adjust, no rethread harness that allows you to adjust the shoulder height without disassembling the harness straps. Stroller Compatible Design works with BRITAX's B-READY, B-NIMBLE, and B-AGILE strollers, using the integrated CLICK & GO adapter system, and Chaperone car seat to create a convenient travel system. It's also compatible with other major stroller brands when used with the BRITAX adapter strap (included). It has a higher than most weight limit as well, accommodating a baby up to 30 lbs and 32 inches and retails for $229.99. Learn more about the Chaperone by visiting the Britax website.
Chicco Keyfit 30: if you're looking for an infant car seat that even the most weary parent can install, the Chicco Keyfit 30 is the perfect match for you. It fits babies up to 30lbs and is super easy to install, adjust and ensure that it's being used properly. It literally took minutes to install and I felt confident that the seat was placed properly in my car. I love the spring loaded leveling foot which help place the base at the correct angle (this is especially important for use in newer vehicles because their seats tend to be angled higher than older models) and the Chicco Keyfit 30 one-pull LATCH tightening strap makes securing the seat quick, easy and accurate. The Keyfit 30 comes in 20 color combinations and retails for $189.99.
Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect: If you're looking for an infant car seat that will accommodate your growing baby longer, the Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect can be used for babies up to 35 lbs., and 32 inches. This means you can keep baby rear-facing, safely in one seat for an extended period of time without having to purchase another. The Snugride 35 Click Connect features a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System that is safe & simple with a one-hand harness & headrest adjustment that lets you easily adjust the seat so that it is just right for your child. (I love this because sometimes I need to drive with my neighbor's baby and I can quickly adjust the car seat for her needs without having to take the whole seat apart!) Click Connect technology offers a one-step secure attachment to all Graco® Click Connect strollers to create a travel system that can be customized to your needs, and has one of the best shades I have seen. The SnugRide 35 Click Connect has been both Safe Seat Engineered and Side-impact tested. It retails for $179.99.
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP: When it comes to getting all the safety you need in a lightweight car seat, the Maxi-Cosi Mico AP fits the bill. It is considerably less heavy, making lugging it in and out of the car far less daunting. The unique Air Protect Superior Side Impact Protection lets me rest eas that although the seat is light, it protects like a powerhouse. I like the adjustable canpoy with the flip out visor and the ultra padded premium fabric to keep baby comfy and cozy. The handle is slim and easy to move out of the way. My favorite part of the sleek Maxi Cosi Mico AP is that I can use my Stokke stroller frames with it. By using the Stokke car seat adapters, I'm able to use either my Stokke Scoot or Stokke Xplory frame with my car seat - a win-win! The Mico AP comes in 14 color choices and retails for $199.99.
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