If you are expecting a baby in the near future, one of the most important pieces of equipment that need to buy for them is a child car seat. The purpose of this post is to help you to identify the best car seats for newborns.
Buying the best car seat for your newborn baby is not a simple task, especially if this is the first time that you have ever had to do it. There are a bewildering array of options and it can be very easy to get confused and overwhelmed if you don’t have someone to help guide you through the process.
Let me begin by explaining the different car seat options available for use by newborn babies, before then taking a look at some of the best seats in each category.
Please note that the guidance provided within this post relates to car seats in the USA and Canada. Other countries have very different child car seat Laws and Regulations, and you will need to consult a local expert if you are from one of those other countries.
Car Seats For Newborns – 3 Options
One of the most confusing and surprising facts for many first-time parents is that there is not a single type of child car seat that is suitable for use by newborn babies.
There are in fact 3 very different options to choose from and each of those options comes with its own list of advantages and disadvantages.
All of these baby car seat options have passed the relevant Federal safety tests and, so, they are all regarded as safe for use by newborns so long as your child’s weight and height remain within the limits for the specific seat.
Before choosing a specific make and model of car seat for your newborn, you first need to decide which type of car seat you want.
So, which types of car seats are suitable for use by babies in the USA and Canada?
1. Infant Car Seats
The first option to consider is an infant car seat.
This is the Britax B Safe Gen2 Flexfit Infant Car Seat.
Infant car seats are designed to be used exclusively by babies and small toddlers and will generally need to be replaced once your baby reaches about 30 to 35 pounds in weight or 32 inches in height.
They are the smallest of the options and the premium models come with an infant car seat base that can be installed and left permanently in your vehicle.
Once you have the seat base installed in your vehicle, the seat itself just clicks into place when you want to travel with your baby. When you arrive at your destination, the seat is simply clicked out of that base and can be removed from the vehicle without having to remove your baby from the seat itself.
Infant seats also have a handle that allows you to carry your baby around in the seat and also makes it easier for you to transport the seat in and out of your vehicle.
The ability to remove your child from a vehicle while it remains within a car seat can be a useful option to have, especially if they are sleeping and you don’t yet want to wake them up.
Do be careful, however, not to keep them in an infant car seat for too long as it is not recommended for safety reasons.
Very often, parents who opt for an infant car seat do so because they want to use an integrated car seat travel system. These travel systems involve you purchasing a stroller unit which the infant car seat clicks into when you want to walk around with your baby.
If you think that you might like to convenience of buying an infant car seat as part of a travel system, then I recommend that you read my “Best Infant Car Seat” post.
The one obvious disadvantage of going down the infant car seat route is that one of these seats will only last for 1 or 2 years, depending upon the growth path of your child. Of course, if you plan to have more than 1 child, the infant seat can be passed down to the next baby, provided the seat remains within its expiration date, which is usually somewhere between 7 and 12 years.
2. Convertible Car Seats
Unlike infant seats, convertible car seats are NOT designed to be carried around while your child remains seated within them. They are larger seats due to the fact that they can be used for babies and slightly older children, and these seats would be far too heavy to carry.
Instead, they are usually permanently installed within your vehicle (although they can be removed when necessary) and your child needs to be placed into the car seat while that seat is inside the vehicle.
The image above is of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight seat.
Since convertible car seats remain installed within your vehicle, they don’t require separate car seat bases and cannot be used as part of an integrated travel system.
One of the biggest advantages of a convertible car seat over an infant car seat is that they can often be used until your child weighs about 50 to 65 pounds, depending upon the specific model chosen.
You will recall that the highest weight limit for an infant car seat is about 35 pounds, and some are even restricted to 30 pounds. So, you get to use a convertible car seat with your child for considerably longer than an infant car seat.
On the other hand, you will still have to replace the convertible car seat at some point, when your child reaches the weight and/or height limits.
The next step up from a convertible car seat would be a harness to booster seat or belt-positioning booster seat.
3. All in One Car Seats
The final option to consider if you are buying a baby car seat is an “all-in-one” seat.
This is the Diono Radian 3QXT All in One car seat.
As the name suggests, an all-in-one car seat is designed to be used from birth right up to the time when your child no longer needs to use a child car seat at all.
It combines the age ranges of an infant seat, a convertible seat, and a booster seat into a single all-in-one seat. Although all-in-one seats can be a little more expensive than an infant seat when you initially make the purchase, you will ultimately save money in the long run as you won’t have to ever buy your baby another seat as they grow bigger over time.
The highest quality premium all-in-one car seats from reputable manufacturers can be used from birth right up until your child weighs more than 120 pounds or their height exceeds the safe use limit, which is usually somewhere between 57 and 63 inches.
Just like convertible seats, the all-in-one seats also suffer from the disadvantage of not being able to be used as part of a stroller travel system.
Two of the most well-known car seat manufacturers make all-in-one car seats in the USA and Canada. They are the Britax and Diono companies. There are other options available, but thesse 2 company’s products are a great place to start your search for an all-in-one car seat.
I have previously written about the Diono Radian all-in-one car seats and the Britax One4Life ClickTight car seats, and you can find those posts by clicking on the relevant links below or using the search bar at the top of this page.
If you want to consider other options, you can read my “Best All in One Car Seat” post here.
Car Seats For Newborns – Verdict
The best car seat for your baby will be the one that best fits your lifestyle and budget. All 3 types of baby seat mentioned within this post are safe to use, but they all come with very different comfort and convenience features.
If you have already decided that you want the convenience of a car seat travel system, then you will have to choose an infant car seat for your baby. None of the other categories of seat can be used as part of a stroller travel system.
If you are on a limited budget, and don’t want to have to replace your baby’s car seat after a year or so, you should definitely look at buying a convertible car seat or an all-in-one car seat. In the long run, they will prove to be less expensive options.
Once you have decided which category of seat best suits your needs, you should read my more detailed reviews of the best seats in that particular category by following the links within this post or by using the search box on this page.
Comments or Questions?
If you have any comments or questions on the subject of the best car seats for newborns, please just leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Remember that there is no such thing as a stupid question when you are researching the best car seats for your precious baby!