The best car seat for your newborn infant depends on which one best fits your type of car and your baby. There is no universal “best” car seat—the best one is the one that works for you. However, there are car seats that consistently receive high rankings from parents and high safety ratings from experts. When shopping for a car seat for your newborn, decide which type to buy (infant or convertible) and which safety features are most important to you.
Infant Car Seats vs. Convertible Car Seats
Newborn infants have two options for car seats: Either use an infant car seat or a convertible car seat. Both must be used rear-facing for babies under 20 lb. Infant car seats may be safer for newborns since they are specifically designed for small babies, offering a more customized fit. Infant car seats are used less than a year with most topping off at a 20 to 30 lb. weight limit.
Convertible car seats max out around 60 to 80 lb., and many offer special pillows to cradle the delicate body of a newborn. Convertible car seats get more use out of them.
Chicco KeyFit Original and Chicco KeyFit 30
Chicco KeyFit infant car seats are popular with parents–and for good reason. Both of these car seats fit newborns weighing at least 4 lb., making the seats an excellent choice for small newborns who may not get the right fit in other brands. The KeyFit is easy to install, well-padded and features a large sun canopy. Average price in 2009: $180.
Britax Boulevard CS
Parents can sigh with relief when using the Britax Boulevard CS. This convertible car seat has advanced safety features like Click & Safe, which clicks to let parents know when the straps are pulled right. Plus, the seat has true impact side protection. Newborns as little as 5 lb. can sit in this seat and be surrounded by soft padding. Average price in 2009: $330.
Evenflo Triumph Advance LX Convertible Car Seat
This convertible car seat scores nearly as high safety ratings as more expensive seats, but is half the cost. Even though the seat fits children up to 50 lb., newborn babies fit especially well in the seat because of the generous amounts of padding. Average price in 2009: $140.
The best-selling Graco Snugride infant car seat has received consistently high ratings from parents and safety experts. The Snugride is relatively easy to install and comes in a variety of patterns. It’s affordable and safe—the best of both worlds. Average price in 2009: $120 to $160.
Sunshine Kids Radian 80
The Radian 80 is one of a few car seats built on a steel frame, and it’s possibly the only car seat you’ll ever need—fitting from 5 to 80 lb. It has a V-shaped top tether that can be used rear-facing for extra stability. Newborns will benefit from the plush fabrics (and specially designed pillows) and the seat’s enhanced safety features. Average price in 2009: $250.