Registry

The Best Car Seats to Add to Your Baby Registry

written by JEN NAYE HERRMANN

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best car seats"
best car seats
Graphics by: Anna Wissler
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

Car seats are so essential that you can’t leave the hospital with your baby without one. But when it comes to car seats, there are a few different types to choose from: infant car seats, all-in-one car seats, convertible car seats, booster seats, and travel car seats. Child passenger safety laws vary by state (you can search yours here), but the best car seat for your child ultimately depends on their age, weight, and height. You’ll also want to consider the size of your car and your priority features within your budget. 

Researching and planning for our children is always a top priority, and whether you’re registering for a new arrival, looking to purchase an additional car seat, or replacing an expired car seat, it can be a lot to sort through, which is why we wanted to help simplify with a roundup of some of the best car seats on the market today.

A few things to pay attention to are overall investment, connectivity to your stroller system, height and weight requirements, and ease of car installation. Read on for more info on the different types of car seats available, plus our product recommendations. 

Meet the Expert

Michelle Pratt, CPST

Michelle Pratt is a nationally certified child passenger safety expert and the owner of Safe in the Seat.

Creating your baby registry can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help with editor- and expert-approved picks for everything you need for your new baby (and for you!) with our second annual Baby Registry Awards. Click here for our top picks for everything from bouncers to baby bottles. 

Types of Car Seats

When choosing a car seat for your child, it is important to keep their age, weight, and height in mind. Not sure which car seat is best for your child? The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s website offers a handy car seat finder tool to recommend the best type of car seat based on their age, weight, and height. Whichever type of car seat you choose, always read the instructions carefully, register your seat to be informed of any recalls, and follow all safety guidelines.

Infant Car Seats

Infant car seats should only be used rear-facing, as they are not meant to withstand the force of an impact if they were to hit something head-on. Infant car seats will have the lowest height and weight requirements since babies grow out of them quickly.

Convertible Car Seats

These all-in-one car seats are a good option for parents who want to be able to use the same seat for more than one child (before the seat’s expiration date). These car seats can be used as rear-facing or forward-facing car seats, and many can also be turned into booster seats. Convertible car seats will have a higher height and weight requirement; however, you won’t be able to easily transition a sleeping baby to a stroller or crib since the convertible car seat stays in the car. 

Booster Seats

Booster seats are meant to be used with children who have outgrown their convertible or all-in-one car seats. Booster seats help raise a child up so that the seat belt fits properly across their body.

Travel Car Seats

These car seats are designed for use when you are on the go. These seats are typically lightweight and can be folded up for easy transport.

Best Infant Car Seats

If you select an infant car seat, the baby will fit in the car seat typically for 9 to 12 months. One perk is that infant car seats can clip into your stroller when you’re on the go—depending on your stroller, you may need an adapter. 

Most infant car seats can only be used rear-facing, as they are not meant to withstand the force of an impact if they were to hit something head-on. If you opt for an infant car seat, be sure to pick something that’s compatible with your stroller system, too. 

Evenflo LiteMax Infant Car Seat

According to Michelle Pratt, founder of Safe in the Seat, this lightweight seat has a seat belt lock-off that makes installation very easy and secure. It even fits preemies and is great if you need to fit three car seats across in the back seat.

Highlight Feature: Lightweight

What a Reviewer Says: “Very nice fitting seat. Well padded and comfy to allow for a safe and comfortable ride. Fits my 8-month-old very nicely and is very comfortable for me to carry.” —Target reviewer

best car seats evenflo
Target | Evenflo
LiteMax Infant Car Seat

2 colors available

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Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

This is one of the most popular infant car seats on the market. It’s known for being easy to install. Plus, it fits Chicco stroller systems, making it a seamless transition for the baby.

Highlight Feature: Ease of installation

What a Reviewer Says: “I love how easy this car seat base is to install. The carrier is lightweight. The cushioning seems very comfortable. I also have the stroller to match and it makes outings with the baby so easy. Also very easy to adjust the straps as they grow. I suggest this car seat to everyone.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | CHICCO
KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

4 colors available

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Clek Liing Infant Car Seat & Base

This infant car seat is recommended by Michelle Pratt, founder of Safe in the Seat, because of its quick installation, added safety features, and compact design. “It’s one of the most compact infant seats available, so it’s a great option for families who have smaller vehicles and/or tall front passengers,” Pratt told to The Everymom. 

Highlight Feature: Compact design 

What an Expert Says: “This car seat has rigid lower anchors for a very quick installation. If you prefer to use the seat belt to install, the lock-off makes that installation method simple as well. It features a load leg, which is an added safety feature, and fits low birthweight babies very well. If you are interested in flame-retardant-free options, the Railroad and Mammoth fabrics are free of flame-retardant chemicals.” —Michelle Pratt, Founder of Safe in the Seat

best infant carseats
Pottery Barn Kids | Clek
Liing Infant Car Seat & Base
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Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat

This budget-friendly car seat is also recommended by Michelle Pratt, founder of Safe in the Seat, because of its hassle-free installation, compact and lightweight design, and machine-washable fabric. 

Highlight Feature: Lightweight 

What an Expert Says: “This seat has a seat belt lock-off that makes installation very easy, it’s pretty compact front to back, and it fits newborns well. It weighs just under 8 pounds, so it’s fairly lightweight. The fabric is also machine washable.” —Michelle Pratt, Founder of Safe in the Seat

best car seats graco
Amazon | Graco
SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat

3 colors available

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The Doona All-in-One Infant Car Seat & Stroller

The Doona may be the most flexible car seat on the market. It’s incredibly popular in cities because it transfers from a portable car seat to a stroller instantly. However, because it’s essentially a car seat and stroller in one, it does come at a hefty price point (about $550). Want to learn more about The Doona? Read one mom’s full review here!

Highlight Feature: Car seat + stroller in one

What a Reviewer Says: “The stroller extends and folds into the car seat very easily. The entire setup makes getting in and out with a sleeping infant hassle-free, especially since it is lighter than some of the other car seats I have used. The only major downside is the price you pay for only a short amount of use.” —Amazon reviewer

best strollers doona
Pottery Barn Kids | Doona
All-in-One Infant Car Seat & Stroller

5 colors available

Shop now

Best All-in-One Car Seats

All-in-one car seats are a good choice for parents who want a seat that will grow with their children. These seats can be used as rear-facing or forward-facing car seats, and some can even be turned into booster seats.

Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat

With a great safety rating and sturdy convertible construction, this car seat feels more durable than some others—which is a major plus. The seat’s straps are also easy to use, and it’s, overall, easy to install in a car. 

Highlight Feature: Durable 

What a Reviewer Says: “Although pricey, [this car seat is] totally worth it. Top quality product and seems as though it will last forever. Very easy to install and I love that the preferred method of installation is just the seat belt. My daughter falls right asleep as soon as I put her in, so that speaks positively to its comfort level. I highly recommend this product.” —Nordstrom reviewer

best car seats nuna rava
Pottery Barn Kids | Nuna
RAVA Convertible Car Seat

8 colors available

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Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Extend All-in-One Rotational Car Seat

The Evenflo GOLD Revolve360 car seat features a 360-degree swivel rotation, making it easy to flip from a rear to a forward-facing car seat. Featuring three modes, the Evenflo car seat can comfortably fit your baby up to age 10.

Highlight Feature: Grows with child

What a Reviewer Says: “This is an excellent design and it’s easy to install. You can swivel and access [on] either side of the car. It saves my back.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | Evenflo
Gold Revolve360 Extend All-in-One Rotational Car Seat

8 colors available

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Maxi-Cosi Pria All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The Maxi-Cosi Pria features GCell patented foam, which absorbs crash energy and protects your child’s head where it’s needed most in a side-impact crash. It’s best known for superior comfort with its soft-to-touch cushions.

Highlight Feature: Well-padded

What a Reviewer Says: “I particularly like the ease of the harness system and the fact that my daughter will be able to use this seat as she continues to grow. The great safety rating is what initially sparked my interest in this seat, so I’m happy to report all of those other pros!” —Maxi-Cosi website reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | Maxi-Cosi
Pria All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

10+ colors available

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Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

According to Michelle Pratt, founder of Safe in the Seat, this car seat has the same shell and features as the Maxi-Cosi Pria (linked above) but comes at a much more affordable price point of $159. It grows with your child from a newborn to up to 100 pounds and converts from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing and then a booster seat. 

Highlight Feature: High quality at a budget-friendly price

What a Reviewer Says: “So worth it for the great price. My daughter is so comfortable in it. We waited 14 months to upgrade our car seat but definitely should of done it sooner!” —Target reviewer

best car seats safety 1st
Target | Safety 1st
Grow and Go All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

10 colors available

Shop now

Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat

The Britax One4Life features ClickTight technology, making it super easy to install and transfer from car to car. Each component clicks, so you know it’s done properly. It fits your baby from their infant to toddler to child (up to age 10) stages.

Highlight Feature: Ease of installation/transfer

What a Reviewer Says: “The ClickTight feature is just amazing! I can get the car seat installed in under two minutes and that’s with adjusting to the correct angle.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Pottery Barn Kids | Britax
One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat

5 colors available

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Graco Turn2Me 3-in-1 Car Seat

This highly-rated car seat can be easily rotated from rear-facing mode with one hand to easily get baby in and out of the car. Plus, it’s easy to install and can grow with your child from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing harness seat to a highback booster seat. 

Highlight Feature: Swivel function for easy in/out

What a Reviewer Says: “I bought this for my soon-to-be 1-year-old and it’s so well worth [the price]! It’s very convenient being able to strap him in facing me and then spin him to rear facing. It’s also very easy to spin back and forth!” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats graco turn2me
Walmart | Graco
Turn2Me 3-in-1 Car Seat

3 colors available

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Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

This car seat is one of the most popular, affordable car seats from Graco. The most notable feature is the Simply Safe Adjust harness system, which automatically adjusts both the harness and headrest height without the need for rethreading.

Highlight Feature: Easy harness adjustments

What a Reviewer Says: “Great car seat, nice quality, and easy to install. One of the nicest features of this is that it’s very easy to tighten and loosen the straps to get the child in and out. Other models and/or brands it feels like you have to fight the tension strap when having the child rear-facing.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | Graco
4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

3 colors available

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UPPAbaby KNOX Convertible Car Seat

This car seat is a super comfortable and safe car seat for infants up to kids 10 years of age. It features Koroyd technology designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy from an impact.

Highlight Feature: Safety/comfort

What a Reviewer Says: “The UPPAbaby Knox is wonderful for my 4 and 5-year-olds. It’s comfortable, feels very sturdy and safe, and adjusts to accommodate their growth. Not to mention it’s a great looking car seat!” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Pottery Barn Kids | UPPAbaby
KNOX Convertible Car Seat

3 colors available

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Britax Poplar Convertible Car Seat

This car seat features Britax’s ClickTight Technology, which allows parents to quickly and confidently install and place their child in the seat. It holds little ones rear-facing up to 50 pounds and its slim design allows these seats to fit three across in certain vehicles.

Highlight Feature: Space-saving design

What a Reviewer Says: “This car seat is fabulous. It adds so many features the other Britax seats lack (fits three across, cup holders). The ClickTight feature is the reason we bought it because ease of install is critical for safety.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats britax
Amazon | Britax
Poplar Convertible Car Seat

4 colors available

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Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

The Graco Extend2Fit provides 5 inches of extra leg room to keep your baby safely and comfortably seated in the rear-facing position longer—the safest position to ride. However, Michelle Pratt, founder of Safe in the Seatshared a cautionary note for parents on her Instagram if they’re considering this bestselling car seat: “When a forward-facing kiddo is under 40 pounds, the seat must be installed using a specific recline setting… [that] often causes the bottom of the car seat to hang too far off the vehicle seat, which isn’t allowed. In vehicles with non-removable headrests, that recline can make it hard to raise the headrest high enough for a proper harness fit.” So, be sure your vehicle can accommodate a safe installation of this car seat before purchasing. 

Highlight Feature: Best crash test results

What a Reviewer Says: “This is my second purchase of this car seat and I love it just as much as I did the first time! It is more on the bulkier side, but that wasn’t an issue for us. The designs of these car seats are great. They’re very sturdy, well protected, and the extra legroom feature is such a plus for us with tall babies.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | Graco
Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

5 colors available

Shop now

Nuna EXEC All-In-One Car Seat

Aside from being Greenguard Gold Certified—meaning it reduces air pollution—the Nuna EXEC is an incredibly comfortable car seat, and with a multi-functioning adjustable leg rest, it offers more seating positions for your little one. The downside? This one comes with a hefty price tag over $700.

Highlight Feature: Compact (18.5 inches wide) for backseat room

What a Reviewer Says: “This convertible car seat comes with all the bells and whistles your heart could ever desire for your most precious cargo. Not only is it really sleek and very well designed as far as the aesthetics, it’s also very safe and easy to install and use.” —Nordstrom reviewer

best car seats
Pottery Barn Kids | Nuna
EXEC All-In-One Car Seat

4 colors available

Shop now
When Is It Safe to Turn My Toddler’s Car Seat Forward?
Here’s the Answer

Best Booster Car Seats

Booster seats are meant to be used with children who have outgrown their convertible or all-in-one car seats. Booster seats help raise a child up so that the seat belt fits properly across their body. 

Nuna AACE Booster Seat

The Nuna AACE booster seat features three depths to seamlessly grow with your child. It features armrests, a customizable recline, and side-impact protection (SIP) pods for added safety. It’s an ultra-comfy seat for toddlers.

Highlight Feature: Three seat depths for growing legs

What a Reviewer Says: “Beautiful, fits easily [in the car], looks great, is easy to install, and my kid finds it comfortable. What more can you ask for?” —Nordstrom reviewer

best car seats
Pottery Barn Kids | NUNA
AACE Booster Seat

3 colors available

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Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Seat

The Britax Highpoint is an affordable booster seat priced at under $200. It features three layers of side-impact protection and a 10-position, quick-adjust headrest that grows with your child up to 63 inches and 120 pounds, making it one of the longest-lasting car seats.

Highlight Feature: Excellent safety features

What a Reviewer Says: “Almost nine months [after we bought it] and this booster is still fantastic. Looks new, no issues, easy in and out of the car. Have recommended it to multiple friends and everyone loves it.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Target | Britax
Highpoint 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Seat

4 colors available

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Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Seat

The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 is the most affordable booster seat on the market that checks nearly all of the boxes. It’s just over $100 and fits children up to 57 inches or 110 pounds.

Highlight Feature: High quality at an affordable price point

What a Reviewer Says: “Just the easiest and best car seat! I even bought another one because you can never have too many of them. [Our] kiddo fits great and [it’s] so easy to install and uninstall. Plus, it’s light as a feather.” —Amazon reviewer

best car seats
Amazon | Chicco
KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Seat

9 colors available

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Maxi-Cosi Rodisport Booster Seat

The Maxi-Cosi Rodisport may be the most versatile booster seat on the market because it’s both a belt-positioning and backless booster.

Highlight Feature: Easy installation

What a Reviewer Says: “The anchor system is awesome! You don’t have to mess around with trying to loosen the strap of the anchor—you just push a button and both are fully extended and [you can just] click it into your car.” —Target reviewer

best car seats
Target | Maxi-Cosi
Maxi-Cosi Rodisport Booster Seat

3 colors available

Shop now

Best Travel Car Seats

Travel car seats are convenient when you are on the go or often switching between cars. These seats are typically lightweight and affordable.

The Doona All-in-One Infant Car Seat & Stroller

The Doona is so great it makes this list twice! It’s an incredibly popular option for travel because it transfers from a portable car seat into a stroller instantly. However, because it’s essentially a car seat and stroller in one, it does come at a hefty price point (about $500). Want to learn more about The Doona? Read one mom’s full review here!

Highlight Feature: Car seat + stroller in one

What a Reviewer Says: “I’m extremely happy [with the Doona] because we travel with it everywhere and when I’m by myself without my fiancé, it’s easy for me to get around. It fits everywhere—literally. Best purchase of my life.” —Doona website reviewer

best strollers doona
Pottery Barn Kids | Doona
All-in-One Infant Car Seat & Stroller

7 colors available

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WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat

For frequent travelers, the Pico is a convenient pick once toddlers grow out of a rear-facing car seat. It’s lightweight, folds up, is FAA-approved, and three seats can be installed side-by-side across a backseat. At $495, it’s an expensive option, but users say it’s well worth it.

Highlight Feature: Effortlessly portable

What a Reviewer Says: “This car seat has made it to my top list of the BEST travel gear for toddlers! I own a travel agency and have a toddler who goes everywhere with me. As a full-time traveler and a solo parent, I need a car seat that is as compact as it is safe—enter the WAYB Pico!” —Amazon reviewer

travel car seat
Amazon | WAYB
Pico Travel Car Seat
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Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Scenera NEXT may be the most affordable car seat on the market. It’s less than $50 and can be used rear-facing for infants through 40-pound kids.

Highlight Feature: Affordable/Reliable

What a Reviewer Says: “I have to say that I enjoy many of the features that this car seat has to offer, specifically the fact that it is easy to transport from vehicle to vehicle, so incredibly EASY to take apart and wash, and—most importantly—can accommodate extended rear-facing which is something that was important to me.” —CoscoKids website reviewer

best car seats
Walmart | Cosco
Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

11 colors available

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Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat

The Cosco Finale DX is a lightweight car booster seat. It’s under $75 with the ability to hold children up to 100 pounds, making it ideal for travel.

Highlight Feature: Lightweight and easy to move

What a Reviewer Says: “This car seat is very light and is great if you need to travel with it or transfer it to another car. All in all, this is a great seat for the price!” —Walmart reviewer

best car seats
Target | Cosco
Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat

2 colors available

Shop now
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