An expectant mother can be overwhelmed with the carseats on the market. Does she ensure her baby’s safety by buying the most expensive seat on the market? Is she sacrificing by going cheaply? What features are ones she really is looking for?

Here, I’ll try to break down for you some of the popular models and the pros and cons of them.

1. The Chicco Keyfit gets my approval for being a breeze to install securely. With built-in lockoffs, you’re guaranteed to be able to install your seat, and that is the most important thing when it comes to safety. No matter how many bells and whistles a seat has, without being installed correctly, safety is greatly compromised. You’ve spent a whole pregnancy worrying about the safety of your baby; you now want to make sure you keep your baby as safe as can be afterwards.
The carseat is also great for small babies. It goes up to a nice weight for an infant car seat, though you may not be lugging it around with a 30 lber inside!
It’s compatible with many strollers on the market, but not all. If you have a stroller in mind, that might be a deciding factor…though many times people choose not to use their stroller/carseat as a “travel system”.
Price wise, it’s not the most expensive, but ranges in the mid 100s.
2. The Graco Snugride is one of the most popular carseats out there. It’s compatible with almost any stroller. It does not fit tiny babies (under 5 lbs well), but for most babies, it’s fine.
There are many, many models out there.
You want one with a front adjuster. Usually the ones for under $100 at your local Walmart/Target/Kmart do not have this feature. Without it, you’re more likely not to have the straps fit your baby properly. I’d nix these.
For $100-$120 you can get a Snugride that adjusts in the front and goes up till about 22 lbs. This should last most babies till about 9 months, and it’s the carseat I picked out when I had my first 6 years ago. These models don’t have built-in lockoffs, but nevertheless does install well in most cars. Not all, but most.
In the mid 100s is the Snugride 35 which does have built-in-lockoffs. The fabric is nicer, and the weight limit is higher (hence the 35 ;)) but with that comes the caveat that the seat itself is heavier. A heavier seat will mean you carry it less, and you might not really get your money’s worth just for the higher weight limit. If you travel by air or taxi frequently, this is a major convenience as you can use it with a stroller (or frame like the Snugrider) even for an older baby. Or for a baby with delays who isn’t sitting at 9 months, this can come in handy to use in shopping carts. But otherwise, you probably won’t be gaining much from the added weight and will resent the extra heaviness of the seat.
3. The Baby Trend Flex-Loc is a budget-friendly seat that has the features you’d want, without the price tag. It does not fit in many strollers, and it is also hard to fit into most shopping carts. This may be a deciding factor for you. But at under $100, you may not care.
4. The Safety 1st OnBoard 35 is a good choice for small babies, as well as having a nice weight limit. It’s not as likely to be compatible with strollers, and the pricing is only a drop less than a Graco Snugride 35. It’s a nice seat, though.
5. The Britax Chaperone is one of the only seats on the market for infants with an anti-rebound bar. This added safety measure is more commonly seen in Europe, and is not needed by the American standards of safety. It provides extra safety by stabilizing the carseat when a collision takes place, and does not allow it to rotate. The seat also provides side impact protection. It comes with built-in lock-offs and can be used from 4-30 lbs. At $180, it’s not so cheap, though. It’s compatible with some, but not most, strollers.

There are other seats out there, like the

but with a $250 price tag, I am not sure you’re getting your money’s worth. It’s a heavy seat, a very good seat, but there are other very good seats on the market!

 

The

is gaining in popularity and is compatible with many strollers. But at $180, you’re not getting added benefits other seats provide.

 

I have a Combi carseat because it’s compatible with my double stroller, and I do happen to like it, but I would not recommend it over any others due to its price, unless you’re going with a Combi stroller. If you are, feel free to get one — the material is great, it’s lightweight, fits small babies well, and has a longer shell to fit your baby height-wise for a while (weight-wise, only 22 lbs, which would not help unless your babies are skinny like mine :))

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