With rising gas prices, high overall vehicle costs and the push to help the environment, many people are opting to buy small cars. But when you have a small car and you’re a parent, this can cause some challenges.
Namely, it can be tough to find the best car seat that will fit easily and comfortably into your small car while still being safe for your child. It’s important to consider all of these factors when shopping around, but that’s no easy task, is it? That’s why I’ve done the hard work for you.
Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide and list of the best infant car seats for compact cars. This guide also includes information on the best lightweight stroller with infant car seat reviews. I hope it’s of great use to you!
Our Recommended Best Infant Car Seats
What Is The Best Car Seat For Infants?
If you don’t want to waste your time reading on in detail about each and every product that we recommend, we’ve narrowed down your search for top infant car seat by category and by brand to make things easier. I’ve written my own review to help things along.
Best Rated Infant Car Seat: Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
The Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base is the overall best rated seat because of its ease of installation and added safety features. The seat has a 5-point harness system that can easily be adjusted with only one hand and several features that add to the installation and security of the seat and your baby.
For example, this seat features bubble levels to help you make sure that the seat is evenly installed. There is also a spring-assisted level foot and an adjustable center pull to make strapping your baby in much easier.
Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat: CYBEX Aton Infant Car Seat
The CYBEX Aton Infant Car Seat is a sleek, lightweight baby seat that weighs close to nothing but is still super safe and protective. The seat features a European belt routing option, which means that you can use the seat in any car even without the added protection of the LATCH-based car seat base. Simply route the car’s safety belt through the appropriate feeds in the seat, and it will be as safe as ever.
The CYBEX Aton also features an easy to use belt tensioning plate, an energy absorbing shell for impact protection and an easy right and an adjustable canopy that you can fold away when not in use.
Best Infant To Toddler Car Seat: Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
The Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat is 3 seats in 1. First, you have a rear-facing car seat for the smallest babies. Use this seat position for babies who are between 5 and 45 pounds. Generally speaking, you can change your baby from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat when they reach the age of 2.
As a forward-facing seat, this seat can be used with children from 20 to 80 pounds. It can also be easily used with children who are up to 120 pounds as a booster seat. In this way, it grows with your child and saves you money over time.
Use the Diono Radian in any car. It has comfort cushioning, removable pads for easy washing and even a foldable top when it’s not being used.
Best Baby Car Seat And Stroller Combo: Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System
The Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System is the best travel system that you’ll find for small babies. If you’re a parent and you know that you’ll soon be buying a stroller and a car seat, you can shoot two birds with one stone and simply purchase a great travel system like this one.
The stroller has comfort padding and shock absorption for a smooth ride. The air-filled wheels also help in this regard. Use the stroller on a multitude of terrains without worrying about disturbing your riding child.
The car seat fits with a snap into the stroller and can easily be transitioned back and forth between the in-car base as well. Super sound protection in the car seat means that you can feel confident in the safety of your child.
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat is a rear-facing only car seat that is extra lightweight. This is my favorite lightweight Graco infant car seat. It’s super stable and extremely safe.
The base of this seat stays in your car so that all you need to do to pick up and go with your baby is snap the carrier into place. If you decide to add a stroller to the mix, you can use this Graco car seat carrier with any Graco stroller.
This car seat can be used with children who are from 4 to 35 pounds. Extra padding in the center of the seat makes it great even for tiny babies and preemies.
Best Britax Infant Car Seat: Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat
The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat is the top-rated seat from Britax, which is a company that is known for safety. This Britax seat sits rear-facing only and features the exclusive Safe Cell impact protection.
Installing the car seat base into your car is simple with the LATCH System, and putting your baby and car seat into the base takes only seconds. When it comes to cleaning, you can easily remove the cover of this car seat and toss it in the washing machine.
Lastly, the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat is the best Maxi Cosi car seat for infants. Many parents love the Maxi Cosi brand for its high standards of comfort and safety. This seat has rebound protection and added side impact safety.
The carrier itself is super lightweight, and you can adjust the carrier handle to suit your specific needs. Parents also love the self-wicking natural fabrics on this seat. They naturally deodorize and stay dry for your baby’s comfort.
What to Look for When Searching for an Infant Car Seat?
Unfortunately, death rates for car transportation are on the rise, and it’s up to you as the parent to keep your child safe while in the car. In the end, this comes down to finding the highest rated infant car seat in terms of safety.
But naturally, there are other factors that you’ll need to consider as well in order to sift through the best-rated infant car seats. I definitely recommend reading infant car seat safety reviews, but I’ve also outlined the top basic considerations to make when shopping for the top car seats for infants.
The primary concern that you should have when looking for the top rated car seats for infants is safety. The top infant car seats will have a multitude of safety features, and they will exceed federal safety standards and regulations. On the other hand, cheap infant car seats will barely meet safety standards, and they may even skimp on added protective features.
In terms of safety, the best infant car seat should have LATCH connectors, a 5-point harness, side impact protection and EPS absorbing foam. If it has more, that’s even better.
Safety should be your main concern, but truly good infant car seats also offer the best in terms of comfort. I like to look for comfortable padding and fabric as well as self-wicking material that will stay dry. It’s even better if that material is easy to remove and clean.
Ease of Installation
Installation of your car seat should be simple. Most of the installation will take place with the car seat base. The system provided should be easy to understand. And the LATCH mechanisms should be easily visible and quick to tighten up.
Again, it’s the cheap car seats for infants that tend to give the most installation trouble. I’m not talking about affordable infant car seats that are still quality made, but instead, I’m referring to car seats that are actually cheaply made.
Ease of Use
Ease of use refers to how easy it is to use your car seat on a daily basis. How easy is it to pop that seat into the car seat base that stays in your car? Does it audibly click into place? Are there hard-to-reach snaps and buttons? How easy is it to strap your child into the seat? Is there a center pull adjustment? Are there level bubbles to help make the seat as even as possible?
I always look for seats that have as many easy-to-use features as possible! I love the easy pull harnesses and lightweight styles. As an added bonus, I also appreciate when the top baby car seats can fit into a convertible car seat stroller even if it’s not part of a convertible car seat stroller combo set. Many of the lightweight baby car seat brands offer this feature. Just check out infant car seat reviews to find a seat that fits both!
Finally, don’t forget about the price! There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a car seat just because it’s supposedly better. As price goes up, quality goes up to an extent, but don’t think that you’re only going to get a top rated baby car seat if you spend every last cent you have. There are plenty of great affordable car seats out there.
Best Newborn Car Seats Reviews
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
When I get asked what is the safest infant car seat and the best overall model for a small car, I always have a quick answer. The Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base is the by far the best infant car seat on the market. It is also the safest baby car seat and the most comfortable.
Where safety is concerned, this is good infant car seat. I also love that you have an easy-to-use harness. Some users found the red unbuckle harness hard to press, but you really don’t want it to be too easy for a child to use. I also like the cup holder and removable seat pad on this car seat.
CYBEX Aton Infant Car Seat
The CYBEX Aton Infant Car Seat is another one of the best car seats for infants. Its sleek design and quality padding provide not only great comfort and style, but also the utmost in safety. Shocks are easily quelled in the energy absorbing shell, making it a smooth and safe ride for your little one.
I recommend this as one of the top infant car seat models from CYBEX. I especially love the belt tensioning plate for security and the fact that this unit can be used in almost any small car or large car. It’s so lightweight that it’s great for traveling in a plane as well. If you plan on doing a lot of air travel, this is definitely good infant car seat.
Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
The Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat prides itself most of all on safety. From birth to toddler age, this seat grows with your child. Because it is a 3-in-1 seat, it can accommodate children from 5 to 45 pounds as a rear-facing seat, children from 20 to 80 pounds as a forward-facing seat and children up to 120 pounds as a booster seat.
According to infant car seat reviews, parents who are alwafys on the go will love this seat because it folds for travel. In this way, you don’t have to worry about taking it out of the car when you don’t need it. It’s also great for those who are looking to save money because instead of buying 3 different seats or even a convertible seat and a booster, you get three seats in one with this product.
Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System
The Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System offers a stylish, easy to maneuver jogger stroller along with a car seat and car seat base. This system makes it easy to transport your child from your home and destinations to your stroller and from your stroller to and from your car. The jogger features almost make it simple to take this stroller unit wherever you want to go!
For parents who like to jog and run, this stroller and car seat combo is the best that you’ll find. I love that the wheels are filled with air. It makes them easier to push and maneuver in all directions, and you don’t have to worry about going over tough terrain because the wheels absorb any and all shocks.
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat is extremely lightweight, which makes it great when you need to move the carrier around with you. With that being said, you can rest assured that your child will be protected at all times with this car seat. The Click Connect system provides always secure attachment, and the car seat can easily fit into any and all Graco strollers.
The thing to keep in mind with this product is that it is only a rear-facing seat. There are a number of benefits to these kinds of seats. For example, you are able to have a lighter weight seat for easier carry, and you also have better infant-focused support and a carrier handle.
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat
The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat is a rear-facing car seat that comes with a base that you can leave in your car. It’s one of the best infant car seat models by Britax.
The shock absorbing base helps to stabilize your child in any situation. In the event of a crash, you can rest assured that your baby will be protected by the Safe Cell side impact protection panels and the stabilizing steel frame. An added head restraint ensures optimal protection of your baby’s fragile head and neck.
Just like the previous infant car seat, this seat faces only to the rear. Again, this can be extremely useful in many cases. I love this infant seat for preemies especially because you have added padding inside that will cradle even the smallest baby.
Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat
The Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat is one of the lightest car seats on the market. This is another rear-facing only seat, which means it has a useful carrying handle and fits easily into its base in your car. The special fabric is super easy to clean and self-wicking for your baby’s comfort.
I love this lightweight car seat for the tiniest of little ones. The fabric is absolutely great with self-wicking technology to keep your baby comfortable and dry at all times. Finally, if style is a big issue for you, this is one of the best car seats that you’ll be able to find because it comes in 18 amazing color schemes.
Evenflo Embrace LX Infant Car Seat
The Evenflo Embrace LX Infant Car Seat is yet another rear-facing only infant car seat that gets top rated infant car seat reviews. With the lightweight yet durable frame and easy to grip handle, this seat is perfect for the car and perfect for carrying around as well. Use the seat with the safety belt in your car or with the LATCH system base.
The Evenflo Embrace LX Infant Car Seat is another great product from Evenflo. Personally, I think it’s top infant car seat by this company. It has an easy to use harness system, a changeable canopy for your child’s protection and an adjustable handle for easy carrying. When your baby is in the car, you can even use the seat without its base by looping it into the car’s safety belt system.
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
The Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System is a travel system, which means that it includes three components. You’ll receive a car seat, a car seat base and a stroller with this travel system. Use the car seat easily in both the stroller and the car as it clicks into place in both places with ease.
This is an excellent travel system for parents who know that they want a rear-facing infant car seat and a stroller. Why not purchase both units together to save money and make the transitions between home, car and the stroller more simple? I love the added storage on the stroller as well.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat is the last lightweight carseat on this list, and it’s another one of the top options. The seat can fit babies who are up to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall. Safety features like the dual stage cushion system ensure that your baby will stay safe even in a crash.
This seat is extremely safe and durable. It’s also one of the most comfortable seats with extra head support, breathable fabric and extra padding for your baby’s bottom. Again, I love the color variety with the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat as well. You’ve got 20 colors to choose from overall!
Infant Car Seat FAQ
What are basic safety guidelines for proper use of an infant car seat?
As a start, whenever you install a car seat in the back seat of your car, it should not move more than an inch in any direction while the car is in motion.
In addition, make sure to take the utmost care when you strap your baby in. Straps need to be carefully threaded through the appropriate slots, and they must snugly but comfortably fit over your baby’s shoulders.
When you have a harness system, this should also be snug but comfortable. You should not be able to pinch the webbing when it’s tightened. Make sure that the harness retainer clip is at the same level as your child’s armpits.
Finally, if your baby needs coats, sweaters or scarfs because of cold weather, never put these on underneath their car seat harness.
What is the best position in the car for an infant car seat?
Always put babies in the back seat. Never put a rear-facing seat in a situation where an airbag could possibly release in front of it. Rear-facing seats must only face the rear of the car and be strapped in properly.
Finally, remember that the safest seat for your baby’s car seat is the middle back seat. Never put your baby up front.
Can a safety seat ever be too old?
Yes, safety seats can expire. Most car safety seats expire after ten years because regulations can change during this time, and materials are not ensured to last longer than a decade.
Is it better to use the LATCH system or your car’s safety belt?
Some safety seats can be used with both the LATCH system and your car’s safety belt. If you properly thread your car’s safety belt into your baby’s car seat, this method of securing the seat can be just as effective as using the LATCH system.
When is a good time to transition from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat?
The safest way for a small infant to ride in a car is for them to be rear-facing, so you should keep your infant in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible.
You should follow the weight and height guidelines in your manufacturer’s instruction manual to know when to transition your baby from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat. But as a general rule, children should be 2 years old before they make this move.
Summary and Making Your Final Decision
Are you ready to purchase a lightweight and affordable infant car seat for a small car? As you can see from the guide above, the best infant car seats are those that have great baby carseat reviews and top-notch safety ratings. To be sure, not all of even the top rated infant car seats are created equal, so putting in the time to find the perfect seat is worth it!
I urge those who are reading this guide to pick a good baby car seat that fits your particular car. Again as I stated in the beginning, many people are now turning to compact, small cars in order to help the environment and save money in the long run. And in this way, the top rated baby car seats are not going to be the same as they would be for large vans or SUVs.
Furthermore, if you’re on a budget as many parents are, you need the best inexpensive infant car seat. I know as well as any other parent that cost is a factor. Naturally, I always say that safety should be first, so be sure to regard the top safety rated infant car seats before all others. Just don’t forget about cost. The truth of the matter is that you won’t be using these car seats for the rest of your life. If, however, you do happen to have more than just one child, consider purchasing a more expensive and well-made top infant car seat, and look at it as an investment.
I hope that this guide has helped you make a final decision on the right infant car seat for you and your family! Now go out and purchase the top rated infant car seat that you have pinpointed. Good luck!