The world of car seats has been overwhelming to me since the first time I got pregnant. Now that we’re trying for another baby, I’ve been doing a ton of research. Since car seats expire every few years, I have to start from scratch with all of this.
But my pain is your profit because I’m going to share what I’ve found, and break it down into categories.
First, one thing to keep in mind – what fits correctly with your car might be different than what I’m outlining here. All cars are different of course, and you have to go with what works for you. That being said, hopefully this list is a good place to start.
Second, a note about infant seats versus convertible seats… It’s painful to spend so much money on an infant seat and then turn around and buy another seat when your child has outgrown the first one. So if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well just spend it once on a convertible seat, right? Well, maybe. I’m torn about this because I had an infant seat with my first BUB. It’s discontinued now, but I loved it.
It was AMAZING to have the base in my car, installed properly, and then the removable seat that I could carry inside or slide into the stroller. I never had to get the baby out of the seat and re-seat her in the stroller. If she happened to be asleep, I could just leave her in the seat and carry it inside. This is a decision that no one can make for me, and no one can make for you, unfortunately. It just comes down to budget and personal preference.
For BUB #1 I had an infant seat that I got from a friend. Like I mentioned, that has been discontinued now. It was made by Graco. I have no complaints about that seat other than it was a little large for my Dodge Neon. Then I got a convertible seat with a high rating on Amazon. We were on a tight budget then, and this seat was under $100. I will name and discuss this seat under the Top Budget Picks section.
But I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with our next BUB. Below is the information I have uncovered after a lot of research.
Infant Car Seat
After investigating all of these, I have to go with the Britax B-Safe 35 model for a few reasons. They mentioned the Chicco Keyfit 30 had fabric that can make the baby sweat if they are heavily bundled. My children are very hot-natured, so this is a red flag for me. My kids get hotter, faster than other people, just like their dad. If this isn’t an issue for you, then this might be your pick. However, it caused me to keep looking. The Ingenuity has been discontinued, which brings us to the Britax B-Safe 35. The safety features and reviews are very good, and the price is affordable. The downside of it being heavy to carry is rather unfortunate, but it’s better than a sweaty mess of a baby who won’t stop crying from misery. Cost $170.
Convertible Car Seat
For consumer recommended convertible car seats, I examined this list, and the one I picked is the Britax USA Advocate ClickTight. The safety features are so good, and there’s really no downside. The downside is that it comes with a clip-on cup holder. Uh… that’s better! That means it’s removable and easy to clean. This sounds like the Cadillac of convertible car seats with all of its amazing safety features. Cost $315
Infant Car Seat
The winner of the mom-recommended list is the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30. After doing some searching, I think I’d go with the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40. I love that it has a rear facing 40 pound and 35” limit, which means, most likely, it will enable you to keep your child rear facing for the first two years in this seat. Since it’s recommended to keep your child rear facing for as long as you can (4 in Sweden) since it’s the safest option, it would be nice to have a seat that is designed to stay rear facing for older babies. After doing some research, however, I’m not sure that it is, in fact, able to fit your child as they grow. There seemed to be a pattern of people saying the straps weren’t long enough to fit their babies who were younger than one. Cost $120-$225
Convertible Car Seat
After looking at many, many lists and reviews and other sites, I have to go with a finalist on this one, instead of the winner. I pick the Safety 1st Complete Air 70 because of its safety features, removable cup holder and ease of use. However, I can’t find where to purchase it. It’s not even listed on the Safety 1st website. The only one I can find that is actually available to purchase is the Safety 1st Complete Air 65.
I would still pick this one over the winner on this list since there were complaints that the cup holder on the winner doesn’t fit a sippy cup well. When you are driving, and the sippy cup won’t fit in the holder, and then it falls on the floor where you can’t reach it safely, this is frustrating and stupid. If you are going to spend this kind of money on a car seat, then you don’t want to deal with that. Cost $130-$280
Top Compact Car Picks
Infant Car Seat
I did a ton of research for this one since we still have a compact car, and I had a compact car for my first BUB. I looked at many articles, reviews, and websites for this pick. I really like the Cybex Aton Q for compact cars. I wish I had one of these for my first BUB in my Dodge Neon! It’s extremely compact and has great safety features including a load leg! I watched a video on how to install it, which you can see here:
It looks amazingly simple, which also made me very happy. Cost: $350
Convertible Car Seats
I’ve narrowed this category down to two (again after reviewing many sites, articles, reviews, etc.)
1. Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 The Maxi-Cosi 70 was very hard to wash, apparently. It seems they’ve fixed this issue with the 85. It has great safety features, and it is surprisingly compact, giving you a lot more space. The only issue I have with this one is that it looks like it is at an upright angle. I’m not sure why, but this makes me nervous about the comfort level for my child. Reviews say it’s a very comfortable seat, but this issue is why I have another one in this category. Cost $240-$340
2. Britax Roundabout G4 This one is still compact, just not quite as compact as the Maxi-Cosi, but it’s not as upright as the Maxi-Cosi either, which is why I liked it. It is also rated very highly, and it’s far more affordable. Of the two, I think I would pick this one. This was a really hard choice, though, because the Maxi-Cosi looks really amazing and comfortable. But for my child, being super upright would cause issues, so that pushed me over the edge for the Roundabout. Cost $150
It looks decently easy to install here:
Top Budget Picks
Infant Car Seat
I really wanted to find a good option for this category, but every infant seat I’ve found that is around $100 has some very big drawback about it. These are things that I consider to be deal breakers. Either the straps are very difficult to adjust, the material makes the baby way too hot, the seat doesn’t connect well to the base, there is no padding, or there are complaints about the seat not being very sturdy. If these are not deal breakers for you, you are welcome to do a search for inexpensive infant car seats. After reading many reviews on many different sites, I’ve decided it’s worth it to spend a little more money for a better seat.
Convertible Car Seat
The seat that I have is the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat, Bromley. The only complaint I have about this car seat is that it is difficult as mess to install rear facing. But once you have it installed, then it’s fine.
Front facing is a piece of cake. It’s a very comfortable seat for her, and it even has a removable cup holder (that my husband promptly lost) and armrests. The cup holder was awesome while it lasted. The things that contributed to my decision were reading the reviews of people who got into crashes and their children were fine, and then of course the price being under $100. Cost under $100
This other option was on the Best Reviews list, and it caught my attention. If you are on a budget, the Graco My Ride 65 LX model looks amazing. It has excellent ratings, and it provides all the same great safety features at a much lower price. As they mentioned, “this seat makes absolutely no compromises on safety or performance.” I would strongly consider switching to this one for my current BUB, actually. Cost $100-110
I’ve really considered just getting the convertible car seat for the next one and skipping the infant seat for financial purposes. However, I’ve decided this is not going to work for me. I just can’t bring myself to give up the ability to carry the seat and the baby all together, especially when the baby is asleep.
SO! Which infant seat am I going to pick? Tune in next time… JUST KIDDING.
Since we are not in a compact car anymore and we are on a budget, I would go with the Britax B-Safe 35 model. I liked the safety features on this seat, and the price is in a more affordable range. I am sad that is heavy to carry, but after weighing all the other options and their cons, I feel like this is the best choice.
If budget were not an issue, I’d probably pick the Cybex Aton Q It looks super simple to install, has great safety features, and it’s super compact.
For the convertible category, I would go with the Graco My Ride 65 LX model for all the reasons I mentioned before. I might actually switch to this seat for my current BUB.
If budget were not an issue, I’d probably pick the Britax USA Advocate ClickTight. There don’t seem to be any cons with this seat. If you were NOT going to get an infant car seat and only purchase one seat, I think this is the seat to pick (as long as it will fit in your car, of course).