Infant Car Seat For Travel
When you have an infant, traveling means a lot more than simply jumping in a car or booking a flight. Whether you want to travel or take your little one for a drive, you’ll need to get an infant car seat. Not only is it required by law, but it’s also essential for the safety and wellbeing of your child.
Finding the best infant car seat for travel may require a bit of work, however, as you research your options and scan the market for the best choices. When purchasing infant travel apparel, you’ll want to consider whether it is forward or backward facing, booster, convertible, or lightweight. But before we start looking at car seats, we’re going to answer some of your other pressing questions.
In this article, we will discuss where to place an infant car seat in your vehicle. As well as how to fly with a baby car seat and find out when an infant car seat expires. We will highlight the most popular car seats for travel and provide an infant car seat review. This will help you choose the best infant car seat to keep your baby as safe and comfortable as possible while you travel (see also, ‘How to Travel With a Baby Without a Car Seat‘) .
Where Should An Infant Car Seat Be Placed?
This is one of the most common questions we get from new parents. The safest place to install your infant’s car seat is in the back seat of the car. The main reason for this is because you want your child to be far away from the airbags.
The position of the airbags is often on the same level as your child’s face in the car seat. So, if these inflate during a crash, they can hit and seriously harm your baby, regardless of whether they are in a front or rear-facing car seat.
Beyond that, it is best to place the baby seat in the middle of the back seat. This reduces the risk of injury during a crash. However, if that isn’t possible or if you have multiple children in car seats, then you can place them behind the driver’s or passenger’s seats.
Are you still feeling confused and uncertain about taking a road trip with your newborn? Don’t worry. We have a helpful article with plenty of tips about how to survive a road trip with a baby.
How To Fly With A Baby Car Seat?
Want to go on a plane trip with your baby? Learn how to fly with an infant car seat and make your lives a lot easier. Even if you aren’t intending to use your baby seat during the flight, you may need it later. Most airlines let you carry a toddler car seat, booster, or baby seat for free. If you want to know more about the right procedure, check out our guide on How To Fly With Infant Car Seat for all the details.
When Do Infant Car Seats Expire?
Before you ask, yes, car seats do expire. Generally, the rule of thumb is six years after manufacturing. However, the exact day will depend on the company and model. Now you’ve probably heard other parents say things like, “Car seats don’t really expire” or “They’re just trying to get more money out of you”. But that simply isn’t the case.
There are several reasons why infant seats expire. Technology updates mean newer versions are safer than the old ones. Wear and tear on the belt buckles, fabric, and especially the plastic makes them less sturdy over time.
Now factor in things like changing temperature and humidity, sunlight exposure, and a host of other variables. In short, make sure you replace a car seat every 5 to 6 years. This ensures your children are getting the best travel protection possible.
Best Infant Car Seat for Travel
There are several different types of baby car seats you can purchase. Here are a few associated terms you’ll hear thrown around often as you search for your perfect seat.
Infant rear-facing car seats are designed specifically for infants from birth up to 22 pounds. These portable baby carrier models attach to a car seat base that is installed in the vehicle and are generally suitable from birth up to 18-months old.
Convertible car seats are not portable and must stay fixed in your car. This can seem inconvenient at first, but they make up for it in many ways. Not only are these models available in both front and rear-facing options. Convertible car seats have a weight limit of up to 40 lbs, with some models going up to 60 pounds. That means once you get a convertible car seat, they’ll last your toddler and preschooler for several years.
Then there are the all-in-one car seats that can convert from rear to front-facing or even to a booster seat setting. These are also stationary and will serve your toddler well for many years. However, these are not suitable for newborns, so make sure your child is old enough to fit securely into the all-in-one car seat model.
Infant Car Seat Review
So, now that you know what your options are, let’s take a look at some of the best infant car seats available on the market. Most of these popular infant car seats for travel are suitable from birth up. Here are our Infant Car Seat Reviews for Travel.
The rear-facing Doona Infant Car Seat is lightweight, compact, and perfect for a traveling parent’s needs. The car seat converts into a stroller within seconds, requiring only the touch of a button. The 5-point harness and adjustable handlebar serve as an anti-rebound bar, offering additional protection within the car.
The Doona is perfect for your child from birth up until 35 pounds. This model is also TUV and FAA Aircraft approved, so it’s ideal for air travel. Doona uses the highest quality, baby-safe materials available along with 3-layer side impact protection. Available in a sleek black or limited edition green design, the Doona stroller navigates smoothly across sidewalks and jogging tracks.
At a $550 price point, the Doona Infant Car Seat is perhaps the most rewarding purchase you’ll make for your child. However, you will need to purchase additional rain and shade covering accessories before you can start using the seat regularly. Additionally, the item itself weighs 35 pounds, and some parents complained about trouble lifting the seat and getting it into or out of the car.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go model is a three-in-one car seat option that is suited to all your child’s needs through an extended growing period. It can handle 5 to 40 pounds as a rear-facing seat, 22 to 65 pounds as a forward-facing seat, and 40 to 100 pounds as a belt-positioning booster seat. At under $200, that’s a steal.
With additional features like side impact protection, your infant will be safe from harm. The harness holders keep the straps out of the way as you tuck your child securely into place. Placing your infant into and out of their car seat has never been easier. The quick fit design lets you adjust the harness and headrest will a single pull. Since the seat pad is machine washable, you just snap it open and take it off for cleaning.
The model weighs under 19 pounds, so it’s relatively easy to manage, although since it’s a three-in-one option, it is a stationary seat. There are also three reclining options making this a top choice in terms of car comfort. If you’re looking for a seat that will last you a long time and has a bunch of great features while still being affordable, then the Safety 1st Grow and Go model is definitely the one for you.
The Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Car Seat is a rear-facing lightweight model designed for infants in the 4 to 35-pound weight range. Since the lightweight carrier weighs under 7.2 pounds, it is easy to lift, carry and install. That’s a definite plus when dealing with a portable baby seat model.
With it, you will receive a 4 position adjustable base that helps hold the car seat fixed in place. You can adjust the settings for maximum comfort as your child grows. There’s also an easy-to-read level indicator to help parents feel more confident about the installation process. That means you won’t waste any time making minor adjustments and worrying about whether the seat is leveled.
Additionally, Graco has also made the seat protect plus engineered so your infant is safe from all directions in case of a crash. This includes frontal, side, rear, and rollover impacts. Priced at $120, the Graco SnugRide 35 is a good discount option if you’re looking for an infant car seat, especially for parents who want to create a travel system. In fact, the seat comes with a special one-step secure connection mechanism so you can connect it to Graco’s strollers.
However, one aspect parents complain about often with this seat is the lack of head and body support for your child. There is virtually no padding, and the head support piece is of mediocre quality. Overall, the fabric and materials don’t feel very high quality. Of course, it isn’t a bad deal for the price point.
The Graco SlimFit is another three-in-one car seat option designed to support a growing toddler. It can handle 5 to 40 pounds as a rear-facing seat, 22 to 65 pounds as a forward-facing seat, and 40 to 100 pounds as a belt-positioning booster seat. All that with Graco ProtectPlus Engineering to ensure your child’s complete protection in case of a crash, including frontal, side, rear, and rollover impacts.
With a design that caters to a parent’s every need, the Graco SlimFit comes with a simple adjust harness, rotating cupholders, and a slim fit design that takes up 10 percent less space than other models. Your baby’s comfort is also guaranteed with 10 headrest positions, 4 recline options, and comfortable padding foam. This seat design is perfect for parents who want to keep their children safe and comfortable while optimizing back seat car space.
If you’re looking for a high-quality car seat, then the Bugaboo Turtle One may be the one for you. However, at a $380 price point, it is slightly more expensive than some of the other options on this list. It makes up for its cost by giving your child ultimate comfort and support.
This rear-facing infant car seat comes in a sleek black design, with an extremely resilient outer shell, super comfort patented tailor-tech foam, and an ergonomic carrying and lifting system. The Bugaboo Turtle One is especially suitable for parents looking to build a complete travel system. A signature white button on the car seat will help you connect it to any compatible Bugaboo stroller.
One features parents love is the option to purchase an additional base for a second car. That way, you can easily shift your seat to another car. The merino wool inserts are removable and washable, so you can easily clean them.
For parents looking for the ultimate baby transport system, the Evenflo EveryFit 4 in 1 seat provides a remarkable opportunity. For under $200, the seat converts into a rear or forward-facing harness seat, highback, or no back booster seat. All this with a SureSafe Installation System that includes specialty latch guides to improve your child’s car safety. The seat has even been crash-tested at 2 times the federal safety level.
In addition to its top-of-the-line safety apparatus, the Evenflo seat also prioritizes your infant’s comfort by using innovative mesh fabrics that promote airflow and keep your child comfortable in the heat. There are 3 rear-facing and 1 forward-facing incline angle designed to keep your child engaged and happy as you travel. And the no-rethread harness straps let you adjust your growing child’s position without having to uninstall the seat every few months.
All in all, the Evenflo EveryFit 4 in 1 seat will support your infant from 4 to 40 pounds and continue to protect your toddler as they grow from 40 to 120 pounds. With this seat, you won’t have to worry about upgrading every few months or years.
If you started off with a rear-facing infant seat and are looking to upgrade to a front-facing seat now that your children are older, the Diono Radian 3QXT is an excellent choice. With rear, forward, and booster options, the seat will support your child up until the age of 5.
This design prioritizes child safety and comfort with innovative engineering features like a steel core, interlocking layers of foam, seat and side padding, adjustable harness, anti-slip harness pads, and an anti-rebound bar. It’s safe and has side-impact protection in 8 protective layers. For $400, those are a lot of features!
For children that are five years and older, try the UppaBaby Alta Booster Seat. The seat clips directly to your car’s anchor system, offering the ultimate secure connection. With extra padding in the headrest, the booster is comfortable enough to help older children doze off on longer car rides.
With armrests, a cup holder, and seven headrest positions, it’ll keep your child happy even if you’re going on a road trip. Not bad for $200. You can’t go wrong with this car seat!
Best Infant Car Seat Travel System
Finding the perfect car seat can be a difficult decision. You want to find a model that fits your budget while still offering your infant the best safety and comfort. Of course, smart parents will also think about the bigger picture. Building a travel system lets you invest in high-quality products that will last you a long time and serve multiple purposes.
For example, if you purchase the Bugaboo Turtle One by Nuna Car Seat or the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Car Seat, you can find a compatible stroller from the same company and make your own custom travel system. If that seems like too much work, then check out our guide on the Best Lightweight Travel System Strollers For A Baby.
Most Popular Infant Car Seat For Travel
When it comes to the best infant car seat for travel, there are several options. If you’re looking for a rear-facing infant seat, we recommend the Doona Infant Car Seat. For parents who want a more budget-friendly option, the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Car Seat will certainly get the job done.
For parents who want a three-in-one system that will last them several years, we’d recommend the Safety 1st Grow and Go model and the Graco SlimFit. If you want to plan for every eventuality, then the Evenflo EveryFit 4 in 1 seat is the one for you! And if your child has grown out of their infant seat and you’re looking to transition to a booster seat, our top pick is the UppaBaby Alta Booster Seat.
At the end of the day, all these car seats are highly recommended and safety guaranteed. You really can’t go wrong. So pick the one that fits your needs the best and good luck shopping!
For more about family travel, check out these posts:
When Can You Travel With A Newborn?
How To Fly with Infant Car Seat
Best Travel Car Seat for Toddler
Travel Booster Seat for Car Rides and Flying
Travel with a Baby Stress-Free this Holiday
Best Lightweight Travel System Strollers For A Baby