11 Best Infant Car Seats For Small Cars In 2022

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Babies who can’t sit upright need to be taken in an infant car seat for a comfortable and stable ride. Some of the best infant car seats for small cars are compact, convertible, and comfortable and give the proper protection. Sometimes with an unreliable infant car seat, it is difficult for the parents to find the correct adjustment angle leading to a stressful ride.

Choosing the right car seat for your baby is tricky and that’s why you should read our carefully chosen list of the best infant car seats. Read on

Safety Features To Look For When Buying An Infant Car Seat

Before determining which car seat is the best for your little one, consider its safety features.

  1. Side impact protection: Look for thick foam protection on the side of the car seat. It absorbs energy caused by sudden impact and uniformly distributes the force, ensuring that the balance of the head, neck, and spine is not compromised.
  2. Impact protection shield: It is bar-shaped and placed near the chest and the midsection. It disperses impact away from the baby, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
  3. Chest pads: Chest pad protection ensures that the baby is held tightly and does not lurch forward during jerks or unexpected impacts.
  4. Lateral headrests: The cushioned lateral headrest keeps the head protected and in the central position.
  5. Multiple harness slots: It’s essential to ensure the harness is snug enough to keep the baby safe. It should not be too tight nor too loose. You should change the harness slot according to the safety rules as the baby grows.

11 Best Infant Car Seat For Small Cars

1. Best Safe:Safety 1st Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of Safety 1st

This premium car seat has advanced safety features for keeping children safe while traveling. The sides of the Safety 1st infant car seat are made of energy-absorbing materials to provide high-impact protection. It also offers additional head support and body protection for newborns.

It can accommodate children weighing four to 35lb, thanks to its four adjustable harness heights. You can adjust the car seat’s base to suit your vehicle’s height. The car seat pads are machine washable, and the lightweight feature of the seat makes it easy to transport. You can check out this video for more information about the product.

Pros

  • Easy-to-remove and dryer-friendly seat pad
  • Compatible with any quickclick-equipped stroller
  • Meets ASTM and JPMA safety standards
  • Backed by a one-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Clamps may not be tight enough

2. Best Easy-To-Install:Graco SnugRide 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

The Graco 35 elite infant car seat features the SnugLock technology for secure attachment and has a simple three-step installation. The adjustable base helps give the right fit to your car. It has four recline positions to accommodate babies weighing four to 35lb.

This car seat has a rotating canopy with a window and visor to provide shade. The energy-absorbing materials in the safety center absorb the impact of frontal clash forces. The removable seat covers make cleaning a breeze. Check out a review of this product here.

Pros

  • Can be cleaned using soap and water
  • Quality harness system
  • Easy-to-read bubble level indicator
  • Adjustable base
  • Meets FMVSS 213 safety standards

Cons

  • Seat may not be bleach-friendly
  • Some may find the seat to be heavy

3. Best Breathable:Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat

Courtesy of Britax

Britax All-in-One Car Seat has built-in cooling channels and a breathable mesh cover, increasing ventilation and making your child’s journey more comfortable. It has an adjustable headrest and harness to accommodate your child comfortably as they grow and has a nine-position quick-push recline to give your car and the child the right fit. It also features a strong steel frame and a G-shaped tether to minimize jerks.

It provides a high-impact cover for your child thanks to its deep sides and energy-absorbing materials. The unique design helps support a child weighing between five and 120lb. This car seat can be switched from rear-facing to front-facing for long-term use with a high-positioned back seat for grown-up children. You can check out this review of the product if you require more convincing.

Pros

  • ClickTight installation
  • Suitable for machine wash
  • Cover is flame-retardant
  • Cup holders are dishwasher-friendly
  • Two layers of side-impact protection

Cons

  • May have a peculiar odor
  • Harness straps may be uneven

4. Best With Super-Cinch Latch:Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of Britax

The Chicco infant car seat is designed to fit a child weighing four to 30lb and provides a secure fit for newborns and smaller infants. It comes with a head and body support that can be removed as the child grows older. The car seat is easy to install, thanks to the super-cinch latch. You can also change the base height according to the size of your car.

The fabric and shoulder pads are machine-washable, making maintenance a breeze. The car seat uses energy-absorbing EPS foam for enhanced impact protection, while a five-point harness ensures a better fit for your child at all stages of growth.

Pros

  • Bubble level indicator for easy attachment
  • One-hand release makes it easy to remove
  • Two-position carry handle
  • Removable canopy
  • Washable seat pad

Cons

  • May be heavier than expected
  • May not be stable enough

5. Best Ergonomic:Evenflo LiteMax Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of Evenflo

Evenflo LiteMax’s infant car seat is light and easy to carry. It has four shoulder harness positions to fit children weighing four to 35lb. The car seat is easy to carry with its ergonomically designed handle. The integrated belt-locking mechanism guarantees your child’s safety. Besides, the seat includes a full-coverage canopy to keep the child safe from the sun, wind, and rain.

Pros

  • Accommodates growing infants
  • Separate stay-in base for easy installation
  • Indicator for proper installation and leveling
  • Available in four colors and two styles

Cons

  • May not be easy to tighten the straps
  • Cushion may not be easy to remove

6. Best Adjustable:Baby Trend Tech 35 Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of Baby Trend

This is an easy-to-use car seat featuring flexible latch connectors with built-in storage. The Baby Trend infant car seat comes with a five-shoulder harness and a push-button release, which can be adjusted single-handedly. The energy-absorbing EPS foam provides high-impact protection, and it also comes with removable inserts that can be changed according to the weight and height of the growing child.

The ergonomic multi-grip carrying handle makes it easy to carry. The replaceable seat covers are machine-washable and keep your baby’s seat clean. When used in strollers, the three-panel canopy shields your child from the sun and heat.

Pros

  • Suitable for children aged up to 24 months
  • Built-in belt lock for installing in vehicles
  • Boot provides extra warmth and comfort
  • Available in three colors

Cons

  • May not be front-facing
  • Base may not be easy to tighten

7. Best Lightweight:Disney Baby Minnie Mouse Light n’ Comfy Infant Car Seat

This attractive infant car seat with Minnie Mouse print is designed to accommodate babies weighing four to 22lb. The Disney car seat is lightweight and convenient to carry. It has a five-point harness and five-height adjustment with easy-to-release buckles to meet Federal and ASTM safety requirements.

The flexible latch connectors come with a built-in storage system. The seat is designed with high-quality foam for side-impact protection, and the adjustable stay-in-car base allows easy transportation of car seats in and out of the vehicle.

Pros

  • Built-in canopy offers protection from heat
  • Soft interiors
  • Offers a snug fit
  • Available in four colors
  • Backed by a one-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Head support may not be sufficient
  • Children may outgrow it quickly

8. Best With Five-Point Harness:UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of UPPAbaby

The infant car seat from UPPAbaby can fit in babies weighing four to 35lb. It is made with advanced technology and has a tightness indicator. The green light indicates the seat is correctly installed. For easy installation, it comes with self-retracting latch connectors. The finished bottom with a low-profile base prevents damage to the vehicle.

It has a five-point harness with an adjustable headrest for a secure ride. The headrest is reinforced with energy-absorbing EPA foam to provide complete protection to children, and the extendable canopy offers an additional heat shield for the infant. The Mesa car seat is compatible with the mini strollers with a reversible seat feature.

Pros

  • Washable seat cover
  • UPF 25+ canopy
  • Adjustable harness and crotch strap for preemies
  • Attaches to strollers without adapter

Cons

  • May not have proper ventilation
  • May have a peculiar odor

9. Best With Air Protect Technology:Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus Infant Car Seat

Courtesy of Maxi-Cosi

Maxi-Cosi infant car seats are ideal for babies weighing four to 30lb. The proprietary air protect technology offers superior side impact safety, and the car seat is compatible with more than 50 stroller systems. The integrated belt lock-offs make installation safe and straightforward, while the retractable buckles do not cause a hindrance while removing the infant from the car seat.

You can quickly remove the seat pads for cleaning the car seat. The ergonomically curved handle enables faster transportation, while the self-wicking fabric provides comfort and head and neck support. It comes with a retractable canopy for added coverage and safety.

Pros

  • Has a zipper for added ventilation
  • Contoured soft grip for easy carrying
  • Anti-rotation stability leg
  • Compatible with most strollers

Cons

  • Seat may be larger than expected
  • May be slightly wobbl

10. Best With Built-In Belt:Baby Jogger City Go Infant Car Seat

This infant car seat from Baby Jogger is crash-tested to meet safety requirements, ensuring that your child has a comfortable ride. It has taxi-safe belt paths, allowing for safe and straightforward installation without using a base in taxis. Also, it has a built-in belt lock-off with a push-button latch for securing the vehicle belts.

The rear-facing infant seat can accommodate babies weighing four to 35 pounds. Its car pad is machine-washable and dryer-safe. When attached to the stroller, the built-in canopy provides extra sun protection for the infant.

Pros

  • Anti-rebound bar for added safety
  • Soft and textured fabrics with leatherette handle
  • One-hand adjustable headrest
  • Suitable for air-travel

Cons

  • May not help in even posture for baby
  • Head cushion may be small

11. Best Stable:Peg Perego Base Primo Infant Car Seat

The Peg Perego infant car seat base is equipped with user-friendly functions. It comes with color-coded belt paths to help you adjust the seat belt, and the round bottom makes for a gentle and safe fit with any seat upholstery.

It is compatible with any mode of transportation. The tri-zone level indicator function helps you find a proper seat angle based on your child’s growth, while the innovative right-tight system allows secure locking of the base for additional stability.

Pros

  • Can be installed without adapters
  • Infinite recline knob helps find a good angle
  • Anti-rebound bar for added safety
  • Suitable for children weighing between four and 35lb

Cons

  • May require extra effort to move the handle
  • Instructions may not be easy to follow

Things To Consider When Choosing An Infant Car Seat For Small Cars

Before choosing the right infant car seat for small cars, consider the following factors.

  1. Usability: A rear-facing infant seat is usually the best choice. However, if you intend to use the seat for a long time, choose a convertible seat.
  2. Installation: Choose a car seat that is easy to install and uninstall so that you can effortlessly shift it to any vehicle.
  3. Portability: An infant car seat should be light and easy to transport and install.
  4. Safety standards: Buy a car seat that complies with all safety standards and offers side impact protection.
  5. Compatibility: If your budget allows, it is always a good idea to buy a car seat that is compatible with a stroller.

Why Trust MomJunction?

Vibha Navarathna is a product writer for baby, pregnancy, and nursing mothers. Her knowledge of the topic and numerous articles have made her familiar with people’s needs and necessities regarding baby safety and requirements. In this list of the best infant car seats for small cars, the products are comfortable, easy-to-install, portable with heightened safety features. She has described each one in detail and added a buying guide to help you select the right one.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of car seats are ideal for a newborn?

Infant-only car seats are ideal for newborns. These car seats are designed to protect your infant from birth until they attain 35 pounds (1).

2. How long does my baby stay in an infant car seat?

Your baby is safe to use the infant car seat until they reach 35 pounds. If your little one has outgrown the infant car seat, you should switch to a convertible car seat that goes in rear-facing seat installation. You can continue them until they reach two years (2).

3. Are newborn seats and infant car seats the same?

No, newborn seats allow your tiny tot to sit up, while infant car seats are used in cars to prevent mishaps. Newborn seats should not be used in the transportation of infants (3)

4. At what age can a baby start using a car seat?

Your baby can start using the car seat right from birth, begin with infant car seats, switch to convertible seats and forward-facing seats, and finally move to booster seats as they outgrow (4). Babies need special protection in cars while traveling.

5. How long does the two-hour car seat rule apply?

Manufacturers recommend that your baby should not be more than two hours in a car seat a day. Prolonged sitting in the car seat may cause breathing issues and frustrate your child due to restrictions.

6. Is an infant car seat necessary?

Yes, it is the best way to protect your little one from mishaps. Infants’ skulls, bones, or muscles are fragile, and they need extra protection, especially when they are traveling in a car.

7. What’s the difference between an infant car seat and a convertible?

Convertible car seats are bulkier than infant car seats. They are not equipped with carrying handles or an independent base. In addition, unlike infant car seats, convertible car seats can not be carried (4).

Investing in the best infant car seat for small cars ensures road trips with your little one will not be much of a hassle. To buy one, look for those that are easy to use. The seats in the list above are built to be compact, convertible, and comfortable for the little ones to help them stay safe while they travel. This translates to a lightweight seat you can carry around and install in your car whenever needed. Lastly, an infant car seat is primarily installed to keep the little one safe while traveling. Therefore, choose the one manufactured by conforming to safety standards and durably built to offer ample protection.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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Vibha Navarathna

Vibha is a coder turned content writer. She holds a Masters degree in Computer Applications from Osmania University, Hyderabad and a certificate in 'Introduction To Child Psychology'. Her passion for writing fresh and informative content made her a full-time writer. Holding certifications in content writing and creative writing, she writes on electronics, baby and health products for MomJunction. Apart from...
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