Top Rated Car Seats: Buyers Guide

One of the most important products that you will buy, the life of your baby may literally depend on it one day.

What should you expect from a car seat?

Lightweight
You will have to carry the car seat often, you don’t want it to be stupidly heavy. Always check the weight in the product specifications.

Build quality
Make sure that the car seat was manufactured in the United States. You do not want to get some poorly built Chinese model, these are usually made with cheap plastics and don’t offer much comfort or protection.

Comfort
Although your child shouldn’t ever spend more than 2 hours in the car seat, make sure you buy one that is very comfortable. Unlike you and me, your child won’t be able to adjust his or her position while strapped in the seat.

Safety
You will want a car seat that exceeds the Federal Safety Guidelines, more on this in the next topic.

Federal safety guidelines

Car seat manufacturers rarely release any documented test crash ratings, and even the usually reliable Consumer Reports did a retraction in 2007 on some of their recent testing results.

I can at least rely on government test ratings, right? Surprisingly, the United States government only rate car seats with a passing or failing grade. Sadly, the ratings for these car seats are much less stringent than in other countries around the world.

So you should always keep this in mind: there is no universally “safest car seat” that you can buy. Each car seat sold in the United States has passed the government’s safety and crash test regulations, but not all of them are created equally.

So basically you really have to do your research, which is what you are doing by reading this post 🙂 .

Some of the most important safety features:

1. Side impact protection
This is a critical component of any safe car seat. Studies have shown that side impact crashes account for more injuries than frontal and rear impact accidents combined.

Keep in mind that manufacturers will boast about their new side impact protection advancements, but all of them test differently.

2. Five point harness
This is easily considered the safest harness on the market and is more likely to prevent your baby from being thrown out of the car seat in the event of an accident.

3. Front harness adjustment
You most definitely want to find a car seat that is easily adjustable. You will be putting your baby in this seat countless times and it is paramount that you can adjust the harness to the proper snugness each and every time.

4. Chest clips
You will want to look for models that use chest pieces that clip together, preferably a two piece chest clip. This will help prevent your baby from wiggling loose

5. Head impact protection
Many newer car seats are now being manufactured with better head protection, including side impact head protection. As mentioned above, side impacts are bad, so this is a feature that you will want on your new car seat.

What will a car seat cost me?

The prices on most car seats can range anywhere between $50 all the way up to $400 or more, but many mid-range car seats can offer outstanding protection. The most expensive car seat is not always the safest, please remember that.

So what are the top rated car seats?

I have owned many car seats in my lifetime, some were good, some were (very) bad. I’ve reviewed a lot of them and I’ve made a list of the top rated car seats that you can currently buy.

1. Graco 4ever All-in-One

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Side impact protection
  • Five point harness
  • Front harness adjustment
  • Two piece chest clip
  • Head impact protection

Check the current price on Amazon


2. Chicco NextFit

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Side impact protection
  • Five point harness
  • Front harness adjustment
  • Two piece chest clip
  • Head impact protection

Check the current price on Amazon


3. Diono Radian RXT

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Side impact protection
  • Five point harness
  • Front harness adjustment
  • Two piece chest clip
  • Head impact protection

Check the current price on Amazon


4. Graco Milestone

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Side impact protection
  • Five point harness
  • Front harness adjustment
  • Two piece chest clip
  • Head impact protection

Check the current price on Amazon


5. Evenflo Symphony DLX

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Side impact protection
  • Five point harness
  • Front harness adjustment
  • Two piece chest clip
  • Head impact protection

Check the current price on Amazon


All of the infant car seats mentioned above are great choices, they all do exactly what they’re supposed to do.

Last words

Simply buying the safest car seat you can find is not enough. Please remember that the best car seat in the world can’t protect your baby if it isn’t installed properly.

If possible you should have any car seat that you install properly inspected by a Child Passenger Safety Technician at your local hospital or police station.

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1 Comment

  • Great checklist here! We recently bought the Diono Radians for our kids… they were the best we could find. They’re kind of pricey, but they sell them at Kohl’s so we were able to get 30% off!

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