Note: There is no one universal “best,” especially when it comes to parenting. These are “The Best Infant Car Seats” based on Also Mom's strict criteria, detailed here.
Choosing the perfect infant car seat is a giant freaking headache. There are way too many factors to consider, and they’re all really important. Safety, obviously. Nice-to-have features, too. But also whether it’s easy to adjust and install. Whether it will fit in your car. Whether it can easily be used in a taxi, if you are a city-dweller or travel frequently. Whether it’s compatible with your stroller. And to top it all off, whether you even need an infant car seat in the first place or if you can just go straight to a convertible car seat and save a few hundred dollars in the process.
And of course, there’s the style factor. It’s difficult to find a new car seat that isn’t safe, but not every car seat out there accounts for style and taste. These are our favorite infant car seats, in loose order of preference (less safe, though still very safe, car seats without anti-rebound bars/load legs are further down on our list and typically have less expensive price tags):
- Nuna Pipa ($300) – Our top pick for best infant car seat, the Nuna Pipa is super safe, incredibly lightweight (only 7.9lbs!), and has an awesome full-coverage canopy. Featuring a sleek European design, the Pipa looks great in all colors, is taxi and rideshare friendly, takes up a small front-to-back footprint (making it ideal for more compact cars), and has extensive stroller compatibility. The only bummer is that it does not have a no rethread harness, meaning as baby grows, you'll have to disconnect and reconnect the harness to adjust the size. [full review]
- Cybex Aton Q ($300) – Among our favorite car seats, the Cybex Aton Q is super safe and features a no re-thread harness. Another example of great European design, the Aton Q is good-looking, is taxi and rideshare friendly, takes up a small front-to-back foot print (only 0.4 inches longer than the Pipa), and has extensive stroller compatibility. On the downside, it is quite heavy (11.6lbs) and has a suboptimal canopy that does not provide full coverage from the sun. [full review]
- Cybex Aton Cloud Q ($400) – This car seat is like the Aton Q, but it reclines to a near flat position when not inside a moving vehicle (so cool!) at the sacrifice of a few practicalities– like weight and depth. The Aton Cloud Q weighs a whopping 13.9lbs (ooof!) and is 1.2 inches deeper than the Nuna Pipa, which cuts into precious front seat legroom. [full review]
- Chicco Fit 2 ($280) – A full-featured infant car seat that transitions into a toddler seat with the push of a button, the Chicco Fit 2 takes up a good amount of leg room and is pretty heavy. Those may be sacrifices you're willing to make for a car seat you can plug into a stroller beyond baby's first birthday. If you're looking for an infant car seat that you can use for two(ish) years instead of one (and assuming you've already decided you prefer an infant car seat for stroller compatibility versus a longer lasting but less travel-friendly convertible car seat), the Fit 2 is a great option. [full review]
- Cybex Aton 2 ($250) – A nice, safe, compact car seat with extensive stroller compatibility from a respected brand, this car seat is on the lighter side and will give your front seat passenger a bit of extra legroom. The shape of the car seat itself is a touch polarizing, but in a neutral color like black, we dig the look. [full review]
- Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 ($250) – A nice-looking car seat with all the important safety features, the Mico Max 30 is sadly a total front seat legroom hog in any vehicle smaller than a sizable SUV or van. [full review]
- Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 ($300) – Similar to the Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido, but $100 cheaper and featuring an anti-rebound bar instead of an anti-rebound bar and a load leg, this car seat has a traditional look with contrast stitching that is not nearly as modern as many other infant car seats on the market these days. [full review]
- Britax Endeavours ($280) – An otherwise great, super safe, full-featured infant car seat, the Endeavours takes up a crazy amount of front seat legroom and has very limited stroller compatibility. At the same price as the Nuna Pipa (and the Aton Q on sale), we'd choose the Pipa or Aton Q over the Endeavours 10 out of 10 times. [full review]
- Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido ($350) – A very nice full-featured car seat, the Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido is a fantastic option… assuming the high price tag, contrast stitching, and somewhat limited stroller compatibility don’t bother you. [full review]
- UPPAbaby Mesa ($300 and up) – A mostly overrated and over-purchased car seat, mostly by parents who don't want to deal with the complexities of making sure their car seat will adapt to their UPPAbaby stroller, the Mesa is a nice enough option if you know you want an UPPAbaby Vista or Cruz stroller and don’t mind losing a bit of front seat legroom. (There are lots of other car seats compatible with UPPAbaby strollers, including Nuna, Maxi Cosi, Cybex, Peg-Perego, and Chicco car seats.) [full review]
- Nuna Pipa Lite ($350 and up) – The lightest car seat available and completely fire retardant-free, the Nina Pipa Lite is great for those who plan to take the car seat in and out of their own car frequently, but do know… it cannot be installed without the base and is therefore bad for those who frequently travel and/or take taxis/Ubers/Lyfts. It is also available in more luxury fabrics as the Nuna Pipa Lite LX. [full review]
- Maxi Cosi Mico 30 ($200) – Very, very similar to the Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 but without the anti-rebound bar. [full review]
- Britax B-Safe 35 Elite ($230) – A nice, safe seat even without an anti-rebound bar/load leg, this car seat has a bit of a narrow fit for larger babies and lacks choice for stroller compatibility. [full review]
- Britax B-Safe 35 ($200) – Like the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite (no anti-rebound bar/load leg) but with a harness that must be manually rethreaded, the B-Safe 35 lacks the extra layer of side impact protection, and is a little bit lighter because of it. [full review]
- Cybex Aton ($200) – This seat is very similar to the Cybex Aton 2, but without the side impact protection or stabilizing load leg. [full review]
- Evenflo Lite Max 35 ($70 and up) – The cheapest good-looking car seat to make the list, this seat is also the one with the fewest bells and whistles, fewest safety features, and lacking stroller compatibility. Although the list price is $150, this car seat can often be found online for less than $100. [full review]
Comparing Infant Car Seats
Which Is the Best Infant Car Seat for Your Family?
If you haven't yet committed to the SUV/minivan life and need the best infant car seat for a compact car… the Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton Q, Cybex Aton 2, Cybex Aton, Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 are all pretty compact.
If you want the safest infant car seats… Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton Q, Cybex Aton Cloud Q, Britax Endeavours, Cybex Aton 2, Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30, Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido, Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35, and Nuna Pipa Lite all have load legs or anti-rebound bars. Though all the car seats we've recommended above are very safe.
If you live in a city and want the best car seat for taking frequent taxis or Ubers… all of the car seats on the list except the Nuna Pipa Lite can be installed with a seat belt and no base. We especially like the European-style belt paths on the Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton Q, Cybex Aton Cloud Q, Britax Endeavours, Chicco Fit 2, Cybex Aton 2, Cybex Aton, Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido, and the Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.
If you are a touch vain (hey, respect for knowing yourself) and want the best looking infant car seat… Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton Q, Cybex Aton Cloud Q, and UPPAbaby Mesa are by far the easiest on the eye.
If you need a car seat that adapts to the stroller you already have your heart set on… check out our individual stroller reviews to see with which car seats your stroller is compatible.
If you want a non-toxic infant car seat… the Nuna Pipa Lite and the UPPAbaby Mesa are the only two infant car seats on the market that are totally free from flame retardants and harmful chemicals. Other car seats with very low toxic emissions are the Nuna Pipa, Britax Endeavours, Britax B-Safe 35 Elite, Britax B-Safe 35, Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30, and Maxi Cosi Mico 30.
In addition to the table stakes safety requirements, to us a fantastic infant car seat is…
- Compatible with your stroller
- Versatile and taxi-friendly
- Not a space hog
- Easily adjustable for a safe, snug fit, with bonus points for a no re-thread harness
- Beautiful and fits right in with your style
- Extra super duper safe, with bonus points for features like an anti-rebound bar or load leg
- Full of features that make life with an infant easier, like a giant canopy or the ability to recline
What Didn't Make the Cut
There are many safe, well-rated car seats we did not include on our list, usually because we do not love the way they look. Call us vain, but that stuff’s important to us. These are some of the popular infant car seats that did not make our cut…
- Chicco KeyFit ($180) & KeyFit 30 ($200): A beloved seat that sadly doesn’t come in any nice neutrals and has a pretty unattractive design. Many choose this car seat for its “middle-of-the-road” price point. If this price feels right to you, consider buying a gently used Nuna Pipa or Cybex Aton from a trusted source instead.
- Evenflo Embrace ($110): Unfortunate colors + unfortunate piping.
- GB Idan ($400): Although this is branded as a super fashionable car seat, we find that it looks dated. That said, it's super safe and many, especially in Europe, love it.
- Graco Snug Ride 35 ($120): We have strong feelings about contrast piping (strong dislike), and all Graco car seats feature this dated detail.
- Maxi Cosi Mico Nxt ($110): Despite being a light-to-carry seat, the Mico Nxt has a very low weight limit of only 22lbs.
- Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air ($170): Again with the piping and the awful colors.