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The 7 Best Infant Car Seats of 2021

Discover the top infant car seats of 2021 to help you and your baby travel safely and comfortably. We tested each model with our kids for several months to give you a real-life review of the best seats available today and help you find the one that’s right for you.

We focus on infant car seats in our ranking as these are our favorite models. They are specially designed for newborns and infants until about 18 months old, and are all rear-facing car seats (the safest position).

You might also want to take a look at convertible car seats if you want a seat that will grow with your child but you should first read why we think infant car seats are better for young children.

There are no bad options in our top infant car seats and they all meet the safety regulations to protect your baby in the car.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is overall the best infant car seat of 2021 because of its excellent safety score, easiness to install and value for money. But the UPPAbaby MESA is a better choice if you have the budget because of its natural fabric that’s light and breathable without using nasty chemicals as flame retardants.

We also love the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 for its versatility and compatibility with most of the best strollers available today. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35, on the other hand, isn’t our preferred model but is a good option if you’ll often be using the seat for short taxis or Uber rides as it’s lighter to carry around. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is a safer seat for taxis or Ubers thanks to its European seat belt path but is also the heaviest seat on our list. We only recommend it if you’ll be using the seat for longer rides.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see how we tested each seat and what you should pay attention to when choosing your infant car seat.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the 7 best infant car seats of 2021.

ModelEditor’s RatingCategory
Chicco KeyFit 309.8/10Best Overall
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio9.8/10Best European Belt Path
UPPAbaby MESA9.7/10Best Premium
Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 309.6/10Best Stroller Compatibility
Britax B-Safe 359.2/10Best for Preemies
Evenflo LiteMax 359.1/10Best Value
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 357.5/10Best Lightweight

1. Chicco KeyFit 30: Best Overall Infant Car Seat

Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat review - Baby Gear Essentials
Read our in-depth review of the Chicco KeyFit 30.

We like:

We don’t like:

  • Only the American seat belt fastening is possible without the base.
  • Canopy is on a small side, you might need extra sun protection.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is the best infant car seat for this price and will be perfect for most parents; however, if you’re a regular taxi user we would recommend another car seat that’s lighter and easier to carry around (see alternatives below).

2. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio: Best European Belt Path

We like:

We don’t like:

  • One of the heaviest seats in our tests.
  • Premium quality comes with a premium price tag.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

If you expect your baby to spend a lot of time at the back of your car, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is the absolute best car seat available today. With soft breathable fabric and plenty of extra padding, your baby will be comfortable for long journeys. The seat is our preferred option when used without its base thanks to its European seat belt path that doubles back at the back of the seat.

3. UPPAbaby MESA: Best Premium Car Seat

UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat review - Baby Gear Essentials
Read our in-depth review of the UPPAbaby MESA.

We like:

We don’t like:

  • It’s one of the most expensive seats on the market.
  • It’s also one of the heaviest seats that we’ve tested. Not the best option if you expect to often carry the seat without a stroller.
  • The release button on the harness is a bit stiff. You’ll need a bit of practice before being able to unstrap your baby easily.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

We recommend the UPPAbaby MESA if you can bump up your budget for a premium seat. The extra features are great and we love the natural wool fabric (less nasty chemicals and more breathable for your baby). But only you can decide if that’s worth the extra $150 compared to the Chicco KeyFit 30.

4. Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30: Best Stroller Compatibility

We like:

We don’t like:

  • Only the American seat belt fastening is possible without the base.
  • Doesn’t come with a no-rethread harness, adjusting the height of the harness is thus more complicated.
  • Lacks a recline angle indicator on the base.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

The Mico Max 30 is perfect if you already have a stroller from one of the compatible brands (Maxi-Cosi, but also Cybex, Nuna, Silver Cross and Quinny).

5. Britax B-Safe 35: Best Infant Car Seat For Preemies

Britax B-Safe 35 infant car seat review - Baby Gear Essentials
The Britax B-Safe 35 is perfect for premature babies with its extra padding, making it one of the safest and most comfortable car seats available today. Continue reading our Britax B-Safe 35 review.

We like:

We don’t like:

  • Bigger babies might feel a bit squeezed.
  • Won’t last you as long as some of the other seats in our tests.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

The Britax B-Safe 35 has so much extra padding that it’s the best seat for small babies. Your child will be kept snug and tight. The build quality is also excellent. We wouldn’t recommend this seat for larger babies, as they might feel a bit constraint or uncomfortable for long journeys.

6. Evenflo LiteMax 35: Best Infant Car Seat under $100

Evenflo LiteMax 35 infant car seat review - Baby Gear Essentials
Read our full review of the Evenflo LiteMax 35.

We like:

We don’t like:

  • Not very comfortable for baby.
  • The LATCH clips on the base are hard to attach.
  • Materials and fabric feel cheap to the touch.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

The Evenflo LiteMax 35 is the best infant car seat available under $100. It’s one of the most lightweight options on the market and it meets all the safety regulations. It’s safe and good value but the fabric and lack of padding make it less comfortable for extensive use. It’s not our favorite seat, but for this price point it’s a great value.

7. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35: Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat

We like:

We don’t like:

  • The canopy can’t be used with the handle at the same time.
  • LATCH attach are hard to fix, tighten and remove.
  • The infant insert is smaller and less comfortable than the competition.
  • The harness requires rethreading to adjust the height.

Where to buy: Check price on Amazon

Weighing just 7.5 lbs (3.4kg), the SnugRide Click Connect 35 is the lightest infant car seat that we’ve tested, making it easy to carry around. That said, we weren’t impressed with its overall design. As a result, the Graco seat should only be considered if you want a lightweight infant car seat that will be used infrequently. Every other car seat in our tests performed better.

How we select the best infant car seat of the year?

We worked hard to make this list of the top infant car seats of 2021 as objective as possible. For us, this started by recognizing that there is no absolute best. Every family has different needs and lifestyles, so we needed to first understand what the different expectations might be before evaluating car seats against those expectations.

For example, you’ll have very different expectations from your car seat if you’re always using it with its base fixed in your car versus using the seat in taxis without its base. Similarly, families who already have a stroller and want a car seat that is compatible with that stroller, will have different criteria (take a look at our ultimate infant car seat and stroller compatibility guide if that’s the case for you).

best infant car seat top list - Baby Gear Essentials
Photo by Ana Sloan.

So how did we go about selecting the best infant car seats of the year? We started by creating a list of the top 35 best infant car seats available today by cross-referencing authoritative resources (see the full list below) with the best-selling models online. We then analyzed safety ratings, scores and reviews for each model to narrow down our list to the top models.

We purchased each seat on that list and gave two models to each family in our group. Everyone used their seats for a period of five months with their kids. Each seat was used extensively to get hands-on experience. We paid particular attention to their pros and cons and what they are like on a day to day basis.

After five months of testing, we all sat down together and shared our notes. We sometimes exchanged seats among us when we couldn’t reach a consensus on our reviews.

Finally, we assigned our rating to each seat. Safety is absolutely paramount when choosing an infant car seat, hence we gave more importance to crash test results in our ratings. We also considered the value that you get for the price of each seat and all the other extra features that make it easier to use them.

best infant car seat list - Baby Gear Essentials

Choosing a seat that’s right for you and your baby

Buying an infant car seat for your child is one of the first important purchases that you’ll do as a parent, as you’ll need a seat to leave the hospital with your baby. It’s a critical decision, as certain requirements are even mandatory in some states. A good seat will help protect your child when traveling during the first journeys of their life. A great seat could make it a more pleasant and restful trip for everyone.

It’s an essential, but also very symbolic purchase.

We hope that this list of the best infant car seats was helpful to you. Please let us know if you would like us to review other models that weren’t mentioned above. We always love to hear from you.

best infant car seat top Maxi-Cosi - Baby Gear Essentials

Further reading recommendations about infant car seat safety

We used several authoritative sources to help with our list of the best infant car seats. We recommend that you read them if you want to learn more about car seat safety in general. These are also great resources if you want to understand a particular aspect of child safety or want to stay up-to-date with the latest research.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Child Passenger Safety Board have excellent in-depth resources on car safety for children. We recommend you start there:

If you want to explore car safety even further, we recommend the following resources that were used when writing this article:

We also took inspiration from a few other excellent guides online to help us select which seats should be included on our list:

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