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Consumer Reports: Best Infant Car Seats of 2022

CR's test results reveal top-rated seats that are safe and easy to install
Consumer Reports
/ Source: Consumer Reports

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Rear-facing-only infant car seats are the first type that most parents use when transporting their new infants. It’s important to choose a good seat for that very first ride, when the baby is most vulnerable, factoring safety and ease of installation. But it is hard to tell which seats are better when shopping in a store. Not to worry, we’ll go through what you need to know and spotlight the best infant seats in our ratings.

Taking a careful approach to seat selection now can set the example for subsequent purchases as your child grows.

There are many factors to consider when buying a car seat. To make things easy, parents and caregivers can check our infant seat test results on more than 30 models before buying. While all child seats must meet federal requirements, our ratings are designed to provide information on those that provide a greater margin of safety.

“Based on almost 2,000 individual car seat installations and over 100 crash tests, these infant seat ratings represent a comprehensive and rigorous program that allows us to make distinctions between the car seat models and clear recommendations,” says Michael Bloch, child seat project leader at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. “Further, they show the importance of buying based on test results rather than brand name or marketing slogan.”

The seats listed here did well in our crash tests and scored well for ease of use and in our fit-to-vehicle ratings, which increases your chances of installing and using them correctly.

Our ratings include 11 load-leg infant seats. This feature gives the car seat extra support by extending a "leg" from an infant seat’s base to the vehicle’s floor. Load legs provide additional stabilization and better integration of the car seat to the vehicle during a crash, reducing the amount of crash energy experienced by a baby.

Load-leg seats are becoming increasingly common in the U.S., but our tests reveal that not all designs are created equal. Generally, a load leg does provide a crash protection advantage. But depending on the car seat’s overall design, our tests show that there may still be instances where the baby’s head can come in contact with the back of a front seat, increasing the risk of injury. That impact with the simulated front seatback in our tests leads to deductions from the crash protection score. Some load-leg seats are easier to use than others, which can also influence the car seat’s fit-to-vehicle and ease-of-use scores. Six of the load-leg car seat models score “Best” for crash protection.

Additional details on each model can be found on their individual model pages.

See our complete car seat buying guide.

Clek Liing

The Clek Liing rates “Best” for crash protection, plus it's easy to install with either LATCH or the vehicle belt. The Liing’s load-leg design coupled with its rigid LATCH connectors significantly reduce the seat’s forward rotation and absorb much of the crash energy. The Liing’s 35-pound weight maximum and 32-inch height limit means your baby is less likely to grow out of it by height before weight. Despite being pricey, the seat has only a rethread harness, and cover removal is very cumbersome.

Chicco KeyFit

The Chicco KeyFit and KeyFit 30 performed very well in our crash tests, earning a “Best” and “Better” rating, respectively. Plus they’re two of the easiest seats to install using a vehicle’s LATCH system or its safety belts. The single-pull LATCH tightening operation and the easy way the carriers click into the base are just two features that differentiate KeyFit seats from others. The KeyFit has a 22-pound weight limit. The KeyFit 30 has a higher weight limit of 30 pounds, which may allow you to use it a bit longer. Both models are CR Best Buys.

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus

The Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus is another infant car seat with a load-leg base that scores “Best” for crash protection. The Mico Max Plus also rates high for ease of use and potential for a secure installation, and that increases your odds of installing it correctly in your car. The seat has a 30-pound weight maximum and 32-inch height limit, so your baby is less likely to outgrow it by height first than seats with lower height limits.

Chicco Fit2

The Chicco Fit2 achieves a “Better” rating for crash protection and Excellent ratings for installation when installed with LATCH or a vehicle’s seat belt. The Fit2 has a weight limit of 35 pounds coupled with a 35-inch height limit. Its two-stage base provides a more upright position and greater legroom for older infants. This makes it easier for parents to keep a toddler rear-facing longer. Push-on LATCH connectors, a no-rethread harness, and an easy-to-read level indicator are some of the features that make this seat easy to use.

Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX

The Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX rates “Better” for crash protection and is one of the easiest seats to install using either LATCH or the vehicle seat belt. This seat has a 35-pound weight maximum and a 32-inch height limit. It has a no-rethread harness and push-on LATCH connectors. The SnugFit 35 DLX comes with Graco’s Snuglock feature— a belt-tension device that helps owners get a secure installation with little effort.

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