Parents eager to know what the best infant car seats are will be well advised to bone up on their research long before the need arises. Safety experts recommend parents choose the baby car seats and learn how to properly install them when the mother is in her seventh month or pregnancy. In the case of twins, back that up to the sixth month of pregnancy.

But choosing the best infant car seats can be more than a little confusing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants should ride in a rear-facing child seat beginning with their ride home from the hospital. Furthermore, all infants (and toddlers) should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they reach 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight and height allowed by the car safety seat’s manufacturer.

Seats for Infants-only

There are several points to keep in mind about infant-only car safety seats:

  • They are designed to be used for infants up to 22 to 35 pounds, depending on the model.
  • Infant-only car safety seats are small and feature carrying handles. Sometimes these seats are part of a stroller system.
  • Some infant-only car safety seats come with a base that can be left in the vehicle. The seat then clicks in and out of the base so that parents don’t have to uninstall the car seat every time they take the infant out of the vehicle. More than one base can be purchased for additional cars in the household.
  • Infant-only seats are to be used only for travel — not for use positioning the infant outside the vehicle.

How Infant Car Seats Rank in Ease-of-Use Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains an Ease-of-Use Rating system that can help parents determine which baby car seats are best for their child and vehicle. This is a five-star rating ease-of-use in four basic categories: evaluation of labels, evaluation of instructions, securing the child, and installation features.

Keep in mind that all car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards as well as strict crash performance standards. But not all are the same when it comes to how easy they are to use.

NHTSA’s Ease-of-Use Rating system for infant car seats shows manufacturer/model name, model number/manufacture date, harness type, weight/height, and how the seat ranks in the four basic categories. Reviewing the car seats rated for infants, there is only one that earns a perfect five stars in all four ease-of-use categories: The First Years Via, model number I450-AUR, manufactured April 3, 2009, 5-point harness, 4 pounds-35 pounds/up to 32-inches in height.

One infant car seat, Evenflo Serenade, has five stars in ease-of-use installation features and securing the child.

There are several that have five stars in ease-of-use installation features and four stars in ease-of-use securing the child. These include Baby Trend Flex-Loc, Baby Trend Rigid Loc, Britax Chaperone, and Evenflo Embrace.

Listing of Infant Car Seats

Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics site for a product listing of car safety seats for 2011. The first listing shows manufacturer and product names, harness type, rear-facing weight limits, height limits and price for infant-only seats.

As your child grows, the listing is also helpful because it shows convertible seats, 3-in-1 seats, combination seats, forward-facing only toddler seats, and belt-positioning booster seats. The site also lists the manufacturer phone numbers and websites.

When you’re looking for the best infant car seats, you want the best baby seats for your child. Do your research early, learn how to properly install the infant car seat, and you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’re doing what you can to protect your child.

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