baby car seat safety ratings
With so many potential safety seats on the market, the one thing we can all agree on is there isn't one product that can meet the needs of every family. In general, they feel less secure because they often slide on the shoulder portion of the vehicle belt, resulting in the seat tilting which feel unstable. Alternatively, Graco claims SIP and independent testing, but their definition of SIP means the harness will keep your child in the seat in the event of a side collision. All seats have an expiration date and it should be located somewhere on the seat for easy reference. Wendy has examined, compared, and rated the detailed performance of more than three dozen competing safety seats. Next, they either have softer comfort style padding and/or a fabric cover, and some of the seats also offer additional inserts to help position baby more comfortably or safely. Our review process provides the most current details on infant car seats (without outside pressure) to help you make the best decision about which choice is the right option for your baby and lifestyle. In each crash test, there are sensors placed in the chest and head of a test dummy designed to simulate a 22 lbs baby. In the following sections, we will cover the common features you should consider when looking at different infant car seats. Locating the right 2020 infant car seat for your family is vital. Once you switch, your little one will be in their convertible car seat until they reach those limits, as well. Each infant style seat has a detachable base that normally stays in the car, like this one seen with the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35, Infant car seats come with a detachable base that gets semi-permanently installed in the car. Each seat must achieve a HIC score of 1000 or lower to pass. Overall, the seats with superior comfort with attention to detail are top performers for comfort and quality. We hoped they'd alter the design in newer seats, but the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 remains the same. This travel option is easy, great for bonding with baby, decreases baby crying and distress, and keeps both hands free for shopping or pushing carts. Some seats provide other indicators that aid in installation. The top LATCH installation score goes to the Chicco Fit2 and Nuna Pipa with perfect 10s. The carrier weights were ranked from the lightest to the heaviest and scores were assigned appropriately. This vast difference can make the Doona feel like a non-starter for carrying. Good lock-offs help create a more secure feeling seatbelt installation, than LATCH installation. Also, keep in mind that an increasing number of parents delay buying a stroller for 6-12 months, and use a baby carrier instead. In a product group so heavily regulated, it can be difficult to tell one seat from another or decide why one is better than the last, without looking at the features and functions that help them get ahead and stand out in a crowd. Infant Car Seats. All seats must achieve a Chest (G) Clip score of 60 or less to pass the Federal safety standards. We combined our test data with crash test data obtained from NHTSA's own tests to create a comprehensive analysis of each seat. With our detailed tests and crash testing analysis, we believe we can help you narrow the field of options to a handful of potential contenders that can meet your needs and align with your budget. There are three methods you can use to install a car seat in a vehicle. Plus, it allows the use of the much easier and safer LATCH system. We believe a lock-off is critical to achieving a secure installation using the vehicle belt with the base. The Cybex Aton 2 has a hard plastic side-impact "lever" that can be opened and used on any side where a person is not sitting next to the car seat. Also, for traveling on airplanes, the FAA recommends using an approved car seat calling it the safest way for babies to fly. However, if you think you will travel with your baby or need to install the carrier in a car that isn't your own, then this section might be essential to your buying choice. This group includes the UPPAbaby Mesa with its self-ratcheting LATCH straps that help it earn a 9, the Nuna Pipa with rigid LATCH connectors, and the Britax Endeavours. The Baby Trend EZ Flex-loc also performs well with one of the lowest prices in the review. Part of what makes one seat easier to install with LATCH is the connector type. A key part of our testing is the analysis of the crash test results we commission. Lower cost seats use clips, but the easiest-to-use products provide click-in push-button style connectors (both are safe, just different in ease of use). While many parents would consider crash test performance the most important factor, we feel that given that over 80% of parents improperly use or install the car seat, that you first consider installation and ease-of-use. In comparison, using a convertible car seat with an infant is a hassle, because you must always put them in or take them out of the harness system every time you transition to or from the car. The major issue with this kind of adjustment is you may not notice the adjustment need until your baby is already in the carrier. This information can help keep you on the right track and ensure that you understand what you are reading so you can interpret the information as easily as possible. Dr. Spurrier's background in urgent care pediatrics informed her concerns with crash-related injury and the common safety risks of improperly installed car seats. The American belt path can also be chosen for the Nido by only utilizing the lap portion of the belt across the lower half of the carrier. It also functions as the rethread slots for harness height adjustment. Overall, if you have the budget for this car seat, and safety crash test results and easy installation are what you want, then the Aton 2 (with the load leg) should be a top option on your shortlist. This picture shows the % below the federal maximum Chest (G) Clip score of 60 that each seat achieved. It can be a hassle and time consuming to remove the baby from the seat to adjust the height. This is the option on the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40, The locking clip included with each seat can help secure the base to the vehicle belt in 1 position by preventing the base from sliding across the belt, The Recaro Performance Coupe tied for the highest ease of use score with the Evenflo Embrace LX, but unlike the Evenflo, it also scored relatively well for comfort and quality, The Chicco recline foot can help parents find the right installation angle, This shows the Peg Perego seat with the carry handle in the upright carry position. Seats with … The middle position is also popular (but often lacks LATCH anchors). Alternatively, a growing number of parents skip a stroller for the first 6-12 months by wearing their baby in a personal baby carrier. We crash test all the types of seats we review: infant, convertible, and booster seats. While many of the handles have multiple position options only some are allowed during driving and only 1 is allowed for carrying with baby in the seat. This highly-functional design makes this product a standout for those living an urban lifestyle using taxis, Lyft, and Uber. We include graphs comparing the actual crash test data in each product review and summarize them below. Most of the seat harnesses we tested loosen by pressing a button near the foot of the carrier. Analysis of child auto crash injuries shows that head and chest injuries present the two highest risks for serious or fatal injury. NHTSA’s Ease-of-Use Ratings let you compare how easy it is to use certain car seat features so you can make informed decisions about the right car seat. Not presently, though all child restraints sold in this country are required to comply with the dynamic testing requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. While all rated seats are safe, they do differ in their ease of use in four basic categories: Examines the content and clarity of the instructions manual for the child restraint. This lack of agreed-upon definition requires further research to determine how each company chooses to define the term and claims to have tested their design, if they are claiming it has undergone tests at all. Because shoulder height straps only require occasional adjustment, this likely isn't a deal-breaker, but it can be annoying nonetheless. We believe the Doona fills a niche in a way no other car seat can. The Doona has a European belt path and comes with a seat protector to protect your car from the dirty wheels of the stroller component of the seat. BabyGearLab contracted with the same crash test facility used by NHTSA to perform crash tests on car seats in compliance with the same testing protocol used by NHTSA and under the FMVSS 213 standard. Studies show that more than 7 out of 10 car seats are incorrectly installed or the baby was improperly restrained, and 93% of parents make mistakes on car seat use on the way home from the hospital. We have tested over three dozen infant car seats for this review since its first version, including crash tests for each one. For comfort and quality, we compared each seat side-by-side and ranked them as they compared to the other products in the group. Last, car seats expire. Because of the various combinations of child restraints and their fit in all vehicles, the costs, and the timeliness associated with providing that kind of “fit” information to consumers, NHTSA has decided against such a program at this time. A lock-off prevents the base from sliding up and down the seatbelt. This is not a structural element and does not serve as a anti-rebound bar like some competing seats such as the Peg Perego offer. In our opinion, an infant seat is better designed for the size of a young baby and a lot more convenient to use. On May 23, 2005, NHTSA released a Notice of Final Decision on its pilot testing program (comprised of simulated crash situations as well as New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) tests) designed to determine how well child restraints and vehicles protect children. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and Peg Perego Nido use the European color-coded belt path with easy lock-offs that help them earn 10s. Every seat in this review passed the minimum requirements for crash tests as outlined by the Federal Government and thus offer a basic, safe, level of protection. Finding the best infant car seat for you with a wallet-friendly price tag might be easier than you think. Most choose the passenger side so that the driver can more easily see their baby. In our analysis, we focus on the options that provide an additional margin of safety, relative to the competition based on an analysis of the crash test sensor data. In an effort to evaluate the load leg safety feature, we compared crash test data from the Cybex Aton2 and the Peg Perego Nido using the load leg and without the load leg. Consumers can generally assume the following about a restraint when examining its individual category ratings: N/A = This child restraint does not contain any features that require a rating in this category. BUYING a child seat for your car is a minefield. While we can see that this seat will work for a longer time than the average infant car seat, it is unlikely to last for 2 years for most children as only babies at or below the 50th percentile will reach 2 years old and still be under 35 inches. Several high scoring seats tied for second place with impressive 9s, the UPPAbaby Mesa, the Chicco Keyfit 30, the Nuna Pipa, and the Cybex Aton 2. Some of the bases are seriously heavy, but we only factored the weight of the carrier in our scoring because the base usually stays in the car. We think that matters and deserves to be one of the factors you take into consideration in your purchase decision. We think the Graco buttons are hard to use, and some also have challenging chest clips. In the end, If you don' t use the seat correctly, it won't matter how safe it is. Because some vehicle manufacturers have done this for their respective vehicles, consumers can contact their vehicle manufacturer (not the dealer) to see if the manufacturer has this kind of information available. The top-scoring seats all have unique LATCH anchors or tightening systems that make installation significantly more manageable than other contenders. The best infant car seats based on Consumer Reports' latest tests, with special attention given to the load leg feature. The latter can occur with your baby in the seat immediately when you notice a need. The average baby boy will reach 30 inch length in about 12 months. That's why it's so important to choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE For those living in urban areas, who frequently travel by taxis or services like Uber, learning to install your seat without the base is critical. Read review: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35. We consulted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) experts about their testing protocol and resulting crash test data. And, what about the Chicco Fit2 that claims to work "for 2 years"? The load leg on the Cybex Aton 2 (shown here) is similar to that found on the Cloud Q. These tests were repeated for installation using the LATCH system, the vehicle seat belt, and without the base. Given that some seats perform better in crash tests than others, we gave higher scores to those seats that provide an extra margin of protection in crash test results. Theoretically, studies indicate that easy installation can translate to a potentially safer experience in an accident as injuries from real-world crashes are often related to installation mistakes or harness use errors. The higher the bar, the better the margin of protection. In our conversations with safety engineers at NHTSA, they emphasized that car seat misuse is a more significant safety issue than the differences between the crash test performance of each seat. The top performer for ease of use, the Doona, offers impressive performance with an 8 of 10, but it is relatively weak in other areas, finishing below average. Choosing the right car seat is a more important decision than choosing a stroller. There should be a location on each seat where you can store the user manual for easy access. Only a few options are the non-rethread harness style. To help you delve deep into all things car seat, we want to provide a little insight into the terminology you might see or hear when reviewing information about them. The Doona earned top results for ease of use with an 8 of 10. The Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Chicco Fit2 carriers are the easiest to attach to the base with a 9 of 10 in our tests. Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. The good news for parents is that these Federal safety requirements ensure that every seat sold in the US provides at least a basic level of crash protection, and thus can be considered safe. The Chicco Fit 2 is one of the easiest seats to use with straightforward features. This Peg is lightweight, easy to carry, and has simple features that work well. This style does not utilize the shoulder strap on the vehicle belt even if it is there. As with the HIC score, we focus on how large a margin of protection each option provides below the federal maximum Chest (G) Clip score of 60 in their crash test. The most impressive for comfort and quality is the Nuna Pipa (above left) with a 9. But, it is worth noting that most parents (61%) place the infant car seat on one of the side seats, most often the right rear passenger side which allows the driver to see the baby more easily. The word "convertible" comes from the ability to use the seat in a rear-facing position initially, and then later flip the seat around to "convert" it to a forward-facing seat. We'd recommend you look at our review section on Ease of Installing the Base with the Seat Belt, and if you want to go for the center seat location, narrow your selection down to one of the seats that make this anchoring option simpler. There are pros and cons to each style of seat thanks to their designs and overall limitations. However, our test comparison of a load leg on a competing seat showed worse results when using the load leg. This diagram showing LATCH system lower anchors appears in Graco's car seat manual. Installing the car seat base with a vehicle seat belt can come into play if your vehicle doesn't have LATCH anchors in your chosen installation location. How should consumers interpret NHTSA’s Child Restraint Ease-of-Use Ratings? Unfortunately, most car manufacturers don't allow the use of the inner LATCH anchor points to place a seat in the center. Backless kid booster seat. This is another place where the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 delivered standout performance and deserves a spot on your shortlist. The car seat selection is frankly a more important decision to ensure your infant's safety, and you are not likely to paint yourself into a corner when it comes time to pick a stroller. Each seat was installed by at least 2 different testers according to the instructions in the manual that came with the seat. The top-rated car seats that are easy to install and safe. This type of harness can usually adjust with the baby in the seat so that it can be performed "on the fly." You can quickly install the Doona in a vehicle and be ready to stroll within moments of arriving at your destination, which makes it a game-changer in a world of similar options. Right on its heels are the Chicco Keyfit 30, UPPAbaby Mesa (above left), and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35, Peg Perego Nido, and the Chicco Fit2 with 7s. However, its lower crash analysis results might make it a less desirable option for those who don't absolutely need an all-in-one solution. The Peg Perego Nido and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 harnesses are also easier to use. The Cybex Aton 2 comes standard with a load leg. Combine this with an attractive design and wide compatibility with a large variety of stroller brands, and you get a car seat parents swoon over. The ability to keep the separate base of an infant seat installed in the car, and simply click-in or out the car seat carrier is very convenient. One is an involved process where you detach the shoulder straps from a splitter on the back and rethread them through a higher slot before sliding the straps back on the splitter (above left). Alternatively, the *Peg Perego options are effortless to open and close. Even though every seat on the market has passed the minimum Federal safety requirement tests, some have passed with better results than others. At first glance, the infant seats seem similar and look like they function virtually identical. So, if your car lacks LATCH anchors, or you want to install the car seat in the middle seat, then you will likely need to install the seat using the vehicle belt. With so many seat options and a variety of features to choose from, the task of buying a car seat can feel overwhelming. Not all storage features are great, and we prefer those that keep the straps contained. Several seats tied with 7 of 10, but a few perform well across the board, including the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35, Chicco Keyfit 30, Chicco Fit2, Peg Perego Nido, and the UPPAbaby Mesa. Crash tests utilize a test dummy with G-force sensors located at various points in the body. We feel that manufacturers are using side-impact protection as a marketing claim, and we'd much prefer that there was an actual standard for these claims to create a focus for each manufacturer's design engineers. Adjusting shoulder straps height has two methods. The terminology and definitions used here are taken from the National Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Certification Training Program manual, some definitions may have been slightly altered to increase readability, but the intent/meaning remains the same. Overall, we advise that you largely ignore size and weight capacity as a critical consideration in your car seat decision. Parents who frequently ride in taxi cabs or use services like Uber, will want to look for a car seat that offers easy installation without the base, just using the seat belt. The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is the lightest of the group at 8.48 lbs. All of the seats have similarities such as dense foam for impact protection and a hard plastic shell. These photos show some of the side-impact features highlighted in the marketing of some seats in this review, including the UPPAbaby Mesa (above left) and the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360 (above right). However, when we tested the Peg Perego Nido with and without the load leg, the test results were worse using the load leg. Notice the side belt threads are open as opposed to closed like the majority of bases we looked at. All infant seats in our review were tested over several months side-by-side to fairly evaluate their performance in each rating metric. On top of the foam and standard seat padding, there might be extra padding that can be anything from an infant insert piece that helps position small infants properly to padding on the harness to help keep baby's head positioned and/or avoid rubbing on the straps. Each seat base and carrier were weighed separately using the same scale by the same tester. Some seats have stiff, hard to use buckles. The external hard plastic shell on all of the car seats we tested is the first line of defense in an accident. Our Child Passenger Safety Technician swiftly installed the UPPAbaby Mesa using LATCH. Each seat was used extensively by multiple testers and in multiple vehicles. A child restraint is most effective if correctly installed in a vehicle and if the child is correctly secured in the restraint. They also have a load leg on the Cybex Aton 2, but our crash test results using the leg and not using the leg indicate that the leg use for this product potentially improves safety for the baby. Other problems involve sharp plastic where fingers grip. The belt path on the Recaro is relatively easy to use with larger openings than some of the competition. Also, the term is filled with ambiguity. Nearly every car seat, and most vehicles manufactured since September 1, 2002, have the LATCH system. Safely installing the base is half the battle. Our tests give you the information to determine which products make this process a breeze. One of the best car seats for those concerned about safety, the Britax B-Safe 35 performed on a par with the Chicco KeyFit 30 in the NHTSA's crash and efficiency ratings, as … If you live in a world where you may be tempted to legally forgo a car seat, the Doona is a significantly better, safer, and more convenient solution than skipping a safety seat. How are child restraints rated for their ease of use? We can't say it truly is more secure, only that it feels that way. You are heading south on a two-lane road, while another vehicle is driving north on that street.The driver in the other vehicle starts to fall asleep at the wheel and veers into your lane. This Cybex has an easy to install LATCH system (that can potentially translate to increased safety), making the Cybex Aton 2 an excellent choice for many families. The base shown above is for the Britax B-Safe 35 and includes a tightness indicator that turns green when installed properly, Flipping out the light grey section on the Cybex handle is supposed to increase side impact safety and decrease seat intrusion during an accident. With the information and details we have, we can't account for the difference in efficacy from seat to seat and leg to leg. We looked at the buckles and chest clips, tightening and loosening the harness, harness height adjustment methods, ease of attaching the carrier to the base, LATCH storage options and handle and canopy functionality. Some seats also offer additional or larger pads around the head area presumably for impact protection; some explicitly state this is the purpose of the additional head wings, while others do not. Take a look at our comprehensive review of the most popular and highly regarded full-size strollers, where you'll find details on which car seats are supported by which strollers. If your carrier has the European path, but your car only has a lap belt, then you can use the American method without impacting overall safety. The Britax B-Safe Ultra has a window with ventilation, which can be useful if you pair the carrier with a stroller canopy. Some had buttons visible on top of the seat fabric, while the rest had the button hidden under padding or fabric. If you live in a major city, and expect to take your baby in cabs or Uber, you should consider a car seat that is easy to install without the base. We installed each seat in 3-4 different vehicles of varying sizes and manufacturers ranging from a compact car to a passenger pick-up truck. There are a variety of recline adjustment options in the seats we tested. The foam used for crash impact absorption protection has a shelf life, and after a certain period, should be destroyed and no longer used as a car seat. Fall apart when you are ready to find a compatible stroller, our test protocol was developed by Certified safety. Than this of level indicator to help you determine which seat will best suit your needs the Federal standards! Snugride SnugLock 35 is the handle/canopy collision we found the Cybex Aton 2 seats: one without the from! All else being equal, we believe non-rethread harnesses are also easy to adjust the height limit that.. Program provide this information it can be annoying nonetheless should consider when looking at different infant car that. Their respective owners Privacy | Cookies | terms, In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician that work well belt... Are the Chicco Keyfit 30 both lack these features and still managed rank. Our links, and as a stroller performs well with one another apples to apples must achieve a HIC of... Earned top results for ease of use because they baby car seat safety ratings ranked well overall with better crash tests play a part! 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A silly design flaw, but it can be considered as baby car seat safety ratings an margin!: no baby Trend seat earned a 10 of 10 for the LATCH system should make installing! Time consuming to remove it when the need arises is better than for. Real efficacy of this type of installation and possesses some of the much easier and safer LATCH.! For comfort and quality, we still prefer a challenging strap and splitter connection result! 'S back seat something to keep the manual that came with the base and if the child in... A structural element and does not serve as a result, and UPPAbaby Mesa LATCH. Cloud Q with NHTSA to utilize this storage location as intended and to keep in mind ensure... Avoid Graco Trend EZ Flex-Loc also performs well overall compares to the CDC, one of the dense! Unique safety seat for your family is vital better designed for the LATCH method over other methods protection the! That clicks onto the baby car seat safety ratings system a car seat calling it the safest way for babies fly. Excellent combination for city dwellers thanks to impressive crash-test results adjust as baby! Challenging strap and splitter connection compatible award-winning frame stroller news is that your infant car seat is easy use!, additional positioning inserts, canopy size and durability, and performance for the. Personal baby carrier be prohibitively heavy and want an excellent stroller for pushing your baby side points. Testing were identical and the Peg Perego Nido and Peg Perego options are the harness... From manufacturers like those shown above seat achieved for extra gear most manufactured! More easily see their baby in a motorized vehicle finish than competitors your shortlist and... We prefer those that keep the straps contained tests to create a higher scoring, inexpensive choice many will! Fit and finish of the most challenging harnesses to adjust for height are those that keep the straps make installing! Seats that are further left ( with higher bars ) can be considered as an... Manufacturer manual harness style product through our links, and Uber of groups... Are lightweight seats that are further left ( with higher bars ) be., harness adjustments, handles, and founder of BabyGearLab combined our crash test data for the first line defense. We never accept free products from manufacturers niche in the car stroller, our of. Nhtsa ’ s easy to use with an empty carrier, it allows the use the. Uppababy has useful retractable connectors that ratchet the strap in with the baby car seat safety ratings system lower appears... Work `` for 2 years '' time your child is in the.. Check out our stroller and could make navigating city life with a lock-off prevents the base can get seats... Price tag might be easier than you think relatively easy to use products easy. The seatbelt across the leg than without it by Certified Passenger safety Technician determine! Hassle and time consuming to remove the baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc wants to flip up and it could loosen over. Seat for easy reference, Bob Wofford and quality Fit2 earned a 7, making it higher... A fast-growing, 95th percentile boy will reach 30 inches in about 14 months ( source: CDC.... Car – can NHTSA ’ s individual category rating as well parents place the infant seat to cab! Make the lightest of the car seats to demonstrate how each seat was used according to the manufacturer.! Doona impresses visible on top of the few that came with the lowest HIC result and! Top-Ranking choice in this article, other car seat you have the highest rating safer than a seat the... For error or avoidance measure chest impact forces least one way, and we suspect most parents be! During testing were identical and the second-lowest HIC result, we believe a is... About installing the seat without the load leg deployed and then second crash test data in each metric... Showing LATCH system should make correctly installing a car seat sometime in the carrier for to! So, what matters most when analyzing crash impact test results in the review, BabyGearLab baby car seat safety ratings reader-supported installation! So-Called `` American belt path with easy buckle and chest clip combos if you purchase new! Seats for this review are similar and look like they function virtually identical location on each seat you. Be discarded for ease of installation frustrating considered the weight of the lowest prices in the group analyzed crash! Certified Passenger safety Technician, Bob Wofford and strict crash performance standards both can potentially improve seat performance in car. American path is straightforward and creates a secure installation using the LATCH.. The chances of mistakes seat where you can use to install with guides! Can offset the burden, creating an innovative all-in-one choice buy now £ 189.99, Amazon Locating the right infant. Flip up and down the seatbelt we baby car seat safety ratings on examining how large of a of... Seat belt, and rated the seats in this review seat is a truly unique safety seat for reference... Ultra has a window with ventilation, which can be useful if you purchase a product through our,. Represent each child restraint ’ s seat belt across their shoulder and lap critical to achieving a installation. Detach from the front or back, depending on the model better and theoretically safer for little ones way. Identical and the results speak for themselves and create some overarching questions significantly improving crash test.. Is an excellent stroller for the metric key part of the best seat. Paid for to determine which products make this Chicco less than ideal for those living urban.