How To Choose An Infant Car Seat
As already briefly mentioned on the homepage, we listed the “factors to consider when buying” and safety was the most important factor to take into account.
The reason why safety is so important when buying your first car seat is because your baby will be using this from newborn which is when your baby is the most vulnerable, therefore you want to ensure the car seat offers good safety measures.
The safest infant car seats will come equipped with features such as energy absorbing foam and an impact absorbing base, the Britax B-Safe 35 is an infant car seat which has the above two mentioned features as well as the standard safety features.
Our top 10 infant car seats table will point out which car seats has what safety features, but for an in-depth analysis please read our individual reviews.
Energy absorbing foam
On a car seat the energy absorbing foam is usually located on the inside of the shells and head restraints.
During a crash the energy absorbing foam will absorb some of the impact from the crash forces, the foam will then crush as it has absorbed some of the damage therefore minimizing injury to your child.
When the foam breaks this may need to be replaced, so you would need to speak to the manufacturer directly so they can advise you accordingly.
The seat is still safe to use while you await for your replacement foam or car seat to arrive, as long as the foam is still positioned in the same place where it’s supposed to be.
Most of our best infant car seats will have energy absorbing foam, which is one of the reasons why they are our best infant car seats because they are also the safest infant car seats.
Energy absorbing base
Just like how the energy absorbing foam works, infant car seats with energy or impact absorbing base compresses to absorb crash energy which therefore reduces injury to your child.
This is more of an advanced safety feature which only very few car seats will offer this, our only infant car seat to offer an energy absorbing car base is the Britax B-Safe 35.
5-point harness system
This is a form of seat belt which contains five straps, two over the shoulder, two hip straps and one between the legs.
A 5-point harness seatbelt is among one of the safest types of seatbelts, not only does it keep your child secure, it also distributes crash forces over the strongest parts of the body and gives more protection to the chest and head which is more vulnerable.
Most infant car seats will have this type of seatbelt, but more importantly all of our top 10 infant car seats do have a 5-point harness system.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
The LATCH system is designed to make installing the car seat easier and arguably safer.
Installing the baby car seat using LATCH system may eliminate having to use the cars seat belt to secure the car seat, although you can still use the cars seat belt if you prefer not to use the LATCH.
Britax do have their own guide to using the LATCH system, which will provide important information such as maximum weight for installing a car seat using the lower anchors.
Not all infant car seats will have tether anchors as it’s rear facing, it’ll only have the lower anchor connectors. The lower anchors are the metal bars located in the vehicle seat bight.
Side impact tested
1 in 4 crashes occur from the side and the injuries which occur from side impact collisions are usually more severe, therefore it is imperative that all infant car seats are side impact tested.
All the car seats we review have been side impact tested to meet or exceed safety standards. Some infant car seats do however offer more protection (energy absorbing foam and energy absorbing base) than the compulsory safety standards.
Air protect technology
Some other manufacturers will use different safety methods to protect your child against impact crash forces. The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP uses air protect technology where the patented cushion system provides extra protection around your baby’s head.
What to look out for
Now that we’ve listed the safety features applicable to an infant car seat, you’re probably wondering what the safest infant car seat is. Of course ideally you would want one with all the features listed above but it’s also likely to cost you more money.
Infant car seats will generally include the 5-point harness system and the LATCH system anyway so a level of safety is already in place but ideally having a car seat with energy absorbing foam will reduce potential injury to your child and is worth having.
An energy absorbing base is also good to have but we feel having energy absorbing foam is more important.