Car seats and booster seats are among the most important purchases you’ll ever make. In fact, you won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without one! To help you find a car seat that will keep your little one safe and comfortable, we’ve put together this handy guide so you can make the best decision for your family.


From infant car seats to convertible options and booster seats for bigger kids, we'll give you the scoop on the types of car seats available so you can choose the perfect option for your ever-growing traveler.

Infant Car Seats

Often called rear-facing car seats, infant car seats are designed specifically for newborns and babies up to about 18 months, depending on the car seat's weight and height limits. One benefit of infant car seats is that many click into compatible strollers, which means you won't have to wake your baby to take them into a shop or restaurant.

Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats offer rear- and front-facing positioning, so your little one can use it from the day they leave the hospital through their toddler years. For a car seat that can do triple duty, choose an all-in-one convertible car seat that converts to a booster seat for older kids.

Booster Seats

After children outgrow their front-facing car seat, booster seats help keep them safe and secure in your back seat using your car's integrated seatbelt. (Tip: Booster seat usage laws vary by state. Be sure to check your state's laws before transitioning your child from their front-facing car seat to a booster seat.)


Best-selling brands new parents swear by.


Inspired by the clean lines and ingenuity of Dutch design, Nuna’s premium baby gear is designed to be easy and flexible, putting thoughtful design, innovation, and inventive solutions at the forefront.

RAVA™ Convertible Car Seat

The RAVA™ convertible car seat includes features everyone will appreciate: easy installation, front- or rear-facing options, 10 recline positions, and extra leg room.

PIPA™ AIRE RX Infant Car Seat

This lightweight infant car seat securely installs with or without the PIPA RELX™ base for added convenience.


Maxi-Cosi embraces both heritage and innovation and has earned the trust of parents worldwide, safely carrying over 60 million babies home from the hospital.

Peri™ 180° Car Seat

Make their world go ‘round with Peri™ 180° Rotating Infant Car Seat, Maxi-Cosi's new car seat featuring FlexiSpin rotation technology. Peri  makes getting your little one in and out of their car seat easier than ever and reduces back strain.

Emme 360™ Car Seat

Using 360° FlexiSpin technology, the Emme 360™ Rotating All-in-One Convertible Car Seat swivels in all modes, so you can get your child in and out easily and with less back strain.


In addition to our spotlight brands, check out some more of the most trusted brands behind the top car seats.


Find the information you need in our most frequently asked questions about car seats.

Which type of car seat is right for my child?

Aside from following height and weight requirements for rear- and front-facing car seats and boosters, there is no “right” car seat. With so many options available, it comes down to what style of seat you prefer, what will physically fit in your vehicle, and what features you need to make the ride more enjoyable.

What are the stages of car seat usage and when can my child transition to a booster seat?

These are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) car seat guidelines:

- Infants from birth to 12 months should ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- Kids ages 1 to 3 should remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Once they’ve reached the height or weight limit for rear-facing car seats, children should transition to forward-facing car seats.
- From ages 4 to 7, children should remain in forward-facing car seats using a harness and tether until they’ve reached the height or weight limits outlined by the car seat manufacturer.
- After graduating from their forward-facing car seats, kids ages 8 to 12 can use booster seats (still in the back seat of your vehicle). When using a booster seat, the lap belt should fit snugly across their upper thighs (not their stomach) and the shoulder strap should rest securely across their shoulder and chest—not their neck or face.

How do I properly install a car seat?

Every car seat is different, which means installation may not look exactly the same from one brand or seat to the next. To ensure your child’s car seat is properly secured, follow the instructions that accompany it. If you’re uncomfortable installing the seat on your own or simply want to make sure it’s installed properly, many fire departments and public safety agencies have National Child Passenger Safety-certified staff members who can help you install (or check the installation of) infant car seats, toddler car seats, and booster seats.

What features should I look for in a car seat? And what are the nice-to-have extras?

The first thing to look for in any car seat, aside from safety certifications, is the height, weight, and age limits outlined by the manufacturer. Next, ensure that it will easily fit inside your car. Beyond that, everything is negotiable.

For frequent travelers, a car seat travel system is a convenient choice because it converts quickly and easily from car seat to stroller. If you often go on trips where it’s important to travel light (like on an airplane), pay special attention to the weight of the car seat and look for a model that can be used without a base.

When purchasing convertible or toddler car seats, you may want to consider models with built-in cup or snack holders that give your little one easy access to the things they need without requiring assistance.

Families in colder climates should consider a footmuff or cover to help keep your infant warm since children shouldn’t wear coats while strapped into a car seat.

Does my child need to sit in a car seat on an airplane?

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn't require children to be seated in car seats, they do encourage you to secure your child in an approved system. If you do decide to bring your car seat into the cabin, make sure it has a sticker indicating it’s approved by the FAA for use on airplanes. Additionally, it's important to note that booster seats and backless restraint systems are prohibited during ground movement, take-off, and landing.

What is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Ease-of-Use rating for car seats?

The NHTSA’s Ease-of-Use ratings are self-certified by car seat manufacturers and include the following categories:

- Instructions: Are the instructions provided in the manual adequate and clear?
- Vehicle Installation Features: Is installation streamlined and simple?
- Labels: Are the labels attached to the car seat clear and easy to understand?
- Securing the Child: Is it easy to secure your child, toddler or infant in the car seat?

The ratings system is on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.