Best Infant Car Seats of 2021

CR's test results reveal top-rated seats that are safe and easy to install

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Father with an infant car seat Consumer Reports

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. A careful approach to seat selection 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, including seven new models. 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. Eight 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.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.