Be sure to read our complete review of infant car seats to learn more about the models that won awards and why. Also, don't skip our special article on How to Avoid Infant Car Seat Installation Mistakes.
Why Buy an Infant Car Seat?
You will need to purchase an infant car seat if you ever plan to put your baby in any kind of motorized vehicle. It might honestly be one of the only must have items on your baby gear list (okay diapers too, but you get the point).
The video below by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia provides an excellent overview of the role infant car seats play in protecting your infant, as well as safety tips on proper installation.
Size and Weight Limits
Most of the car seats we reviewed are marketed as suitable for babies up to at least 30 lbs weight and height of 32 inches. And, the marketing of higher-end seats frequently tout a larger weight capacity, such as 35 lbs or 40 lbs capacity leaving many new parents wondering if they need this extra capacity (the notable exception here is Graco's cheapest entry level seat, which only works up to 22 lbs, a limit we think is inadequate).
So, is a car seat capacity up to 30 lbs and 32 inches enough? Or, should you buy a seat with a higher weight capacity such as 35 or 40 lbs?
The answer is that 30 lbs and 32 inches is plenty.
And, it is really the only height limit that matters. The higher weight capacity figures are pretty much just marketing hype you can ignore.
We recommend you switch your baby to a rear-facing convertible car seat in the 9-12 month age range. During that age window, it is the height limit of car seats your baby is most likely to matter, since even 95% percentile weight baby boys at 12 months are only 28 lbs. Many car seat manufacturers use higher weight limits in the sales and marketing materials, implying that a 35 lbs or 40 lbs capacity is better than 30 lbs. For the vast majority of babies, any weight capacity over 30 lbs is just marketing you can ignore; but the height limit may matter. We explain why in more detail below.
CDC baby boy age vs weight growth charts (pdf), even a 95th percentile baby boy will weigh under 28 lbs and be just shy of 32 inches length on their 12 month birthday (95th percentile means they are growing faster than 94 kids out of every 100). So, you can see from CDC data that your baby is likely to exceed the height limit long before they exceed the weight limit.
So, lets focus on length limits.
Most of the car seats we reviewed, 10 of the 15, offer a maximum length of 32 inches. The average baby boy will reach 32 inches and 26 lbs at 18 months age, and the average baby girl will reach 32 inches and 25 lbs around 19 months. A seat with 32 inch length and 30 lbs capacity is more than adequate.
But, 4 of the 15 seats offer only offer a maximum of 30 inch length, including on of our Editors' Choice winners, the Chicco Keyfit 30. Is 30 inches length enough?
Yes, but if your baby is grows taller faster than most, a 30 inch length limit might mean moving up to a convertible seat a bit sooner. That isn't going to be a problem, it's just something to be aware of. The CDC stats show that the average boy baby will reach 30 inches length in about 12 months, and girls will get there about 14 months old. A fast growing, 95th percentile boy will reach 30 inches in about 9 months.
Most parents switch from an infant seat to a convertible car seat anytime in the 9 months to 12 month age range. So, with any of the seats rated for at least 30 inches length capacity, the infant seat will serve its purpose of protecting your infant fully in the age range that most matters, and you can simply move up to a convertible seat when the the right time for your baby without stressing about it.
We'd advise that you essentially ignore size and weight as a key consideration in your car seat purchase decision. The limits just don't matter, unless you are seriously considering that low-end Graco seat with the unusually low 22 lbs capacity (please don't buy it).
Types of Car Seats
There are two basic kinds of car seats, the infant style car seat and a convertible car seat. Both varieties can be used with infants and have some similar features and functions, but they are not the same. There are pros and cons to each style of seat due in part to their designs and overall limitations.
Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats look and behave somewhat differently than convertible car seats. Because they are designed with smaller babies in mind they have features that support little bodies and make your life with an infant more convenient.
- Separate Bases/Detachable Seats — With an infant seat, the base and the seat are detachable, and this simple feature is very convenient with an infant. The way it works is you install the base in your car, more or less permanently. The seat is then clicked-in to the base. This is a nice feature that allows parents to leave the base in the car properly installed while having the freedom to remove the carrier to keep baby restrained or remain asleep. The carrier can be carried by hand via the handle, or it can be placed in a compatible stroller. Most strollers offer a range of car seat adapters, and you might also consider a lightweight car seat frame stroller. We find the ability to click the car seat into a frame stroller or a full size stroller to be very convenient for running quick errands without having to wake baby for a seat/carrier transfer.
- Rear Facing Only — Infant seats always face the rear of the vehicle which is a safer position (required by law) to be in in the event of a head on collision (the most common type of crash).
- Canopy —
- Smaller Weight and Height Restrictions — While some of the infant seats now have a larger weight range than they used to (4-40 pounds), their range is still less than convertible car seats because the seat is specifically designed for smaller bodies as opposed to trying to fit all body sizes and not really doing it well. This might seem like a limiting factor, or a reason not to purchase one, but it is really part of what makes this kind of seat special and better for newborns and smaller babies to travel in.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible Car Seat Review for more info). However, the manufacturers of convertible seats offer compatibility with infants as small as 5 pounds, and up to 40-70 pounds depending on the model. The word "convertible" comes from the ability to initially use the seat in a rear-facing position, and then later flip the seat around to "convert" it to a forward facing seat. The ability to use a convertible seat with an infant may tempt you to consider buying just a convertible car seat and skip buying an infant seat entirely. We urge you to not do that. In our opinion an infant seat is better designed for the size of a young infant, and a lot more convenient to use. 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. Using a convertible car seat with an infant is a hassle, in comparison, in that you must always put them in, or take them out, of the harness system every time you transition from the car.
We at BabyGearLab feel that an infant seat is the best choice for newborns because they are much more convenient to use, and are specifically designed for smaller bodies and thus offer a better fit. Switch to a convertible car seat once your baby outgrows their infant seat, usually at about 9 to 12 months of age.
Overview of the Basics
Never Never Never leave baby unattended in an infant car seat. Injury and death have occurred from accidents related to car seat carriers being left unattended while baby slept. In addition, never leave the carrier on a soft surface like a bed or couch to avoid a roll over suffocation hazard, or on a high surface like a counter top to avoid a fall.
As you would expect, crash tests play a key role in the basic performance of car seats, and also in differentiating products. To that end, each car seat must pass a Federal crash test safety standard administered by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). In order to pass, each seat must be subjected to crash testing in a facility designed to simulate collisions using a sled and crash test baby dummies. These sled based tests utilize data from G force sensors implanted in the test dummies that measure the amount of force exerted on dummy baby's head and chest based on a 30 mile an hour collision simulation.
The good news for parents is that these Federal safety requirements assure that every seat sold in the US provides at least a basic level of crash protection, and thus can be considered safe.
Yet, even though every seat on the market has passed the minimum Federal safety requirement tests, some have passed with better results than others. In our review of competing car seats, you will see that we combined our own crash test data with data obtained from NHTSA's crash tests, and analyzed these tests in a side-by-side comparison format to demonstrate how each seat compares to the Federal maximum for G forces and how each seat compares to the others.
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. We think that matters and deserves to be one of the factors you take into consideration in your purchase decision.
Improperly installed car seats can cause infant injury or death in auto accidents. It is not enough to have and use a car seat, you must use it properly and consistently.
Side Impact Protection Claims: let the buyer beware
Some of the seats in this review claim side impact protection (SIP) is included in the seat's design. We suggest consumers remain skeptical about these SIP claims as there is no set standard on what it means for a seat to have SIP, and the term means different things to different manufacturers. While a plan for potential side impact testing of car seats has been suggested, there is currently no common standard or test available to determine safety of side impact features. In addition, the term is one filled with ambiguity. For example, Safety 1st claims SIP in the case of a side collision and cites independent tests they have paid for to determine the efficacy of their design. Alternatively, Graco claims SIP and independent testing, but their definition of this means the harness will keep your child in the seat in the event of a side collision. Yet, we think most parents would consider keeping the child restrained in the event of a side-impact to be a basic feature offered by all products rather than a specific side-impact protection feature.
Certainly extra safety features are a bonus, but we want parents to be aware of the somewhat "Safety washing" that is happening in the marketing of side-impact protection in the industry. Because there is no industry standard, and each manufacturer really means something different when they say pretty much the same thing, it means the terms used to describe "side impact" have no meaning in and of themselves. This requires us or parents to do further research to determine how each company is choosing to define the term and how each is claiming to have tested their design, if they are claiming it was tested at all. 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 become a focus of each manufacturer's design engineers. For now, in our efforts to determine how the seats were tested or what most manufacturers meant when stating the seat offers SIP, we came up disturbingly short in locating compelling information or evidence to support the claims.
Side Impact Crumple Zone
Cybex Aton 2 has a hard plastic "lever" that can be opened and used on any side where a person is not sitting next to the car seat. This simple addition has helped them earn an ingenuity award and it potentially helps absorb external forces generated by a side collision before they reach the seat, thereby creating something of a crumple zone in the event of an accident. We have no way of knowing how well this feature works or if it will work predictably in a real crash as opposed to a simulated sled crash test.
Every seat is essentially made up of the same kinds of materials and basic design. There aren't large differences between the seats we tested in this regard. They all have a hard plastic shell with a dense foam padding as the second layer. 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. These inserts can be on top of the fabric or under the padding and cover. 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. This makes it difficult to tell if the feature is intended to improve safety or merely give the illusion of improved safety.
Our view is that the differences in seat construction that really matter are the ones that show up in crash test performance, as well as those that affect the baby's day-to-day comfort.
The external hard plastic shell of all the car seats we tested is the first line of defense in an accident. The shell provides structural support and contains the inner layer of energy absorbing hard foam inside. In this way, an infant seat works much like a bike helmet, which also uses an exterior shell of hard plastic combined with a layer of energy absorbing hard foam between the shell and your head.
- Hard Foam — All the seats we looked at have stiff foam as their primary energy absorbing material that helps protect baby in the event of a crash. This foam is similar to that found in many bike helmets and is the industry standard for impact protection. The primary difference between seats is how much and where the location of foam is inside the shell of the seat. Most just have the hard foam on either side of the head or encompassing the side and back of head. A few had foam inside the entire shell encompassing all parts of baby. We particularly liked that the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 has a hard foam head piece in addition to hard foam in one piece throughout the seat, as well as under the bottom and leg areas.
- Soft Foam — Some seats offered a softer foam around the head portion of seat in addition
On top of the foam and standard seat padding there might be extra padding that can be anything extra 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. The Cybex Aton 2 offers a stiff foam infant insert that goes underneath the car seat padding and is unique in the group. The trick will be remembering to remove it when baby outgrows it.
The Three Ways to Anchor the Car Seat
There are three different methods used to strap a car seat down into the vehicle. We'll give you and overview of each, and the most common reasons to use one over the others. You'll find more detailed information in our article, How to Avoid Infant Car Seat Installation Mistakes.
- Installing the Base with LATCH connectors — since 2002, most cars in the US have been required to include LATCH connectors on the left and right side rear seat positions (but not the center seat). LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH). This type of connector was invented to provide a simple and reliable method of attaching car seats to vehicles. We recommend using LATCH connectors when they are available, since they are usually the best and simplest way to assure a tight, secure, connection. Most parents place their child in one of the side seats, typically the right rear passenger side to make it easier for the driver to see the baby, where LATCH anchors are located.
- Installing the Base with a Seat Belt —
- Installing the Car Seat without the Base (using a seat belt) — for urban parents baby carriers are popular for use in airplane travel. Most airlines allow you to bring a baby under 2 years old on the plane for free, so long as you hold the baby on your lap. But, the FAA recommends using an approved car seat for as the safest way to travel with your baby, but that will require you to buy an extra plane ticket and install the car seat without the base using the airplane seat belt.
Visual Installation Indicators
A level indicator can look like a traditional level used in construction with liquid and a bubble, or it might just be a small ball that rolls and indicates the seat is level when it falls within a pre-marked zone in its path. No matter what the level looks like, it is important to use it directed, because it helps indicate when you have the seat properly installed. Some less expensive seats might have a line on the side of the base that should be parallel with the ground beneath the car when installed correctly. These are easiest to use by standing back from the car to assess the line compared to the ground.
Being able to easily adjust the harness height on the seat can mean the difference between an infant that is secure in the seat and one that is not. If a seat is easy to adjust as your baby grows, then there is less chance for error or avoidance.
Seats that Require Rethreading the Harness to Adjust Height (yuck)
Seats that Make it Easy to Adjust the Height (Non-Rethread)
Harness Tightening and Release
Most of the seat harnesses we tested were loosened by pressing a button near the foot of seat. The buttons should be somewhat stiff to prevent little hands from making their own adjustments, but they shouldn't be so hard to push that an adult can't do it with 1 thumb. Some of the seats had buttons visible on top of the seat fabric. The remainder had the button hidden under padding or fabric (see exception below with the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect).
We found the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect to be the hardest seat to tighten/loosen in our review, earning a 1 for this test. Their odd method of tightening on this seat requires parents tighten each side individually from the back while wiggling the front as you adjust. It can take several stabs to get it right and you have to go from back to front over and over which can take up to 4 times longer than the more traditional pull strap method. This is a huge hassle. So even though several other models scored a 3 for ease of tightening and loosening due to stiffness, they are still preferable to the odd Graco. Note that this is not something that Graco does on every seat. For example, the slightly more expensive Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 was easy to tighten and loosen, earning a 9 of 10 on this same test that the less expensive Graco scored so poorly on.
The buckles on the seats Recaro Performance Coupe and the Peg Perego both scored a 9 for the ease of buckle use by being easy to open and close.
Weight of the Carrier
When doing research on the various car seats it seems like every manufacturer claims they make the lightest seat. Weight is important because you might be carrying baby and seat from place to place, or required to lift baby up higher than your waist for some SUVs and trucks. Obviously, not all the seats can be the lightest, but a few were what we considered to be prohibitively heavy. The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect is the lightest of the group at 7.06 pounds, but unfortunately it didn't score well overall or in most metrics. The heaviest seat in the review is the Orbit Baby at 12.5 pounds, which feels like a poor design flaw to us. Alternatively, the top scoring seats overall had weights closer to the average of the group around 9.4 pounds. Our Editors' Choice winners the Peg Perego and the Chicco Keyfit 30 were 9.58 and 10.06 pounds respectfully, while the Best Value seat, the Safety 1st is 9.46.
Sometimes the difference is in the details, or the beauty and the devil depending on how you look at it. While many of the seats sort of look the same, function the same, and even smell the same, the details of each help some stand apart from the pack. If a seat offers a feature that others don't, or is giving attention to features that might increase potential safety, then we feel they should be recognized. 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.
Anti-Rebound Bar and Load Leg
If you are using the seat belt instead of the LATCH Lower Anchors to attach the base, good LATCH storage is important to tuck it all away so that it doesn't get in the way when installing the infant carrier onto the base for a secure fit. Not all storage options are great, and we preferred the versions that keep the straps out of the way of any connection points. The UPPAbaby has nice retractable anchors that keep the straps ratcheted away and the anchors tucked in side pockets. There is absolutely no chance these straps will impinge on the carrier's ability to attach to the base.
We suggest parents pick the car seat that best meets their needs first, then consider the strollers that are compatible with their seat as a 2nd step. The car seat selection is frankly a more important decision to assure your infant's safety, and you are not likely to paint yourself in a corner when it comes time to pick a stroller.
Once you've narrowed down your seat choice, take a look at stroller compatibility as a final step. Our Best Stroller Review can help you look at options, and you might also look at our Stroller and Car Seat Combo Review for at which seats work best in combination with which strollers. Alternatively, a growing number of parents skip a stroller for the first 6-12 months by wearing their baby in a personal carrier. 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. There are several great carrier options in our The Quest for the Best Baby Carrier review that can also save you money by avoiding the purchase of a stroller.
On Board Manual Storage
How do I decide which car seat is best for my baby?
With so many seat options and a variety of features to choose from, the task of buying a car seat can feel overwhelming. We've broken down the process into easy to consider steps that will help you decide which seat is best for your needs.
Step 1: Consider Where You Will Install the Seat
As we noted above, there are three ways to anchor the car seat, and each method relates to a different type of usage pattern.
If you live in a major city, and expect to take your baby in cabs or Uber, you will want to consider a car seat that is easy to install without the base, using the taxi's seat belt. Only about half the seats we tested performed well in this regard, and since this type of installation can be more challenging, we'd suggest urbanites closely consider the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the UPPAbaby Mesa, both of which are exceptionally easy to install in a taxi compared to competing seats.
Center Seat or Side?
The next key question is where the seat will be located in your car, and in the balance here is the question of whether the seat base is going to be anchored using the LATCH system (on a side seat location) or using the seat belt (in the center).
The safest location for the infant car seat is in the center seat, as accident research shows a 43% lower risk of injury for seats placed in the center. But, that center location will only be safe if you can properly anchor the seat securely and tightly. And, given that research shows more than 80% of infant car seats has at least one serious problem with installation, wise parents will take ease-of-proper installation seriously (as we do). About 39% of parents place the infant seat in the center location.
But, it is worth noting that most parents, 61% of us, 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 side seat is more convenient for loading baby in and out of the vehicle, is often the only option for multiple kids, and for those driving vehicles built since 2002, allows the use of the much easier and safer LATCH anchor system.
Most cars do not allow use of the LATCH connectors in the center seat. So, if you are going to place the seat in the center, it usually means you are going to need to master to relatively difficult process of anchoring the base using the seat belt. Some car seat bases are much easier to install using the seat belt than others. 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 makes this anchoring option simpler. This is another area where the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 delivered standout performance, and deserves a spot on your short list.
For those who decide to place the infant seat on one of the two side seat locations with LATCH, which is what we recommend due to the increased simplicity and more reliable installation process using LATCH, the quality options are wider. Many seats in our review were fairly easy to install using LATCH anchors, and 6 of 15 seats scored 7 of 10 or higher in our Ease of Installing the Base with LATCH tests. Three seats tied for first place with impressive 9 of 10 scores: the UPPAbaby Mesa, the Chicco Keyfit 30, and the Cybex Aton 2.
Making mistakes when installing a car seat or strapping baby is so common we have dedicated another article to this topic. It is crucial that a seat is installed correctly for it to work properly. Thus, we advocate that you consider ease-of-installation and ease-of-use as critical factors in your purchase decision.
Step 2: Consider Ease-of-Use
Getting the base installed safely is half the battle. But, the other element is the daily process of taking your baby in and out of the car seat, and getting them safely harnessed in.
Not all seats performed equally on ease-of-use, and so if you emerged from Step 1 above with a handful of car seats on your short list, take a look at our ease-of-use ratings to narrow down further.
The top performers on ease of use, the Recaro and Evenflo seats, offered strong performance with 8 of 10 scores, but were relatively weak in other areas, finishing below average in overall performance.
We'd suggest you look to the 2nd place finishers, three seats tied with 7 of 10 scores, that all performed will across the board: the Chicco, UPPAbaby, and Peg Perego.
Step 3: Compare Crash Test Performance
Every seat in this review has passed the minimum requirements for crash tests as outlined by the Federal Government and thus offer a basic, safe, level of protection. But, some seats perform better significantly better than others in crash tests, and thus can be considered to offer an extra margin of protection.
Once you've narrowed to a handful of seats based on ease of use and installation considerations, we'd recommend you consider crash test results to further narrow down your selection. 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. It doesn't matter how safe a seat is if it isn't used correctly.
To evaluate the crash tests of each seat in this review we analyzed their crash test results to compare how well each seat did in relation to the required minimum score, as well as how each seat performed compared to the other products in the review. If you've narrowed down your list to a few finalists, choosing the seat which offers an extra margin of protection in crash test results can help you make your final selection.
Step 4: Consider Stroller Options
Choosing the right car seat is a more important decision than choosing a stroller. But, after you narrow down to one or two finalists for your car seat we suggest you consider compatible strollers. Take a look at our comprehensive review of the Best Baby Strollers, where you'll find details on which car seats are supported by which strollers. We also like the option of using a car seat frame stroller, which are lightweight and really convenient for the first 9 to 12 months while you baby remains in their infant seat. Check out our Stroller and Car Seat Combo Review for more info.
Also, keep in mind that an increasing number of parents delay buying a stroller for 6-12 months, and use a baby carrier instead. Wearing your baby can create a higher level of intimacy and bonding with your baby, and is fun for both parent and baby. Check out our review on The Quest for the Best Baby Carrier for more info.
Step 5: Check the Expiration Date
Optional Reading: Car Seat Lingo
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. This can help keep you on the right track and ensure that you really understand what you are reading so you can interpret the information as easily as possible. The terms below are those you might encounter in this article, other car seat related articles on our site, or on manufacturer websites. 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.
- FMVSS 213 — Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #213. This is the safety standard that details the safety guidelines car seats need to meet or exceed in order to be sold. Every car seat on the market has met or exceeded these safety standards. On some level, no matter which seat you purchase, you are getting a seat that has already passed relatively stringent guidelines.
- Buckle — Where the harness system connects and locks in place.
- Harness — The harness consists of the straps that keep the child in the car seat and spread out crash forces. Two harness types that meet FMVSS 213 requirements: 5-Point: Harness has five points of contact that includes one over each shoulder, one on each side of the pelvis, and one between the legs with all five coming together at a common buckle. 3-Point: Harness has three points of contact that includes two shoulder straps coming together at one buckle in the shell or on a crotch strap. NOTE: NOT to be confused with 3-point (lap-and-shoulder) vehicle belt.
- Retainer Clip — Plastic buckle or clasp that holds shoulder straps together over the child's chest and should be positioned at the child's armpit level.
- Harness Adjuster — The part used to tighten or loosen the harness.
- Harness Slots — Parts of car seat where the harness goes through the seat shell for shoulder height adjustment or crotch strap adjustment related to the height of the child.
- Shell — Molded plastic and/or metal structure of the car seat or booster seat that is typically located on the outside of the seat or structurally inside covered by the seat padding.
- Seat Padding — Padding that covers the shell and/or frame of the seat, typically consisting of a dense foam.
- Padding — Additional padding or inserts some manufacturers provide to increase child comfort that have been crash tested with the seat. You should never use padding with your car seat that did not come with the specific seat. It could alter the seats performance during a crash.
- Level Indicator — The part of the car seat that helps identify correct rear-facing installation angles. It can be a green to red indicator, a ball level, or more of a traditional bubble level.
- Belt Path — The location on a car seat where the seat belt or lower anchor connector is placed to secure car seat to the vehicle.
- Recline Adjuster — This feature allows car seats to be reclined for rear facing seats, and semi-reclined or upright for forward-facing use.
- Splitter Plate — A metal plate that connects two ends of the shoulder harnesses to a single piece of webbing used for adjustment; found on the back of the seat.
- Lock-Off — Built-in belt-locking feature on car seat that works with certain types of seat belts based on the same concept as a locking clip.
- Locking Clip — A locking clip holds the car seat in the proper position during normal driving when no other locking mechanism is available.
- Lower Anchor Connector — Connectors attached to the car seat that are used in place of the vehicle seat belt to secure the car seat or booster seat to the vehicle utilizing U shaped hooks located between the seat back and bottom cushions on the vehicle. These connectors can be flexible (attached to a belt) or rigid (stiff connectors with no belt).
- Tether Connector — A piece of belt webbing with a hook connector that anchors the top of a car seat to the vehicle and keeps restraint (car seat) from tipping forward on impact. It can provide extra protection and it is most frequently found on forward-facing seats.
- Detachable Base — This is a separate car seat base that is installed in the vehicle, while the car seat carrier portion of the seat can be removed from base.
- Adjustment Foot — A part of the detachable base that can be adjusted to help a rear-facing car seat to be installed at the correct angle.
- Carry Handle — The handle attached to a rear-facing car seat that can be used to carry the seat with or without a child in it.
- Foot Prop or Load Leg — Pole or leg that extends from the base of a rear-facing car seat that is used to reduce excessive forward and downward rotation of the seat in the event of a crash.
- Anti-Rebound Bar — This is a hard bar or high back on some rear-facing car seats that may help to reduce movement of the car seat towards the rear of the vehicle seat in a crash. This decreases the rebound effect of the seat.
- LATCH Guides — These are plastic pocket squares that come with some car seats that when used help create an opening between the back and seat cushion to give better access to the U LATCH points on the vehicle.