Finding the right newborn baby car seat is essential. If you look around, you can find plenty of stories about babies who survived horrible car crashes and other accidents all because they had a good car seat. While we won’t bother talking about them, they definitely do underscore the importance of having the best infant car seat as reviewed by Baby Gear Lab.
To help you find that amazing car seat, we have compiled a list of some of the best car seats that money can buy. If you don’t feel like reading each review, we understand, which is why we recommend going with the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.
The Best Affordable Baby Car Seats by Baby Gear Lab
Below are some of the best low budget baby and toddler car seats to buy.
1. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat | Low Budget Baby Car Seat
If you are buying baby products, then you have no doubt come across the Graco brand at least once, if not a lot more. They make a lot of very high-quality baby products, including strollers, cribs, and yes, car seats too.
So, it shouldn’t be shocking that at least one Graco product is appearing on a list dedicated to looking for a safe baby car seat. Graco products are typically not what we would call affordable, but they are always of the highest quality, and this applies to this car seat.
So, what makes this particular car seat worthy of being considered alongside the other top-rated baby car seats in 2021? Well, the first thing to consider with any car seat is “does this protect my baby?” The answer is a resounding “yes” when it comes to the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.
Firstly, it has an absolute ton of padding. The sheer amount of padding on this car seat is impressive and it provides a good mixture of comfort and protection for your baby.
Secondly, because the Graco comes with a “5-point harness,” you can rest safe in the knowledge that your child will be secure in their car seat, regardless of what happens.
But, besides safety, what else does this car seat have going for it? Well, as the name of the product indicates, this Graco car seat is “convertible.” What that means is that you can actually convert this car seat so that it works for different ages.
As we will discuss in more detail later on, car seats are not meant to be used for all ages, so being able to change a car seat as your child ages makes it a lot more valuable. This particular Graco car seat can be used from when your baby is very young, all the way up to around the late toddler stage (roughly 70 lbs.).
With that in mind, one should consider that while this is a bit of a pricey investment, it is the only car seat that you will ever need to buy, which helps to make the costs a bit easier to swallow.
The overall complexity of the car seat is not reflected in its installation system. It uses a quick latch system, which allows you to quickly get this installed into any car. So, if you aren’t very technical, don’t worry, because this is easy for anyone to install.
Lots of padding.
Provides comfort and protection.
5-point safety harness.
Very easy to install.
Convertible; works for both babies and toddlers.
Fabric can get hot in the summer.
Some of the straps can be difficult to tighten.
2. Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One | Most Comfortable Baby Car Seat on Tight Budget
If you liked the previous Graco car seat that we just reviewed, then you will also like this car seat from Evenflo. They share quite a bit in common and both are very high-quality options. Both also happen to be worthy of consideration for the top spot on the list.
Firstly, the Evenflo is an all-in-one car seat. All this means is that, much like the Graco, it is capable of being used until your child outgrows car seats. So, when they are young, you can use it as a rear-facing car seat.
Then, when they get older, you can simply turn the car seat around and use it as a regular toddler car seat. This versatility is a big part of the reason why this car seat, and others like it, feature so prominently on this best baby car seat list.
In terms of safety, the Evenflo offers nothing to complain about. It has plenty of padding, which is always a good sign that a car seat is safe. Likewise, it also comes equipped with a very high-quality harness.
Between the padding and the harness, the Evenflo will make driving with your newborn in the back about as non-stressful as it can possibly be. It should also be mentioned that the harness is very easy to adjust. If you find it is too tight or not tight enough, you can adjust it quickly and with no hassle.
Another thing that really makes this such a great car seat and worthy of being put alongside the other good baby car seats of 2019 is how easy it is to install. You don’t have to fight or fiddle with a bunch of difficult latches to get this in and out of your car. It has a patented easy installation system that makes the whole process simple.
Easy to adjust harness.
Lots of padding and a good harness make for a stress-free drive every time.
Easy to install and to take out.
All-in-one car seat that can be used for both newborns and toddlers.
User manual is confusing, which can make using it the first time a bit difficult.
Fairly heavy, even when empty.
3. Britax USA Marathon ClickTight | Most Versatile Baby Car Seat on Low Budget
If you have a large budget and you want what is one of the safest car seats on the market today, then you are going to want to take a serious look at the Britax USA Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat. While it may be on the pricier side, it is an absolute beast of a car seat that will provide your baby and/or toddler with the best protection that money can buy.
What makes this such a great option is how safe the seat is. Firstly, the Britax comes with a steel frame. Not only does this make for a really solid base, but it also ensures that in the event of an accident that the steel will absorb a lot of the initial impact.
Complimenting the steel base is a ton of really high-quality padding. Finally, rounding out the whole package is a very good safety harness. Obviously, all of the car seats that we have looked at so far on our best baby car seat list have been safe, but the Britax takes safety to a whole new level.
Of course, like all the best seats for babies in 2019, this one is convertible. We have already explained what this means in other reviews, so we won’t repeat it here. We will, however, say that it is very easy to convert the seat. You don’t have to struggle to change the newborn baby car seat into one meant for a toddler.
To make the seat even more comfortable for your baby or toddler, Britax has made it so that their car seat comes with 7 different reclining positions. It may seem like a minor feature, but kids can be as fussy with car seats as they can with things like food, so having extra options to make them comfortable can be very helpful.
7 different reclining positions.
Offers a lot of protection.
On the pricier side.
4. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 | Wallet Friendly Baby Car Seat on Market
The next newborn baby car seat that we want to look at is the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. Now, there are a lot of good aspects to this car seat, but the number one draw of this car seat is the fact that it is highly convertible.
Every other entry on our list has been convertible to a certain extent, but the Safety 1st Grow and Go is by far the best in that regard.
It starts off as a rear-facing car seat, then it can transition into a front-facing toddler seat, before finally transforming into a regular booster seat. So, for the price of a single car seat (and it is a relatively affordable car seat at that) you get effectively three different products.
If you want good value for your money, then you can’t go wrong with the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat.
Of course, the Safety 1st doesn’t just rely on its convertibility, it also offers great safety features. For example, the Grow and Go comes with a lot of really good-quality side protection. The side protection is really key because that’s often where a lot of the danger comes from in the event of an accident or car crash.
Another very useful feature of this car seat is the way that the harness always remains front and center. With a lot of car seats, the actual harness holders can sometimes be difficult to get to, which makes getting your baby out of the seat a lot more difficult than it should be.
With the Grow and Go, the harness holder always remains in the same place, which means that you have to struggle a lot less to get your baby out of the car seat.
If you have a messy baby, then this is a great option. Why, exactly? Well, the entire car seat cover can be taken off, washed in a machine, and put back on easily. Stains aren’t an issue with this car seat at all.
Finally, if you are interested in finding affordable infant car seats, then you will be interested to know that this is the most affordable option among all the car seats on our list.
Easy to use harness.
Lots of side protection.
Very easy to convert.
Difficult to install and to take out.
5. Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
For the last entry on our list, we have the Chicco NextFit. This is a convertible car seat that prioritizes comfort and ease of use.
On the comfort side, this car seat features an impressive 9 different reclining angles. Which makes this a perfect option for even the fussiest babies. To help you manage all those different angles it comes with a unique “bubble system” that tells you the correct angle that the seat should be at in both rear-facing and front-facing mode.
To make the Chicco even easier to use, it comes with a very simple latch system. The latch system is exclusive to Chicco car seats and it allows you to easily install this car seat. It also secures your baby, so you can take a breather knowing that in the event of a serious accident, your baby’s car seat will stay securely attached.
Very comfortable for your baby.
9 different reclining positions.
Bubble system tells you exactly what angle that the seat should be at.
Fits into your car easily and tightly.
Could use more safety padding.
Best Affordable Baby Car Seats Buying Guide
In the section above, you have a list of 5 of the most highly rated baby car seats 2019 has to offer.
If, however, you still want more, then we have some good news, we are going to give you more. As the name of this section indicates, this is not about reviews, but it is instead about how to go about picking out your own baby car seat.
You may not agree with our selection or you may not be able to find the car seats that we reviewed, and if so, we hope that this buying guide will make it easier for you to find a good car seat on your own.
The buying guide will also hopefully allow you to prioritize certain aspects that you find important, that we maybe didn’t. For example, you may be interested in looking for the best affordable infant car seats, if so, then this buying guide may be more helpful than our reviews.
Obviously, when looking for a good baby car seat, your number one concern is going to be safety. Even though car crashes are not likely, you want your baby to have as many layers of protection as possible in the event that a car crash or other accident occurs.
But, how do you determine how safe a car seat is? Well, there are a few good strategies that you can use.
First off, you can always look for verification from an organization that reviews products meant for babies to determine if they are safe or not. There are usually several such organizations, and you can find these organizations in most countries.
For example, in the USA, you can look for National Child Passenger Safety Certification to know whether a car seat is safe enough or not.
If you prefer to check out a seat yourself, there are some things to keep an eye out for. Safe car seats will often have a steel frame, a lot of padding, and a very good harness.
Each of these serves a distinct purpose. The steel frame makes the seat secure. The padding helps to absorb impact in the event of an accident. And the harness ensures that whoever is in the seat stays in the seat.
On the subject of harnesses, the thing that you should be looking for the most is a 5-point harness. 5-point harnesses provide the absolute most security and peace of mind.
Other harnesses are perfectly adequate and if you can’t find a car seat with a 5-point harness, it isn’t too big of a deal, but if you absolutely prize safety and peace of mind above everything else, then keep an eye out for this kind of harness.
Also, on the subject of safety, we should mention that you don’t necessarily have to compromise on safety if you don’t have a big budget. Plenty of affordable infant car seats out there are more than safe enough for your baby.
In our opinion, when it comes to looking for a good baby car seat, the number one thing to prioritize after safety is convertibility.
Kids typically need car seats until they are roughly over 100 lbs. While most parents won’t use a car seat that long, many will use them until the child is at least midway through the toddler stage of their development.
Either way, you don’t want a car seat that can only be used for babies, as that is just a massive waste of money.
On our baby car seat list, all our picks are convertible and that is because we feel that if you are going to buy a car seat, you should be able to use it from when your child is a baby until they are a toddler.
Nothing is worse than waking your baby up after a long car ride because the seat that they are sitting is difficult to detach from the car.
Because of this, it is a good idea to look for car seats that are easy to both install and to take out from your car. You will be saving yourself a lot of hassle and you will never know when you need to install your car seat in a hurry.
The Bottom Line
If any parents out there have any knowledge or experience to share on the topic of the best affordable baby car seat, then we want to hear what you have to say. We hope you will find these infant car seats from the baby gear lab worthy for your little one.
The best way to make your voice heard is by leaving a comment; we encourage you to all leave us a comment, we look forward to reading them.