The Best Infant Car Seat?

 Inertia
 SnugRide35
 KeyFit30

What is the BEST car seat available for your infant? This question is asked by most parents when a new baby is on the way. We all do research to seek out as many reviews and recommendations as we can find. I think the truth is that there isn’t a “best” car seat, there is simply what meets most of your preferences. I compared the 2 most popular, Graco Snugride 35 and the Chicco Keyfit 30 to the Baby Trend Inertia using some of the characteristics I think are most considered.

 

But, before I get into these details I must comment on the safety factor. The single most important quality in a car seat is safety, but it is really difficult to actually compare this. Every car seat on the market has passed Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards. The only government information you can easily find are NHTSA ratings on their ease of use in four basic categories: Evaluation of Instructions, Evaluation of Labels, Vehicle Installation Features, Securing the Child. They note that all rated seats are safe, so how do you pick which one is safer than another? I don’t think you really can unless you rely on consumer reports and crash test YouTube videos you can find. So, for this reason you will not see safety on my list below.

 

LATCH Installation

Baby Trend Inertia: This carseat base has a rigid LATCH system install which is extremely easy and gives you much peace of mind. You don’t have to pull any straps to make sure it is tight enough. The base simply has 2 bars with claw-like snaps that grab onto your car’s LATCH system. Line them up and snap them on and that’s it! Angles don’t matter when using the base either which makes installation even easier to get right.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The KeyFit LATCH system of the Chicco is easy to use and install correctly. It has claw-like snaps that you push into the LATCH system then you use its one-hand Center Pull Latch tightening system to easily tighten.

Graco Snugride 35: The LATCH installation on a Graco is my least favorite. It has big snaps that can be difficult to get on (and especially off) your vehicle’s LATCH system. There is not an easy way to tighten it either. You still have to pull a strap and sometimes it is hard to pull it tighter even though the base is not installed tight enough. Graco has made the angle installation easier, however, by having a dial that you twist the raise or lower the front of the base.

 

Style/Colors

Graco Snugride 35: I think Graco wins the style race with the many, many patterns and fun color options they offer. It is easy to find something that is gender neutral, girlish or boyish in just about any color combination you would want.

Chicco KeyFit 30: There are plenty or colors to choose from with a Chicco, however there are not a variety of patterns/styles.

Baby Trend Inertia: The Intertia only comes in one color/pattern option. It is both gender neutral and fun, but you do not have any options beyond the “Horizon” color.

 

Price

Graco Snugride 35: $119.99-$179.99, available at many retailers

Chicco KeyFit 30: $179.99-$199.99, available at many retailers

Baby Trend Inertia: $179.99, available at Babies ‘R Us

 

Weight (with base)/Base Size

Graco Snugride 35: 17.6 lbs, wide base but not too long.

Chicco KeyFit 30: 21.1 lbs, narrow base good for compact cars

Baby Trend Inertia: 26.7 lbs, long base that will fit tight in compact cars.

 

Max Child Weight

Graco Snugride 35: 35 lbs

Baby Trend Inertia: 32 lbs

Chicco KeyFit 30: 30 lbs

 

Visor and Additional Features

Baby Trend Inertia: The visor of the Baby Trend is the best on the market! It is huge and offers tons of sun shade. BabyTrend took it a step further and mush mesh “windows” on the visor so baby can still look out and air flows. The handle on the Baby Trend is the nice triangle type, offering more comfort and positions to carry. The most impressive unique, special feature of this car seat is the controlled motion base, which is unlike anything else on the market. It responds to crash forces by rotating more upright resulting in better force distribution. There are 4 more recline positions that provide ultimate comfort and easier breathing for baby. There is an 8 position adjustable head support. You never have to rethread the harness of the Baby Trend. There is a dial on the back that allows you to adjust for the proper height. There is also a “cold weather boot” that is included with the car seat, that goes over baby’s legs for warmth.

Graco Snugride 35: The visor of the Graco is nice and big and it can move completely from front to back. It offers adequate sun shade. The seat is known for being plush and comfortable. The newborn insert provides very comfortable, padded head and body support.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor of the Chicco is very small and serves very little purpose. The newborn insert provides head and body support and proper fit with the harness.

 

Cons

Baby Trend Inertia: The BabyTrend has a plastic puzzle buckle that, although it doesn’t get hot, it can be hard to hold/snap both pieces in (especially if you don’t loosen the straps). The entire system is too large for smaller vehicles.

Graco Snugride 35: More difficult to install/tighten. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward. Buttons to raise/lower the handle are loud and will wake a sleeping baby.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor is inadequate. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward.

 

baby trend inertia

Baby Trend Inertia Installed in Mini Van

So, you may want to know which car seat is my favorite? I have to say the Baby Trend Inertia works really well for me. My four most favorite things about it are the recline positions, the adjustable head support, the rigid LATCH install and the visor. I love that when my baby is in it, asleep or awake her head never falls forward. I feel like my baby’s head is safer in a side impact collision with the head support (I have not tested this feature, this is not based on any proof) and I love anything that is easy to adjust with growth. I am obsessed with the ease of installation with the LATCH system. It is beyond easy to install and you don’t have to worry about it being too loose. A visor might seem like a silly thing to like, but I can’t help it. This visor is amazing and it is one thing that people comment on when I am out and about with the car seat.

 

Obviously this car seat is not perfect. The base is pretty big and you have to put the handle all the down when he car seat is on the base, which is impossible to do in smaller cars. I have had to put the handle down outside of the car before I snap it into the base in those situations. Even after that you have to make sure the seat does not touch the seat in front so the controlled motion base can work properly. In our mini van there is plenty of room and no issues whatsoever, though.  I am not in love with the puzzle buckle, either. It is pretty much impossible to do with one hand and difficult if the straps were not loosened first. My final complaint is that the buttons to adjust the handle are a little loose, so if the handle is not all the way down when it’s in the car, they jiggle around and make noise. The buttons are quiet, though and do not make noise when they are squeezed (they have never woken my baby like my Graco has).

 

The Inertia is definitely loaded with all kinds of cool special features. I think Baby Trend put a lot of research and thought into making a safe and comfortable car seat. While it is not going to be the ideal car seat for everyone, it has won my vote!

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