Graco snugride snuglock 35 elite

In this article, we’ll answer the most burning questions about the best car seats for preemies.

Bringing your preemie baby home after birth is an exciting feeling but it can also prove to be stressful. That first drive home is nerve-wracking enough and making sure the seat you choose for your little one is right for them can prove to be quite a task.

It’s hard enough picking a seat for a full-term baby, so finding a seat that will also accommodate your early arrival can add even more unneeded stress.

Don’t Worry! After thorough testing of a variety of preemie car seats, we carefully selected the top 5 car seats for your newborn, both infant and convertible that meet and exceed the safety ratings.

Infant Vs. Convertible for Babies

The first choice you’ll need to make is whether you want to purchase an infant seat first or go right for a convertible option. Infant seats used to be the norm amongst the preemie world. However, convertible seats have come a long way and offer most of the same (if not more) safety features for infants and beyond.

In terms of safety, there isn’t much difference between an infant or convertible seat. The only concern in this department is the minimum weight allowance. Aside from this, here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding between the two:

Base shape

Infant car seats typically have a smaller base shape than convertible seats. This makes it more convenient for cars with narrow vehicle seats to get a correct install. However, there are certain convertible seats that are “slim fit” designed.

Convenience

For families with multiple vehicles, infant car seats tend to be easier to transport between cars. The base is separate from the seat, making it lighter and easier to uninstall/reinstall

Installation

The level of difficulty when installing can also play a big factor in the seat you decide on. As important as safety is, your sanity is up there too. While infant car seats tend to be easier to install, there are convertible seats out there that simplify the installation process.

Longevity

If you want something that will last a long time, a convertible seat may be the better option. They’re made to grow with your child and many have lower minimum weight requirements which make them safe for preemies too.

Name Weight Limit Height Limit Mode
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 4-35 pounds 32 inches Rear-facing only
Chicco KeyFit 30 4-30 pounds 30 inches Rear-facing only
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite 4-35 pounds 32 inches Rear-facing only
Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air 4-in-1 4-100 pounds Up to 52 inches Rear-facing, Forward-facing, Highback booster
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 4-120 pounds Up to 57 inches Rear-facing, Forward-facing, Highback booster, Backless booster

5 Best Seats for Preemies

Now that we’ve given you the skinny on choosing a seat for your preemie, let’s go over the best car seats on the market for your early arrival. For this list, we’ve chosen three infant car seats and two convertible/all-in-one options.

Personally, we believe infant car seats are the best option for preemies. However, the all-in-one car seats we’ve included in this list are safe options for parents who want to make one investment rather than multiple.

1.Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat – SnugLock Technology

This seat made the top of our list for a few reasons. We love this one because it has a wider weight range than many other infant seats. It will accommodate your little one from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall. While this is a pricier seat, it’s likely to last a while, especially since they may grow a bit slower than other babies.

The SnugRide comes with Graco’s Click Connect technology, making it compatible with all Graco Click Connect strollers. This means you won’t need to buy a separate adapter for the stroller.

The seat can be installed via the belt path or LATCH method and uses SnugLock technology for easy installation. All you need to do with the SnugLock is push down to lock the base in place. The base comes with four different recline positions and an easy-to-read indicator to help make installing the seat easier.

Along with these features, the SnugRide also has removable infant cushions, storage compartments for the LATCH connectors, an easy-to-adjust harness, and a rotating canopy to protect your baby from the elements.

This infant seat has gone through rigorous crash and safety testing and has meet/exceeded all federal safety standards. The seat’s shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam as well.

The SnugRide SnugLock 35 can be used for 7 years after the date of manufacture.

What We Like

We like the most about SnugRide SnugLock 35 is its wide weight range. Not only does it start at 4 pounds, but it can be used up to 35 pounds which means you can use the seat for much longer. Because preemies typically grow much slower than full-term babies, you can rest assured that this seat will last with them as long as you need.

What We Don’t Like

Parents have complained that the provided padding doesn’t provide much support. There have also been instances where the carry-handle sticks and difficulty with the base-release system.

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Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat,...
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Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat,...
  • Snug Lock Technology features a hassle Free 3 step installation rear facing car seat helps protect...
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  • Adjustable base with 4 recline positions and Easy to read bubble level indicator In Right Latch...

Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2.Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat – Easy to Install

Our next pick made the list for its ease of installation. It comes equipped with the ReclineSure leveling foot, RideRight bubble level indicators, and the SuperCinch LATCH tightener. KeyFit seat will accommodate babies from 4-30 pounds and 30 inches tall.

It’s also available in three different models to cater to your specific needs: the KeyFit, KeyFit Zip, and KeyFit Zip Air. The main difference between the three is that the Zip comes with zippable fabric for easy washing and the Zip Air has a breathable backrest.

This seat is designed to be compatible with any Chicco brand stroller without the need for an external adapter. Keyfit 30 also comes in several different colors so you’re sure to find one that fits your family’s style.

Along with these features, the KeyFit seats also come with a two-position carrying handle with comfort grip, removable cushion inserts, and a foldable sun canopy.

The KeyFit 30 can be used for six years from the date of manufacture.

What We Like

Easy installation is one of the most important things to consider, if not for safety then for your own sanity. That’s the main reason this one made our list. Along with this, the seat has three different models and several different color options to choose from. Chicco Keyfit 30 itself is also lightweight and the clicking sound when removing it from the base is quiet so you won’t wake your baby if they’re napping.

What We Don’t Like

The only downsides to this one are mostly with comfort. The neck-straps have been known to irritate the neck and unless you choose the ZipAir, the fabric gets warm easily which makes for a sweaty babe. Along with this, the carry handle makes it difficult to disconnect the seat from the base when in the car.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat, Oxford
  • #1-rated infant car seat in America
  • Easiest to install with ReclineSure leveling, RideRight bubble levels, and SuperCinch LATCH...
  • Removable newborn head and body support

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3.Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat – Exceptional Safety Features

We love B-Safe 35 Elite for its commitment to safety. It comes equipped with Britax’s patented SafeCell impact protection, an impact-absorbing base, and a steel frame.

Along with that, it’s relatively easy to install and uses SafeCenter LATCH technology to get the job done. To use the SafeCenter LATCH technology, simply connect the connectors to the vehicle anchors and pull on the tightening strap until secure.

This seat also has spring-assisted recline to find the best angle position, auto-level indicators, and built-in belt lock-offs as well. It has a Click-and-Go system which makes it compatible with all Britax strollers and some other brands without using an external adapter. 

There’s a removable head pad, an extra-large canopy for sunshade, and padding on all five harness straps for added comfort.

The B-Safe 35 will accommodate from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. It can be used up to 6 years after the date of manufacture.

What We Like

While we mostly chose this seat for its excellent safety features, it’s also great for comfort and style too. The seat comes with added padding and it has several different colors available to choose from. It also accommodates up to 35 pounds, which means it will last with your little one too.

What We Don’t Like

Parents have expressed concern over the weight of the seat and the durability of the seat’s fabric (or lack thereof). The fabric has been known to come undone easily. This seat is also on the higher end of the price range, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing | 4 to 35 Pounds -...
2,029 Reviews
Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing | 4 to 35 Pounds -...
  • Surrounded in safety: a layer of side impact protection, steel frame, and impact absorbing base
  • Easy installation: use safe center latch or built in seat belt lock offs to secure the infant car...
  • Relax and recline: spring assisted recline and indicators ensure the best vehicle installation angle

Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4.Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air 4-in-1 – Encourages Extended Rear-Facing

We’re all about extended rear-facing here and that’s why this convertible seat made it on our list. Especially when dealing with a preemie, you’re going to want a seat that can rear-face for as long as possible.

The MultiFit EX Air is designed to grow with your child from infancy up to age 10. You can rear-face this seat from 4-50 pounds, forward-face from 22-65 pounds, and use the belt-positioning booster from 40-100 pounds.

The seat has three recline positions, uses the QuickFit harness adjust system, and is narrowly designed to offer more front-seat space for parents.

In terms of safety, this seat uses AirProtect side impact protection. It has also exceeded all federal safety standards too.

The seat’s fabric is removable and can be machine-washed. It is dryer safe as well on the low heat setting. Along with this, it has two soft-touch cupholders and harness holders to make getting in and out of the seat easier as your little one grows.

This seat can be used for up to 10 years after the date of manufacture.

What We Like

We love this option because not only is it a one-time purchase, but it allows rear-facing mode up to 50 pounds. Compared to other convertible seats on the market, this is a much longer range. The seat is also easy to clean and comes equipped with AirProtect side-impact protection.

What We Don’t Like

The only issues we’ve found while researching this one are mostly based on convenience. The belt path for seat belt installation is very narrow, so it isn’t ideal for anyone with big hands. Parents have also complained that the seat is tricky to install/uninstall.

Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Amaro
202 Reviews
Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Amaro
  • The seat that adapts for multiple ages and stages: Rear-facing baby 4-22 pounds, Rear-facing toddler...
  • Air Protect Side Impact Protection for superior protection around the head
  • Harness holders: with the harness held back the straps won’t get stuck under your child, making it...

Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5.Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat – Super Long-Lasting

We chose this Graco seat specifically because it’s a true all-in-one seat. It can be used in rear-facing mode from 4-40 pounds, forward-facing from 22-65 pounds, belt-positioning from 40-100 pounds, and backless from 40-120 pounds.

It comes with an integrated belt lock-off for easy belt installation, convenient harness storage to keep the buckles from getting too hot, and a RapidRemove button cover for easy washing. The headrest also has 10 different height positions.

This Graco seat comes equipped with the SimplySafe harness adjust system, plush head and body inserts, in right LATCH, and a 6 position recline to ensure the perfect position.

It also comes with two integrated cup holders and the seat’s shell is ProtectPlus engineered for added safety. ProtectPlus engineering consists of roll-ver, extreme temperature, front, side, and rear-impact testing. The seat is tested 2x the federal safety standard.

The seat can be used for up to ten years after the date of manufacture.

What We Like

We like this one because it can be used in all four car seat modes and has gone through two times the required safety testing. It’s extremely adaptable to your child’s size and is easy to wash as well.

What We Don’t Like

Like most Graco seats, the extra padding isn’t very plush. It’s also on the higher end of the price range as well. The main concern we’ve found with parents is that the harness has a tendency to loosen on its own over time.

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  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of your harness and headrest to 10 positions in...

Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buyers’ Guide

Price

Safety 1st MultifitWhether you’re on a tight budget or you want to go all out, there are seats available at every price point. If you want to make a one-time purchase, a convertible seat is the best option for you.

However, even though they will ultimately cost less in the long run, you will pay more upfront for the seat.

Weight Restrictions

Because we’re dealing with preemies here, you’re going to want a seat with a lower minimum weight allowance. Many seats currently on the market offer a minimum requirement of as low as four pounds.

Most hospitals won’t even let your little one be discharged until they’ve reached five pounds anyway, but the lower weight allowance is more accommodating.

Durability

Graco 4ever DLX 4-in-1Of course, you’ll also want a seat that is structurally sound. After all, it’s going to be transporting the most precious cargo. When shopping around, take note of what the seat base and the skeleton of the seat is made of. The type of foam in the shell, the base composition, and the cushion material all play a part in this.

Special Features

It’s also worth checking if there are any special features specific to a seat. Is there extra cushioning for infants? How many recline positions are there? These features along with many others can make the seat a top-notch option for your kiddo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do preemies need a special car seat?

Not necessarily. Infants aren’t typically released from the hospital until they reach at least 5 pounds. Because of this, any regular car seat will work so long as your baby fits the minimum weight requirements.

In very special cases, the hospital may require you to use a preemie bed to transport home. These aren’t typically sold on the market so the hospital will provide you with one if that’s the case.

How do you put a preemie in a car seat?

Putting a preemie in their car seat is the same process as a full-term baby. You will, however, want to take extra care when setting them in to protect their delicate body.

What is a preemie car bed?

A preemie car bed is basically a portable bassinet for the car. Your baby is strapped in flat on their back and they ride home that way. Preemie car beds are typically used for preemies born with specific issues.

What is the preemie car seat test?

The preemie car seat test is required before being discharged from the hospital. Basically, you have your baby sit in their car seat for an extended amount of time (usually 30 minutes). If your little one sits in their seat without any issue for that amount of time, they have passed and can go home.

If your baby doesn’t pass, they may be taken out of the seat and tested again at a later time. A second test is typically done for an hour rather than thirty minutes.

When are preemies allowed to be discharged from the hospital?

Preemie babies can be discharged from the hospital when they reach five pounds, can eat from a bottle, and have had acceptable urine and feces output.

No Hassle For Durable and Safe Preemie Seat

Choosing a preemie car seat doesn’t have to be stressful. Making a mental (or physical) note of a seat’s price, safety features, durability, and weight restrictions is enough to help you make the most informed decision possible. We highly recommend the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 because of its special safety technology. However, if that seat isn’t your jam, the other four seats we’ve recommended have a lot to offer too.

Author

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

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