How many times your precious baby fell asleep while you were driving home after quick food shopping? You would tell yourself, I would slowly get my sleeping baby out of the car seat and into the crib. How many times was that successful? Unfortunately, your precious newborn would wake up screaming, and you would wish that it was best to leave your baby sleeping in that car seat for a bit longer.
What would make your newly purchased car seat more convenient for an exhausted parent? Many manufacturers constantly upgrade their infant car seats to include extra safety features and make them more comfortable and lightweight car seats.
This is especially true for infant-only rear-facing car seats with a detachable base that allow you to take the carrier with the baby out of the car without taking the baby out of the car seat.
In order for this type of infant car seat to be useful, it needs to be light enough that you can gently remove your baby from the car seat base and carry them around without waking them. We’ve looked into the best lightweight infant car seats to make your search easier.
Top 5 Lightweight Car Seats of 2019
We found five quality options for lightweight car seats at a number of price points, and they are all 8 pounds or less! All of them feature the easy-to-install LATCH system, a 5 point safety harness, are FAA Approved for use on airplanes and are side-impact tested.
Our First Choice: Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat
- Providing five layers of safety, this LATCH-equipped Safety 1st car seat fits infants from four pounds to toddlers of 35 pounds in a rear-facing configuration
- Shielded in the deep seat structure, your little one is further protected by AirProtect advanced side-impact protection and GCell HX patented race car foam for crash energy absorption
- Crash tested from every angle for front, rear, side, and rollover impacts, this seat includes soft foam padding throughout the seat for safety as well as comfort. A reinforced handle adds stability
The combination of quality, ease of use, affordability, and convenience make the Safety 1st OnBoard 35LT our top pick for Lightweight infant car seats. Though it isn’t the lightest car seat, it is really easy to use and is still only 7.9 pounds. It also has great safety features and comes with a one-year warranty.
Buyers find it easy to snap in and out of the base, which is important if you don’t want to wake your sleeping baby.
It is also easy to tighten the straps, which is key when securing a struggling baby. The padding is machine washable for easy cleanup, which is always important with babies.
The weight range is 4-35 pounds and the maximum height is 32 inches, which is a full 2 inches more than most car seats in this style.
Those extra 2 inches could make a big difference in how long you can use it, as many children exceed the height limits before the reach the maximum weight for these types of car seats.
Compatibility with Quick Click Equipped Strollers.
The OnBoard 35 LT is compatible with Quick Click equipped strollers so you can go from car seat to stroller with ease. With cushy newborn inserts and good padding, buyers think it is more comfortable for their babies than some less expensive models.
Some complain that the sunshade makes too much noise when you move it, which can irritate or wake a baby. A few buyers have found that the base is difficult to secure.
- Easy To Use
- 1 Year Warranty
- Canopy Clicks
- Base Hard To Secure
Runner up: Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat
- For weights between 5 and 30 pound (2.2 and 13.6 kg.) heights of 30" or less (76.2 cm)
- 5-point harness; easy one-hand harness adjustment; and push-button release
- 4-position push-button height adjustable base with level indicator for proper installation
The Baby Trend Flex-Loc is our second choice because it is easy to use and has great safety features.
Most buyers find the base easy to install and the straps easy to adjust. It’s also easy to adjust the height of the straps without re-threading which is nice.
Baby Trend’s unique triangular shaped section on the handle does make carrying it a little easier. Even though it’s only 7.7 pounds, all infant car seat carriers are awkward to carry, so every little thing helps.
The Flex-Loc has added safety features like EPS foam for additional side-impact protection. Buyers report that it’s not overly large if you have a smaller vehicle or need to install multiple car seats in one row. It is compatible with many strollers, but you need to double-check to make sure you get the right style.
Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat Cover Is Not Machine Washable.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that the cover and padding are not machine washable. If you are a new parent, this may not seem like a big deal, but I guarantee that your baby will throw up in the car seat. It’s just what babies do. There’s a good chance your little one will also have some diaper leaks/explosions, so having to hand wash the padding is definitely not ideal.
Baby Trend buckles are a little different in that you have to put the two sides of the bottom buckle together before buckling it in.
Some people really hate this, but I own a Baby Trend car seat and didn’t find it that inconvenient once I got used to it. What I liked less was that the lower buckle part was plastic (many other car seats have metal). Buyers have also found the seat narrow for babies with wide shoulders like my little hulk.
- Easy to adjust straps
- Easy to install
- Triangular handle grip
- Good safety features
- Cover not machine washable
- Odd buckle design
Below is a very helpful video on how to install Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat.
Best Value Car Seat: Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30
- SnugLock Technology: a hassle-free 3-step installation using vehicle seat belt or LATCH
- Infant car seat grows with and helps protect rear-facing infants from 4 to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches
- Adjustable base offers 4 recline positions, providing the right position for proper installation
The Graco SnugRide 30 is our recommendation for the best value in lightweight car seats. At 7 pounds, it’s one of the lightest options out there and is one of the most affordable as well.
Though the Evenflo Nurture is less expensive, we think that the combination of affordability with more convenience features makes this one an overall better buy.
Though it’s inexpensive, it still has good safety features and has been tested at 2X the Federal Crash Test Standard. It also has EPS foam which improves safety in the event of a side-impact crash.
How Compatible Is Graco Infant Car Seat With Click Connect Stroller?
Graco has a good variety of affordable strollers in the Click Connect line. That allows you to easily snap the car seat into the stroller and go on your way without a lot of hassle.
The padding is machine washable, which makes it easier when dealing with unpleasant messes.
The minimum weight is 4 pounds and maximum weight is 30 pounds. If you really want one with a higher weight limit, the Graco SnugRide 35 goes up to 35 pounds and the carrier is still only 7.5 pounds.
Some buyers complain about the seat belt-tightening mechanism. I own a Graco SnugRide and while it’s not the easiest car seat I’ve used, it’s not enough to make me regret the purchase.
It also can sometimes get caught when taking it in and out of the base, which could cause the baby to wake up.
I didn’t have too much of an issue with this, but it’s something to consider. The sunshade can come detached if you push it too far, but it goes back on pretty easily.
- Only 7 pounds
- Good safety features
- Not the easiest to adjust
- Sometimes has issues when taking it off the base
- Canopy detaches easily
Below is the video on how to install Graco SnugRide SnugLock Infant Car Seat.
Lightest & Least Expensive: Evenflo Nurture Infant Car Seat
- Separate stay-in-the-car base allows for easy transfer from home to car via the ergonomic easy-to-carry handle; Also available separately
- 5-point harness with 3 shoulder harness and 2 crotch buckle positions for better fit and longer use
- Auto belt guides for use without a base if preferred
This is not only the lightest car seat on our list, but it’s also the least expensive. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and don’t need to use it with a stroller, the Evenflo Nurture is a good option.
At such a low price point, it has impressive safety features, such as the fact that it’s been tested at 2X the Federal Crash Test Standard. The padding is machine-washable, which is convenient for the inevitable messes.
Buyers report that the base release mechanism is awkward and makes it difficult to easily remove the carrier from the base, which could wake up the baby. It also is more difficult to adjust the straps than some other models.
The weight and height limit are lower than most at 5-22 pounds and a max height of 29 inches, which means you won’t be able to use it as long. It also doesn’t come with extra newborn padding, which means you may have to buy an insert for a smaller baby.
The biggest disadvantage is that it is not designed to be used with any of the Evenflo strollers. Being able to take the carrier out of the car and pop it in the stroller is one of the great advantages of this type of car seat, so if you want to use your car seat with a stroller, don’t buy this one.
- Only 6.5 pounds
- Good safety features
- Not compatible with most strollers
- Limited weight and height range
- Not the easiest to adjust
- Awkward base release
Best Lightweight Premium Car Seat: Maxi-Cosi Mico AP Infant Car Seat
No products found.
The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP claims to be lightest premium car seat in its class. Many of the premium car seats tend to be heavier because extra features add extra weight.
At 8 pounds, the Maxi Cosi Mico AP gives you the best of both worlds with a premium seat that won’t break your back.
Buyers like the premium padding and the extra comfort for their babies. The newborn insert has particularly good head support. The padding is not only comfortable, but it’s also functional as it is machine washable. There are compatible strollers which make toting your baby easier.
Though a bit more expensive than the other seats on our list, it is among the more affordable premium seats. The limited weight and height range also means you won’t be able to use it as long as other car seats.
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP Infant Car Seat is too narrow.
This is especially true since many buyers report that it is so narrow that even non-hulk babies find the shoulder room too compact and outgrow it pretty quickly.
Though the seat itself is narrow, the base is wide, so some people have trouble fitting it in smaller cars. Some buyers also have issues with the canopy falling off.
- Advanced side-impact safety features
- Easy to adjust
- Machine-washable padding
- More expensive
- Limited weight and height range
- Canopy detaches easily
- Wide base
Why Buy A Lightweight Infant Car Seat?
I highly recommend buying a lightweight, rear-facing infant car seat with a detachable base, because it will make your life easier. In general, the lightest infant seats are the ones with the detachable base, so they are also a good choice if you are looking for something lightweight and compact for travel.
Convertible seats are nice because you can use them for your child after they reach toddlerhood. Though this is an appealing feature, these tend to be bulky. Furthermore, convertible seats don’t have some of the features infant-only seats have.
Infant car seats with detachable bases are amazing because they allow you to remove a sleeping baby from a car (or airplane for frequent travelers) without waking the baby. For anyone who has ever had a baby, this is no small luxury.
The Motion & Its Importance
Some babies really don’t fall asleep easily unless they’re in motion, others just fall asleep the best in the car. It’s a lot easier to follow the adage “never wake a sleeping child” if you can easily move a sleeping child from the car to your destination without waking them.
Another great benefit is that running errands is much easier with a sleeping baby than a baby who is awake and needs constant attention. Most models snap right into strollers of the same brand. Therefore, you can easily shop or take a walk without waking your baby up.
These types of infant car seats also allow you to get an extra base if you have multiple cars or a grandparent or other caretaker who regularly drives the child.
This means that you don’t have to either purchase another car seat or spend time making sure to properly install the car seat every time you switch vehicles. Install a base in each carr and all you have to do is snap the carrier into the base.
It’s also really nice to be able to buckle the baby into a car seat before you leave the house when it’s really hot or cold.
If you live in a cold climate, safety experts warn against bundling up the baby in a snowsuit or winter coat before putting them in a car seat as the bulk can make it
impossible to tighten the straps enough to keep the baby safe in a crash. This means that those of us in cooler climates benefit from being able to buckle the baby in and cover them with a car seat cover or blankets before going outside so they are never exposed to the harsh weather.
Car seats with detachable bases are amazingly useful as long as they are not too heavy to make it impossible to carry said sleeping child easily without waking them. That’s why we’ve compiled this review of the best lightweight infant car seats available on Amazon.
Amazon’s Top 3 Best Selling Lightweight Infant Car Seats
- Snug Lock Technology features a hassle-free 3-Step installation using vehicle seat belt or LATCH
- Grows with and helps protect rear-facing infants from 4 to 35 lb and up to 32"
- Adjustable base offers 4 recline positions, providing the right position for proper installation. Rotating canopy provides shade and sun protection for your baby
- Give your baby a safe and secure fit for travel with this LATCH-equipped Safety 1st car seat that fits infants from four pounds to toddlers of 35 pounds in rear-facing mode
- Featuring ultra-lightweight construction using next-generation engineering, this easy-to-carry seat includes side-impact protection. Head and body inserts give newborns added comfort and support
- Adjust your child's fit in the seat with four harness heights, spaced for a better fit whether your child is tiny or tall. Adjust the harness with a single pull for a secure fit
- Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
- No rethreading, ever: Quick adjust 14 position harness with Click & Safe Snug Indicator gives a click sound when the harness is tight
- Adjust accurately: Harness indicator gives an audible click when you’ve pulled to the proper tightness
Shopping for a car seat is overwhelming. There are so many choices out there that it is easy to spend hours trying to find the best one. The good news is that any car seat you buy has to meet rigorous safety standards and some also have additional safety features.
Beyond safety, there are a lot of other features that can make life easier for a parent of an infant. It can help to choose the style of a car seat, then pick a few key must-have features to narrow down your list.
The importance of lightweight car seats
As this is a review of the best lightweight car seats, I obviously think a lightweight car seat is highly desirable. Before I had kids, I spent too much time looking for one with the maximum infant weight limit when I should have been looking for the lightest car seat.
I’ve found that having a lightweight car seat is often a much bigger advantage than having one with a high weight limit. Many kids outgrow the height limit of this type of seat before they even reach the maximum weight.
My baby is not only absurdly tall, but he also happens to have the shoulders of a linebacker and outgrew the seat by the time he hit 20 pounds.
When looking at infant car seat weight, the most important number is the weight of the seat without the base. As the base stays safely strapped into the car, you rarely have to carry it around.
A few extra pounds may not seem like much but added to your rapidly growing baby and it quickly becomes difficult to carry the seat gently enough to not wake the baby. They can be awkward to carry, so every pound counts.
Other Features We Considered
In addition to the weight of the car seat, we also took into account a few more things.
Additional safety features: The point of a car seat is safety, so additional safety features are always desirable.
Ease of use: It’s important to have a car seat that is easy to use. You want one that has easy-to-tighten straps. So that you can make sure you get your squirming baby securely strapped in every time.
There will also likely be times when your baby does not want to get in the car seat and will fight hard to keep you from getting them snugly strapped in. Having an easy tightening mechanism is really nice in those moments.
It’s also nice to have features like machine-washable padding since a baby can create a bigger mess than you would think possible for someone so small.
Cost: Car seats are expensive. Yes, your child’s safety is paramount, but many of us can’t afford to drop $400 on a luxury car seat, especially one that is only for infants.
Thankfully, even if you don’t have a lot of money, there are still car seats that are affordable enough that you can take advantage of the benefits of an infant seat with a detachable base.
If you do want a premium car seat, don’t worry because we have a recommendation for that too!
|Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT|
|Baby Trend Flex-Loc|
|Graco SnugRide 30|
|Maxi-Cosi Mico AP Infant Car Seat|
An Important Note on Buying Used Car Seats
As someone who hates buying anything for full price and who bought most of my baby stuff used, car seats are one of the few things I always buy new.
Craigslist is full of used car seats. Therefore, it can be tempting to buy a nicer model for less by getting it second hand. You may have a friend or family member whose child outgrew their car seat and wants to pass it along to you.
Just keep in mind that there are some risks associated with used car seats, which is why some second-hand stores don’t even sell them.
If you do choose to get a second-hand car seat, it is essential to always check the expiration date. Most car seats are designed to be fully functional for 10 years after that, wear-and-tear and aging materials can cause problems and you don’t want to take any risks with something that is so important for your baby’s safety.
Also, you need to know the full history of a car seat before buying it. Even minor crashes could damage the car seat and prevent it from working properly in the event of a future crash. If a car seat has been in a crash, no matter how minor, do not use it. It’s not worth the risk.
Let’s Find Your Ideal Lightweight Infant Car Seat!
Lightweight infant seats with a detachable base are a great option that is worth the investment.
Having the flexibility of moving your sleeping baby in and out of the car and into a stroller easily without waking the baby is amazing for any parent of an infant.
We hope our guide to lightweight car seats will help you navigate the overwhelming number of options. So that you could find one that works well for you and your baby!
Last update on 2019-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API