10 Best Car Seat for Premature Babies in 2023
You now have your precious little one with you earlier than expected, but that’s perfectly fine! Our compilation of the top car seats for preemies will ensure that you’re well-prepared to bring your baby home. Newborns are delicate, and premature babies require even more care due to their fragility. Selecting the right car seat can be a challenging endeavor, as it is crucial to prioritize maximum protection and ensure medical approval. With your infant’s unique requirements in mind, our list aims to assist you in finding the perfect car seat. Continue reading for further details.
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Car Seat Safety For Preemies
Premature infants are required to undergo a car seat test before being discharged from the hospital. This test is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for babies born before 37 weeks gestation, especially those with low birth weight or specific medical conditions. It involves monitoring the baby for any signs of bradycardia, apnea, or oxygen desaturation(1).
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To ensure the best results during the test, here are some key guidelines to follow:
Securely fasten and buckle your child into the car seat, just as you would when driving them home. Ensure a snug fit and prevent the child from slouching, as this will provide more accurate readings for the doctors.
Wrap the baby snugly in a swaddle to keep them comfortable and promote uninterrupted sleep during the test.
Adjust the seat to its highest position, allowing the baby’s airways to remain unobstructed and ensuring continuous breathing. Use the level indicator to ensure proper recline.
Avoid conducting the test immediately after a feeding. Allow sufficient time for the baby to digest breast milk or formula to minimize the chances of reflux and vomiting.
Please note that this paraphrase is based on general information and should not replace specific medical advice. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals for guidance tailored to your individual situation.
Related: Best Toddler Booster Seats
Review of Top 10 Best Car Seat for Premature Babies:
Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat
Preemie babies require special attention, and the Britax B-Safe car seat is designed to meet their unique needs. This rear-facing seat is suitable for infants weighing four to 35 pounds and features a sturdy steel frame body with a crumple zone for added safety. With Nanotex technology, the car seat is also resistant to moisture, odors, and stains. The reclining mechanism is spring-assisted, ensuring optimal comfort. To gain more insights into the product, you can watch the accompanying video.
- Seat belt guide for enhanced safety
- Dual-layered side impact protection
- Safe cell technology for added security
- Safe center latch for easy installation
- Built-in locks for convenience
- Recline level indicators for precise positioning
- Extra-large canopy for increased sun protection
- Some users may find it narrow for their babies.
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Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Infant Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide car seat is a suitable choice for preemie babies weighing four to 35 pounds. It has dimensions of 18.07×14.41×27.4 inches. The seat is equipped with Protect Plus technology, offering protection against front, rear, side, and rollover impacts. It also features a two-piece head and body support system for maximum comfort. For more information to help you make an informed purchase, you can watch the provided video.
- Lightweight design
- Easy-to-read level indicator
- Four-position adjustable base
- Canopy that rotates for versatile sun protection
- Convenient latch system for easy installation
- Head and body support for added comfort
- Snug fit for secure positioning
- Releasing the seat may be challenging for some users.
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Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a car seat designed for preemies and offers easy installation with its SuperCinch latch feature. It features a five-point harness and a convenient single-pull tightener. Suitable for babies weighing four to 30 pounds, the seat includes a Recline Sure leveling foot to achieve the perfect base angle and Ride Right bubble indicators for accurate positioning. Enhanced impact protection is provided by the EPS energy-absorbing foam. To gain unbiased insights, you can watch this YouTuber’s review by clicking here.
- Protects vehicle seat with its smooth underside
- Includes removable head, body, and neck support for added comfort
- Canopy is removable for versatility
- Integrated lock-offs for secure installation
- Fabric is comfortable for the baby
- Chest buckle may not sit flat, which can be a potential drawback.
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Evenflo LiteMax Sport Infant Car Seat
If you’re in search of a car seat for your preemie that can grow with them, the Evenflo LiteMax is a suitable option. It can accommodate children weighing four to 35 pounds and offers four shoulder harness positions. The seat features an ergonomic handle design for convenient carrying and an easy-to-install base with a vehicle belt lock-off. Its dimensions are 18.3×17.8×30 inches.
- Lightweight, making it easier to handle and transport
- Integrated belt lock for secure installation
- Recliner indicator to ensure proper positioning
- Four recline positions for enhanced comfort
- Extended usage as the baby grows
- Full coverage canopy for added protection
- The back padding may not provide sufficient support, which could be a potential downside.
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Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat
The Baby Trend Ez Flex Loc is a car seat designed for preemies and infants, equipped with a five-point harness and four push-button height adjustments. It offers easy one-hand release, and the EPS foam provides effective crash impact energy absorption for enhanced safety. The seat also includes flexible base latch straps and a convenient smooth carry handle.
- Soft head-rest for added comfort
- Easy installation process
- Adjustable height to accommodate growing infants
- Level indicator for proper positioning
- Energy-absorbing foam for increased protection
- The seat may be considered heavy by some individuals.
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Safety 1st Adjustable OnBoard Infant Car Seat
The Safety 1st onBoard infant car seat offers extended rear-facing capabilities and features a latch installation system. It provides five layers of safety foam padding for infants weighing between four to 35 pounds. The seat incorporates Air Protect structural design, which offers protection against various impacts, including side impacts, rear impacts, front impacts, and rollovers. Additionally, it includes an easily adjustable five-point harness and offers four harness height positions for a secure fit.
- Machine-washable and dryer-safe for easy cleaning
- Lightweight design for convenience
- Latch technology for secure installation
- Energy-absorbing GCell HX patented race car foam for added safety
- Reinforced handle for durability
- Soft foam padding for enhanced comfort
- The excess padding may cause the child to feel hot.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Infant Car Seat
The Primo Viaggio is a rear-facing car seat specially designed with soft jersey fabric. It is suitable for babies weighing four to 35 pounds. The seat’s base includes an anti-rebound bar and dual-stage cushioning to provide additional support and safety.
Featuring color-coded belt paths and compact handles, the car seat is user-friendly and easy to carry. Its unique shell design offers six vertical positions for optimal comfort and safety.
- Innovative shell design for improved safety
- Energy-absorbing EPS foam for impact protection
- Five-point harness for secure restraint
- Side impact protection for enhanced safety
- No-rethread harness for easy adjustment
- Installation options with or without the base
- Latch system installation for convenience
- The translucent headcover may not effectively block sunlight.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX Infant Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX Infant Car Seat is a versatile option with a convenient one-handed adjustable canopy. Its InRight LATCH system enables quick and secure attachment, while the easy-to-read level indicator ensures proper installation. The adjustable base with four positions allows for a customized fit in most vehicles. Meeting and exceeding US safety standards, this car seat incorporates TrueShield Side Impact Technology for enhanced side impact protection.
- Silent shade canopy for effortless adjustment
- Front-adjust harness with a five-point system
- Rear-facing seat suitable for babies weighing up to 35 pounds and measuring up to 32 inches
- Use of safe materials
- May not fit certain car seats due to size limitations
- Cleaning the car seat can be cumbersome
Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air All-in-One Car Seat
The Safety 1st MultiFit EX Air 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is our top choice for a convertible car seat suitable for preemies. What sets it apart is its lower weight limit compared to most convertible car seats. While others typically start at 5 pounds, this car seat can accommodate babies as small as 4 pounds.
It provides excellent support for preemies with its three body pillows: a bottom wedge, two side pillows, and a head pillow. These pillows, along with the strap pads, ensure a secure and comfortable fit for even the tiniest babies. The car seat also offers superior head support safety with its deep headrest and Air Protect side impact protection. It includes convenient features like dual cup holders, harness holders on each side, three recline levels, and an adjustable headrest and harness system that can be adjusted together.
While many parents of preemies prefer lighter and more portable options, if you prefer a larger and sturdier convertible car seat, this model is suitable. It does require routing the harness to a specific position on the harness straps to fit a small baby, which can be a bit inconvenient to adjust as the baby gains weight.
Key specifications of this car seat include a minimum weight requirement of 4 pounds, body support through an infant insert (required for 4-11 pounds, optional from 12 to 14 pounds), a lowest harness position of 5.5 inches using the newborn routing belt loops, and an expiration period of 10 years.
Britax Infant Car Seat Base
The Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat, like other infant car seats designed for preemies on this list, prioritizes the needs of smaller babies. This is evident in its 4-pound weight capacity, the inclusion of a cozy infant insert and harness strap pads, and the extremely low positioning of the harness.
One of the standout features of Britax car seats is their commitment to safety. The B-Safe Ultra model offers two layers of side impact protection, a SafeCell impact-absorbing base, a contoured shell, a steel frame, and SafeCenter latch installation, all contributing to enhanced safety measures.
In addition to its safety features, the car seat provides practical elements such as a spacious canopy, a removable and washable cover for easy cleaning, a spring-assisted recline function, level indicator bubbles for proper installation, and vehicle belt lock-offs. For added convenience, it includes a quick-adjust harness that allows simultaneous adjustment of the harness and headrest height, as well as click-and-go compatibility with all Britax strollers, facilitating seamless transitions.
The key specifications of the Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat include a minimum weight requirement of 4 pounds, an included infant insert for body support, a lowest harness position of 4.5 inches with the infant insert and 5.5 inches without, and an expiration period of 6 years.
How To Choose The Best Car Seat for Premature Babies?
Here are some specific factors to consider when searching for a car seat for a preemie:
Minimum weight requirements:
Convertible seats and certain infant bucket seats typically have a minimum weight requirement of 5 pounds. Since many preemies weigh less than this, it is advisable to find a seat with a lower weight requirement. Some infant bucket seats have a minimum weight requirement of 4 pounds, but caution should be exercised when selecting a car seat.
Body support for small babies (infant insert):
Most infant car seats come with an infant insert that provides additional support for newborns. These inserts may offer head support or full-body support. The added cushioning is crucial for comfort and helps prevent a baby’s chin from resting on their chest. Newborns lack head control and tend to slump forward in car seats, so a good infant insert positions the head slightly back from the chest to prevent slumping.
Lowest harness position:
When securing the car seat harness, the straps should be positioned as close to shoulder level as possible, or slightly below. A challenge when finding a properly fitting car seat for a preemie is that the lowest harness position on many seats is too high, resulting in the harness being above shoulder level rather than at or below it. While many infant bucket seats have a lowest harness level of around 6 inches, there are seats available with 5-inch harness levels, which are better suited for preemies.
The handle on an infant bucket seat is typically raised when carrying the car seat, but some car seats require the handle to be in the “down” position when the seat is in the vehicle. Moreover, certain car seats specify that when the handle is down, a specific amount of space must be maintained between the car seat and the front vehicle seat. This can be challenging in more compact cars, such as sedans.
While it is increasingly common for car seats to have no-rethread harnesses, there are still models without this feature. As your child grows, the harness strap position needs to be adjusted to ensure the straps are at or slightly below shoulder level when rear-facing. A no-rethread harness allows for easy adjustment without the need to remove and rethread the harness straps through different slots.
Weight of the seat:
When dealing with an infant seat, the weight of the seat becomes an important consideration for portability. Infants often fall asleep in the car, and it can be disruptive to wake them up when removing them from the car seat. A lightweight seat that is easy to carry is beneficial for keeping your little one asleep. Any seat under 10 pounds is generally sufficient, but the lighter the seat, the easier it is to transport.
Car seats have an expiration date, typically ranging between 5 and 10 years. Although your baby won’t use an infant seat for that entire duration, if you plan to use it for multiple children, the expiration date becomes significant in terms of cost-saving measures.
Height and weight limits:
All car seats have both minimum and maximum weight limits. Larger ranges in these limits allow for extended use of the car seat. It is worth noting that most children outgrow the height category before the weight category, so be mindful of car seats that emphasize high weight limits.
Convertible Car Seat VS Infant Car Seat
Convertible seats typically require a minimum weight of 5 lbs. Many parents choose to start with a convertible seat because it offers a longer lifespan and better value for money.
One drawback of convertible seats is their weight, and they are not compatible with travel systems. On the other hand, infant seats are convenient for quickly installing and removing from the car. If your baby falls asleep during the car ride, you can simply take the entire seat with you without disturbing their sleep.
In general, it is easier to find infant car seats with lower weight limits, and they are generally more portable. That’s why the list of best car seats for preemies predominantly includes infant car seat styles.
FAQs: Best Car Seat for Premature Babies
Does my preemie need a preemie car seat?
Before being discharged from the hospital, preemies should undergo screening to determine if they can sit in a reclined position. If they can, then a preemie-specific car seat is necessary. However, if they cannot sit upright and need to lie down, a preemie car bed may be considered (2).
How long can a premature baby be in a car seat?
Experts advise that preemies should not spend more than one hour in a car seat (3).
Can I put a baby in a car seat after feeding?
It is not recommended to put your preemie in a car seat immediately after feeding. It is advisable to wait for at least an hour before placing them in the car seat. Additionally, it is important to avoid feeding your preemie while the vehicle is in motion.
Can I use a convertible car seat as a preemie car seat?
No, it is recommended to use a car seat specifically designed for preemies. Preemies have unique needs and require special car seats.
What is the minimum weight requirement for infant seats and convertible car seats?
Infant-only car seats are suitable for babies from birth until they reach 35 pounds, while convertible car seats are suitable from birth until they reach 40 pounds (4).
Do I need an infant insert for a preemie car seat?
Some babies may be smaller than expected and might require premature baby inserts. Alternatively, you can choose a preemie car seat that includes built-in cushions.
How should I install a preemie car seat?
Preemie car seats should be installed in a rear-facing position only. It is important to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.