Despite the misinterpretations of Meghan McCain (that was a whole drama, wasn’t it?) car seats are absolutely an essential item. In fact, the NYC hospital where I gave birth would not let me leave the premises without one — no matter how much I whined that it was wasteful because I didn’t even know how to drive (I wanted them to let me just strap my newborn into a chest carrier and wear him on the subway. But alas: safety, laws, yadayada).
The point is: Every parent — and child — needs a car seat. But there are so goddamn many out there. Where do you even begin?
That sense of decision-making overwhelm is why we turned to the experts — not in car seat design and manufacturing, but in actually shoving small humans into them every day. That’s right: We asked our fellow moms. We polled parents in the know for their #1 go-to car seat, and why. After all, a great seat needs to truly do it all; it’s got to be sturdy, comfy, easy-to-insert, user-friendly, and above all super safe. The picks on this list have all that and more (and by “more” we mean things like cup holders, huzzah!). And for those of us who want to be “one and done” when it comes to car seat purchases, you can’t beat a convertible seat that will transform with your kid from infant to toddler to big-kid size.
Ahead are the best car seats on the market right now — and why these real moms swear by them.
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