If you are an expecting parent or have recently become a parent, then you may have made quite a number of purchases to make your baby comfortable and safe. Safety is very important at home, in the car, and every time you travel or get outside the home.
A lot of parents tend to buy bigger cars, SUVs, or minivans. This helps them haul all the things that a baby needs. When the baby grows, bigger vehicles will also help them carry around other items that a young child needs–sports equipment, luggage for traveling, and other stuff.
But what if you just prefer to have a smaller car? Because they are more fuel-efficient, which in turn makes owning them less expensive over the long run.
The biggest consideration is really the size of the car seat you put into your car. A minivan may have as much room as 63 inches. But smaller compact cars like the Nissan Versa or Honda fit has less than 50 inches. The width of most infant or convertible car seats are between 18-23 inches. Making it fit would be a challenge, especially if you need to install it rear-facing!
Thankfully, there are several convertible car seats available in the market to fulfill your needs. These are car seats that you can position rear-facing–for when you have an infant–or forward-facing, when the infant becomes a toddler. Why buy one car seat for your infant, and another when they grow older? Not only do you save money, these convertible car seats are convenient, can fit into a smaller car, and can be used from infancy to toddler years.
How to Choose the Best Car Seat for a Small Car
Consider the size.
Small cars are… well, small. So you better make sure that the car seat you buy fits into the rear passenger seats of your car. Of the small cars, there are the really tiny cars like Fiat or Beetle. The uber tiny Smart car is probably not meant for parents, so there’s no way you can safely carry a baby in there.
It makes sense to buy something that could last you for a long time! A car seat that can be used from infancy to kindergarten is great–like the 4-in-1 products. It will be more expensive, though. But run the numbers and check the best option for you. If you fork out the cash now, it may last for a long time.
Speaking of longevity, you should also check the expiry date of car seats. Yes, they do have expiry dates. The plastic components of the car seat may be weakened over time and if you meet an accident, they may not be sturdy enough to save your child. Better safe than sorry.
Check your budget. Make sure that you can afford the best car seat without breaking the bank. Some car seats are in the $200 – range, but you should be able to get a good quality one in the $70 – $190 range.
Installation & Safety.
Read the manual and instructions for installation before buying. You may think that it is not complicated. Baby car seats usually come with a base which the car seat can click into. In these cases, you may only need one car seat and two bases if you have two cars. Safety is the main reason why you’re buying a car seat. So do check the safety features of the car seat you want to buy.
No matter the size of the car, car seats should comply with the laws and policies of your state, and city. We looked at the available options and identified the best car seats for small cars.
Best Car Seats for Small Cars
Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat
The features of this convertible car seat makes it ideal for small compact cars. Its length (front to back) is 20.5 inches, height: 26 inches, and width: 19 inches. It may look small, but for small cars, it is adaptable. You can install it rear-facing or forward-facing, which means that you can use this from when your child is an infant until about 4 years old. This can also be adjusted to 9 different positions.
Parents who have used this car seat love its aesthetic appeal. It is just pleasing to look at! It is also streamlined and lightweight, which is perfect if you have two cars and need to lug it around depending on which car you’re using. Even big babies can fit in this seat. Plus the belts are snug and easy to adjust. Plus, parents
Some parents, however, complained about pads on the straps. Also, the seat tends to tilt a child’s head forward so it may lead to some discomfort, but since the back is still straight, it is not much of an issue.
Safety 1st Guide 65
This is also pretty small: width: 18 inches; height: 24 inches; and it measures 20 inches from front to back. It can accommodate a child up to 40 pounds. For rear-facing position, it can accommodate a child that is 40-inch tall or under. This is easily one of the best, bang-for-your-buck rear-facing car seat in the market. For forward-facing installation, its limits are 65 pounds and 52 inches kids.
If you are cramped for space in your car, this car seat works beautifully! One parent says that she can fit 3 of these seats on the rear passenger seats on their Honda Accord car. Not too bad!
This car seat is not very easy to install but for the price that you can buy it, that may be a flaw worth overlooking. The chest clip for kids tend to be bigger. Because of its size, it may not be suitable for newborns.
This car seat measures 15.5 in wide; 26 in. tall. It does not have arm rests or handles. But it is small and can fit most small, compact cars. But, its size leads to some limitations–if you have a big baby, you might not be able to accommodate her in this seat. For rear-facing setup, the limit is 36 inches and 33 pounds; while for the forward-facing installation, it’s 40 pounds and 40 inches. When your child maxes this up, you’ll need to buy a new car seat!
Because of its weight limits and light weight, this convertible car seat is ideal for newborns. It is narrow and can help you fit more things in the car if you need to. One of the complaints of parents who used this concern the pads on the straps. They are long, which makes strapping a newborn more difficult.
This is a 4-in-1 car seat, but it is small enough to fit your small car and provide protection o your child. Its measurements are: width: 20 inches; height: 24 inches; and length: 21.5 inches. Be warned, though, it is heavy! This is the kind of car seat that you install on your car and never take off. Don’t plan on taking this with you in an airplane, or even in an Uber ride across town. But, if you invest on this car seat, it will serve your child from 4 pounds (newborn) until they grow to 120 pounds. It’s a bit expensive, but it can last a really long time.
Parents on Amazon report that this car seat has saved their kids! Every decent car seat should do that, but this is probably extra sturdy because of its weight and installation. Some parents, though, complain that the harness tends to loosen up after some time.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70
This is also a narrow car seat clocking in at a 19.5-inch width and 26-inch height. It is also not very long with 21 inch measurement from front to back. So it fits small cars nicely. It can last a pretty long time because its weight limits are high: 70 pounds and 52 inches for front-facing installation and 40 pounds, 40 inches for rear-facing installation.
This car seat has plenty of cushion and the fabric does feel nice. Head support for kids is also good. However, its straps are a bit difficult to pull tight, especially for rear-facing installation. the straps are also thin and may frustrate you when they get tangled. It can also be difficult to install.
Car seats help protect your kids from both minor and major accidents. It also helps you comply with the law. The last thing you want is meeting an accident and compromise the safety and life of your child. A good car seat is an investment on your child’s safety.