2021 Recommended Infant Car Seats for Preemies & Multiples – CarseatBlog’s List of Best Bets

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Best Carseats for Preemies & Low Birthweight Newborns

Everyone understands that low birthweight babies often come with challenges. However, most expecting parents don’t consider the possibility that the carseat they bought, or received from their baby registry, might not fit baby well if she or he arrives early or is smaller than average at birth.

Of course, you often have no idea ahead of time that you’re going to have a preemie or smaller-than-average term baby. But if you’re expecting multiples, have a history of preterm labor or just a history of delivering small babies then you really want to be prepared with a carseat that is likely to fit the baby/babies well – regardless of whether they’re 4 lbs. or 9 lbs. at discharge.

There are a few important factors when choosing a carseat that is likely to fit a smaller baby well.

– Minimum weight rating. Some seats are rated from 5 lbs. up. But many babies are discharged from the hospital weighing less than 5 lbs. and the hospital staff might not let you leave with your under-5-pound-baby in a carseat that has a 5 lbs. minimum weight rating. Ideally, you want a carseat with a minimum weight rating of 4 lbs.

– You’re also going to need either lower-than-average bottom harness slots (ideally 6″ or lower), OR a seat that comes with a lower body insert cushion that goes under baby’s bottom, boosting them up a little bit so that their shoulder level is even with the bottom harness slots.

UPPAbaby Mesa preemie doll

To clarify, in a rear-facing carseat, you want the harness straps to be situated “at” or slightly below the child’s shoulder level.

In order to evaluate this properly, you may want to remove the harness strap covers if your seat came with them. In my review photos, I almost always ditch the harness strap covers because, in my opinion, they just tend to get in the way more than anything else when you have a small baby.

Speaking of getting in the way, I want to take this opportunity to educate you on the plethora of aftermarket carseat stuff that lines the shelves of every store with a baby department. With the exception of a blanket to put over baby in cooler weather, you only want to use the things that came in the box with your seat, or items made by your carseat manufacturer brand that are specifically approved for use with your carseat.

Aftermarket products may look helpful or useful but they can be a real detriment to proper usage so they are not recommended. Products like the Bundle Me are great for the stroller but should never be used with your carseat. Ditto for aftermarket harness strap covers and aftermarket infant support cushions.

Since you probably don’t have a preemie doll at home to test your carseat with – you can rely on us to steer you in the right direction when it comes to carseats for smaller babies. All of the seats on this recommended list have been tested by us using the preemie doll made by Huggable Images and we’re confident that these seats will provide a snug and proper harness fit for the vast majority of babies who measure at least 4 lbs. and 17″ (the size and weight of this particular doll).

 

 

2021 List of Recommended Carseats for Preemies & Multiples

Priced under $100:

Evenflo LiteMax 35:  3-35 lbs.; 17″-32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots, 3 buckle positions, option to shorten the crotch strap length for newborns under 8 lbs.; 4-position adjustable base; energy-absorbing EPS foam. With physician approval, LiteMax seats can be used for infants weighing as little as 3 lbs. and as short as 15.75″ tall

Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots, 3 crotch strap/buckle positions, option to shorten the crotch strap length for small newborns; 2-position adjustable base; energy-absorbing EPS foam.

 

Priced $100 – $150:

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots, 2 buckle positions; 4-position adjustable SnugLock base (SnugLock is a tensioning lockoff); energy-absorbing EPS foam.

Evenflo LiteMax DLX (with load leg): 3-35 lbs.; 17″-32″ tall; 5-position no-rethread harness, 3 buckle positions; option to shorten the crotch strap length for newborns under 8 lbs.; 4-position adjustable base with load leg & tensioning lockoff; energy-absorbing EPS foam, push-on LATCH connectors. With physician approval, LiteMax DLX can be used for infants weighing as little as 3 lbs. and as short as 15.75″ tall

Summer Infant Affirm 335: 3-35 lbs.; 15″-32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 3 buckle positions; 4-position adjustable base with belt-tensioning feature; optional anti-rebound handle position; energy-absorbing EPS foam; lower body positioning insert for babies 3-11 lbs.

 

Priced $150-$200 (MSRP):

B-Safe 35 redBritax B-Safe 35 (Gen2):  4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; impact-absorbing base with SafeCell technology; lockoffs for seatbelt installation; premium push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam, newborn insert. Britax B Safe 35 Review Here.

Chicco - KeyFit30_MidoriChicco KeyFit 30: 4-30 lbs.; up to 30″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; single buckle position; adjustable base; built-in lockoffs for seatbelt installations; unique “center-pull” LATCH tightening adjustment; premium push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam; newborn insert (4-11 lbs. only).  KeyFit 30 Review Here.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; premium SnugLock DLX base which also acts as a lockoff for seatbelt installations; premium push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam;  lower body positioning insert. See our complete SnugRide SnugLock DLX Review Here.

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360:  4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness lots, 3 crotch strap/buckle positions, option to shorten the crotch strap length for small newborns; adjustable base with lockoff; EPS foam. See our OnBoard 35 Air Review Here.

 

Priced $200-$300 (MSRP):

Britax B-Safe Gen 2 FlexFit: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no-rethread harness with 6 height positions; 2 crotch strap/buckle positions; impact-absorbing base with SafeCell technology; lockoffs for seatbelt installations; push-on lower LATCH connectors; energy-absorbing EPP & EPS foam; newborn insert. Complete B Safe 35 Elite Review Here.

Chicco KeyFit 354-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no-rethread harness with 7 height positions; 2 crotch strap/buckle positions; adjustable base with anti-rebound bar; lockoffs for seatbelt installations; push-on lower LATCH connectors; energy-absorbing EPS foam; newborn insert. Complete KeyFit 35 Review Here.

Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 Elite: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no-rethread harness; 2 buckle positions; SnugLock base with anti-rebound bar (SnugLock is a tensioning lockoff); premium push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam;  lower body positioning insert.

Maxi-Cosi Mico XP Max (with load leg): 4-30 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; adjustable base with load leg and self-retracting push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam; lower body positioning insert

UPPAbaby MESA: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no-rethread harness with 5 height positions; 2 buckle positions; adjustable base with tension indicator and self-retracting lower LATCH connectors; lockoff for seatbelt installations; EPS foam; integrated canopy made with SPF 50 material; insert for babies 4-8 lbs. See our complete UPPAbaby Mesa Review Here.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Michelle Carter July 31, 2017
    • Heather August 6, 2017
  2. Elise June 23, 2016

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