If your baby is traveling in different vehicles, you have three options. You can buy multiple car seats, remove and swap the base every time you move between cars, or buy an extra car seat base for each set of wheels.
An extra car seat base is both the easiest and the most cost-effective of these choices.
We looked at all the top car set bases to determine which ones are safe, simple to use, and easy on the budget, so you won’t get stuck with a model that causes you frustration. Plus, we have the answers to all your car seat base questions.
- Reduces crash forces by 40%
- Space-saving design
- Seatbelt or latch system installation
- Adjustable to child’s weight
- Correct seat attachment indicators
- Can be installed with a seatbelt
- Graco infant car seats compatible
- Affordable for multiple vehicles
- Seatbelt or lap belt installation
- Correct installation indicators
- Less than 10 sec installation
- Safer than no base car seat
- Easy cleaning
- Three angles of adjustment
- Integrated latch belts
- Adjustable to five positions
- Fits a range of car seats
- Easy to install
- Height adjustable load leg
- Reduces rebound & crash forces
- Correct reclining level indicator
How to Choose the Best Car Seat Bases
This is a list of things to consider when choosing a car seat base. We checked each car seat against this list for our reviews.
Check the specifications of a car seat base to ensure it is compatible with your car seat’s make and model. Even if the base was made by the same manufacturer as your car seat, not every base works with every car seat model.
Most car seat bases we looked at were in the $100 to $150 range, but we’ve seen bases that cost up to $300.
We discovered that cost does not necessarily equal quality or value for the money.
Ease of Cleaning
Car seat bases are best cleaned by washing with warm soapy water and a cloth. We considered how easy they were to keep clean rather than choosing between bases according to what you can wash them with.
Car seat bases with fewer nooks and crannies where dirt, upchuck, and a sibling’s food can hide rated higher than those with difficult to access or difficult to clean areas.
Ease of Installation
Car seat bases can be installed with a seatbelt or your car’s LATCH system. Some bases have a built-in level, leveling feet, or other devices to help ensure a safe, easy installation.
LATCH stands for “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.” This is like an extra seatbelt system in your car, made especially for car seats. Many people find installing a car seat with the LATCH system to be easier than installing one with a seatbelt.
You may see some websites or car seat manufacturers refer to UAS, which stands for Universal Anchorage System. In the US, this is the same as the LATCH system.
Vehicles and car seats made for use in the US after September 2001 have a built-in LATCH system (2).
Your car seat will regularly be in and out of the base for up to a year or longer if you use it for multiple children. When looking for good base models, we look for strength in the parts connecting the base and seat, eliminating any bases showing wear or cracking.
Weight limits for car seat bases are usually the same as for the infant car seats with which they work.
However, we double-checked this for every seat base and have included this information in our reviews where it was available.
The Best Car Seat Bases of 2021
Considering these criteria, online reviews, and our own experiences, these are our top seven choices for car seat bases.
1. Clek Liing Infant Car Seat Base
Compatible with both Clek infant seats, the Liing and the Liingo models, this car seat base has seven recline positions. This allows you to angle the car seat in a position that’s safest for your baby’s airways, no matter the angle of your vehicle’s seat.
A rigid LATCH system makes it easier to make the connections between base and car, and a bubble level on the base lets you see when it is in the correct, safe position.
For those who do not have a vehicle with LATCH or find it challenging to use, you can also install the base using a regular seatbelt. For this installation, the base has a belt tensioning system that’s especially easy for those with limited hand strength.
Then you can adjust the seat within the base to ensure younger babies are reclined at an optimal 40 to 45-degree angle.
The narrow design is ideal for smaller cars, maximizing the room available for other passengers. If your family needs more than one infant seat, the Clek base is small enough that you can fit three in a row across the back seat.
- Metal load leg reduces crash forces by up to 40%.
- Space-saving design for narrow vehicles.
- Installs with seatbelt or LATCH system.
- Budget busting — the most expensive seat on our list.
|Compatible with||Clek Liing or Liingo car seats|
|Size||22.6 x 13.2 x 8 inches|
|Installation aids||Rigid LATCH and self-tensioning seatbelt system|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–35 pounds Length: Up to 32 inches|
2. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido Car Seat Base
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido car seat base has a built-in anti-rebound bar designed for additional safety in the event of a crash. In addition, the base has a load leg that folds out from under it. The leg extends until its foot sits on the car floor.
This load leg and anti-rebound bar combo provide extra reassurance that your child will be safer, no matter what vehicle they are riding in.
On the upper face of the Peg Perego base, you will see a level with an air bubble next to a sticker. The sticker lists three weight ranges:
- 4 to 11 pounds
- 12 to 22 pounds
- 23 to 32 pounds
At the opposite end of the base to the sticker and level, there’s a large grey plastic knob.
To set the base, choose your child’s weight range. Then twist the knob until the level’s bubble sits next to the correct weight range on the sticker. You will then have the base at the right angle for your baby’s weight, minimizing the chances of them sitting too upright.
- Easy to adjust according to your child’s weight.
- Indicators show when the seat is correctly attached to the base.
- Can be installed with a vehicle’s seatbelt.
- At the longer end of the base size range.
|Compatible with||Primo Viaggio 4/35 and Primo Viaggio 4/35 Nido|
|Size||21 x 14.75 x 7 inches|
|Installation aids||Twist knob and level|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–35 pounds Length: Up to 32 inches|
3. Graco SnugRide Lite Infant Car Seat Base
Like most car seat bases, it’s easier to install the Graco SnugRide Lite base with the seatbelt in some vehicle makes and the LATCH system in others.
Even with the same car manufacturer, you may find that different models or trimmer levels of the same model are easier to install using the LATCH system, while others are easier to install using the seatbelt.
Consequently, if you find yourself struggling with the LATCH install, consider trying out the seatbelt install and visa-versa.
The downside of this affordable, easy-to-install car seat base is that it can be tricky to remove. This isn’t a big deal if you intend for the base to sit permanently in a vehicle. However, if you remove the base on a regular or semi-regular basis, it is a real pain to detach from the LATCH system.
- Compatible with all Graco infant car seats.
- Affordable option for multiple vehicles.
- Easy to install with seatbelt or lap belt.
- It can be tricky to remove from the LATCH system.
- Car seats have a looser feel in this base than in the original base.
|Compatible with||Any Graco infant car seat model|
|Size||21 x 14 x 8 inches|
|Installation aids||Level indicator|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–35 pounds Length: Up to 32 inches|
4. Stokke PIPA by Nuna Car Seat Base
Not everyone owns a vehicle. Some of us choose to use co-op cars, Uber, or taxicabs, or we hire cars when the need arises. The downside to this is that when you do use a vehicle, you need a safe way of transporting your baby.
If you don’t own a car but spend a reasonable amount of time in various vehicles, this car seat base is one of the best options for you.
The Stokke Pipa by Nuna car seat base uses their True Lock installation system. This system consists of a small arm that unfolds on each side of the base. When extended, the arms click quickly into a vehicle’s LATCH system, and you’re good to go.
Removing the base is just as easy, with the press of a button on each True Lock arm.
Although you can use the Stokke Pipa by Nuna car seat without the base, you have an additional layer of safety when using the base because it has a stability leg that minimizes rotation in the event of a crash.
- Side indicators turn green when installation is correct.
- Super quick installation — less than 10 seconds.
- Safer than using the car seat without a base.
- More expensive than most bases.
- Fits with only one car seat model.
|Compatible with||Stokke PIPA by Nuna Car Seat|
|Size||25.8 x 13.5 x 8.6 inches|
|Installation aids||Dual bubble level indicators and a “Green for Go” indicator|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–32 pounds|
5. Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Stand-Alone Car Seat Base
This model from Maxi-Cosi is a good, solid option for a spare car seat base. It has few dips, nooks, and crannies in which dirt and detritus can hide. This is especially helpful if you have other kids riding in the back when the baby’s car seat is not in place.
You would be amazed at the amount of food, snacks, sand, mud, tiny toys, and other items your older kids can lose or deposit in a car seat base when the car seat is not there!
When the car seat base does get dirty, you can wipe it down with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. If you have time, dry the base off, but if you don’t, no worries, the base will quickly air dry.
There are three angles at which you can set the base, which is installed with integrated LATCH belts or your vehicle’s seatbelts. If you use the LATCH belts, they come out of the base, thread through the belt loops, and into your vehicle’s anchor points.
- Smooth contours for easy cleaning.
- Three angles of adjustment.
- Integrated LATCH belts.
- Only two hooks hold the seat in the base.
- There are no installation aids such as built-in levels.
|Compatible with||Mico Max 30, Mico 30, Mico Nxt, and Mico AP car seats|
|Size||22.8 x 16.8 x 8 inches|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–30 pounds Height: 19 to 30 inches|
6. Safety 1st OnBoard Adjustable 35 LT Car Seat Base
Before buying an item for our kids, we like to ensure it is compatible with the other baby equipment we own. This could be an issue when considering the Safety 1st OnBoard 35LT car seat base. The information on the internet is not consistent.
It took a great deal of research, but after contacting the manufacturer, we can confirm this car seat base is compatible with Safety 1st OnBoard 22, OnBoard 35 LT, Light n Comfy 22, Light n Comfy 35, SureFit 35 LT, and the OnBoard 35 FLX.
While we know the anchor system meets federal standards, it still appears to be more flimsy than the anchor systems on other seat bases. However, apart from that, we like this car seat base as it is the most affordable on our list, easy to install, and sturdy.
- Base adjustable to five positions.
- Fits a range of car seats.
- The anchor system looks flimsy.
- No installation aids.
|Compatible with||Safety 1st OnBoard 22, OnBoard 35 LT, Light n Comfy 22, Light n Comfy 35, SureFit 35 LT, OnBoard 35 FLX, and the Cosco Light N Comfy Elite|
|Size||23.7 x 8.5 x 16 inches|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–30 pounds Length: up to 30 inches|
7. Cybex Safelock Car Seat Base
The anti-rebound design of the Cybex car seat base reduces the distance your car seat can move toward the back of the vehicle if you are unfortunate enough to crash.
There are two indicators on the front of the base, the end nearest to the front seats. One changes to green when the car seat has been appropriately locked into the base, and the other turns green when the load leg is correctly installed.
The height-adjustable load leg moves crash forces away from your baby by carrying them — the forces, not your baby — to the floor of the car. However, one piece of information that isn’t clearly listed is that you cannot use the load leg on a floor with a hollow space under it.
Consequently, if you have, for example, a minivan with stow-and-go seats or other storage in front of the rear seats, the load leg cannot be used.
The dual-level indicator shows you if you have the correct reclining angle, and a belt tension system makes safe, secure installation a breeze.
- Height adjustable load leg.
- Reduces car seat rebound and crash forces.
- Expensive — as costly as some car seat and base combos.
- Only compatible with one car seat.
- The load leg cannot be used above hollow floors.
|Compatible with||Cybex Anton M|
|Size||26 x 17.3 x 22.25 inches|
|Installation aids||Dual-level indicators, load leg installation indicator.|
|Child Specs||Weight: 4–35 pounds Length: up to 30 inches|
|Product||Best||Compatible with||Size||Installation aids||Child Specs|
|Clek Liing Infant Car Seat Base||Best for Narrow Vehicles||Clek Liing or Liingo car seats||22.6 x 13.2 x 8″||Rigid LATCH & self-tensioning seatbelt system||Wt: 4–35 lbs Lgth: < 32″|
|Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido Car Seat Base||Best Adjustable||Primo Viaggio 4/35 & Primo Viaggio 4/35 Nido||21 x 14.75 x 7″||Twist knob & level||Wt: 4–35 lbs Lgth: < 32″|
|Graco SnugRide Lite Infant Car Seat Base||Best Durable||Any Graco infant car seat model||21 x 14 x 8″||Level indicator||Wt: 4–35 lbs Lgth: < 32″|
|Stokke PIPA by Nuna Car Seat Base||Best Non-Vehicle Owners||Stokke PIPA x Nuna Car Seat||25.8 x 13.5 x 8.6″||Dual bubble level indicators & a “Green for Go” indicator||Wt: 4–32 lbs|
|Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Stand-Alone Car Seat Base||Best Easy to Clean||Mico Max 30, Mico 30, Mico Nxt, & Mico AP car seats||22.8 x 16.8 x 8″||None||Wt: 4–30 lbs Ht: 19–30″|
|Safety 1st OnBoard Adjustable 35 LT Car Seat Base||Best Affordable||Safety 1st OnBoard 22, OnBoard 35 LT, Light n Comfy 22, Light n Comfy 35, SureFit 35 LT, OnBoard 35 FLX, & the Cosco Light N Comfy Elite||23.7 x 8.5 x 16″||None||Wt: 4–30 lbs Lgth: < 30″|
|Cybex Safelock Car Seat Base||Safest Car Seat Base||Cybex Anton M||26 x 17.3 x 22.25″||Dual-level indicators, load leg installation indicator.||Wt: 4–35 lbs Lgth: < 30″|
FAQs About Car Seat Bases
These are the questions about car seat bases we hear most often.
Are All Car Seat Bases Universal?
No, not all car seat bases are universal. When choosing a car seat base, it is vital to check and double-check that the base is compatible with your car seat make and model.
Can You Use a Car Seat Without a Base?
Yes, you can use a car seat without a base. Without a base, you must affix the car seat each time you install it in your vehicle. You can install your car seat using either your vehicle’s seatbelt or, if your car includes it, the LATCH system (3).
Are Graco Car Seat Bases Universal?
No, Graco car seat bases are not universal. They do not fit car seats from all manufacturers, nor does each Graco base fit all Graco models.