From quick grocery runs to summer holiday trips, car seats are an essential part of every car ride and adventure.
Naturally, you’ll want to make your little one as comfy as possible during any outings that require them to be in a car seat.
While infant car seats are already comfortable because of the comfy materials, you might be curious about other features that make them even better, such as the option to recline the car seat.
In fact, that’s probably what brought you here…
There’s more to the story than a simple yes or no. Today, we explore that “more” in-depth until you’re left with zero answers.
Do infant car seats recline?
Yes, infant car seats do recline.
As you probably already know, infant car seats are usually a part of the popular 2-in-1 travel system. That means the infant car seats can be used in a vehicle but can also be attached to a stroller.
Baby travel systems and seat recline
Many parents decide to invest in a travel system as it equips them with everything they need for the first months of their baby’s life. Namely, they don’t have to invest in all pieces of equipment separately and can quickly move a sleeping baby from the stroller to the car or vice versa.
They’re the dynamic parents’ best friend!
…and for a good reason.
Because they are designed to be versatile, it’s often necessary for these car seats to recline in one setting or the other.
So whether you’re going with a budget-friendly or luxurious infant car seat, the chances of your seat being able to recline are pretty high.
The recline along with a jumble of other features is why so many parents are passionate about travel systems.
Is it safe to recline car seat?
Parents are often skeptical about changing the car seat factory settings for fear of making their newborns uncomfortable or unsafe
But, the infant car seat recline is completely safe when done right.
All rear-facing car seats are installed at a certain angle, so the correct recline is even advised for the smallest car travelers.
While upright car seats better protect the baby if it comes to a car crash, reclined seats prevent its head from obstructing the airway.
So, finding the middle ground between the two is the recipe for reclining the car seat correctly.
Generally speaking, reclining the car seat is advised for newborns and babies that lack head and neck movement control. On the other hand, older babies can get away with a more upright angle because of their stronger and more controllable head and neck movements.
How does an infant car seat recline?
Not all car seats work the same, and different manufacturers use different designs for their car seat models. Therefore, just like the rules for the proper car seat strap placement can vary, so can guidelines for reclining the infant car seat.
If you want to recline your baby’s car seat and get the right angle, you must consult the car seat manufacturer’s manual for detailed instructions.
If you don’t find the manual in your home, you can always search for these manuals online and download them for free.
Recline indicators to the rescue
Many brands incorporate recline indicators and short picture manuals on the car seat itself, so you don’t have to take out the manual every time you want to recline the seat. Once you learn how to do it, these pictorials are enough to remind you of every step of the process.
Every brand should use them…that’s what I think.
You can use the recline-adjustment knob or a different tool for adjustment placed on the seat to recline infant car seats. Some infant car seats fully recline, and some newer designs come with two levels – one for younger and one for older babies.
For further reading: How long can newborn be in a car seat?
How reclined should the infant car seat be?
An infant car seat should recline anywhere between 30 to 45 degrees. Stillthe exact number varies across car seat manufacturers.
The best infant car seats recline angle will depend on several factors, including your baby’s age, strength, and personal preference.
Even if you follow all the rules and realize that your baby hates car seat, changing the reclining settings might be just the solution to make the car rides more enjoyable for both of you.
Recline angles for newborns and preemies
Getting the correct recline angle is especially important for newborns and preemies who aren’t strong enough to hold their heads. Many preemies have respiratory difficulties after being born, and the correct car seat recline can help them normalize their breathing and oxygenation.
Again, most car seats come with a line on the label or some other kind of indicator to assist parents in finding the suggested reclining angle.
If you’re having difficulties, parking your car on a surface that isn’t tilted (such as gas stations) can help you get a clearer picture of your car seat’s recline.
Related: When to forward face a car seat?
Final thoughts on the recline of baby car seats
Now that you know more about how baby car seats recline, it’s time to study your own car seat’s manual and find the perfect recline angle for your little one.
By following the guidelines and recommendations but also paying attention to your baby’s personal preferences, you’ll be able to find just the proper car seat position in no time.
Steph is a passionate mom who co-founded Wumblers to share her parenting journey with others. She graduated from Concordia University with a masters degree in Education Technology and worked as an advisor for many years. Steph loves being a mom and wants to have more kids.
Learn more about Steph and Wumblers here.