From convertible and foldable car seats to air travel harnesses and hammocks, the number of handy alternatives to an infant car seat grows by the year.
Some of them great.
Some not so much.
Some of them downright dangerous.
I can promise you this much – I’ve been writing about this stuff for ages and, if you give me the time of day here, you’ll understand the options better than 99% of parents out there.
Do me and yourself a favor, close the other tabs, and let’s do this.
Why do parents need a quality infant car seat alternative?
If your baby hates car seats or you’re looking for a cheaper, lighter, or more convenient solution that won’t compromise safety, one of the alternatives below will be a good fit.
Although infant car seats are still the safest option, they’re not always the most compact or efficient.
Whether you’re looking for a flight-friendly option or a foldable solution that’ll make running errands much easier, a wide selection of infant car seat alternatives is available.
The best infant car seat alternatives
Here are the top 6 infant car seat alternatives you can invest in and make your life as a parent easier.
Alternative 1 – Convertible Car Seat
Convertible car seats eliminate the need for purchasing multiple car seats during your kid’s childhood. They transform from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one, making them a budget-friendly alternative to infant car seats.
Besides that, they come with numerous attachments to provide a snug fit for preemies, newborns, and toddlers alike.
Convertible car seats are by far the most popular infant car seat alternative.
According to most parents, it’s also one of the better infant car seat alternatives currently on the market, so you might think about infant car seats vs convertible car seats when choosing one.
Why I love it:
What I like most about them is the versatility.
They can be anything you want them to – from rear-facing infant car seats to forward-facing toddler ones, there’s nothing you can’t do with a convertible car seat! If I was a parent of a newborn again, this is something I’d definitely invest my money in.
Alternative 2 – All-in-one Seat
Like convertible car seats, all-in-ones are also a great alternative to infant car seats as they change from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing position.
All-in-one car seats can transform from well-equipped infant car seats to simple booster seats for school-aged children with a harness and tether.
Because they’re designed to be used by children of various ages and sizes, they’re durable, sturdy, and safe.
Why I love this alternative
Like convertible car seats, I like all-in-one seats because they’re one of the most cost-efficient solutions. Also, you won’t have to worry about getting a new car seat when your kid outgrows the old one, as you’ll have everything as a part of the all-in-one.
Bonus, you save a pretty penny – by purchasing an all-in-one, you can eliminate the cost of car seats when planning your budget, as a single seat can serve you and your little one for many years to come.
Related: How to tether a car seat without anchors?
Alternative 3 – Folding Car Seat
Folding car seats have one crucial edge over the all-in-one and convertible car seats – compact size.
With an integrated car seat and stroller, the stroller easily snaps and collapses into a regular-sized infant car seat and vice versa.
They’re the ultimate hybrid of a car seat and a stroller, and dare I say, they might be even better than 2-in-1 travel systems.
Since travel systems still require plenty of car space when disassembled, a folding car seat is one of the better infant car seat alternatives if you’re planning a trip.
The collapsible car seat won’t take up any of your trunk space because the whole system folds to fit the space only a car seat requires.
Why I love it and what could be better
Folding car seats represent the next step in the development of travel systems since you don’t need any free trunk space to fit the whole thing in your car.
I absolutely love the idea, but there’s room for improvement, safety-wise…at least compared to a robust infant seat.
Alternative 4 – Airplane Seat Harness
The airplane seat harness can drastically improve your baby’s security during flights as a flight-friendly alternative.
Carrying an infant car seat on a plane isn’t possible, as you will store all your baby’s equipment in a special compartment dedicated to transporting passengers’ baggage.
Plopping your baby on your lap or using the airplane seatbelt doesn’t provide any security, so a 4-point airplane seat harness is a better alternative.
The harness is small and lightweight. Throw it into your carry-on bag, and you’re good to go.
Why I like the alternative
Focus on air travel is the main thing I like about this harness. While everyone’s concerned about increasing baby safety in cars, few brands have come up with products that increase air travel safety. That changes with this 4-point harness, which will keep your baby safe without you having to drag heavy equipment around the airport.
Related: Car seats age
Alternative 5 – Flight Safety Vest
Yet another great air-friendly alternative is the flight safety vest. The vest is incredibly comfortable and simple to use, so it’s a perfect solution for long flights.
With three plastic buckles, the safety vest is designed to be attached to the parent’s airplane seatbelt. That way, you can rest assured your baby is safe, and you’ll be able to get some sleep during the flight.
It’s made out of pure cotton and comes with adjustable straps to ensure maximum comfort. Babies can wear the vests for the entire trip; remember that you can’t use the vests during take-off and landing.
Why I like it:
Flight safety vests caught my attention because they’re much more comfortable than other air-travel alternatives. Your baby won’t be fussy while wearing the vest, and you don’t have to worry about hushing your baby during the whole flight.
Related: car seats foam | Do car seats float?
Alternative 6 – Air Travel Hammock
If you’re looking for the ultimate comfort level during flights, there’s no better solution than an air travel hammock. The hammock allows your baby to lie down and relax while you get a break from holding the baby in your arms.
The best thing about this hammock is that it’s foldable and lightweight, meaning it can easily fit into your backpack or carry-on luggage. It also comes with a 3-point harness to ensure your baby won’t flip over.
The hammock is entirely safe for use because it’s attached to the front tray on one end and your seatbelt on the other.
Why I like it:
In my opinion, air travel hammocks are a great alternative when it comes to air travel. They’re foldable, lightweight, and allow your baby to lie down, so there’s no need to carry the bulky infant car seat around.
Relatable: How long can newborn be in a car seat | free car seat Medicaid
Infant car seat substitutes – FAQs
What is the safest infant car seat alternative?
Convertible and all-in-one seats are the safest infant car seat alternative.
It’s fair to say they’re all perfectly safe as long as you use them with a proper car seat strap placement.
What is the best car seat alternative for air travel?
Air travel seat harnesses, safety vests, and travel hammocks are the best car seat alternatives for air travel.
Personally, I believe nothing beats the comfort provided by the air travel hammock.
It allows your baby to get some quality sleep during the flight while you can rest your hands from holding your baby the whole day.
What is the best affordable infant car seat alternative?
All-in-one car seats are undoubtedly the best affordable infant car seat alternatives. Although they’re a significant investment, they eliminate the need for purchasing more seats as the baby grows.
What is the most travel-friendly infant car seat alternative?
Foldable car seats are the most travel-friendly substitute out there.
Because they feature an innovative collapsible mechanism, strollers transform into a compact unit no bigger than an infant seat.. They’re safe for long car trips yet take little space in your trunk.
Final thoughts on infant car seat alternatives
I hope I delivered on the bold promises I made in the intro.
The bottom line is this – the best alternative is the one that matches your needs closely….and we went over all of them in detail.
If you’re still unsure, just make a PROs and CONs list that includes the specifics like your travel habits, the size of your car trunk etc.
That’s what I recently did with a good friend of mine and we soon settled on a convertible seat. Clarity is everything.
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.