Preemie Car Seat


Which infant car seat is best for preemies?

If you’re searching for the best car seat for your preemie or small term baby, you know that preemies come with challenges, but you might not have considered that some standard infant car seats will not be a good fit for a preemie baby.

Based on first-hand experience fitting preemies into infant car seats, the following is a list of car seats recommended for preemies:

There are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing an infant seat for your small baby:

  • Weight limit: Many car seats are rated for babies 5 lbs. and higher, but preemies are often discharged at just about 4 lbs.
  • Shoulder straps at or below shoulder level: When riding rear-facing, the shoulder straps must always be at or below the shoulder level of the baby. In some infant car seats, the shoulder straps will be above the shoulders of a small baby, due to their positioning.
  • Harness tightness: The harness must have the ability to be tightened sufficiently so that there is no slack in the straps, and they cannot be pinched together at all since they are tight enough to restrain the baby safely.

This video shows a demonstration of buckling a 4 lb. doll into an infant car seat, to show you what to expect with your preemie baby:

There are the 4 infant car seats that car seat technicians recommend for preemies and small babies. All of these are rated from 4 lbs. and should fit very small babies very well with regard to shoulder strap placement and tightness of the harness. The Britax Chaperone, Safety 1st On Board Air 35, Britax B-Safe, and Chicco Keyfit 30.

Britax Chaperone
Chicco Keyfit 30
Britax B-Safe
Safety 1st On Board Air 35

One more option for you is the Chicco Keyfit 22 (it’s really just a slightly different version of the Chicco Keyfit 30, pictured above), which is sold as on its own or as part of a travel system along with a matching stroller.

Note that if your baby’s head rolls to the side, that is not a safety issue. You can simply roll up a receiving blanket or cloth diaper to place on the sides of her head to prevent that sideways head roll. However, her head should not roll forward (chin should not rest on her chest) — and that would be accomplished by having your car seat properly installed at a 45 degree angle or higher.

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