The Graco Snugride is one of the most popular infant car seats ever made, and for good reason. It's easy to use, fairly low in price, and comes in many colors and patterns. Graco also makes some nice strollers that go with this car seat as a travel system, if matching gear is important to you. This car seat is rated for babies from birth to 22 pounds, and has Graco-pedic foam lining the shell for comfort. Matching head supports are usually included with the SnugRide. Graco does make some Snugride car seats with a rear-adjust harness that can be difficult to use correctly. Look for the front adjust models for ease of use.
Graco has updated the very popular SnugRide car seat again with the SnugRide 35, which, as you might guess, has a 35 lb weight limit. It's also a little taller in the shell to accommodate babies up to 32 inches. The base angle can be changed easily with a dial, and there are built-in seat belt lock-offs to help you get the installation just right. Parents also love that there are loads of patterns and colors to choose from, and that these car seats can be used as a travel system with many different strollers.
The stand-out feature of this infant car seat is the side-impact crash protection. The air-filled sections that line the car seat act like a stunt man's landing pad in a crash - releasing air at a controlled pace to minimize the forces to your baby. I also love that this car seat is rated from 4 to 35 lbs. It gives a good fit to smaller babies, including some preemies, but also has plenty of space as baby grows. There's a customizable padded insert, too, so you can add padding where baby needs it for the right fit.
The Orbit Baby infant system is an incredible car seat for those who are willing to pay top dollar. The infant car seat and one base costs about $400. However, the base is truly easy to install properly, and the designers have done an amazing job of creating a system that scores major points for safety and comfort. The car seat can be docked in the base from any angle, but won't lock until it's properly aligned. The soft carry-handles make parents more comfortable, too. The infant seat can be docked onto the Orbit stroller and rocker (sold separately). You'll need to buy an Orbit toddler seat later on, so be sure to budget for that, too.