Baby Talk

All-in-One Car Seat vs. Infant Car Seat: Which is Best for My Family?

Chicco KeyFit 35 Infant Car SeatYour child’s car seat use is a journey, and there are different routes you can travel to arrive at your destination safely. Veer left to start your journey with the infant car seat or turn right to go down the all-in-one car seat (sometimes referred to as a “3-in-1” or “4-in-1 convertible car seat”) path. There are advantages to both options, so make your decision based on what’s important to you and your family. Also, keep in mind that some hospitals might require you to leave using an infant car seat, so be sure to check before making any purchases.

Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

Infant Car Seat

CheckmarkGo to and from the car without unbuckling and disturbing your baby
CheckmarkShare one car seat between multiple vehicles with an extra base
CheckmarkClick your car seat directly into a stroller for on-the-go convenience
XmarkBe ready to transition into a convertible car seat within 1-2 years when your baby outgrows her infant car seat

All-in-One Car Seat

Checkmark Purchase a single car seat that safely secures your child from infant through big kid
Checkmark Keep your little one in the safer, rear-facing position for longer – up to 40 lbs.
Checkmark Easily transition from rear-facing, to forward-facing and booster mode
Xmark An all-in-one is not portable or stroller friendly like a traditional infant car seat
Xmark Some wear is to be expected over the life of the seat, though seat fabrics are machine washable


Chicco KeyFit 35 Infant Car Seat - Demo

Demonstrates the key features of the KeyFit 35 Infant Car Seat

Thanks to their 2-part design, the infant car seat makes transporting your little one conveniently easy. The car seat carrier clicks securely into the car seat base and compatible strollers, allowing you to transfer your baby from car to stroller without unbuckling and disturbing them. This also allows you to keep your little one nestled comfortably in the car seat carrier when traveling in cold weather. If more than one parent or caregiver will be transporting your little one (which is likely), they’ll just need to purchase their own car seat base for their vehicle.

In contrast, the all-in-one car seat is NOT portable. The one-piece unit is bigger in size and weight and is designed to remain in place after installation. This means that you’ll have to unbuckle baby at every stop and cover them appropriately for the weather. The all-in-one car seat is also not compatible with travel system strollers.


It’s no secret that the longer your little one uses a car seat, the dirtier it will get. And while your little one is in the infant car seat for much less time, it will probably still get messy. If you go this route, choose an infant car seat like the top-rated KeyFit® 30 . It features a machine washable, quick-remove seat pad at a time when you need easy and convenient the most. Not to mention, it is the easiest infant car seat to install correctly.

Meanwhile, the all-in-one car seat can potentially be exposed to years of milk, juice, snacks and other not-so-nice substances…yuck. Luckily, Chicco has an answer. The Fit4® 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat features a multi-staged construction with easy-to-remove layers, so your child starts fresh at each new stage. Got a mid-stage mess? No problem. Remove the affected layer and machine wash.


With an infant car seat, you purchase one car seat and then simply purchase additional bases for each vehicle. Another option is to “bundle and save” by purchasing the car seat and stroller together as a travel system. Regardless of which route you choose, keep in mind that your child will outgrow the infant car seat relatively quickly, so you’ll be back on the market for a convertible car seat in a year or two (with the Fit2 Infant and Toddler Car Seat).

With an all-in-one car seat, you purchase a single car seat that your child could potentially ride in from birth to big kid, paying more upfront but eliminating the need for additional seats as your child grows. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to double that initial cost if each parent needs one in their vehicle.

All that said, it IS possible to get the best of both worlds! Enjoy the ultimate portability of the 2-piece infant car seat and when it’s time, transition to the all-in-one car seat for years of comfort and convenience. This is also a great option if your hospital requires you to leave using an infant car seat. It truly is a win-win! Enjoy the journey!