Mother and Baby

The best baby car seats to keep your baby safe on the road

Section: Baby
best baby car seats

With hundreds of different models, types and variations on offer, finding the best baby car seat can often be one of the more challenging items on your baby shopping list. From the seats designed to be attached to a pushchair to form a travel system, to those that come with ISOFIX fastenings, it can be hard to know where to start. 

Most parents mainly want to know which car seat is the safest and most comfortable for their baby, and whether they should opt for a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat. To make things easier, we've put together this helpful guide to help you choose the best baby car seat so that you're fully prepared for that first trip home from the hospital with your newborn.

In this article: 

Baby car seats and the law  

According to Gov.uk, a baby car seat is mandatory for transporting babies in cars. All children under 12 years old (or who are less than 135cm tall (4.4 ft)) need a car seat in the UK, so you’ll most likely need to invest in more than one car seat as your child grows up. Alternatively, you could look into a complete multi-stage car seat, which will stretch from birth to 12 years old. The laws around the types of child seats that are deemed safe have now been tightened, and in 2017, backless booster seats were deemed unfit for children under 125cm (4.1ft) or weighing less than 22kg (48.5 lbs).

Choosing the best baby car seat for your baby

You need to choose a baby car seat that fits your car and also UK law requirements. You can find out all about the requirements in this checklist on the official government website. To discern which car seat is best for your child, you'll need to know the weight, age and height of your baby as these are the differentiating factors for each baby car seat model.

Types of baby car seat

There are mainly three types of baby car seat available:

Group 0+

Group 0+ can also be called an infant car seat, as it's perfect for newborns. This first type is suitable from birth to 13 kg (or 12 to 15 months). They usually combine with a buggy to form a travel system. Besides that, these seats are rear-facing, as its five times safer for newborns as it offers greater protection to the underdeveloped head, neck, and spine of infants. At this age, by law your baby will be rearward facing. Babies have fragile necks, so in the event of a collision, your baby could be at risk of spinal cord damage if he is facing forward (the way you are driving).

Group 0+/1

The second type is suitable from birth to 18kgs. This type of baby car seat is usually a convertible car seat, with rear-facing and forward-facing options.

Group 0+/1/2/3

The third type of car seat is suitable from birth to 36 kg. Also called a 3-in-1 or an All-in-One car seat, it will carry your child from birth to the booster-seat stage, and is meant to stay permanently in the car, so you won't be able to carry your child out in it if they fall asleep.

Baby car seat technology

A lot of the new car seats have extra features like a rotating seat or a lie-flat function, but the most important features you can get in a car seat are the safety ones. All the new baby car seats in the UK need to be i-Size (a European-wide car seat regulation, ECE R129), and should also have side-impact protection (SICT). They also need to use ISOFIX (an international standard for attachment points for baby car seats in passenger cars). 

The best baby car seats

Every year, the Mother&Baby Awards puts the best new baby products on the market through their paces. We have a huge panel of real mums who test car seats and other items, living with them for a month, then giving us their feedback. This means our list of the best car seats comes recommended by mums just like you - who've lived with these car seats, and know how they suit them and their babies. 

A number of the car seats in our list are also previous Mother&Baby Awards shortlisters and winners.

The Apramo Ostara Fix is a comfortable, adjustable car seat suitable for 3-12-year-olds. It offers 7 different positions and made from thicker fabrics for higher-level comfort and security. Parents can also rest assured as the removable covers on the seat are quick and easy to wash.

This car seat won Gold in the 2020 M&B Awards in the Best Forward Facing Car Seat category.

Tested by mum Nicola for the 2020 M&B Awards: "It was incredibly easy to install due to the Isofix. I prefer a booster to have Isofix really because it means they don’t move around if the seatbelt isn’t fastened. It also feels safer. The cover also seemed very easy to remove for cleaning. Some of our car seats have been virtually impossible to remove. With this, there is a zip up the back and it didn’t appear to have any difficult areas to unhook etc although I did not fully strip it."

Read our full review of the Apramo Ostara Fix Seat here.

The Joie i-Spin 360 car seats pivots all the way round (hence 360) allowing your baby to stay rear-facing for longer. The moving seat makes putting baby in and taking them out of the car seat so much easier. It features auto-engaging side impact protection panels and ISOFIX-only installation.

This won Gold in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Rear Facing Car Seat. 

Tested by mum Rebecca for the 2020 M&B Awards: "This car seat is AMAZING! As a mum, I personally think everyone needs one of these. I suffer from back pain and using this to turn my child and get them out of the car with ease was a lifesaver. It’s 100 percent made my life easier and I don’t actually know if I will ever be able to go back to a normal car seat now I may have to purchase one for my other car too."

Read our full review of the Joie Baby i-Spin 360 here. 

If you’re looking for a good-value car seat that’s a dream to install, seriously comfy – yet doesn’t compromise on safety features or style – this is it. Our testers agree this feels really sturdy and secure. It could do with a deeper recline for naps, but that’s a low priority in a seat that can be used up to age 12.

This won Silver in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat.

Tested by mum Katrina for the 2020 M&B Awards: "I feel very confident when strapping my little boy into the Young Sport Hero. It makes my son look comfortable and the seat is made very sturdy and it's secure. This product came handy when I had to take family/friends children out, it meant I could use this car seat for them as it can be used with a variety of different ages. This saved me time as normally I would have to get the child’s usual car seat out and fit it into my car, which I’m not used to and could take a while working out how it fits in my car."

Read our full review of the Recaro Young Sport Hero car seat here.

This car seat keeps growing with your baby, as you can adjust the seat as they develop. It's made from soft bamboo fabric, and features an easy lock Isofix system, and recline and 360 rotation settings. Being able to rotate the seat 360 degrees makes it so much easier for parents to put baby in and take baby out of the car - saving hours of back ache.

This won Silver in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Rear Facing Car Seat. 

Tested by mum Meg for the 2020 M&B Awards: "I really like the 360 rotation. It makes life so much easier when getting the baby in and out of the car. Once set up in the car, the car seat feels very secure and safe, the side impacts are an extra peace of mind that your child will have extra protection in the event of a car accident."

Read our full review of the Silver Cross Motion here.

The MYTI is an ultra-resistant forward-facing car seat that has nine adjustable positions to suit your child's preference. It also has a headrest and adjustable shoulder width, which expands while your little one grows. 

This won Bronze in the 2020 M&B Awards in the Best Forward Facing Car Seat category.

Tested by mum Christine for the 2020 M&B Awards: "I really liked this car seat. It was super sturdy and solid which made it seem safe. The fact it grows with your child means it could be in use for years which justifies the high price. My daughter looked comfortable in the car seat and although it did not recline fully due to the shape of my back seats, it reclined enough for her to have a snooze!"

Read our full review of the Nuna MYTI here.

We like the harness that can adjust easily to your baby's size and height, and it features self-tightening straps to ensure they ride comfortably and securely. 

This won Bronze in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Rear Facing Car Seat.

Tested by mum Mhari for the 2020 M&B Awards: "This car seat is wonderful. It looks and feels very sturdy and the baby appears to be very comfortable sitting in the car seat. It sits quite high therefore the baby can see out of the window. This car seat made the process of going out for the day at lot easier as baby was happy to use the car seat."

Read our full review of the Axkid Minikid here. 

The new multi-stage Balance car seat from Silver Cross is made from the softest natural bamboo fabrics while being secure and safe. With its smart easy lock ISOFIX system, nine headrest and four recline positions, the long car journeys that may be a pain, have never been so comfortable for you and your child. 

This was Shortlisted in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat.

Tested by mum Anna for the 2020 M&B Awards: "The fact that this car seat lasts until your child no longer needs a car seat means that once you have purchased it, you don’t need to think about buying another. There are already enough essential items to buy when you have children, and this is one thing to cross off the list as they get older!"

Read our full review of the Silver Cross Balance here.

Ensure your little one can sit back and travel comfortably in the ADVANSAFIX IV R. As your child grows, you can switch from the integrated 5-point harness to the 3-point seat belt. This car seat provides maximum comfort and security when on the road. 

This was Shortlisted in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat. 

Tested by mum Rebecca for the 2020 M&B Awards: "Firstly, the product is very easy to use and easy to fit, and feels secure with top tether and a built-in Isofix base (it’s really annoying having to buy a separate base). It looks good in the car and so far it has been easy to keep clean. It’s easy to adjust the straps and the headrest, to recline the seat."

Read our full review of the Britax Römer ADVANSAFIX IV R car seat here.

The highly flexible, supportive and comfortable KIDFIX² R is a 2-in-1 seat from Britax Römer's award-winning KIDFIX range. Suitable for little ones aged between 3.5 to 12 years, it also comes with a padded headrest to provide the ultimate safety and comfort your little one needs for every trip.

This was Shortlisted in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat.

Tested by mum Sophie for the 2020 M&B Awards: "It is quick and easy to put my son in and take him out of this car seat. The position of it also means he can get in and out himself, something he's struggled with when using other seats. Applying the seat belt around the seat is straight forward. The height of the seat means I can easily see him in my rear view mirror. The seat is not bulky and does not take up lots of room in the back."

Read our full review of the Britax Römer KIDFIX² S here

Maxi-Cosi's Kore Pro i-Size car seat is an easy to use and innovative seat that provides the safety and security you need for your little passenger. Its simple design and ultra-comfort padding won't let you down. 

This was Shortlisted in the 2020 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat. 

Tested by mum Beth for the 2020 M&B Awards: "This car seat is very simple in construction and design, and because of that it is very straight forward to use. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in engineering to be able to install! I didn’t really have to refer to the instructions in any way before putting the seat in the car, or for strapping my child in as it is all very intuitive. It is also really light, which is so welcome."

Read our full review of the Maxi-Cosi Kore Pro i-Size here.

When it comes to great value for money, Joie has it covered with their Every Stage FX car seat – lasting from birth to 36kg. Light enough to transfer easily between cars and quick to adjust, making this clever car seat a great option if you want to easily alter one car seat for two children. 

This won Bronze in the 2018 M&B Awards for Best Forward Facing Car Seat.

Tested by mum Sharley Phillips for the M&B Awards 2018: "I love that because this car seat is every stage, I will be able to use it for years, which makes it amazing value for money. It has an ISOFIX base and had really simple instructions on how to adjust the seat for it to ‘grow’ with your child. The only downside for me was getting it set up in my car for the first time, as I found it pretty difficult which put me off a little."

Read our full review of the Joie Baby Every Stage FX here.

The Cosatto Hug is suitable for 9kg to 36kg, which is approximately nine months to 12 years. With five reclining positions and an in-built ISOFIX base, you can rest assured your little one will be safe whilst you drive.

Features include an adjustable headrest, plush chest and stomach pads and padded inserts that can easily be removed and washed, the car seat lives up to its ‘huggable’ name. Our mums also loved the fun design (you can get this is different colours and patterns) and the value for money.

This was Shortlisted in the 2017 M&B Awards for Best Car Seat Group 1+. 

Tested by mum Kate Kirk for the M&B Awards 2017: "Like all Cosatto products the Hug ISOFIX features really fun designs. This seat combines an attractive pattern with easy installation, a solid safe feeling seat and a long lasting age range. While the seat is expensive the potential to use it for eight years means it becomes good value. It is well padded, the fabric feels like it will clean well and last and the integrated ISOFIX makes the seat really safe (which is particularly a concern when the child grows out of a 5 point harness)."

Read our full review of the Cosatto Hug Car Seat here.

Chicco Oasys Car Seat

£159.00 - RRP: £169.00

Chicco’s multistage car is supportive, easy to adjust and stable. Lasting till your child is 12, this is great value for money. Our team of mum testers wished the covers were machine washable, but overall, gave this multistage car seat four and a half stars out of five.

This won Silver in the 2014 M&B Awards for Best Multistage Car Seat.

Read our full review of the Chicco Oasys Car Seat here.

With excellent protection and support, the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix is easy to put together and thanks to its ISOFIX base, you’ll be able to quickly install it in your car without a headache. Key features include an adjustable recline, a headrest, side-protection pads and a front impact restraint, which stops your little one from wiggling out of the straps whilst you are focusing on the road. It’s lightweight when moving it between cars, and our mum testers loved how spacious the car seat felt. 

This was Shortlisted in the 2014 M&B Awards for Best Multistage Car Seat.

Read our full review of the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix Car Seat here.

Another car seat that goes from birth to 12 years old, the price tag makes it an absolute bargain investment. The Graco milestone can be used as a rear-facing, forward-facing or highback booster seat. 

The headrest can be adjusted with one hand (perfect for mums on the go) and the harness height automatically adjusts when altering the headrest height. The only downside is that this car seat is pretty heavy, so it won’t be the easiest to transfer between different cars.

 

Best baby car seat: FAQs

Here are some of your most frequently asked baby car seat questions, answered:

How much does a baby car seat cost?

Car seat prices range anywhere from £50 to £300, depending on quality and type. The longer you are able to use it, the more expensive it will be.

What is the 2-hour rule?

The 2-hour car seat rule is the safest time a baby or a child can be in a baby car seat per 24-hour period, according to safety experts and manufacturers.

How do I install a baby car seat in a car?

Not all baby car seats fit in all cars. Before buying a car seat, you need to make sure that the baby car seat you choose is compatible with your car. Read the manual and head on over to Youtube; most car seat brands have their own video installation guide. If all else fails and you're still not sure, why not ask a professional to install a baby car seat in your car. There are specialised technicians who can make sure everything is working perfectly so your baby can be as safe as possible. 

When should I switch to a bigger baby car seat?

If your baby has outgrown their car seat either by height or weight, if their legs are hanging out, and they look uncomfortable, it's time to upgrade the car seat. Pro tip: make a note in your baby's growth chart to remind you that as soon as your baby reaches a certain weight, it's time for a new car seat.

Should I buy a second-hand baby car seat?

It's perfectly fine to buy a second-hand car seat that isn't too old, as long as you get it checked out by a specialist first. For your own piece of mind, opt for a new one with a warranty if possible.

What to read next:

Newborn baby essentials you actually need from day one

Best pushchairs, prams, buggies and strollers 

13 of the best car games to keep toddlers entertained

The best car seat organisers to keep your car tidy

Did our top picks help you make your choice? Let us know on Facebook - we'd love to hear from you 

 

Having worked across a variety of magazines, on topics from food to travel to horses, Stephanie now works as a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online. 

She loves taking her lurcher puppy Moss for long walks in the country, and spending time with her niece and two nephews. In her spare time she writes fiction books and enjoys baking (her signature bake is lemon drizzle cake).

Other contributors

Sophie Knight - Contributing Editor

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