The best car seats for 4-year-olds

best-car-seat-for-4-year-old

by Eleanor Weaver |

At four years old, your little one may be feeling all grown-up compared to their baby self. Not only are they heading to 'big' primary school, but they may have also outgrown their car seat along the way with most baby/toddler car seats being best suited for children up to the age of three or four. Not the most helpful for a fast-sprouting four-year-old!

We've done the research and found the best car seats for four-year-olds. We've included some Mother&Baby Award winners that have been reviewed by our real parent testers, and that'll last for years to come.

What car seat should a 4-year-old be in?

When looking for a car seat for your four-year-old, you should be looking for their 'stage group' based on their weight, rather than their age. The stage groups for little ones are broken down as follows under ECE R44 regulations with different seat designs as a result.

It's recommended that you should try to keep your child in the lowest stage group for as long as possible to give them the optimal safety features. But all of these group stages would be suitable for a four-year-old:

Group 0+/1/2 car seats

This car seat group is suitable from birth to 25kg, approx. six-years-old.

Group 1/2/3 car seats

This car seat group is suitable for children 9-36kg, approx. nine months to 12 years.

Group 0+/1/2 and Group 1/2/3 are classed as multi-stage car seats. They’re designed to carry your child from baby to the booster-seat stage. Yes, these are initially more expensive compared to other car seats on the market. That said, they prove to be great value for money because of their extended use.

These car seats come with padding, and a five-point safety harness, and most of these seats will fit children up to 18 or 25kg.

Group 2/3 car seats

This car seat group is designed as a high-back booster seat and is suitable for children 15-36kg, approx. three to12-years-old.

The next best choice if your little one has outgrown their existing car seat, this seat will lift your child up to use the vehicle seat belt and comes with a high back and side padding for safety and impact protection.

i-Size car seats (Height-based system)

Expected to eventually be adopted across all new car seats sold, i-Size was introduced in 2013 as safety regulation ECE R129 with rigorous testing through impact crash trials and new state-of-the-art Q dummies to test impact.

Using a height-based system, i-Size car seats have been designed to take the guesswork out of choosing the right fit, provide better protection from side impacts, and keep children rearward-facing for longer, until at least 15 months or 75cm to protect their fragile heads and necks.

Can a 4-year-old use a booster seat?

Based on new safety regulations launched in 2017, group 3 car seats i.e. new booster seats on the market, are limited to children who are taller than 125cm, weighing more than 22kg. The average height and weight of a four-year-old in the UK fall below these requirements so it's likely they would not be able to use a booster seat until they are bigger.

Read next: Car seats for 5-year-olds to keep them safe and secure

Previously, these car seats were approved for use by children weighing between 15-36kg, but they've been deemed by the UN as being unsuitable for protecting smaller children from side-on collisions as they have fewer safety features.

Does my child need a car seat?

If they’re four years old, absolutely! In the UK, it’s a legal requirement for children to use a child car seat or booster seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm in height.

What is ISOFIX?

For a car seat that’s seamless to install, ISOFIX is a must. ISOFIX compatible car seats have two arms that lock onto small metal bars located in the seat of your vehicle to anchor the car seat into place. No seat belt threading necessary – and they’re accompanied by install indicators so you can be sure it’s correctly connected.

Most new cars since 2013 have a pair of ISOFIX anchor points. But, it’s something worth checking in your car if you want to reap the benefits.

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