Choosing the right car seat is always confusing- there are endless designs, safety tests (or lack of them) and quite complicated classifications.
When looking at the car seats it’s important to remember that they need to meet certain law requirements (which may vary in different countries).
In the UK, all children need a car seat from birth until 12 years old (or when they reach 135cm tall). Of course, your car seat also needs to meet EU safety standards.
You also have to make sure your little one’s car seat is suitable for their age and size; for this you need to learn about different groups. For instance: group 0+: 0-13 kg will last from birth until your baby reaches 12 months (more or less);, group 0+/1: 0-18 kg will be suitable from birth to around 4 years old.
To make the choice easier for you, I prepared a list of 6 top rated car seats and divided them into babies and toddlers category.
Things to consider before buying a car seat
When choosing a car seat for your little one there are few things you need to think of:
- whether you need a car seat that will serve you for the long-term
- whether you need an Isofix base
- whether your budget is limited
- whether you need it to be travel system compatible
If you decide you want a car seat that will be compatible with your pushchair, making it a travel system, you have to choose the 0+ type that will usually not last you longer than 6 months. Although they’re cheaper, they don’t really save you money on the long-run.
However, they’re super convenient to use when travelling- no need to wake your baby up when you’re moving around with the car seat- they can simply be clipped into your buggy. They’re also light, usually not weighing more than 5 kg.
Another significant thing to consider is how you’re planning to fasten the car seat to your car. The popular Isofix (International Standards Organisation FIX) fitting system makes attaching and detaching the car seat quick and simple. It’s also considered the safest option.
However, not all cars support this system (at least the older models don’t). That’s why there are still traditional systems that will hold the seat in place using the car’s seat belt.
Lastly, there’s your budget to think of. Unfortunately, the best car seats are not cheap but they’ve passed all the safety tests such as crush test (including ADAC). So apart from the quality, you also pay for a piece of mind, knowing your little one is well-protected in case of an accident.
All the links you can find embedded within the names of the products.
Age range: from newborn to 12 months old (max 13 kg)
Weight: 3.4 kg
Fitting: Isofix/ seat belt
- Light and good quality
- Comes in many colours
- Good head support
- Easy to fit with ISOFIX installation with any compatible Maxi-Cosi base unit
- Compatible with many pushchairs
- Protection in case of side impact
- Affordable + a good value for the price
- Sun shade is difficult to pull out
- You have to buy adapters to the pushchair separately (the Isofix base is also not included)
- Some reviews say the handle gets stiff when folding down
This Maxi Cosi car seat is practical to use and easy to fit, whether you plan to use your cars’ seat belt or Isofix. It’s light enough for you to transport the baby from the car to the pushchair. In case of any spillages, the cover of the seat can be removed and washed.
It’s compatible with many prams such as Maxi Cosi, Quinny, Mamas and Papas or Uppababy Vista, making it a complete travel system. It clips in and out of the base and the pushchair without effort. However, you will need to buy adapters separately.
This car seat is designed to be used in a rear-facing position (like all newborn seats) and will be comfortable for you little one as there’s some extra padding in the headrest. Additionally, it has an impact-absorbing side protection system to provide extra safety in case of a side collision.
Age range: from newborn to 12 months old (max 13,5 kg)
Weight: 9.5 kg
Fitting: Seat belt
- 4-position extension panel which gives some extra legroom
- Sturdy and well padded
- Only one button to move the handle back and forth
- Good value for money
- The sun shade can be lowered quite far
- Includes compartment pocket for storing the manual and the Latch connectors
- Heavier than other car seats from this group
- Might be a tight fit if you have a smaller car
- Only compatible with Graco stroller
This sturdy Graco car seat will be just as its name suggest- snug and comfy for your little one. The extendable panel makes more room for the baby’s legs than many other models.
There’s a special Anti-Rebound Bar which would reduce car seat rotation in case of a frontal impact. The safety harness and the headrest can be adjusted with a single movement so it won’t give you any headache when in a hurry.
The long- extendable sun shade is really great, providing a better sun protection than standard car seats. It’s also a silent type so won’t wake your child up if sleeping.
The installation is very simple with your car’s seat belt thanks to its ‘Snug Lock’ technology.
Age range: from newborn to 12-15 months old (max 15.5 kg)
Weight: 4.9 kg
Fitting: seat belt
- Cooling mesh fabric provides better air flow
- It includes European belt guide that allows you to install the seat without the base (if needed)
- Britax is known as a super-safe trusted brand
- Click & Go option to make it travel system compatible
- Very easy to use and to click into the base
- Good size sun canopy
- Not the lightest or the smallest- if you have a smaller car it’s worth checking the measurements first
- The material is dark which can get hot easily
- May not work with the newest car models
- You have to be ‘loyal’ to Britax brand if you’re planning to use it as a travel system
This model has 2 layers of side impact protection, head protection, impact-stabilizing steel frame and impact absorbing base- surely all of this is enough to give you a peace of mind when it comes to safety!
The car seat is very simple to install thanks to its Latch connectors. It has flip-forward belly pad and 6 adjustable harness positions. It’s easy to adjust the straps and the removable padding consists of body pillow and shoulder pads.
The car seat comes with build in adapters for Britax b agile, b free, b mobile and b ready strollers.
Age range: from newborn to 4 years old (approx 120 cm)
Weight: around 11kg
- The seat will last you for longer
- Rear facing installation available until your child reaches 18kg
- 10 positions reclining backrest
- Spacious and wide so comfortable for your child
- Easy to install and take out from your car thanks to the one-pull LATCH removal system
- Smart technology integrated
- It’s a heavy and large car seat so may not be suitable for smaller cars
- Some reviews said the quality of the product was not as they’ve expected for the price
- The installation takes some practice
- The app won’t work if you have an older car (will sync with cars produced from 2008)
This sturdy Cybex car seat has won few awards on international level- in safety, innovation and functionality category.
The new technology build within these models’ safety harness, allows you to monitor your baby’s safety through your smartphone. Once you download an app it will send you alerts whenever the temperature inside the car goes up or whenever the buckle is undone. It will also beep after you’ve switched off the engine and your kid stays in the seat for too long ( how cool is that?).
In case of a collision, there’s a special LSP (linear Side-impact Protection) system which helps in reducing the strength of an impact felt by your little one.
The headrest keeps your child well-protected and has 12 different positions (which basically means it grows with your kid).
Age range: birth to 4 years (approx 105 cm)
Weight: 12.7 kg
- Useful 360 degrees swiveling option
- Covertible, for long-term use
- Easy to fit in your car and strap your child in
- Adjustable headrest
- Your car needs to support a top tether
- The most expensive
- Heavy (not the best option if you’re planning to take it out often)
- Rear facing option available until only about 2 years of age
This 360° Maxi Cosi swivelling seat makes is super easy to buckle your child in. You won’t have to squeeze yourself in the back of your car because this model lets you access the seat from the front- the only thing you have to do is to turn the seat towards you (from both, rearward or foward-facing position).
The car seat is build on the Isofix system but also requires a top tether in order to be properly installed.
The padded seat has an angled base, which gives your little one an extra leg room (making the rearward facing position even safer) and has 4 different reclining positions- in both directions.
There are hooks on the harness which can be adjusted according to your needs and a one-pull harness system that makes strapping in your child simple.
Age range: birth to 12 years (approx 105 cm)
Weight: 8.2 kg
Fitting: Seat belt
- Great for long-term use
- Lighter & cheaper than other brands
- Value for money
- Side impact protection
- The rear-facing option can be used until your child is 18 kg (about 4 years old)
- The headrest is adjustable
- Not Isofix compatible
- The seat is bulky
- The recline position have to be chosen before fitting the seat
- Not much leg room when the child is rear facing
If you need a car seat for an extra- long time and you’re on a lower budget, Joie Every Stage is the answer. In fact, it will be the only car seat you’ll ever buy.
It has AutoAdjust side wings that widen when the headrest is being adjusted- it gives the perfect fit and the highest protection during your child’s growing stages. The headrest and harness straps also adjust simultaneously which is a great feature.
Another cool thing about this car seat is that it comes in various colours. As a bonus, it also has compartments (when used as a booster) and as side mesh storage pockets for toys and snacks.
The Joie seat has soft cushioning so should be comfortable for your little one and there are 5 reclining positions available (1 in the rear facing and 4 in the forward facing mode).
The fabrics can be easily removed and washed (which is really a must for a seat designed to last).
Time to make a decision…
Hopefully I shined some light on the topic of the car seats for you.
You may be tempted to go for even cheaper car seat than listed above. However, it’s really not worth saving money on your little one’s safety.
If you’re looking for a baby travel system with a car seat included in the price, read my other post here.
Until next time!,