Best car seat 2019: keep your baby or toddler safe on the road

The best car seats are safe, secure and comfortable. We’ve rounded up the best ones from the likes of Maxi Cosi, Cybex and Joie

Best car seats 2019: keep your baby or toddler safe on the road

Bringing your baby home from hospital may well be one of the most joyful experiences of your life, but it's also the most nerve-wracking, so you definitely don’t want to worry about whether you have the right car seat. 

Choosing the best car seat can be tricky, with a myriad of designs to navigate and confusing classifications for age to get your head around.

We’ve rounded up a list of the best-rated car seats around, and also included some important safety information you need to know.

How to buy the best car seat

Before you look at any seats, it’s best to get an understanding of the law. In the UK, all children need a car seat from birth until 12 years old or until they are 135cm tall (whichever comes first). Of course, your car seat needs to meet EU safety standards (shown by the E symbol on the label) and it’s vital that you make sure your child’s car seat is the right category for their age and size.

There are lots of categories or ‘Groups’ that tell you whether a car seat is suitable for a newborn or toddler. For example, Group 0+: 0-13kg is suitable from birth until around 12 months, while Group 0+/1: 0-18kg, last from birth to around 4 years. So once you’ve worked out which groups are suitable for your child a given weight or age, you have a decision to make about longevity – whether you want to pick one that you might keep for as little as six months, or invest in a long-term seat, which can be more expensive, but might save you money overall.

While the weight or height of your child is the primary thing to take into account, new mums, in particular, may want to investigate the weight or a car seat. Most Group 0+ seats weigh around 3.5kg and can be clipped into a travel system (buggy with benefits) so it’s easy to move a sleeping baby and not put your back out. However, Group 0+/1 car seats tend to weigh more and may be a lot larger to lug around – which may or may not be a concern, depending on your lifestyle. 

Another big consideration is the system you choose to safely fasten a car seat to your car – and this requires a bit of rooting around in your motor.

Isofix (International Standards Organisation FIX) systems work by the base of the car seat being hooked onto two small metal bars, or anchor points, in your car, making it quick and easy to attach and detach seats. Alternatively, there are traditional systems that make use of your car’s seat belt to hold a car seat in place. 

Whatever system you choose, it’s important to make sure the seat is fitted correctly, and this is where buying your car seat from a shop may be handy, because some stores have experts to help fit them.

1. Cybex Sirona S i-Size Car Seat

An excellent rotating car seat that will grow with your child

Specifications
Age band: Birth up to 105 cm, approx. 4 years
Group: 0+/1
Weight: 15kg
Direction: Rotating
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+Looks great+Easy, one-hand rotation+Comfortable for child+Lots of protection
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

The Sirona S i-Size car seat from Cybex offers seriously comfortable rear-facing travel for children up to 105 cm (or approximately 4 years). It features an intelligent design that means even taller kids have plenty of legroom to sit comfortably, and is combined with plenty of soft memory-foam-style padding resulting in lots of compliments during our review period.

The Sirona S features a simple 360-degree rotating mechanism, which makes it easy to switch between rear-facing and boarding position. The seat also offers five reclining positions when rear-facing and 3 reclining positions when forward-facing. This can all be operated with one hand, which can come be incredibly useful. 

For your child's safety, the seat features an Integrated Linear Side-Impact Protection System, which reduces the force of a side-impact by approximately 25-percent, and Driving Direction Control, which prohibits forward-facing use until the child has reached 16 months of age. 

2. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus i-Size

A Group 0+ car seat for easy movement

Specifications
Age band: Birth up 13kg/29lb or approx 12-15months
Group: 0+
Weight: 4.5kg
Direction: Backwards
Fitting: i-Size regulated Isofix compatible
Reasons to buy
+Compatible with loads of buggies+Isofix compatible with extra safety features
Reasons to avoid
-Base and adaptors cost extra

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus i-Size car seat is a Group 0+ seat, perfect for new mums on the go, as it weighs a manageable 4.5kg.  Suitable from birth to 12 months (or up to 13kg/29lbs), the i-Size car seat can be easily clicked into a pushchair to create a flexible travel system, meaning you can move your sleeping baby from car to pushchair or carry the whole car seat into the house, without waking them… or that’s the idea. 

The popular car seat is Isofix compatible and can be used with a 2wayFix base (sold separately). Like all newborn seats, this one is designed to be rear-facing, but also features a high tech impact-absorbing side protection system at the top side wings to provide extra comfort and extra support in the unlikely but terrifying event of a  side-impact collision. There’s also a comfortable baby-hugger inlay for a tailored fit and a removable machine washable cover, which as all parents know, is important. 

To make life easier, the harness and headrest can be adjusted simultaneously to suit the height of your child and there’s a one-pull, three-point harness adjustment and a memory button for easy release from your pushchair, which could be a Bugaboo, Quinny, Maxi Cosi, iCandy and Uppababy thanks to adapters sold separately. The seat itself doesn't cost too much, but it’s worth bearing in mind that an Isofix base and any adaptors you may need will make this more expensive. 

3. Cybex Pallas m-fix in Blue Moon

Colourful seat built to last

Specifications
Age band: 9 months to 12 years (9-36kg)
Group: 1/2/3
Weight: 9.3 kg
Direction: Forward
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+For children 9 months to 12 years+Loads of safety features
Reasons to avoid
-Statement colour isn’t for everyone

The Cybex Pallas m-fix car seat is a great option for parents who need to replace a newborn car seat they used with a travel system, but want something that will last. This is because the seat is group 1/2/3, which means it’s suitable for toddlers aged from 9 months to 12 years (or 9-36kg). 

While the car seat looks fun with its vibrant colour scheme, it has tonnes of safety features, including a reclining headrest that prevents your child's head from falling forward while an L.S.P. system to absorb the force of a side-impact collision, reducing the risk of injury. Best of all, these features also make your baby more comfortable. The seat uses an Isofix system, making it potentially unsuitable for older cars.

4. BeSafe iZi Go

Lightweight, ergonomic seat for new borns +

Specifications
Age band: Birth to 12-15 months
Group: 0+
Weight: 3.7kg
Direction: Backwards
Fitting: Seat belt or Isofix base
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight at 3.7kg and ergonomically designed+Part of a modular system for flexibility
Reasons to avoid
-Buying into a modular system is a commitment

BeSafe iZi Go Modular i-Size is a Group 0+ seat for babies up to the age of 12-15 months or 75cm tall. It’s designed to be easy to carry, which is a godsend if your lifestyle involves getting a baby from A to B in a car. With an ergonomic handle that’s comfy on the hip and at a light weight of 3.7kg, the car seat is very easy to carry. The innovative egg shape also makes it easy to lift in and out of the car – something that cannot be underestimated. 

The seat has extra side impact protection and a unique ‘SIP+’ shock absorber you can place either side of the seat next to the car door. When it comes to comfort, the seat boasts a soft, padded memory foam inner seat and sides as well as unique head cushion inserts for your child’s safety and comfort, which can be removed as soon as baby’s head fills the head area snuggly.

Rear-facing, with a wide 5-belt harness and handy extra grip blue belt guiders that make it easy to secure when you’re using a car seat belt, the seat also has magnets to keep the internal harness out of the way so they don’t get stuck under your baby when you place them in it. Removable double cushion inserts allow the seat to grow and there’s even an SPF50 sun canopy included, which is great if you’re having a summer baby. The car seat is part of a modular system so you can use the same base for the next seat (available separately), and even extend the base for extra legroom up to 4 years, but it is one of the slightly more expensive options.

5. Britax Römer DUALFIX

The car seat that swivels 360°

Specifications
Age band: Birth to 4 years old
Group: 0+/1
Weight: 14.7kg
Direction: 360° rotation
Fitting: Dualfix
Reasons to buy
+Flexible from newborn to toddler+Swivels so you don’t need to reinstall it
Reasons to avoid
-At the more expensive end of the spectrum

Britax Römer Dualfix’s USP is its ability to rotate 360°. This means it’s easy to change from rear to forward-facing when your child’s big enough, without reinstalling it. You can use the Group 0-1 car seat in the rearward position until your baby weighs 9kg, then you have the option to either keep them facing the rear (which has safety benefits in the event of a collision) or turn them forward-facing. Whatever you choose, the seat is designed to give you flexibility from the birth of your child until they are a toddler.

The car seat includes all the safety features you'd expect, such as Isofix and a 5-point safety harness, which has a one-pull adjustment that distributes the impact forces out across the car seat and away from your baby. The newborn insert provides extra comfort and support for your baby, while the height-adjustable headrest and harness with easy single-handed adjustment allow the seat to grow with your child without the need to remove and re-thread the harness. 

Deep, softly padded full side wings provide optimum side impact protection for your child, while multiple recline positions allow a comfortable sleeping position for your child that you can adjust without disturbing them – a godsend for parents of babies who are not keen on napping.

6. Maxi-Cosi AxissFix

A 360° swivelling seat with AxissFix

Specifications
Age band: 4 months to 4 years
Group: 1
Weight: 12.45kg
Direction: 360° rotation
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+Greater longevity for babies from 4 months to 4 years+Super swivelling feature
Reasons to avoid
-Your car needs to support a top tether

The Maxi-Cosi AxissFix car seat is a Group 1 seat, making it suitable for babies 61cm to 105cm in height (or approximately 4 months to 4 years). The 360° swivelling seat makes securing your toddler a breeze thanks to AxissFix. Parents don’t need to lean over and squeeze in between the car seat and the back of the front seat, because it allows front-on access by just turning the seat towards you. The company claims this means you can buckle up your child and rotate the seat either rearward or forward-facing in seconds.

The seat uses the Isofix system and also needs a top tether, so you’ll need to check your car has a top tether anchorage point in order that it can correctly installed. The padded seat has an angled base, providing additional leg room to keep your baby in the safer rearward facing position for longer and has four recline position in both directions. There are adjustable harness hooks and one-pull harness system to make strapping in your child easy and harness strap hooks, keeping the harness out of the way to make it easier to place your child in the seat.

7. Joie Every Stage

One car seat from birth to 12 years

Specifications
Age band: Birth to 12 years
Group: 0+/1/2/3
Weight: 8.2kg
Direction: Backwards and Forwards
Fitting: Seat Belt
Reasons to buy
+You only need buy one seat+Grows with AutoAdjust features
Reasons to avoid
-May not be the most comfortable

The Every Stage car seat from Joie is suitable from birth to 12 years (or 18kg) and adjusts as your child grows. While it comes in lots of colours, the two-tone black is a versatile and ‘serious’ choice for people that don’t want their cars to become an extension of the nursery. The seat is technically Group 0+/1/2/3 and has AutoAdjust side wings that widen as the headrest is adjusted for a custom fit and maximum protection through every stage of your child’s life. Meanwhile, the ‘Grow Together’ multi-height headrest and harness system also adjust simultaneously and require no re-threading of the harness. 

The car seat has compartments that store the 5-point harness when it is being used as a Group 2 booster seat, as well as side mesh storage pockets for toys and snacks. After all, anything that helps keep the car tidy is a bonus. The Joie seat has plush deluxe cushioning and fabrics and inserts can be easily removed and washed, which is a must for a seat designed to last. While the car seat is one of the more basic options available, parents on a budget can invest in just one car seat for not very much money, which has all the necessary safety features.

8. Cybex Solution Z-Fix in Autumn Gold

Isofix toddler seat has 12 positions

Specifications
Age band: From 3 to 12 years
Group: 2/3
Weight: 7.6kg
Direction: Forward
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+Seat offers more freedom for children than adaptive baby ones+Ventilation system for hot days
Reasons to avoid
-From around 3 years

The Cybex Solution Z-Fix car seat in Autumn Gold is for 3-12-year-olds (15-36kg) or Group 2/3. Unlike adaptable baby seats, it’s designed to cater to the needs of slightly older children and is slightly less restrictive, while offering lots of safety features. In combination with the energy-absorbing shell (L.S.P. System), forces from a side-impact collision are reduced by approximately 25% and the child’s head is actively guided into a safe position thanks to the Cybex Safety Pads. The car seat is Isofix compatible for easy installation and extra stability and safety but can also be used in older cars that don’t have the necessary attachments. 

The car seat has a three-position reclining headrest that prevents the child’s head from tipping forward while sleeping, while the seat itself can be used in 12 positions, because the head and shoulder protectors can be adjusted in height with automatic width adjustment to meet the individual space requirements of the child. For those shopping for a good car seat for the summer months and holidays, the car seat has an integrated ventilation system providing a comfortable seat temperature for your child even on hot days.

9. Cosatto Zoomi Miss Dinomite

Fun cars seat for toddlers to 12 years

Specifications
Age band: 9 months – 12 years
Group: 1/2/3
Weight: 5.7 kg
Direction: Forward
Fitting: Seat Belt
Reasons to buy
+Fun character is enticing for kids+Suitable from 9 months to 12 years
Reasons to avoid
-Design may become uncool for older kids

Cosatto’s Zoomi ‘Miss Dinomite’ character car seat is a great option if you have to fight your toddler into their car seat for every outing because it’s so enticing and fun. The Group 1/2/3 car seat will give your child a secure ride from nine months until approx. 11 years (9-36kg) and fits forward-facing with a standard 3-point vehicle seat belt. It also features an exclusive 5 point plus anti-escape system - great for keeping little wrigglers in place - plus side impact protection for in-car security.

The comfy padded seat has an adjustable headrest to grow with your child and it’s easy to clean with removable washable padded liner and covers, which is important for a car seat designed to be used for years. The car seat comes with a 4-year guarantee, which is longer than most and is amazing value. The only drawback may be whether your little one will want to sit on a pink dinosaur forever, as what’s cool and fun at four may well not be at 11!

10. Cosatto Skippa with Magic Unicorns

A magical Group 2-3 car seat

Specifications
Age band: 4 to 12 years
Group: 2-3
Weight: 7.4 kg
Direction: Forward
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+Fun car seat for 4-12 year olds+Isofix and seatbelt compatible
Reasons to avoid
-They’ll only love unicorns for so long

The Skippa Fix Group 2-3 Car Seat from Cosatto has been designed to keep your child safe during car journeys between the ages of four and approximately twelve years (or 15-36kg). It’s great for plenty of cars old and new because it can be secured with a standard 3-point vehicle seat belt or, for further peace of mind, via your vehicle's Isofix points.

But perhaps it’s the seat’s appearance that will appeal to your child the most, and make every journey magical thanks to its unicorn pattern…well, you can but dream. The Skippa car seat has a luxury padded seat to keep your child comfy on long journeys, and a convenient drinks holder to keep refreshments close to hand and hopefully off your upholstery. It also makes for a neat crayon and toy holder. 

Of course, there are the usual safety features too. Deep side-impact protection offers advanced safety and security on every trip. And there are two seat recline positions as well as armrests for comfort. It comes with a four-year guarantee and has a removable and machine washable seat cover, which if you have a toddler, you know is worth the money. 

11. Mothercare Palma high back booster seat

Value option for toddlers to tweens

Specifications
Age band: 4-12 years
Group: 2-3
Weight: 12.2 kg
Direction: Forward
Fitting: Isofix
Reasons to buy
+Isofix compatible+A simple, plain and value option
Reasons to avoid
-It’s sponge clean only!

The Mothercare Palma high back booster seat has been designed to keep older children safe on car journeys. Suitable from 4 years until they no longer require a seat at approximately 12 years – (or more accurately 15kg/33lbs to 36kg/79lbs) the booster seat has an adjustable headrest and side-impact protection. It also comes with a two-year guarantee and a removable hand-washable cover, although the main body is sponge clean only.

Sure. It’s not the most eye-catching option out where when you compare it to car seats emblazoned with colourful patterns or shaped like characters, but if you’re after a discrete car seat for a nice car, or simply a solution that’s unlikely to date and go out of favour with your child, like so many fads from Peppa Pig to the joy of sitting on tractors, this option may be for you.

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