The 7 best lie flat car seats for newborns

best lie flat car seats for newborns

by Lorna White |
Updated on

When driving with your baby in the car, their safety is everything so it's understandable why you might want to consider some of the best lie flat car seats when thinking about buying a car seat for your newborn.

If you're not already familiar with lie flat car seats, they're a cart seat that allows baby to lay flat when travelling in the car. Research shows that lying flat is the healthiest position for newborns to be in when they're sleeping or lying still for prolonged periods of time, so it's understandable why you might opt for a lie flat car seat. Whatever car seat you decide to go for, remember that here in the UK, car seats are mandatory for transporting babies and all children under 12-years-old (or who are less than 135cm tall).

Lie flat car seats allow baby to breathe easier than car seats where baby is sat up slightly as it can make them slump over slightly, restricting their breathing. Laying flat is also the best position for encouraging the healthy development of baby's spine and hips. If you see your baby having to regularly be on longer car journeys (over 2 hours), where stopping frequently isn't an option then it's probably worth getting a lie flat car seat. The biggest downside to a lie flat car seat is that the seat may only last until your baby is around 6 months old so in terms of value for money, they aren't great as you may need to consider a toddler car seat as well.

The best lie flat car seats at a glance:

Best overall lie flat car seat: Joie i-Level - Buy now on John Lewis, £150

Best lightweight lie flat car seat: Nuna CARI - Buy now on John Lewis, £250

Best rotating lie flat car seat: Cybex Cloud Z2 i-Size - Buy now on Online4Baby, £194.95

Best multistage lie flat car seat: Britax Römer BABY-SAFE i-SIZE - Buy now on Boots, £219

Lie flat car seats are ideal if you're keen to keep your baby in the car seat when taking them out of the car to visit a friend's house or eat out at a restaurant without having to take a pushchair in as this is where many parents might exceed the two hour mark.

We've done all the research for you and found the best lie flat car seats for newborn babies. We've included some Mother&Baby Award winners that have been reviewed by our real parent testers that'll keep your baby safe when travelling.

The best lie flat car seats

Best overall lie flat car seat

Mother&Baby mum tester / Ria

This is a lie-flat lounger when strolling and allows baby to lie flat for snoozes in the car too. This car seat won silver in the 2024 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Newborn Car Seat category.

The Joie i-Level cleverly converts in an instant from cuddly carrycot to infant car seat, which our mum tester loved as it meant she could leave her baby to snooze for longer. It's suitable for rearward facing from birth, and the i-Level features the ultimate protection and security for your little one. 

While the swivel base that you can get for the car seat could be larger for some small cars, you can opt for a non-swivel base. If you prefer a completely flat car seat then we would recommend the Nuna Cari, however the Joie i-Level has three reclining positions so it's more flexible and you can adjust it as needed.

Read our full Joie i-Level Recline car seat review

Pros

  • It allows for lie flat mode for both car journeys and strolls
  • Has a choice of three reclining positions
  • Parts of the car seat can be washed

Cons

  • The base with the option to turn might be too large for smaller cars
Suitable from:Suitable rearward facing from 40 up to 85cm (approx birth to 15 months
Isofix compatible:Yes
Safety: R129-compliant (i-Size ready)
Guarantee:<meta charset="utf-8">2 years
Dimensions: H65 x W57.5 x D44cm
  • Certified to the highest R129 safety standards
  • i-Size certification
  • Ultimate side impact protection
  • Removable full body insert
  • Retractable sun canopy
  • Three-point harness

Best lightweight lie flat car seat

This carry cot car seat provides a very comfortable place for your baby to nap during car journeys. It also allows baby to lie completely flat while in the car, which is best for spinal development and you won't have to disturb baby when getting them in and out of the car.

The Nuna CARI is only suitable for children up to the age of six months, so if you're looking for a longer lasting car seat you might want to opt for the Joie i-Level instead, as this is suitable for up to 15 months. However the Nuna CARI lays further flat.

It's also NEXT system compatible if you have a travel system and although it's quite bulky in size taking up space in the car, it's lightweight, weighing just 3.6kg.

Read our full Nuna CARI car seat review.

Pros

  • The car seat is fully reclined, similar to a carry cot
  • It's made from toxin-free fabric
  • It's easy to carry and is a lightweight design

Cons

  • It is really large and takes up space on the back seat
Compatibility: 'NEXT' system™ compatible. Travel system ready with easy connection to Nuna pushchairs
Safety:R129 protection
Weight: 3.6kg
Fastening:3-point harness system
ISOFIX compatible?Yes - 10 ISOFIX positions
Height band: 40-70cm
Suitable from:Birth
  • Three-point harness system
  • Shock absorbingplastic base
  • 10 ISOFIX positions for a custom fit

Best rotating lie flat car seat

Cybex-Cloud-Z2-i-Size-Infant-Car-Seat
Price: £194.95 (was £229.95)

www.online4baby.com

Enjoy all-round flexibility and comfort for you and your child with the Cloud Z2 i-Size. The clever rotation mechanism lets the seat face sideways for effortless entry and exit.

Our parent tester loved the new in-car recline feature that allows your child to relax during the journey, describing it as a "great addition". The lay flat option means that baby can stay in the seat for longer, "which is amazing" for longer car journeys.

The Cybex Cloud Z2 i-Size looks a lot more 'sleek and modern' too.

Read our full Cybex Cloud Z2 i-Size review

Pros

  • It has a reclining function inside the car and lay flat on the pushchair
  • It's an ergonomic car seat for comfort

Cons

  • Difficult to carry
Suitable from: Birth 45-87cm
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Weight: <meta charset="utf-8">4.8kg
Safety: R129 compliant
Cleaning: Machine washable covers
  • Ergonomic design
  • Side-impact protection
  • Reclining chair
  • 180 degree rotation

Best multistage lie flat car seat

This car seat comes with lie flat technology allowing for baby to rest in a safe position. Available in a range of colours, you can install it with a support leg, or with an ISOFIX base and support leg. It attaches to selected pushchair frames. Thanks to the rotating base, it's easy to get baby in and out of the car.

Our mum tester Vicky said: 'I would recommend this product to fellow mums as it is very easy to use. The newborn insert keeps your delicate baby secure and supports their head, which is really important. The Isofix base tilts, which is great for positioning. The car seat is also pretty light, which really helps my posture when carrying it.'

Read our full Britax Römer BABY-SAFE i-SIZE review

Pros

  • Rotating base
  • Includes sun canopy

Cons

  • Narrow in size
<meta charset="utf-8">Suitable from:<meta charset="utf-8"> Birth until around 13kg
Safety: R129-compliant
Fastening:5-point harness
Weight: <meta charset="utf-8">3.9kg

Best lie flat car seat for baby comfort

Available in a wide range of colours, this seat allows your baby to lie in a flat position at all times whether they're in the car or in their stroller. Meeting the highest safety standards, it provides the best protection for baby's neck and head.

One parent tester said: 'I purchased the Jade car seat after seeing at a trade show. I like the fact you could use it as a car seat but it also doubles up as a carry cot. My little boy who is 2 weeks old seems to love it and settles really well in it. I live about 30mins from town and the supermarket so it’s a god send knowing you i’m not restricted to the amount of time he spends in the jade car seat. Also it’s better for storage as your not doubling up on a carry cot and car seat. The Jade looks really good as well you wouldn’t actually know it was a car seat until you see the straps inside. It clips really easily in and out of the car. I’d highly recommended it to anyone.'

Pros

  • Washable cover
  • Comfortable for baby

Cons

  • Doesn't last growing baby's very long
Safety: R129 safety
ISOFIX compatible: Yes
Fastening:3-point safety harness
Colours: 6
Suitable: From birth up to 6 months
Weight: 0 - 9 kg

Best designed lie flat car seat

The Nuna Arra newborn baby car seat provides a smooth transition from crib to infant carrier. Its three recline positions allow baby to lie comfortably, whether Arra is buckled in the backseat or attached to a pushchair. It’s i-Size-approved and lightweight, weighing just 3.9 kg (without insert or canopy). Doubling as a car seat and a carry cot, this reclining carrier means that even though life doesn’t stop, their sleep doesn’t have to either.

Our mum tester Helen said: "This car seat allows your baby to be in a reclined mode which is safer for them when travelling which is the most ergonomic position. Seeing as my baby loves the motion of the car she spends most of her time asleep in it so this is great for us. The leather handle is easy to grip and makes it look classy."

Read our full Nuna ARRA review

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to transition from car to stroller

Cons

  • Small colour choice

This car seat offers four different recline settings, so your baby can travel in an upright seated position (suitable from 0-18 months) or lying completely flat (from birth to nine months). In the lie-flat mode, covers attached with poppers convert it into a carrycot. It can also be attached to any Jané pushchair frame. It’s fairly heavy and the seat takes up quite a lot of space in the back of the car when it’s in recline mode. The base has to be purchased separately.

Mum tester Cora said: ‘This is bulky, but Lyla seemed comfortable. The lie-flat mode is great for newborns, but it seems expensive for a seat that is outgrown fairly quickly.’

Read our full Jané Matrix Light 2 Car Seat review

Pros

  • Four recline settings
  • Great for long car journeys

Cons

  • Heavy and takes up a lot of space
Suitable from: Birth to 6 months
Positions:4 reclining positions adapt to your child: 138-180°
Carry handle:3-positions
Fastening: 5 point safety harness with one-pull adjustment

Choosing the right lie flat car seat for you

Before you purchase a lie flat car seat, you'll want to consider whether or not it's worth the investment for you. The majority of lie flat car seats are Group 0 car seats so will only last your little one until around the 6 month mark. However, if you expect to be regularly travelling on long journeys with your baby, then they're worth the money for your peace of mind and baby's safety in the car.

Some lie flat car seats are combination seats that can take you up to the next age stage (12-15 months). The only downside with this kind of car seat is the choices are fairly limited and they tend to be rather large and bulky so aren't ideal for smaller cars.

If it's a lie flat position you're looking for when out of the car, then you might be best to opt for a car seat that can lie flat in the buggy. These are great for visiting relatives, restaurants and shopping trips. These can also last longer up to around 12-18 months.

Lie flat car seat safety

It is a legal requirement for children to travel in a car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall. While standard car seats are perfectly safe for your child, young babies are safest in a lie flat position to help the healthy development of baby's spine and hips.

According to the Lullaby Trust, babies should not be in a car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time and they should be taken out frequently. If possible, it's ideal if you have another adult sat with baby in the back to make sure they're okay. If baby changes position and slumps forward, then you should immediately stop and take them out
of the car seat and reposition them before continuing on your journey.

What age do babies not need to lie flat?

Where possible, it's advised that babies should lie flat until they're a year old. This is most essential in the first six months, particularly the early months. Usually, it's when your child can confidently sit up by themselves they don't need to be lying flat.

Are lie flat car seats worth it?

If your baby is premature or has other medical conditions then your baby should be in a lie flat car seat for safety reasons. Standard car seats are perfectly safe for most children, however, make sure your car journey times are kept to a minimum and baby can regularly have a stretch.

If this isn't an option for you and you regularly see yourself having to do longer car journeys with baby (that's over two-hours), then you may want to consider a lie flat car seat for their safety and your peace of mind.

Lorna White is the Senior Digital Writer for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website, specialising in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, Lorna brought her expertise to Mother&Baby in 2020. She has a keen interest in a range of topics from potty training and nutrition to baby names and early development and has a wide range of experienced medical experts and professionals at her fingertips. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two young sisters, dog walking and enjoying the outdoors with her family.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.