The best car seats to keep your child safe and comfortable from baby to toddler

best car seats

by Stephanie Spencer |
Updated

With hundreds of different models, types and variations on offer, finding the best car seats for your baby or toddler can be one of the more challenging things to do as a parent. Some travel systems include a car seat, which is incredibly useful, but you might still want to consider factors like compatibility with your car, safety standards, adjustability and how easy the car seat is to install, when deciding if the car seat is suitable for you.

When buying a car seat, whether for a baby or a toddler, safety is likely to be your number one priority. The UK law states that car seats are mandatory for transporting babies, and all children under 12 years old (or less than 135cm) in the UK. Additionally, babies under the age of 15 months must be transported in rearward facing car seats, as it offers better protection of the spine and neck in a collision. It's also advised that newborn babies should be in a lie flat car seat during their early months because they allow your little one to breathe easier and laying flat is also the best position for encouraging the healthy development of baby's spine and hips.

In addition to safety, other factors such affordability, installation, adjustability, age suitability and car compatibility are important. You might only want to consider ISOFIX seats, need a rear facing car seat if your little one is younger than 15 months, or feel like a rotating car seat will make getting your little one in and out of the car a lot easier. There is so much to consider, not forgetting how easy the car seat is to clean, dimensions and of course that the seat you have chosen is compliant with the most recent safety regulations.

The best car seats at a glance:

Best overall car seat: Nuna TODL Next iSize Car Seat - Buy now on John Lewis
• Best car seat for convenience: Nuna PIPA urbn - Buy now on John Lewis
• Best stylish car seat: Joie i-Level recline - Buy now on Amazon UK
• Best for one-hand use: Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 - Buy now on Amazon UK

How to choose the right car seat for you

The type of car seat you need will depend on a variety of factors. Whether you are a new parent, or you are looking for a car seat for a toddler, you might want to consider the following:

Installation: If you have more than one car, you might be looking to purchase two car seats, or a car seat that's easy to move between the two. If you're planning to move the car seat a lot or you don't actually drive and get taxis, then an ISOFIX car seat might not be as practical for you to use and you might prefer a car seat installed with a car seat belt.

Weight: if you are planning to move the car seat a lot, then think about how lightweight it is. You won't want to keep lifting and carrying a really heavy car seat.

Age: Do you need the car seat for that first trip home from the hospital with your newborn? Or perhaps you want a car seat that will grow with your little one into a toddler car seat.

Does it fit your car? Not all child seats fit all cars. Things like seat shapes and seat belts can affect this. You need to choose a baby car seat that fits your car and also follows UK law requirements. The retailer you purchase the car seat from should be able to advise you on whether it properly fits in your car. You can also use online tools such as Britax Romer to find out which car seats fit your car.

i-Size - 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).

Does it meet safety standards? Check that the seat you are buying meets ECE R44.04 (or R44.03) or the new i-size standard (R129). Look for the E mark.

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.

Affordability: If you are buying a spare car seat you might want to look for more budget options than if it is your only car seat. Car seats vary a lot in price and we know babies are expensive so choosing a car seat within your budget is important.

360 rotation: Special features like 360 rotation really do make it easier for you to get your little one in and out of their car seat, so it is something to consider when buying a car seat.

Rear facing: If your little one is under 15 months then they will need to be rearward facing, so this is an essential feature. However, the Government recommends that children should travel rearward facing up to age 4 and there are some great rear facing toddler seats to choose from, and so even if your little one is older than 15 months this is still something to consider.

Compatibility with travel systems: It might be that your car seat is part of a travel system and therefore it will be compatible. However, if you buy an additional car seat, or you need a car seat which can attach to your pram's wheels, you need to ensure there are adaptors which are compatible with the car seat you choose.

When choosing a car seat also think about things like how easy they are to clean, if they will be comfortable for your baby or toddler, or whether they can lie flat. It is also important to think about adjustability and if the car seat can be easily adapted as your little one grows, and whether it might even be able to be used as a high backed booster seat when your child requires it, and up until 12 years of age.

How we test our car seats

Our Mother&Baby Awards are renowned in the industry for being one of the most highly respected product awards for baby and parenting products, and every year, we arrange for thousands of independent parent reviewers to test the latest products on the market.

Once we’ve recruited our pool of testers we ask them to consider four areas while testing, including usability, design, quality and value for money. They also are asked to provide feedback on their experience with the product and whether they would make any changes to improve it.

Our list of the best car seats have been tested by parents just like you – who have lived with these car seats, used them with travel systems, fitted them in cars and know how they suit them and their children. Our testers consider everything from safety standards, ease of use, budget, weight, installation and adaptability. From all this work, our best car seat award winners are chosen and listed in our finalised and definitive list of the best baby car seats, one for each key category, along with the quotes we found to be most useful when choosing our selection.

Find out more about how we test and what considerations we take into account in our testing process.

Our editorial team is also constantly looking for new car seats to test so that we can help you find the best - be that a a more affordable product that we want to test for value for money or the latest car seat innovation.

UK Laws and car seat safety recommendations

There are many rules and regulations around the safe use of car seats here in the UK, so as new parents, it's vital you have the safety knowledge required.

There are two safety standards which all car seats must adhere to. The first is ECE R44 which are based on your child's weight, and these are suitable from birth to 12 years old. They can be fitted using either ISOFIX or the car's seatbelt and they are tested for rear and frontal impact. However, they are not tested for side-impact collisions.

The newer standard ECE R129 is based on your child's height. It is considered the safest standard with improved head and neck protection as well as being tested for side-impact crashes. However, you must use ISOFIX for an R129 seat which means you must check your car has ISOFIX points and also, with a baby seat, you will need an additional ISOFIX base.

Other safety regulations and advice include:

The two-hour car seat rule: According to safety experts and manufacturers, two hours is the safest time a baby can be in a car seat per 24-hour period, unless in a lie flat position. This is because when baby is in a semi-upright position, it can restrict airflow and potentially strain your baby's developing spine. It is important to be aware of how long a baby has been a car seat and ensure they get a break within two hours.

Choosing a lie-flat seat: A car seat with a very upright seating position can lead to increased heart and breathing rates, and decreased oxygen saturation. So, to keep the airways open and give optimal support to your baby’s developing spine, neck and back, opt for a car seat with a lie-flat mode.

Dress baby correctly: You'll need to dress your baby in clothes that allow the straps to go between their legs and adjust the straps to allow for their clothes. For this reason, you'll want to avoid big coats and blankets as the straps won't be as secure. Instead, on cold days you may want to opt for a car seat blanket to pop over the straps.

Make sure your car seat is compatible with your car: Some car seats come with a manual on car compatibility. Not all car seats are suited to every model of car, for example, cars without ISOFIX are not compatible with ISOFIX only car seats. It's important to check this information before purchasing.

Safe installation: The retailer you purchase the car seat from should be able to advise you on installation. Most car seats come with tutorials on how to safely install them. In some shops, they might also be able to install it for you, but this is worth checking before purchasing.

Second hand car seats: Car safety expert Damon Marriott said: "Second-hand car seats are fine, providing you know the history, ensuring it hasn't been in an accident or suffered damage in another way, as you are trusting your child's life with the seat. So, if it's from a friend or relative, then this should be OK.

"What you need to check is the age of the seat, as most plastic shells have a shelf life of between five and 10 years. The seat will have a date of manufacture on it to help identify the age, check nothing is missing, and, if possible, obtain a set of the instructions to ensure your friend/relative has been fitting it correctly. For your own peace of mind, however, we would recommend opting for a new one with a warranty if possible."

Types of baby car seats

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.

Rotating - these car seats are incredibly handy for getting babies in and out of a fixed seat. They're able to rotate 360 degrees, so you can turn your baby to face you as you get them in and out of the car and then turn them to rear-face, with the car seat locking into place.

Isofix - This is a system that allows you to fit a car seat into your car. An alternative to fitting the car seat using a seat belt, ISOFIX uses two small metal bars attached to the frame of your car to click the seat into place. Be mindful, however, that not all Isofix seats are approved for use in all Isofix cars, so always check if your Isofix child seat is approved for your vehicle. Many have a list on their website that shows which seats are approved for what cars.

i-Size - 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).

Car seat groups

There are a variety of different car seats groups, and it can be difficult to know what group your child falls into, so we've broken it down for you:

Rear facing car seats:

Group 0

This car seat is suitable for newborns to use from birth, up to 10kg, which is approximately from birth up to the age of six or nine months. These can include car seats that are lay flat designed.

Group 0+

Suitable from birth to 13kg (or 12 to 15 months). They usually combine with a buggy to form as part of car seat and pram travel system. You might also want to consider a lie-flat car seat for newborns for longer journeys.

By law, your baby must be in a rear-facing car seat until at least two years old and up to four years old. Babies have fragile necks, so in the event of a collision, your baby could be at risk of spinal cord damage if they are facing forward (the way you are driving).

Rear and forward facing car seats

Group 0+/1

Suitable to use from birth to 18kg, this type of baby car seat is usually a convertible car seat with rear-facing and forward-facing options. These are suitable for children up to the age of four.

Group 1

Often a rear-facing car seat that can be turned forward facing, this is suitable for nine month olds up to four years old (9 to 18kg).

Group 0+/1/2/3

Suitable from birth to 36kg. Also called a three-in-one or an all-in-one car seat, it will carry your child from birth to the booster-seat stage. It's designed to stay in the car permanently, so you won't be able to carry your child out in it if they fall asleep.

Forward facing car seats

Group 1/2

With a slightly higher age limit than Group 1, these seats are suitable from nine months up to six years, with a max weight of 25kg.

Group 2

A car seat that's ideal for four year olds up to six years old, the Group 2 stage is for 15 to 25kg.

Group 2/3

Often a high backed booster seat design, this group stage is suitable for a weight limit of 15 to 36kg.

Group 3

More suited to children who are aged five to six and exceed the weight limit of the previous other groups, these are often backless booster seats.

The best car seats 2024

Best overall car seat

The Nuna TODL NEXT car seat stands out in the market as a versatile and user-friendly option for parents seeking safety and convenience. Tester dad-of-two Joe found it to be lightweight, easy to swivel, and praised its smooth operation, commenting, "Nuna has been able to produce a really strong-feeling seat that is light enough to make taking in and out of the car less of an issue." He also highlighted its compatibility with various vehicles and smooth swivel motion, making it effortless to get children in and out of the car.

The rubberised 5-point harness and side impact protection pod enhance both safety and comfort. Dad tester Joe said it was easy to adjust the harness and the installation process, whether with ISOFIX or a seatbelt, is straightforward, with clear indicators ensuring proper installation.

Both durable and smooth to operate, it is easy to carry even with heavier children, and the TODL next easily adjusts to accommodate all your little one's stages of growth, although bear in mind it is only suitable up to 19kg, and if you are looking for something that will be easy to wash, then the Chicco Seat3Fit is the one for you.

The Nuna TODL next and BASE next was award Gold for the Best Baby / Toddler Car Seat (Stage 1 / 2) in the 2024 Mother & baby Awards. It was also awarded Gold for Best Multi-stage Car Seat in the 2023 Mother & Baby Awards.

Read our full Nuna TODL next and BASE review

Pros

  • Suitable from birth to four years
  • Steel strength technology
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Not suitable for over 105cm or 19KG weight
Suitable from:Birth to 4 years
Health and safety: EN1888
Maximum height: 105cm
Maximum weight: 19KG
Rearward facing: From birth to 105 cm and less than 18.5 kg
Forward facing: From 76cm to 105cm and less than 18.5kg
Cleaning: Removable inserts and cover machine washable
  • Steel strength technology
  • Side impact protection pods
  • Expandable shoulder harness
  • 360-degree rotation
  • True lock base
  • Removable inserts and cover machine washable
  • Five recline positions
  • Rear and forward facing

Best car seat for convenience

The integrated ISOFIX connectors, lightweight design, and one-handed release make this car seat one of the most convenient on the market, particularly for frequent transfers between vehicles, as dad-of-one Matt found: "The integrated ISOFIX connectors clicked into the two equipped cars we tested the seat in with a positive clunk." This baseless newborn car seat has ISOFIX connectors built-in, making it perfect for taxis, fly-drive holidays or trips in hire or grandparent’s cars without the need for a separate base to benefit from the convenience and safety of the ISOFIX system.

Our tester loved the seat's extras including Nuna's signature Dream drape™ for privacy and a full-coverage UPF 50+ canopy for sun protection. It's also not short of safety features including the Aeroflex™ foam and Side Impact Protection (SIP) to ensure optimal protection for infants.

Dad Matt did however mention that the seat's lightweight construction may compromise the feel of the materials used. Overall, the Nuna PIPA urbn is ideal for for busy families or those looking for a secondary seat for those requiring flexibility without the bulk of traditional bases. Another downside is that it's a little pricey, so if you are looking for something on the cheaper side, yet still stylish, then you might want to go for the Joie i-Levelrecline baby car seat.

The Nuna PIPA urbn was awarded Gold for Innovation of the Year and Best Newborn Car Seat (Stage 0/0+) at the Mother&Baby Awards 2024.

Read our full Nuna PIPA urbn review.

Pros

  • Super lightweight (3.3 kg)Machine washable seat fabrics and inserts
  • Easy to transfer between cars using the in-built ISOFIX connectors
  • Supplied pair of ISOFIX plastic guides speed up fitting where ISOFIX connectors are less easily accessed
  • Perfect for holidays/hire cars, taxis, grandparents’ cars etc
  • In-built sun shade (UPF 50+) with flip-out eyeshade and peek-a-boo window
  • One-handed vehicle and pushchair release (with Nuna pushchairs, check compatibility for other makes).

Cons

  • Lightweight materials mean the seat lacks the quality feel of other seats on the market, although this is based only on feel rather than any durability testing
  • Lacks the third support/leg of a traditional base-type ISOFIX unit
  • Price point of £300 makes this the higher end of the car seat market
Usage:Rearward facing only
Child height:40–75 cm
Child weight:Maximum 13 kg
Product weight:3.3kg (not including insert & canopy)
Product dimensions:L 65 x W 43.5 x H 57 cm
  • Machine washable seat fabrics and inserts
  • Infant head support with soft surround for smaller babies
  • Side Impact Protection (SIP) for ultimate baby safekeeping
  • Compatible with all Nuna premium pushchairs

Best stylish car seat

Suitable from birth to 15 months, the Joie i-Level Recline baby car seat offers choice of three recline positions up to 157 degrees. Not only is it light in weight, it's also ISOFIX compatible to ensure comfort and safety for newborns. Our mum tester Ria's found the adjustable straps and cushioning inserts perfect for her daughter's snug fit: "Our daughter genuinely enjoys sitting in the car seat and has often drifted to sleep." The car seat's compatibility with Maxi Cosi adapters allows seamless integration with prams, facilitating uninterrupted naps.

Safety features, such as the recline function for better oxygen flow and the red/green colour-changing system for secure installation, provide peace of mind for parents. Ria also liked the practicality of the 90-degree swivel base and the washable fabric inserts, making maintenance hassle-free. And despite its light colour, the fabric proved durable against stains.

When paired with the i-Base Encore which is sold separately, the seat spins 90º. The absence of a 360-degree swivel might be a downside for some parents, particularly those with back problems. It;s also worth noting the base is a little on the large side for those with smaller cars. Nevertheless, Ria praised the Joie i-Level for its overall quality, style, and affordability compared to its competitors.

The Joie i-Level recline was awarded Silver for Best Newborn Car Seat (Stage 0/0+) at the Mother&Baby Awards 2024.

Read our full Joie i-Level Recline car seat review.

Pros

  • Headrest and harness system adjusts simultaneously
  • Ergonomic carry handle with leather look grip
  • Retractable, removable sun canopy
  • Compatible with most Joie pushchairs and with other pushchairs using Maxi-Cosi car seat adapters
  • Lightweight at 5.3kg
  • Choice of 3 recline positions up to 157 degrees to help with baby oxygen flow
  • R129 compliant
  • ISOFIX
  • Machine-washable parts

Cons

  • Need to buy the base as well to use
  • The base with the swivel is quite large for those with smaller cars
Suitable from:Birth - 15 months
Weight: 4.83kg
Maximum child height:85cm
Maximum child weight:13kg
Safety standards:ECE R129
  • Converts to a deep reclining seat usable in the vehicle or on a pushchair
  • Exclusive Tri-Protect™ headrest offers 3 layers of security featuring patented Intelli-Fit™ foam for ultimate side impact protection
  • Grow Together™ multi-height headrest and harness system adjusts simultaneously and requires no rethreading of harness
  • Multi-position, ergonomic carry handle with leather look grip
  • Removable full body insert
  • Retractable, removable sun canopy features a zip-open panel
  • Compatible with the i-Base™ Encore and i-Base™ lx 2 (both sold separately)
  • Easy buckling 3-point harness with padded covers
  • Compatible with most Joie pushchairs and with other pushchairs using Maxi-Cosi® car seat adapters

Best for one-hand use

From its 360-degree rotation to the easy harness adjustment, the Maxi-Cosi Pebble is a hit with our parent testers thanks to the smooth spin function, secure straps and how easy it was to get baby in and out the car. Parents also loved how this car seat was super easy to clean.

Parents liked that it had the option to remove the seat from the base as it added versatility, meaning it's suitable from birth up to approx. 15 months or 17.5kg offering great value for money in the long-run. It rotates super-smoothly and easily on the FamilyFix 360 base which is sold separately, and can be turned around using only one hand, although the release handle is a little tricky to get the hang of.

Another minor drawback our parent testers found as well as the release handle was the alignment when putting the seat back on the base. Despite these issues, users found the seat durable and comfortable for babies, with fewer instances of crying during use.

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 was awarded Bronze for Best Newborn Car Seat (Stage 0/0+) at the Mother&Baby Awards 2024 and then again for Best Newborn Car Seat at the Mother&Baby Awards 2023.

Read our full Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 with FamilyFix 360 Base review.

Pros

  • 360 degree rotation 
  • Suitable from newborn 
  • Easy use harness

Cons

  • Release handle can be difficult to use
R129-compliant (i-Size ready):Yes
Suitable from:<meta charset="utf-8">40 -83cm or approximately birth to 15 months
Safety:Side impact technology for enhanced protection
Guarantee:<meta charset="utf-8">2 years
Dimensions: <meta charset="utf-8">H56 x W44 x D67cm
Weight:<meta charset="utf-8">4.3kg
  • Intuitive one-hand FlexiSpin rotation
  • ClimaFlow comfort temperature regulation
  • Easy-in harness
  • G-CELL side impact technology

Best 360 rotation car seat

The Chicco Seat3Fit grows with your baby, as it's suitable from birth up to seven years, making it excellent value for money. Thanks to its ISOFIX system, this car seat is easy to install and comfortable, but its stand out feature has to be its 360° rotating system.

With six reclining positions for added comfort, our testers also liked that the headrest is height-adjustable and that the Support Leg folds completely under the base to accompany the child's growth.

The Chicco Seat3Fit i-Size is easy to install thanks to the QR-coded YouTube installation video and various instructional formats, which our testers loved thanks to its user-friendliness.

However, some parents did find the price to be a downside as well as wanting an extra recline option. Overall, testers highly recommend the Seat3Fit i-Size for its extensive features, including Isofix, 360° swivel, and i-Size compliance, noting how this really makes it a stand-out car seat on the market compared to others.

Read our full Chicco Seat3Fit i-Size review

Pros

  • Isofix compatible
  • 360-degree rotation

Cons

  • Needs two hands to swivel
Suitable from:0-7 years
Rearward facing:40cm to 105cm
Forward facing: 76cm to 125cm (15 months minimum to forward face)
360-degree swivel:Yes
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Cleaning:Machine washable fabrics
  • Forward and rear facing. 
  • 90-degree swivel and 360-degree rotating seat. 
  • 5-point harness. 
  • Multi-recline - 6 recline positions.

Best car seat for easy washing

The Apramo Ostara Fix Seat is a comfortable, adjustable car seat suitable for children aged three to 12-year-olds, which our testers loved as it made it great value for money. It offers seven different positions along with an adjustable headrest and is made from thicker fabrics for higher-level comfort and security for your little one, although it's worth noting the cushioning isn't very thick, with mum tester Anna commenting, "if I could change one thing I would make the material on the car seat a bit thicker and a bit more cushioning." 

Parents loved that the removable covers on the seat are quick and easy to wash making it easy to clean after long journeys. This was a feature some parents missed on other car seats on the market, with mum tester Nicola saying, "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." They did however miss a cup holder which is often a welcome feature for car seats designed for older children.

Durable and safe yet light in weight thanks to its sleek design, parents found installing the seat with ISOFIX and getting their child in and out of the car was hassle-free and that they felt confident that their child was safe and secure in the seat for the duration of the journey.

Won Gold in the 2020 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Forward Facing Car Seat category.

Read our full Apramo Ostara Fix Seat review

Pros

  • Compatible with ISOFIX
  • Easy to install and remove

Cons

  • Not much cushioning
Suitable from:3 to 12 years
Dimensions: 71.5 x 47 x 46cm
Weight: 5.5kg
ISOFIX compatible: Yes
Cleaning: Machine washable cover for practicality
Forward or rear-facing: Forward-facing
  • Easy to install and use, it can also be installed with the vehicle safety seat belt alone, where ISOFIX attachments are not available. 
  • Easy to remove and wash fabric cover, which are convenient for cleaning after long time use. 
  • Features an easy-to-see height indicator to adjust the headrest to exactly the right position for the child. 
  • Enhanced protection against side impacts gives kids the bigger protection.

Best 360 swivel car seat

The Joie Spin 360 has received high praise from our mum testers for its quality, safety features, and practicality. Its 360-degree swivel feature really is its stand out feature as it simplifies the process of placing and securing the child in the seat, while the extended rear-facing option adds to peace of mind. Mum tester Rebecca noted how easy it was to use in her 3-door car thanks to its compact design. "This product has made our life so much easier as we have a three-door car and it is amazing to be able to spin the seat round and fit baby in." Furthermore, testers loved its convenience, particularly in tight parking spaces, and its comfort for the child during journeys.

Easy to install and offering great levels of comfort and safety for little ones, parents particularly liked the seats ability to recline and adjust as the child grows making it great value for money. Impressive safety features include the auto-engage Guard Surround SafetyTM side impact protection panels that lock outward when the harness is tightened and work to absorb any force during a crash, which we liked for our peace of mind. And in terms of head protection, the Tri-ProtectTM headrest along with the six-position Grow TogetherTM headrest kepp your little one secure, and the harness system adjusts simultaneously without rethreading the harness.

Although it's heavy and isn't the easiest car seat to move between cars, parents liked how robust and strong it felt for safety, so were happy to compromise on weight. The main flaw most parents identified was the accessibility of the levers, with one of our mum testers saying, "If I could change one thing about this product, it would just be that it is quite hard to reach the levers to spin the seat. It would be great if you made them a bit bigger so they were easier to find."

Won Gold in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Baby/Toddler Car Seat (Stage 1/2) category.

Read our full Joie Spin 360 review

Pros

  • Easy to adjust
  • One-handed swivel

Cons

  • Difficult to move between cars
Suitable for: Rearward facing from birth to 105cm/4 years
Safety: Meets the i-Size ECE R129/03 standard
Dimensions:65 x 58 x 55-62cm
Weight:14.6kg
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
  • Side impact protection keeps your little one safe and secure at all times and from all angles 
  • Never worry about getting a firm install with steel ISOFIX connectors that make it easy to get a flawlessly firm installation without battling a seatbelt 
  • 5-point harness and one-pull tightening make getting the perfect fit as easy as a simple pull  
  • Integrated load leg

Best car seat for comfort

Silver Cross Motion 360 i-sizeSilver Cross

The Silver Cross Motion baby car seat is a popular choice amongst parents thanks to how simple it makes securing baby in the car. The seat features a 360 degree rotation system making it a very practical choice. The swivel function receives is very popular thanks to its ease of use, especially in tight parking spaces. Our mum tester Meg agreed, "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."

Made from soft bamboo fabrics, it's very comforting to the touch, making it ideal for little ones on longer car journeys. It also has the option to be rear or front facing meaning it's suitable for growing babies from newborn through to 4-years of age. As well as the comfort, the security features give parents plenty of peace of mind thanks to the side impact protection, with mum tester Abigail agreeing, "I would recommend this to a fellow mum because it feels so safe and secure which is my highest priority in a car seat. Safety is an absolute must and this car seat feels so safe I’m very impressed."

While most parents loved the Silver Cross Motion, some suggested it would benefit from some clearer instructions for installation. Other parents commented about the heavy weigh of the seat as well as some difficulties with the recline feature. Mum tester Abigail said, "The only thing I would change is the recline function being able to be used whilst the seat is rear-facing. The risk of waking a sleeping baby is too high in my opinion to swivel, then recline and swivel back to click into place. I did try and recline whilst the seat was rear-facing but the plastic base was in the way and almost trapped my hand. That’s when I noticed the sign on the plastic stating the seat must be swivelled 180 to then recline."

Won Silver in the 2020 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Rear-Facing Car Seat category.

Read our full Silver Cross Motion review

Pros

  • 360 rotation
  • ISOFIX compatible
  • Grows with baby

Cons

  • Heavy
Suitable from:Birth to approximately four years
Safety:Motion Safe™ side impact protection
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Fastenings: Five-point safety harness
  • R129 approved 360° rotating car seat, suitable from birth to approx. 12 years old
  • Extended rearward-facing mode with effortless rotation
  • Removable newborn insert, 8 headrest positions and 3 recline positions
  • Easy clean, sustainable eco fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, alongside a breathable bamboo soft touch fabric, great for sensitive skin
  • Easy and safe installation with ISOFIX and support leg
  • Harness to 18.5kg, easily stowable for continued use in high-back booster mode
  • Side Protection System (SPS) keeps little one protected on every journey

Best rear-facing car seat

Axkid Car SeatLittle Angel's prams

The adjustable headrest and self-tightening straps on this car seat ensure optimal comfort and security for your little one, while its sturdy construction and rigorous testing with its Swedish Plus Test certification offer reassurance to parents and peace of mind to parents with these exceptional safety standards. Mum tester Jo agrees, commenting, “The key attraction of this car seat is the rigorous testing to the highest levels that it has been through (plus testing at higher speed and shorter stopping distance.) The peace of mind this provides to any new parent is significant.”

The ability to rear-face up to 25kg, or 6-7 years, and the seat's longevity are particularly valued by parents, offering value for money and extended safety for their children as they grow thanks to the ample legroom and flexibility in installation. Our mum tester Gemma particularly loved this feature, “This product lasts until the child is 25kg which is an average 7-year-old. Lots of other rear-facing seats only last until the child is 18kg which is an average 4-year-old. However, many children are heavier than average and would reach 18kg at the age of 2 or 3 which is too young to go into a high backed booster. With the Axkid at least you know that even if you have a heavier child you will be able rearward face longer.”

It’s a very easy seat to install, comfortable for children and provides excellent protection from all angles in the case of impact. The main downsides are the seats heavy weight and bulkiness, but the safety benefits outweigh this.

Won Bronze in the 2020 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Rear-Facing Car Seat category

Read our full Axkid Minikid review

Pros

  • Easily adjusts to baby's size
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Heavy
Dimensions: Width 44 cm Height 62 cm Depth 56 cm
Safety:Approved according to ECE R44/04 with Axkid Side Impact Protection (ASIP)
Comfort: Internal harness and headrest that automatically adjusts to your child’s length and size
Weight: 11.4 kg
Cleaning: Seat cover in machine washable at 30°
  • Internal harness and headrest that automatically adjusts to your child's height and size
  • Seven fixed positions on the headrest
  • 5 reclining positions
  • One-click-extended support leg
  • Self-tightening tether straps
  • Installation with Seat Belt Attachment
  • Removable baby-cushion included
  • Axkid Side Impact Protection (ASIP)
  • Seat cover is machine washable at 30°
  • Compatible with big and small vehicles
  • Approved according to ECE R44/04

Best detachable car seat

Designed for easy and ultra lightweight carrying, the Maxi-Cosi Coral 360 is practical and easy for new parents to use. The first modular 360° rotating baby car seat weighs just 1.7kg,  reducing carrying weight by up to 50%, and rotates with just one-hand, allowing you to turn the seat easily. Our mum tester Chloe loved how lightweight it was. "This car seat makes my life easier as a mum as it is really light weight, which is good for me as I live in a fourth floor flat and the walk to my car is quite a way.” She said. 

Although some testers found it a little bulky in size, its modular design combines the highest i-Size safety standard and the carrier locks effortlessly into the safety shell and easily clicks onto the FamilyFix 360 rotating base with 3 light check system, providing peace of mind during travel. Mum tester Jess said, “The Isofix base was really easy to install and the 3 light check gave me peace of mind that it had been installed correctly. It was simply to unload the whole car seat from the base when necessary."

With its ability to be used from birth up to 12 months, it’s a lightweight option ideal for parents on the go, although some parents would have loved the product to be available in more colours. Despite minor critiques about the quality of the plastic shell, the Maxi-Cosi Coral was a hit with our parent testers.

Won Gold in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Car Seat Group 0/0+ category.

Read our full Maxi-Cosi Coral with FamilyFix³ Base review

Pros

  • ISOFIX compatible
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Bulky
Suitable:From 40 to 75cm (0 - 12kg)
Safety: Complies with the latest i-Size safety standard (R129/03)
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Sun canopy:Yes
  • 360° swivelling seat 
  • FlexiSpin, one-hand rotation
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Soft fabrics
  • Easy-in harness
  • i-Size safety
  • TravelSafe rotation control
  • Click&Go installation
  • ISOFIX installation with support leg (sold separately)

Best car seat for newborns

Joie i-snugJohn Lewis

Weighing only 3.2kg, this car seat offers portability without compromising on safety, boasting an i-Size certification and Joie's exclusive Tri-Protect headrest for enhanced head protection. Mums highlighted how its weightlessness made it great for travel, especially with a baby strapped in. The rotation feature added an extra layer of ease for parents as it really simplified the process of getting baby in and out of the car. Our mum tester agreed, "can I just say how thankful I am for a lightweight car seat to finally be available on the market. I think having to carry a baby in a car seat is one of the biggest challenges post birth as it is heavy - however this product has solved that problem.” The Joie i-Snug 2 car seat offers security in the form of three layers of protection inside the side wings. We like how Joie's patented Intelli-Fit memory foam in the infant pillow keeps baby snug and protected at all times. 

Compatible with some Joie pushchairs, it’s also i-Base Encore compatible for added safety, our testers particularly liked that the hood was quite big, so come down quite far with built-in SPF for sun protection. Another added benefit was the removable and machine washable covers which we loved as well as the curved base for rocking and relaxing when out and about.

While some mentioned the small size of the seat as a potential drawback for larger babies, overall, they struggled to find significant flaws with the product. One of our mum testers said, "It may be disappointing for parents who have a child on the higher centiles as it may not last quite as long as hoped. For me this isn't an issue though and I would much rather have a snug fit."

Won Silver in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Car Seat Group 0/0+ category.

Read our full Joie i-Snug 2 with i-Base Encore review

Pros

  • Machine washable covers
  • ISOFIX compatible
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not ideal for larger babies
Suitable:From birth up to 75cm
Safety:Meets the i-Size ECE R129/02 standard
Dimensions: 66 x 44.2 x 57.9cm
Weight:3.25kg
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Fastening: 3-point harness with shoulder and lower buckle covers easily tightens with one pull motion
  • Meets the highest ECE R129 safety standards, including side-impact testing
  • i-Size certification for that guaranteed perfect fit in i-Size-approved vehicles
  • 3-point harness comes with covered buckles and one-pull tightening, so the perfect fit is never a struggle
  • Tri-Protect™ headrest and Intelli-Fit™ memory foam provide three layers of safety where it matters most

Best lightweight car seat

Nuna ArraMamas & Papas

With three recline positions, the Nuna Arra ensures your baby can lie flat whether they’re in the car or attached to a pushchair. This is essential for their safety and growth in those early months. Our mum tester Helen particularly loved this aspect of the seat, saying, “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.” 
Lightweight to carry at 3.9 kg, it works as both a car seat and a carrycot for that all important uninterrupted sleep for babies while on the move. Our parent testers loved how lightweight it was and found unloading and loading baby in and out the car with the ISOFIX base simple to use. Mum Charlotte said, "I would recommend this to a friend due to the lightweight of the seat unit and the ease of use for the ISOFIX base.”

Despite its light weight, there are a few drawbacks including the metal bar which makes it a little uncomfortable to carry for some parents. Some also experienced issues when using the release button. Mum Danielle commented, “I found the release button extremely difficult to use. I found it very stiff and had to call on my husband quite a number of times to help recline the seat/release the car seat from the ISOFIX car base. This is a problem that I don’t seem to have with the other car seats I have used.” Fellow mum tester Clare agreed, “Another drawback of the product is the metal bar makes the car seat quite uncomfortable to carry when hooking it on your arm and this is noticeable even after carrying a short distance."

Although it has its drawbacks, parents appreciated the side impact protection, quality feel, and added features like soft shoulder pads and an extending canopy. As well as this, parents love the stylish and luxurious feel of the seat, and their little ones found it very comfortable, with mum tester Jess saying, “my daughter was incredibly comfy in the seat which made long journeys easy as she was happy. The harness was also simple to clip and unclip."

Won Bronze in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Car Seat Group 0/0+.

Read our full Nuna Arra review

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Snug fit may not be suitable for larger babies
Suitable:From birth to 87cm to 13kg/29lb
Dimensions:58 x 43 x 63cm
Weight:4.89kg
ISOFIX compatible:Yes
Fastening:Three-point harness keeps little ones in place
  • Super comfortable for baby with premium i-Size protection for your peace of mind
  • Lightweight, around 3.9 kg! (*Does not include the canopy and insert) 
  • Converts to a flat reclining seat at 157° angle, usable in the vehicle or with compatible pushchairs
  • Three recline positions in both car seat and travel system modes
  • Side impact protection for ultimate peace of mind
  • One-hand, 10-position headrest and harness system adjusts simultaneously and requires no re-threading of harness

Best easiest car seat to use

joie bold baby car seatArgos
Price: £149.95 (Was £180)

www.online4baby.com

Accommodating children from 9kg to 36kg, that’s approximately up to 12 years, the Joie Bold car seat offers great value for money. Our mum testers praised its durability and comfort as well as the fact you’re getting a car seat that coverts easily into a belted booster seat. Our mum tester Victoria said, “the fact that this car seat converts from a 5 point harness seat into a high back booster with ease is appealing.” 

Other appealing features of this car seat which help it stand the test of time is the adjustable headrest, three recline positions, cup holder and the comfortable yet durable material, all adding to its value for money. There’s also the peace of mind it offers regarding child safety thanks to the side impact protection.

Some of our testers did express concerns about the seats forward-facing orientation for younger children and suggested adding a spin feature or increasing the lower age range. Our mum tester Arianne says, “I think 9 months is far too young to be front-facing! There have been many studies undertaken on the effect of front-facing on a child's skeletal health! It is detrimental to their hip placement and development if they are front-facing too soon. My little boy is higher on the centiles and at 13 months old is still rear-facing. My 4 yr old is really low on the centiles and he fits in the chair comfortably but there is no way he could have used this seat under 2 years old. I think it should be from 2 years minimum.”

Won Silver in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Multi-stage Car Seat category.

Read our full Joie Bold Group 1/2/3 car seat review

Pros

  • Adjustable with one hand
  • Extended 5-point harness usage all the way up to 25kg

Cons

  • No spin feature
Suitable: From 9 months to 12 years
Dimensions:49.6 x 47.0 x 66-85.5cm
Positions:Three forward-facing positions
Cleaning: Washable cover
  • Guard Surround Safety™ panels boost side impact protection for fragile heads and necks 
  • ISOFIX connectors and top tether lock your little one’s car seat securely into place in every vehicle for a once-and-done install  
  • 5-point harness features covered buckles and one-pull tightening to get them nice and snug all the way up to 25 kg
  • Tri-Protect™ headrest teams up with our Intelli-Fit™ memory foam for another three layers of safety   

Best car seat for small cars

Cosatto All in All Rotate is suitable from birth throughout all stages of growth up to approximately 12-years-old making it excellent value. As it’s designed to grow with your child, it easily adjusts as an when your child needs a bit more room with a five-point harness with anti-escape system, recline lock indicator as well as 360 rotating technology to allow for front or rear-facing positions depending on your child’s size. It’s also worth mentioning it safely locks into place no matter what position its in for your added peace of mind. 

This rotation feature also makes it easy to get your little one in and out the car, particularly if your car is on the smaller side as it can rotate to side-facing for easy access which means no more twisting awkwardly to get baby in and out of their seat which we loved. Our mum tester Hannah agreed it made her life a lot easier, commenting, “this car seat made my life easier as it can rotate to get my child in and out of the vehicle. It means that I no longer have to battle with and super-strong baby. Getting my child in the car safely is now a quick, stress-free task.” 

Not only is the Cosatto All in All Rotate a convenient choice, it’s also very safe with side impact protection, extensive levels of testing, and compliance with regulations ensuring you know your baby is in safe hands when on the road. The main downside our mum tester found was the weight of the seat, meaning it wasn’t very easy to get in and out the car. Mum tester Hannah said, “if I would make any changes it would be to make it lighter or smaller. However, I think with all of the safety features, this probably isn't feasible.”

Won Bronze in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Multi-stage Car Seat category.

Read our full Cosatto All in All Rotate i-Size Car Seat review

Pros

  • Grows with your little one
  • 360 design

Cons

  • Fiddly clips
Suitable:From birth up to 36kg
Safety:Secure Isofix, Isofit and belted fitting options
Dimensions:60 x 44 x 61cm
Weight:10.9kg
  • Includes patented 5 point plus anti-escape system. (Group 1 only).
  • 5-position seat recline for comfort
  • Quick-release 5-point safety harness distributes forces over the body.
  • Padded removable seat liner & newborn seat insert.
  • Anti-slip chest pads and tummy pad included.
  • Removable washable soft goods.

Best car seat for regulating baby's temperature

maxi cosi car seatMaxi-cosi

As parents we know making sure your baby isn’t too cold or doesn’t overheat on car journeys is essential so that you’re not panicking while driving. Designed using impressive G-CELL lateral technology, plus ClimaFlow fabric which aids ventilation to help keep your child at the correct temperature and more comfortable on journeys. Our mum tester Samatha agreed that her tot was very comfy on car journeys in this seat. “My son also looked super comfy in the Mica. The materials feel like high-quality fabrics and not the sort that would snag easy.” She said. 

As well as the smart fabric, this seat is also features a 360° rotation, making it effortless to get children in and out of the car. As well as this its compact design makes it a suitable choice for a wide variety of cars, even ones on the smaller side. It’s also very straightforward to install with ISOFIX and our testers found the instructions very user-friendly. Mum Kelly couldn’t agree more, saying; “car seats can be a confusing subject and the fact that this is so easy to fit is great. It fits with the ISOFIX points and support leg and the instructions were really clear. I have moved to fit in another car too and had no problems.” 

The Maxi-Cosi Mica can be used from birth to approximately four years old, with the option of both rear-facing and front-facing positions. This is thanks to the adjustable harness, removable inlay, 5-point harness and multiple recline positions, suited for all stages of growth. However, our parent testers would have liked this seat to last a little longer, with mum tester Charlotte saying, “If I was to change anything about this product it would be For the seat to last longer as in a child’s age or weight as it’s quite expensive so for the seat to last a child a lot longer would be fantastic and get more use from the product and maybe parents would feel the need to buy as would last longer as I look to see how long the seat would last my child and the price I would be paying.”

Won Silver in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Baby/Toddler Car Seat (Stage 1/2) category.

Read our full Maxi-Cosi Mica review

Pros

  • ISOFIX compatible
  • Rotating function

Cons

  • Doesn't grow with your child, so has a short life-span
Suitable: From birth -105cm
Safety:i-Size (R129) compliant
Dimensions:55 x 45 x 61cm
Weight:14.9kg
ISOFIX compatible: Yes
Cleaning: Washable cover
  • 360° swivelling in just one click
  • Simultaneous adjustment of safety harness and headrest height
  • ClimaFlow: Built-in ventilation in backrest to keep your child at the right temperature
  • Comply with the latest and highest safety standards: i-Size (R129)
  • Superior G-CELL side-impact technology for better impact absorption

Best car seat for multi-car use

axkid one baby car seatAikido

If you’re looking for a car seat that’s easy to move from one car to another, then you’ll want a lightweight option such as the Axkid One i-Size. Weighing 10kg, it’s suitable for newborns up to 7 years, making it a real long-term investment. Mum Rachael loved how long it lasted. “The seat can go all the way up until 7 years of age is fantastic. This means less time researching the next suitable seats and less time at the shops trying these seats out to ensure they are right for the car.” Said Racheal. 

Easy to adjust and install, it’s designed to grow with your tot with extended rear-facing capability making it a very safe choice for parents. It also comes with an insert for children between 61 to 105 cm. Mum Celine was impressed with the safety features, saying, “I was really surprised how light this car seat is without compromising on safety. Knowing that my child is safe rear-facing and can be for many years ahead is really reassuring too.” It’s also mentioning how comfortable the seat was for baby with its padded design.  

However, some note difficulties with tightening the straps and would have preferred it to had a rotating function. Our mum tester Elizabeth commented, “if I had a large child or was looking for a non-rotating seat I would choose this product” with mum tester Rachael adding, “I did find it really difficult to get my daughter strapped into it. This may change as the seat is used more and the mechanisms loosen of slightly making it easier to pull the cord however to get the correct angle to tighten with them as they are currently was really difficult and took a lot longer than my current car seat.”

Won Bronze in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Baby/Toddler Car Seat (Stage 1/2) category.

Read our full Axkid One review

Pros

  • Grows with baby
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Seat doesn't rotate
Suitable:From birth to seven years
Dimensions: 44 x 76 x 54cm
Weight: 10kg
ISOFIX compatible: Yes
Cleaning: Machine washable at 30 degrees
  • Internal harness 5-point
  • Ventilation system
  • Removable cover
  • Fixed back cover fabric

Best baby car seat FAQs:

Here are some of your most frequently asked baby car seat questions, answered by car seat safety expert Damon Marriott, who has over 18 years of experience in the nursery industry and specialises in child safety.

What age should children start forward facing?

Car seat safety expert Damon said: "You need to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, and at such a young age, they won't be strong enough to face forwards yet. The minimum legal requirement at the moment is 9kg, around nine months, but this is changing to a minimum age of 15 months in a few years.

"This law reflects the huge benefit that rear-facing offers should the unexpected occur as facing backwards reduces the load on the child's neck due to the size/weight of the head in proportion to the body at a young age."

How to clean a car seat

**Damon said. "**When you consider the squashed biscuits, yoghurt and spilt juice (not to mention the occasional nappy disaster or sick toddler accident) that end up on your little one's car seat, it's perhaps no surprise that it can end up looking and smelling quite grubby.

"If your baby's car seat has seen better days, check to see if you can remove the cover for washing. Don't tumble dry it, as it could shrink the cover, making it difficult to put it back on.

"Sponging it down regularly with soapy water will help to remove stains and kill germs, but do this on days when you don't need to go anywhere as it may take a while to dry out. Alternatively, try sprinkling with bicarbonate of soda and then vacuuming the seat, as that helps to remove strong smells and stains."

It's also worth investing in a car seat organiser as this can help to keep your car somewhat tidier so that you know where everything is (which is particularly handy if you need a dummy or a bottle in a hurry to calm your crying little one.

How do I know when my child needs a bigger car seat?

Car seats that are a part of travel systems can be practical, but 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 chartto remind you that as soon as your baby reaches a certain weight, it's time for a new car seat.

When to take out the newborn insert in the car seat?

It depends on the growth of your little one, but as a general rule it is around 4 - 6 months or when your baby is about 60cm. You will know when baby looks cramped or uncomfortable with the insert and that is a good indicator that it is time to remove it.

Where in the car should my car seat be?

Often parents ask, is the car seat safer behind the driver or passenger, and **Damon goes on to say: "**The front seat can be legally used providing the airbag is turned off, but I would always try to use the rear seats as it's less distracting and potentially further away from the most common point of impact should a collision occur. Attach car seat toysin the rear onto the seat, or near so your child can reach them himself, rather than you."

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 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.

Damon Marriott said, "All child seats can be easily transferred from one car to another. For most, this takes around 30 seconds, so we would recommend using your usual safety seat, as familiarity in fitting is essential. If you use Isofix and a friend's car doesn't have this fixing, then there are many well-made and easy-to-fit seat belt seats that offer good value, like the Joie Stages that covers from birth to seven years for around 50p a month – great value without compromising the safety."

Whether you're pregnant or have already welcomed your new baby into the world, you know you need a lot of stuff. The Amazon Baby Wishlist is the best way to keep track of everything you need for your baby - and it's easy to set up.

About the expert

Damon Marriott is a car seat safety expert and with an extensive history of working as head of development for a wide range of leading car seat brands, including Nuna and Joie.

Stephanie Spencer is the Deputy Digital Editor at Mother&Baby and auntie to four aged 8 to 6 months old. With a particular interest in health, she loves discovering products that make parent’s lives easier.

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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.