If you will soon be welcoming a bundle of joy to your life chances are you may be feeling somewhat baffled by the magnitude of equipment you’re required to expertly navigate. Your babies child seat is one of the most important purchases so it’s not surprising that many parents are worried about choosing the right one. While those with growing children might be equally confused about the various different child car seats on offer. Hoping to relieve the hassle we take a look at current child seat laws and some of the best child seats available.
Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws seem to be constantly evolving at the moment, and whilst this can seem confusing, the really important thing to remember is that the changes have children’s safety at their heart. As it currently stands children must be in a child seat in the UK until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
Recent updates mean that manufacturers can no longer make backless boosters for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg. This doesn’t mean it’s illegal to travel your child in a backless booster if you already own one, you just will no longer be able to buy one.
Similarly at the beginning of 2018 the law was altered meaning manufacturers are only allowed to produce i-size compliant child seats. The idea behind this approach is that older style car seats and boosters will be gradually phased out in favour of car seats and boosters that have been found to offer better protection to children.
What is i-size?
i-Size is a European child seat standard designed to keep children rear facing up until 15 months old. These changes are largely due to Swedish research which has shown that rear-facing child seats can offer up to 75% more protection in the event of a car accident. i-Size seats are legally required to have side impact protection to minimise injury in the event of side impact. What’s more unlike conventional child seats, i-Size child seats are classified by height rather than weight, as it is thought to be easier for parents to relate to.
i-Size seats currently require the use of on ISOFIX base. Using ISOFIX mountings increases the likelihood of the child seat being fitted correctly. In fact, a study from Mothercare found that 94% of parents correctly fitted the car seat using ISOFIX mounts compared to a mere 20% when using a seatbelt.
Things to consider when buying a car seat
Your child’s age and height – you need to make sure you buy the correct group car seat for your child’s age. As your child gets older you need to make sure that the seat caters for their height.
Your car – you need to check the seat actually fits in the car that you own, many car seats are quite bulky and take up a lot of space.
Best Car Seats
Aiming to make finding the right car seat easier we’ve grouped the car seats into the best Group 0, Group 1 and Group 2/3 car seats. Some of the car seats recommended fall into multiple categories, as they are able to carry children right from birth into double digits.
Best Group 0 Car Seats
Group 0 car seats are suitable for babies from birth until around six months old. However, many manufacturers make seats that cover Group 0 up that last much longer than the first six months.
Car seats are vital for keeping babies safe while travelling, however, many car seat manufacturers discourage parents from leaving children in their car seats once out of the car. Likewise, the Royal Society for Protection of Accidents recommends regular breaks, suggesting that parents should take children out of their seat for at least a fifteen-minute minute break every two hours travelled. While new research suggests babies up to four weeks old should only travel short journeys ideally no longer than thirty minutes.
Graco Snugride i-Size Baby Car Seat
Provides rear-facing protection from birth until 18 months old or 13kg, whichever comes first. It’s fully i-size compliant and features an ISOFIX base that the child seat then simply attaches to. For full flexibility, it can also be used with just a seatbelt.
The base can be adjusted at the touch of a button to offer seven different positions, allowing you to find the position your bambino prefers. It also enables you to adjust the position to give your baby extra legroom as they grow. The Snugride also features a five-point harness which spreads pressure across your child’s body.
Cybex Sirona M2 i-Size Car Seat
An award-winning seat that can be used rear facing from newborn to age four (or 105cm), and forward facing from 16 months old. The Sirona M2 can be disconnected from the base unlike its predecessor, which is handy when you want to get your baby out of the car without disturbing them. With 12 headrests position, you can ensure your child benefits from headrest protection as they grow.
The Cybex Sirona also offers 3 reclining positions when the seat is facing forward, and 5 when it’s rearward facing mean you shouldn’t have a problem finding the optimum position for your little one. This car seat won gold in the rear facing for longer car seat category of the MadeForMums Awards 2017.
BeSafe iZi Go Modular i-Size Infant Carrier
BeSafe brings you the very best in Swedish child safety. The BeSafe iZi Go Modular is a modular system that incorporates the iZi Go infant carrier, iZi Modular toddler car seat and the i-Size base. When complete it offers a rear-facing car seat from birth right up to four years old. If you just buy the i-size infant carrier it can be used with your car’s seatbelt, however, if you do purchase the base you can enjoy the benefits of easy ISOFIX fitting.
The unique egg-shaped design and lightweight construction of this child seat make it compact and easy to lift baby in and out of the car. The side impact protection is removable so that it can be fitted to the car seat on the door side of the vehicle. This allows it to act as an energy absorbing cushion, reducing the distance to the car door, which reduces the movement of the seat and child. The five-point harness includes ‘tidy’ magnets which cleverly hold the harness open for you when placed against the side of the seat. A small detail but surprisingly useful as you’re no longer fumbling around trying to find the harness straps.
Best Group 1 Car Seats
Group 1 car seats are suitable for babies weighing from 9kg which is usually around nine months old.
A great value car seat, its slimmer base means it will even fit into smaller cars, or if you need to squeeze three seats across the back row. Designed to take children from 9kg to 18kg it should last your child from nine months to four years.
It features a five-point harness that can be tightened with one pull. The pitch control system reduces how much your child can move forward while the deep padded side wings help protect against side impact.
It’s easy to adjust the seat while on the move, so if your little one falls asleep you can put them in a more reclined position so they stay more comfortable. Plus the cover can be removed and popped in the washer to freshen it up. It’s available in a range of colour combinations so it’s easy to find a colour you love.
The Maxi-Cosi Tobi is an easy to use and great looking car seat that has plenty of room for your little ones to grow into. A forward-facing sear that should last your child from around nine months to four years old.
One of the most impressive features is the straps which stay in place even when your little one is out of their seat. This may sound like a very minor feature but given the stress of battling with a toddler while trying to find where the child car seats have gone, it is a highly useful addition. What’s more, the straps are easy to adjust and an indicator at the base of the seat even turns green when you’ve tightened the straps enough.
There are five recline points and it’s easy to adjust with one hand. The seat is well padded so offers comfort from smaller babies coming out of their first car seats. Plus it’s easy to adapt as your child grows.
Suitable from nine months right up until twelve years (9kg to 36kg) the Cosatto Hug is definitely a worthy investment. Available with an inbuilt Isofix base, it is designed to be used front-facing and has five different reclining positions. It features an anti-escape buckle so you can rest assured that they will stay safely buckled in for the entire journey. It grows with your child with plenty of adaptable features including padding and headrest to ensure your child can stay comfy as they get bigger.
The Cosatto Hug is a great seat if you’d like to inject some fun, as the seats are available in a wide range of colours and patterns to really brighten things up.
Best Group 2/3 Car Seats
Group 2/3 car seats usually take the form of boosters and are ideal for keeping older children safe, secure and comfortable when travelling by car.
Graco Assure Car Seat
Ideal for older children the Graco Assure booster car seat has ample side protection for head, lower back and hips while giving older children extra room. It is suitable from 15kg to 36kg (approximately four years old to 12 years old). Unlike many other booster seats, it isn’t too bulky or heavy so it is no bother moving from one car to another. Plus it’s easy to assemble and install so you can drop it off at the grandparents and feel confident they’ll have no problems fitting it in their car.
A seatbelt guide holds the seatbelt in place to ensure your child stays secure and comfortable. Additional features such as the padded armrests improve comfort. While the retractable cup holders add convenience and provide a great place for children to store all their essentials.
Britax Kidfix XP SICT
The Britax Kidfix XP SICT is a multi-award winning booster car seat. This forward facing high-backed booster is designed for children from four to twelve. It utilises new side protection which Britax claims will take up to 30% of the energy forces away from your child’s neck in the event of a frontal impact. While the belted harness pad ensures the seatbelt is safely and comfortably positioned across your child in the optimum position.
Easy to install using the Isofix system which clearly displays green once the seat is fully in position. Plus the instructions are clearly printed on the side of the car seat meaning you can drop it off with the babysitter without having to give them a lengthy installation demo. It is lightweight too, so is a doddle to carry around and switch between cars. Plus any spills can be quickly dealt by simply wiping clean or for more ground in stains simply remove the cover and bung it in the washer.
Recaro Monza Nova 2 Seatfix
If your little one loves to listen to music then the Recaro Monza Nova 2 is definitely the seat for them. It has built-in MP3 speakers so your child gets their very own entertainment on the move. Sound quality is good with well-controlled volume.
Recaro is best-known for producing sports seats in some of the most lust-worthy vehicles on the market. So it will come as no surprise that this seat is packed with their industry know-how and is one of the most comfortable booster car seats on the market. It’s pretty stylish to look at too having a race car feel to its design, which is loved by older children.
It’s robustly padded and the comfort side armrests add additional hip protection for added peace of mind. What’s more, it is a versatile seat as it can be attached either via the seatbelt or using the Isofix points.
Like most seats in this category, it is suitable for children from 15kg to 36kg (approximately four to twelve). It is quite a wide seat so not the best choice for smaller vehicles or those who need to get three car seats across the back row. However, it is lightweight so is easy to move from car to car.
Buying Your Car Seat
There are some great car seat retailers out there who are willing to spend time trying to get the right seat from you and your little one. Some seats will not fit or are not compatible in certain cars so it’s important you double check this before purchasing. Good retailers will show you how different seats fit in your car, as well as giving demos on how to correctly fit the seat before you take it away.
Remember the safety of your child is of paramount importance so never feel rushed into making a decision. Take your time to find a child seat that is right for both you and your little one.