If you’re expecting a baby – or have a new baby – and are planning on using a car, you’ll need a car seat to ensure they’re travelling safely.

Advertisement

To help you decide which car seat is best for you, we’ve extensively researched and tested the market to find the most comfortable, user-friendly and reliable products available, including those with cutting-edge designs and innovative features that will make every journey better for your baby – and for you too.

We've also taken into account safety testing carried out by ADAC, one of the lead testers of car seats in Europe. Where a seat in our list has been tested by ADAC, we've provided the score — in these tests a low score is best, and all the seats on this list that have undergone the testing have scored under 2.5, or "Good".

Best baby car seats at a glance

  • Best baby car seat for detachable carrier: Maxi-Cosi Coral, £269.99
  • Best baby car seat for using with a travel system: Cybex Cloud T i-Size, from £229.95
  • Best lie-flat baby car seat: Maxi-Cosi Jade, £229
  • Best baby car seat for breathable bamboo fabrics: Silver Cross Dream i-Size, £425
  • Best value baby car seat: Graco SnugEssentials i-Size, £59
  • Best lightweight baby car seat: Avionaut Pixel Pro 2.0, £239
  • Best baby car seat for transferring between different cars: Nuna PIPA Urbn, £300
  • Best rotating baby car seat: Joie i-Spin Safe, £370
  • Best baby car seat for extended rear facing: Axkid One+2, £725
  • Best baby car seat for a long lifespan: Silver Cross Motion All Size 360, £325
  • Best sustainable baby car seat: Maxi-Cosi Mica Pro Eco, £249.99

Our list includes infant carriers that you can use on a pushchair to create a travel system but have a shorter lifespan, as well as seats that will last your child for longer, up to age 4, 7 and even 12 years old.

You can jump straight to our list of the best car seats for newborns below, or if you want to find out more information about what to look for when buying a baby car seat, what some of the key car seat terminology means and more, you'll find all the answers at the bottom of our roundup.

More like this

Jump to what to look for when buying a baby car seat
Jump to what type of car seat should you buy for your newborn?
Jump to what is i-Size and R129?
Jump to what are the differences between ISOFIX and Universal installation?
Jump to when can a baby go into a forward-facing seat?
Jump to what is the 2 hour rule?
Jump to how much does a car seat from birth cost?

Here’s our pick of the best infant / baby car seats from birth:

1. Maxi-Cosi Coral 360, £269.99 (ISOFIX base available separately, from £189.99)

– Best for a detachable carrier

Available from Boots (£259.99)

Maxi Cosi Coral 360 product shots showing modular system with carrier and base

Suitable for: 0-12 months/0-12kg/40-75cm | Weight: 5.5kg | Dimensions: H 38cm x W 44cm x D 68cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: 360° | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 12 | ADAC test: 1.6 (good) with FamilyFix3 base, 1.9 (good) without base

Pros:

  • Modular system with removable carrier
  • Extra large sun canopy
  • Easy to install
  • Travel system compatible

Cons:

  • Large footprint when used with ISOFIX base
  • Shorter life span than other seats

This innovative infant car seat is the first of its kind to feature a 2-part modular system – the first module is the inner detachable soft carrier, weighing just 1.7kg, which you can lift out of the second module – the outer plastic shell of the seat. The inner carrier has retractable handles and clicks and locks easily into the safety shell (there is an audible click and visual indicator to confirm it has been installed correctly). The plastic shell of the seat can be secured in your car with a seatbelt, or it can be clicked onto the FamilyFix 360 base (£189.99) which is sold separately.

The soft carrier has multiple ergonomic carrying positions and you can also buy the Coral 360 Carry Strap (£49.99) which will allow you to keep your hands free whilst you carry your baby. The carrier is machine washable, too.

You can’t use the car seat shell without the soft carrier but the complete seat can be fitted atop a compatible Maxi-Cosi or Quinny stroller frame to make a travel system, which is useful during trips that will take 2 hours or under. The car seat also has an impressive extra large, easy-to-adjust sun canopy that will keep the sun's glare out of your baby's eyes. The Coral 360 is also approved for using on airplanes with some airlines.

You can read the full MFM review of the Maxi-Cosi Coral, the predecessor to the Coral 360.

Available from: Boots, Mamas&Papas and Natural Baby Shower

2. Cybex Cloud T i-Size, from £229.95 (ISOFIX base available separately for £199.95)

– Best for using with a travel system

Available from John Lewis (£229.95)

Cybex Cloud T tester image and product shot

Suitable for: 0-24 months/10-13kg/45-87cm | Weight: 4.5kg | Dimensions: H 38-60cm x W 44cm x L 64.5-75cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: 180° | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: Multiple | Headrest positions: 12 | ADAC test: 1.7 (good) with base, 2.1 (good) without base | Awards: Gold, Infant Car Seat — MadeForMums Awards 2024

Pros:

  • Innovative recline system including lie-flat when seat is not in the car
  • Travel system compatible
  • Modular base system

Cons:

  • Heavy ISOFIX base

Unlike most rotating car seats that can’t be used as part of a travel system, the Cloud T is compatible with all Cybex pushchairs such as the Priam and Balios, as well as other popular buggy brands, with the use of universal adaptors. Better still, when the seat is out of the car, for example on a pushchair frame, it can be reclined to a lie-flat position, making it safer and more comfortable for your baby to lie in. The innovative recline system works by flattening the backrest and leg rest simultaneously to provide an ergonomic lying position for your baby when the seat is installed in the car too. Other notable features are the extra-large UPF50+ sunshade and the 12-point adjustable headrest, which helps tailor the seat to your growing baby.

The seat also has all-round air ventilation and provides a comfortable environment for babies, as MFM reviewer Jess who tested the Cloud T with her 4 month old found: "[my daughter] seemed really comfortable and appeared to snuggle into it and sleep more soundly than she did in her previous car seat. The padding is really soft and cushioned on both the seat interior and also the straps."

The plush, premium fabrics and lie-flat recline of this car seat are underpinned by its enhanced safety features, including the Linear Side Impact Protection system – effectively an ‘arm’ that pulls out on each side of the seat to absorb impact by up to 25% in the event of a collision. These benefits are apparent in the ADAC review, which gives the Cloud T a "very low risk of injury" during a side crash, when used with the Cybex Base T (£199).

The Base T also enables the seat to rotate 180°, making it far easier to use. MFM reviewer Jess really loved the ease of rotating the seat: "the rotator moves very smoothly, which was great as it didn’t jolt my daughter awake if she was sleeping!" You don't have to use the base to install the Cloud T – you have the option of using your car’s seatbelt – but this means losing the i-Size classification and the spin factor. The base costs nearly as much as the seat but it’s worth remembering that you can buy it as part of Cybex’s modular T-line system, which allows you to use it with the Sirona T i-Size (£279.95), a seat in the next stage up.

Read our full MadeForMums Cybex Cloud T i-Size car seat review

Available from: John Lewis, Halfords and Mamas&Papas

3. Maxi-Cosi Jade, £229 (ISOFIX base available separately for £199.99)

– Best lie-flat baby car seat

Available from Amazon (£199.99)

Maxi-Cosi Jade review

Suitable for: birth to 6 months/9kg/40-70cm | Weight: 6.05kg | Dimensions: H58cm x W47.5cm x D 85cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 1 | ADAC test: 1.5 (very good)

Pros:

  • Lie-flat position
  • Travel system compatible
  • Can be used for occasional overnight sleeping

Cons:

  • Takes up 2 seats in the back of the car
  • Doesn't rotate
  • Limited lifespan

The Maxi-Cosi Jade was the first "car cot" to comply with R129 i-Size safety standards (it has since been followed by products like the Joie Calmi and Nuna Cari Next). The carrycot style of the car seat makes it comfortable for babies to travel in for longer than in a regular car seat (i.e. upwards of 2 hours). It can also be used on a pram, as it’s compatible with most Maxi-Cosi buggy frames and is even suitable for occasional overnight sleeping, helping to justify the price tag for a product that is only suitable for babies up to 6 months old. It’s also one of the few on our list to be rated ‘very good’ by ADAC.

"The best thing about the Maxi-Cosi Jade is that it’s a fully flat carrycot which doubles as a car seat," said our MFM reviewer Felicity, who tested the Jade with her 11-week-old son. It’s ideally suited to parents who want the convenience of a product that works both in and out the car (while still scoring highly for safety and performance).

The Jade fits in the car using the Maxi-Cosi ISOFIX FamilyFix3 base; (£199). Once fitted, you can use the same base with a Maxi-Cosi seat suitable for older babies and toddlers, such as the Pebble Pro i-Size or Pearl Pro 2 i-Size. However because the Jade sits sideways across 2 seats, "even in a large car there will only be space for one other person in the back," warns our MFM reviewer.

Read our full MadeForMums Maxi-Cosi Jade car seat review

Available from: Amazon and Maxi-Cosi

4. Silver Cross Dream i-Size, £425 (base included)

– Best for breathable bamboo fabrics

Available from John Lewis (£340)

Silver Cross Dream i-Size

Suitable for: 0-15 months/0-13kg/40-85cm | Weight: 5kg | Dimensions: H 39.9-58.6cm x W 44cm x D 55.1cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 5 | ADAC test: 1.5 (very good) with base, 2.0 (good) without base

Pros:

  • Very good ADAC score when installed with the ISOFIX base
  • 4-layer side impact protection
  • Breathable bamboo fabrics
  • Travel system compatible

Cons:

  • Doesn't rotate
  • Only compatible with Silver Cross pushchairs

The Dream i-Size is part of heritage brand Silver Cross' first range of car seats. As you can fit the Dream into a car using just the vehicle’s seatbelt as well as with the compatible Dream i-Size base, it’s a good choice if you want a seat that you can use easily in other vehicles, for example a grandparent’s car.

The seat has been designed to be used as a travel system with a number of Silver Cross prams such as the Dune and Reef, although you have to buy the adaptors separately, making it a better option for first-time parents. For parents who already have a pushchair or travel system that isn’t from Silver Cross, not having the option of attaching the seat to wheels for a quick stroll or spot of shopping "can be a bit of a pain," says our MFM reviewer Sarah, who tested the car seat with her 8-week-old daughter.

Impressively, the Dream and Dream i-Size base achieved the best-ever score awarded by ADAC. It was thanks to the Dream’s robust safety features such as 4-layer side impact protection, 5-point safety harness and ventilated hood, which help ensure parents have maximum reassurance on the road.

The removable infant insert padding is the winning feature for Sarah who said, "the graduated series of inserts can be changed as your baby grows, ensuring your little one is perfectly supported at every stage. Plus, the cushioning is made from super-soft bamboo fabric, which is breathable and boasts thermo-regulating properties, helping to keep your baby at a comfortable temperature even on hot summer days."

Read our full MadeForMums Silver Cross Dream i-Size car seat review

Available from: John Lewis and Natural Baby Shower

5. Graco SnugEssentials i-Size, £59 (ISOFIX base available separately for £99.99)

– Best value baby car seat

Available from Graco (£59)

Graco SnugEssentials i-Size car seat product shots

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Travel system compatible
  • Great value

Cons:

  • Shorter life span than other seats
  • Thin padding

Suitable for: 0-12 months/0-13kg/40cm-75cm | Weight: 2.6kg | Dimensions: H 63.5cm x W 57.5cm x D 45.4cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 1 | ADAC test: 1.8 (good) with base, 2.5 (good) without base

If you're looking for a great value car seat with good safety credentials, the SnugEssentials i-Size from Graco is a seriously impressive option. It can be installed with your vehicle's seatbelt or, to make it i-Size compliant, you can install it with the IsoFamily ISOFIX base (£99.99). Out of the car, the SnugEssentials attaches to Graco pushchairs that have Click Connect compatibility.

Despite its low price point, the car seat doesn't compromise on safety — ADAC awarded it a 'good' score, both when the seat is used with the ISOFIX base or installed with the vehicle's seatbelt. The seat has side impact protection and EPS energy absorbing foam, which provides effective impact energy management in case of a collision. ADAC also judged it to provide 'low risk of injury in a side crash' and 'very low risk of injury in a front crash' when installed with the base.

It's also incredibly lightweight (the 2nd lightest on our list) at 2.6kg and it comes with an ergonomic, rotating car seat carry handle making it super easy and comfortable to lift and move around. The covers are easy to remove and machine washable too.

It has features that make it comfortable for baby too — there's a padded memory foam insert and headrest, plus there's a large canopy to keep their eyes protected from the glare of the sun. However, the padding on the seat isn't as plush or as comfy as that offered by some of the other, more premium seats in our list.

Available from: Halfords and Graco

6. Avionaut Pixel Pro 2.0, £239 (ISOFIX base available separately for £194)

— Best lightweight infant car seat

Available from Pramworld (£239)

Avionaut Pixel Pro 2.0 product shots

Suitable for: From birth/0-13kg/40cm-86cm | Weight: 2.5kg | Dimensions: Not specified | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 1 | ADAC test: Not tested

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Collision replacement scheme
  • Physio designed seating position
  • Travel system compatible

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn't rotate

At an impressively low 2.5kg, the Avionaut Pixel Pro 2.0 is the lightest car seat on the market, making it super easy to transfer and is hugely beneficial for parents who suffer from back strains or have experienced a c-section.

It's not just the extreme light weight that makes the Pixel Pro 2.0 standout — it has been cleverly and thoughtfully designed to incorporate a lot of features that make travelling safe and comfortable for your baby. One of the main features is the modular system of the seat which has been designed in collaboration with physiotherapists. This incorporates a seat pad insert that comes in several parts and has been specifically designed to ensure that the baby's spine is as straight as possible. The seat pad includes a foam insert for your newborn to sit on to achieve the optimum seating position and then as your baby grows, you gradually remove the block and parts of the seat insert to ensure it gives the best possible fit. It has also been awarded the certificate of AGR, the German Association for a Healthy Back which judged that the child's spine is perfectly supported when travelling in the car seat.

The seat has Side Impact Protection and the insert in the seat includes a Cloud Care system which is made of flexible memory foam. This absorbs the force of the impact during a collision, protecting the child's body. Impressively, Avionaut also offer a Collision Replacement Scheme, meaning that if the seat is involved in a collision within the first 2 years of purchase, Avionaut will replace your seat free of charge with just a few simple steps.

It can be installed with the IQ 2.0 base (£194) or using the vehicle's seat belt. However, it's worth noting that despite its wealth of safety and comfort features, there are a few elements common in other seats that the Pixel Pro 2.0 doesn't have, such as a seat recline or a rotating mechanism.

Available from: Pramworld and Safe Journey Car Seats

7. Nuna PIPA Urbn, £300

— Best for transferring between different cars

Available from John Lewis (£300)

Nuna Pipa URBN car seat tester picture and product shot

Suitable for: 0-12 months/0-13kg/40cm-75cm | Weight: 3.3kg (without canopy and insert) | Dimensions: H 57cm x W 43.5cm x D 65cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX or seatbelt | Recline positions: 1 | Headrest positions: 1 | ADAC test: Not tested

Pros:

  • Baseless ISOFIX installation
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to use and install
  • Travel system compatible

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn't rotate
  • Limited lifespan

The Nuna PIPA Urbn's one-of-a-kind built-in ISOFIX installation system is certainly groundbreaking and makes it an excellent choice for any parents who have to transport their car seat between different cars, often use taxis or car sharing, or want to use their car seat when travelling. The baseless design of the seat means that it can be installed using ISOFIX, but without the need for an ISOFIX base. It's easy to install too, MFM reviewer Rachel who tested the seat with her 7 week old, said "I need a car seat that is quick to install and release, this car seat ticks all of those boxes" and was extremely impressed that installation took seconds. The seat can also be installed using the vehicle's seatbelt.

Although easy to use and move around, the seat is also very sturdy and durable, which reviewer Rachel really appreciated whilst testing the seat: "carrying it from the house to car was easy... it strikes a balance between being sturdy but lightweight to move around." As well as its innovative baseless design, the PIPA Urbn also proves to be extremely easy to use and has a host of parent-friendly features. It's relatively lightweight and has a luxe leatherette carry handle, it's travel system compatible with Nuna pushchairs such as the Mixx Next, it has a one-handed quick release from pushchairs and cars, the fabrics and body insert are machine washable and the straps are easy to use and adjust.

MFM reviewer Rachel was also impressed by the safety features of the seat, saying "the seat feels robust and safe, with a three-point harness and high-quality materials. I felt confident the car seat would transport my son safely. The fit felt safe as well as comfortable, with the ability to tighten the belts and release them easily." It hasn't yet been tested by ADAC, but does meet i-Size standards. It has Side Impact Protection and the seat has lightweight Aeroflex foam which minimises the force transferred to baby.

Read the full MadeForMums Nuna PIPA Urbn car seat review

Available from: John Lewis, Mamas&Papas and Natural Baby Shower

8. Joie i-Spin Safe, £370 (base included)

– Best rotating baby car seat

Available from Boots (£370)

Joie i-Spin Safe

Suitable for: 0-4 years/0-18.5kg/40-105cm | Weight: 14.6kg (with base) | Dimensions (upright): H 55-62 x W 58 x D 65cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: 90° | Installation: ISOFIX | Recline positions: 6 | Headrest positions: 6 | ADAC test: 1.6 (good)

Pros:

  • Swedish Plus Test certified
  • Simple to adjust
  • Easy to install
  • Comfortable
  • Great value

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Not travel system compatible

The Joie i-Spin Safe is the latest version of the i-Spin 360 but unlike the 360, the Safe version can only be used rear facing and cannot be swivelled to face forward. This upgraded safety feature has paid off as not only has the i-Spin Safe been awarded an impressive ADAC rating, it is also Swedish Plus Test certified — a voluntary test that is one of the toughest crash tests in the world, and one many parents consider to be vital when choosing a car seat.

At £370 for seat and base, the i-Spin Safe is one of the more affordable rotating car seats on the market. The 90° seat rotation is activated by easy-to-reach buttons on both sides of the seat and it’s very easy to get your child into the car, whether you have the seat on the passenger or driver’s side. MFM reviewer Luke, who tested the seat with his 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, really appreciated this feature: "The spin part of this seat is a dream; it’s so smooth and light that it’s easy to do one-handed. The button you pull on the side of the seat is placed at exactly the right spot for you to keep your grip without any strain on your arm or hand at all."

It’s been cleverly designed to grow with your child: the headrest and harness system adjust together, with 6 different height positions to choose from; and the infant insert is made up of 3 individual pieces that can be used together to allow even small babies to be held safely and securely – and then separately to support growing babies. "Thanks to the ability to angle near flat, and the brilliant Grow-with-me padded inserts, which snap together for a custom fit, the Joie i-Spin Safe creates a comfy ride for newborns," explained our reviewer.

The seat feels secure but for extra reassurance when installing the Joie i-Spin, "there are colour coded symbols to show it’s safely in place" which our MFM reviewer liked, along with the ‘Guard Surround Safety’ panels that offer increased side protection. The ADAC review also highlighted how easy the Joie i-Spin is to install with "very easy to understand" instructions.

However, it’s worth noting that because the base is attached to the seat, the unit is heavy and may be tricky to install, which our MFM reviewer picked up on. But once the seat is in your car it’s unlikely you’ll be regularly moving it from its installed position. The base also makes the seat quite bulky, which means it may not be the best fit for smaller cars.

Read our full MadeForMums Joie i-Spin Safe car seat review

Available from: John Lewis, Natural Baby Shower and Boots

9. Axkid One+ 2, £725

– Best for extended rear-facing

Available from John Lewis (£725)

Axkid One 2 car seat and tester picture

Suitable for: 0-7 years/0-23kg/40-125cm | Weight: 10kg | Dimensions: H 76cm x W 44cm x D 54cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: None | Installation: ISOFIX | Recline positions: Step-less, up to 42° | Headrest positions: 12 | ADAC test: 2.1 (good)

Pros:

  • Swedish Plus Test certified
  • Extended rear facing up until 7 years (approx.)
  • Simple to install and adjust
  • Robust
  • Well-padded

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Bulky
  • Doesn't rotate
  • Newborn insert costs extra
  • Not travel system compatible

This impressive seat will last your child from newborn to well into primary school as it’s designed to keep your child safe and rear-facing from birth until 125cm/23kg, which is approximately aged 7. Notably, the Axkid One 2 has also passed the Swedish Plus Test, so if you’re looking for the extra reassurance that this testing provides, it could be the car seat for you. At 10kg it’s quite heavy to move between cars but parent tester Sarah was "pleasantly surprised" by how easy it was to install: "it took me no longer than 5 minutes to install the seat and that was only because I triple checked everything was correct."

Safety is at the forefront of everything Axkid does, so while this seat is comfortable and superbly well designed, there are no elements included purely for convenience, like 360° spin. The seat has also clearly been robustly designed which was a huge positive for our MFM reviewer Victoria, who tested the car seat with her 18-month-old son, "the thing that impressed me most with the seat was jut how solid and sturdy it felt... for a seat to last from newborn to age 7, it would have to be pretty hard-wearing and early impressions suggest it will be capable of lasting the distance." Although expensive, the car seat is clearly top of the line in terms of the thought and development that has gone into it and it is clearly a car seat that is built to last.

This version includes an inlay to provide extra support for newborns, and comes in at £125 more than the Axkid One 2, which is suitable for babies 61cm long and upwards, which is approximately 3 months old. The standard Axkid One 2 is sold with a larger insert suitable for babies longer than 61cm and toddlers up to 3 years old. Both inserts are easy to remove by threading the straps through the padding.

Read out full MadeForMums Axkid One 2 car seat review

Available from: Natural Baby Shower and John Lewis

10. Silver Cross Motion All Size 360, £325

– Best for a long lifespan

Available from Amazon (£298.99)

Silver Cross Motion All Size 360

Suitable for: 0-12 years/40-145cm | Weight: 14.4kg | Dimensions: H 78cm x W44cm x D 37cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: 360° | Installation: ISOFIX | Recline positions: 3 | Headrest positions: 8 | ADAC test: Not tested

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Could be the only car seat you ever need
  • Well-padded and comfortable
  • Breathable bamboo fabrics

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Bulky
  • Narrow for older kids
  • Not travel system compatible

Silver Cross’s latest model is one of the only R129-approved 360° rotating car seat that’s suitable from birth right up to 12 years old, which makes it a very worthwhile (and more sustainable) investment if you don’t think your family circumstances will change. It’s best suited to those who won’t be moving between cars very much – it comes in at almost 15kg and is very bulky so isn’t easy to move quickly – but it could be the only car seat you ever need to buy.

"The environmental and financial benefits of only needing to buy one seat are really appealing, especially with all the extra features," said MFM reviewer Christy, mum of 3, who was impressed with the overall quality and attention to detail. "It’s very well padded and looks super-cosy… The bamboo fabric is not only breathable, but feels really soft too, while the plastic buckles (as opposed to metal) mean they won’t overheat in the sun and potentially burn your baby’s skin." Her 1 year old is pictured above in the seat.

Aside from the seat’s sustainability, the 360° spin functionality is key to this seat’s appeal: offering easy access for parents throughout its lifespan, and a simple way to convert the car seat once you turn your child forward-facing. This seat offers extended rear-facing until 105cm (around 4 years old) after which point it can be turned forwards and the harness stowed away within the seat and swapped with the car seatbelt. "I really love how the harness and buckle are stored within the seat, instead of having to remove them completely to store elsewhere, like with other car seats we’ve used in the past," said one of our parent testers, who tested this with their 9-year-old daughter as part of a large group test. Her daughter found the car seat very comfortable, even on longer journeys, but bigger children may find the seat a tight fit as they approach the top of the height limit.

Read our full MadeForMums Silver Cross Motion 360 All Size car seat review

Available from: Amazon and Natural Baby Shower

11. Maxi-Cosi Mica Pro Eco, £299.99 (base included)

— Best sustainable baby car seat

Available from Amazon (£249.99)

Maxi Cosi Mica Pro Eco car seat tester image and product shot

Suitable for: 0-4 years/0-18kg/40cm-105cm | Weight: 14.7kg (with base) | Dimensions: H 45.9-51.7cm x W 44.2cm x D 72.7-73.1cm | i-Size: Yes | Rotation: 360° | Installation: ISOFIX | Recline positions: 5 | Headrest positions: Multiple | ADAC test: 2.1 (good)

Pros:

  • Made with recycled materials
  • Long lifespan
  • Rear and forward facing
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Not travel system compatible

Made with 100% recycled fabrics, plus a host of other impressive safety and user-friendly features, the Mica Pro Eco from Maxi-Cosi stands out as not just a sustainable car seat option for the eco-conscious, but a great all-round seat that is easy to use, safe and comfortable for babies and children.

It can only be installed using the included ISOFIX base but does have a 360° spin using the FlexiSpin rotational system which allows the seat to be rotated using just one hand. This also means that the seat can rearward face or, when your child reaches 15 months or older, it can forward face too. MFM reviewer Amy, who tested the car seat with her 2 month old, said that she didn't rotate the seat with one hand, but still the ease of rotating the seat was one of her favourite features: "it was incredibly easy to use and such a lifesaver for my ailing back."

Other user-friendly features include an Easy-In harness, removable and washable covers and audiovisual installation feedback. For the comfort of children using the seat, the Mica Pro Eco has an extra padded seat with a soft inlay, ClimaFlow temperature control panels and breathable fabrics, which, according to MFM reviewer Amy, kept her daughter very comfortable: "my daughter appeared nothing other than relaxed and content when sat in this car seat." Safety-wise, the seat received a 2.1 (good) score from ADAC who judged it to provide 'low risk of injury' in a front or a side crash. The seat has G-CELL 2.0 Side Impact Protection and is i-Size classified.

It is the heaviest car seat on our list but, according to MFM reviewer Amy, installing the seat was "easy and quick... overall it was a stress-free process" and once the seat is installed in the car, it's unlikely that you'll need to move it much unless you're transferring it between cars on a regular basis (in which case, this may not be the best option for you). Despite its heavy weight, it has a surprisingly small footprint when it's installed, as reviewer Amy said: "it's very compact once fitted... for those who drive mid-size vehicles, the middle seat would still be a viable option for younger children."

Read our full MadeForMums Maxi-Cosi Mica Pro Eco car seat review

Available from: John Lewis, Mamas&Papas and Amazon

What to look for when buying a baby car seat

Will you be using your car seat as part of a travel system? – A travel system combines a buggy with an infant carrier. The car seat clicks, or slots, onto the buggy or its chassis, making it easy to move your baby from car to buggy. Check your pushchair manufacturer’s website for compatible car seats if this is something you want to do and if you have to buy adapters to fit the seat onto your pushchair.

How long will the seat stay rear facing? Children under the age of 15 months must be transported facing rearwards or lateral (sideward) in seats that are approved (such as some carrycots) according to UN Regulation No. 129 (R129). Sitting your child in the rear-facing position for longer when travelling in the car is safer as it offers greater protection to the under-developed head, neck and spine of very young children in the event of a collision. In fact, multiple studies have shown that it’s far safer for babies to rear face in their car seats well into childhood. Do not be in any rush to move your child to a forward-facing seat: some models will last up to age 7.

What type of installation do you want? – Infant car seats can be installed in 2 ways – either using ISOFIX, a system that allows you to fit the seat using special anchor points that attach directly to a car, or just your car’s 3-point seatbelt. We explain the different types of installation in more detail below.

Is your car ISOFIX compatible? – Remember that when it comes to installation, not all cars will have ISOFIX points so before you buy, you’ll need to check your car’s compatibility with the car seat manufacturer’s fitting guide. Here you’ll find a link to a list of car compatibility checkers for key brands of car seats mentioned in this article.

Once you’ve picked your ideal car seat, it’ll have to be fitted in the car and while we’re fans of DIY at MFM headquarters, we recommend you get your car seat fitted by a trained car seat installation advisor (appointed by the manufacturer) if you can.

Is the base included? For infant carrier-type car seats, the base will be separate. While for Group 0+/1 and up, the base will be integrated with the seat. In either case, the seat sits securely atop the base and the base in turn is secured to the car with ISOFIX points. Using an in-car base raises the height of the car seat, can provide extra legroom and makes correct installation simple. Some base units have light or sound indicators that confirm correct fitting. Simply slotting the seat in and out makes it easy to use with a travel system but be aware car seat bases are often sold separately and could double the price you pay.

What type of car seat should you buy for your newborn?

For the newest babies, you will likely be looking for an i-Size / R129 car seat, although there are still some of the older Group 0, Group 0+, Group 0+/1 or Group 0+/1/2/3 car seats on the market. But what does all that mean? Let’s break it down.

All care seats must undergo testing to certain European standards and there are two standards you are likely to see at present: ECE R129 (height-based) and ECE R44 (weight-based).

R129 replaced ECE R44, which means no new car seats will be tested to that standard, however there are still models on the market that were designed before 2019 and these are still legal to use in the UK. These car seats come in “groups”:

  • A Group 0 – suitable from birth to 10kg (around 12 months) – these are usually lie-flat carrycot options that combine with a buggy or pushchair chassis to form a travel system
  • A Group 0+ – suitable from birth to 13kg (around 18 months-2 years) – these can usually combine with a buggy to form a travel system and are also known as infant carriers
  • A Group 0+/1 – suitable from birth to 18kg (around 4-5 years)
  • A Group 0+/1/2/3 – suitable from birth to 36kg or 135cm tall (around 12 years)

All Group 0+ car seats are rear-facing and all car seats used as Group 0 / for very young babies are designed to be rear-facing until the passenger is at least 15-months-old. After that you can move your baby to a second stage/Group 1, Group 1/2 or Group 1/2/3 car seat when appropriate.

What is i-Size and R129?

R129 is the most up to date European-wide regulation for child car seats, which requires children to sit rear-facing until they are at least 15 months old. It is based on height rather than weight, and with the introduction of this standard, seats also began to be tested for side impact.

i-Size and R129 are essentially the same thing: it gets a bit complicated, but ECE R129 is the new European standard for car seat safety, and "i-Size" is essentially just a customer-facing name associated with it. As time moves on, R129 is likely to be used more than i-Size as manufacturers and retailers attempt to simplify all the jargon surrounding car seat safety.

The “i” in i-size stands for integral, and refers to the fact that the harness is built into the seat, rather than using the car’s seat belt.

What are the differences between ISOFIX and Universal installation?

What is ISOFIX?

Most car seat models now have the option to use an ISOFIX system, but do check before you buy an ISOFIX car seat.

ISOFIX car seats have two metal connectors on the back of the seat that anchor onto small metal bars fixed to the frame of your vehicle. It makes it easy to install your car seat correctly, and ISOFIX car seats generally have clear indicators to let you know you’ve fitted the seat correctly.

Alongside ISOFIX, many car seats also use a tether and/or support leg for extra stability. We’ve indicated for each car seat the options you have when it comes to fitting, and if the seat uses ISOFIX. Obviously, you’ll need to check your car has ISOFIX connection points: most modern vehicles do.

Some car seats can be fitted using just a seatbelt, which can be handy if your car doesn’t have ISOFIX points. Generally, when fitted correctly, car seats that use a seatbelt are no less safe than those fitted using ISOFIX, but many parents find the ISOFIX connection gives them more confidence and reassurance.

What is Universal installation?

Car seats that can be held in place using only the vehicle’s 3-point adult seat belt to hold it in place are classed as ‘Universal’ because they can be used in any car as they sit directly on the vehicle seat.

Several car seats can be used with both Universal and ISOFIX fittings, including i-Size approved seats. But i-Size seats fixed using just the vehicle seat belt and not ISOFIX anchor points are not classed as i-Size, because i-Size only applies when the seat is installed using ISOFIX.

Don’t be concerned if your car doesn’t have ISOFIX points, as there are many belted options which are just as safe when fitted correctly. We would advise you get advice from an independent car seat fitting expert, especially if you're using the seatbelt.

When can a baby go into a forward-facing seat?

Legally, children can start to sit forward-facing when they move to a Group 1 car seat, so from around 9 months. Group 1 seats have traditionally been forward-facing, but this trend is changing as the new R129 standard requires children to rear face until at least 15 months. Many seats now offering extended rear-facing until age 4, or even age 7.

The reason for this is an increase in interest in extended crash testing like the Swedish Plus Test. Any car seat that has met the requirements of either ECE R129 or ECE R44 is safe according to UK/European law, but this optional test uses higher speed impact crashes and short braking distances, and looks at the impact on a child’s neck. From 2023, only rear-facing seats can be tested, so those looking for increased safety assurance may wish to have their children facing rearwards for longer in a seat that has passed this test.

What is the 2 hour rule?

This is the established safety recommendation endorsed by safety experts and manufacturers, that suggests babies shouldn’t sit in a car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time, with the exception being a lie-flat car seat. That’s because children can experience breathing problems if placed in a seated or scrunched position for too long.

This 2-hour rule includes babies seated in car seats on their prams. A car seat is not an alternative to a cot or crib but don’t worry if your baby falls asleep in their car seat – most babies do. You just don’t want them sleeping or sitting for more than 2 hours in the same position. If you have to take a long journey, plan frequent breaks. Find a safe place to stop, get your baby out for a few minutes and let them wriggle, breathe and take in more air. As most babies will need feeding or changing every couple of hours anyway, these breaks will probably happen quite naturally.

How much does a car seat from birth cost?

Like all parenting products, prices can vary from budget to luxuriously expensive, with lots of choice in between. Our top picks include seats suitable from birth starting from £100 that don’t require a separate base, all the way up to £725 for a model with an integrated base.

You may also have to factor in the additional cost of a base, as these don’t tend to come included with infant car seats. However, some brands will have seats in the next stage up which are compatible with the base, saving you the cost of having to buy a new one.

Advertisement

While price is important, and not actually an indicator of how safe a car seat is, it’s more important to choose the right seat that works best for you and your child in the car you’ll use most often. Remember, don’t settle for second best – or second-hand car seats.

How we chose our 11 of the Best

When selecting our 11 best car seats, we considered ease of use and fitting, comfort for child, lifespan, size and weight, age approriateness, extra features (for both convenience and safety) and whether it is worth the money. Most seats on this list have also been tested by experienced parent journalists.

Our Best lists rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

Authors

Emily Longman WallDigital Content Producer

Emily is the Digital Content Producer at MadeForMums, working across the brand on everything from pushchairs and car seats to baby names and the latest product launches. She researches topics thoroughly to make sure our content is accurate and helpful for parents and loves bringing the details about latest parenting products and innovations to our audience.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement