The best baby car seats from birth

How to travel safely in a car with a newborn baby; find and pick the best baby car seats from birth. These seats have been tested rigorously by parents and experts.

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Here is the list of the best car seats for infants…or read on for the safety information on baby car seats.

You’re expecting a baby (or have a new baby) and need a car seat to make sure you’re travelling safely, there are 3 types of seats you can use:

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  • A Group 0+ – suitable from birth to 13kg (around 12-15 months) – these can usually combine with a buggy to form a travel system
  • A Group 0+/1 – suitable from birth to 18kg (around 4 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 your baby will have to sit rear-facing from birth until they’re at least 15-months-old.  After that you can move your baby to a second stage/Group 1Group 1/2 or Group 1/2/3 car seat.

Why rear-facing?  Sitting your little one 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.

How long does my child have to sit rear-facing? With the i-Size law (explained below) all children are required to sit rear-facing until at least 15 months.

What is i-Size? In a few years (thought to be 2020) all new infant car seats sold in the UK will have to be i-Size (ECE R129) seats, which enables children to sit rear-facing until they are at least 15 months.  i-Size also legally requires car seats to have side impact protection and requires the use of ISOFIX.  You can find out more about i-Size legislation here.

What is the 2-hour rule? The ‘2-hour rule’ is the established safety recommendation endorsed by safety experts and manufacturers, that suggests children 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.  A car seat is not an alternative to a cot or crib, obviously don’t worry if your baby falls asleep in your car, as most babies do! You just don’t want them sleeping for more than two hours in the same position.

How do you fit an infant car seat in a car? Not all car seats fit in all cars, so you need to check the car seat you like can be fitted correctly in your car.  Most manufacturers have a quick online checking service, such as Britax’s Fit-Finder or Maxi-Cosi’s car fitting list. Have your car’s make, model and year of production close to hand for fast checking. When fitting a Group 0+ car seat into the car it is likely you’ll be using ISOFIX.

What is ISOFIX?  ISOFIX is a system that allows you to fit a car seat into your car.  It is an alternative to fitting a car seat with a car seat belt.   ISOFIX car seats have two 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 into your car, as you simply click the seat in and most ISOFIX car seats also have colour indicators to let you know you’ve fitted the seat correctly.

Do I need a base with my car seat? Most infant car seats can be used with a compatible car seat base.  The seat slots securely into the base and the base is secured to the car often with ISOFIX points, however some can be installed with a regular 3-point seat belt.   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.

How much should I spend on an infant car seat? Infant car seats are undoubtedly pricier than child car seats in other groups.  But like anything when it comes to parenting products prices can vary from budget to luxuriously expensive.  On average a second stage car seat costs around £250.  While price is important, and not actually an indicator of how safe a car seat, it’s more important to choose the right seat that works best for you and your child.  Remember, don’t settle for second best – or secondhand car seats.

What is a travel system? travel system combines a buggy with a Group 0+ car seat. The car seat clicks, or slots, onto the buggy or its chassis, making it easy to move your baby from car to buggy.

I’ve chosen the car seat I want, what do I do next?  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.

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1. Joie i-Level, £250 – MadeForMums Gold Award Winner

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 15 mths)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: ISOFIX base (included in price)

Our MadeForMums Gold award winner for the best infant car seat of 2018 goes to the Joie i-Level. Suitable from birth to 15-months, this i-Size compatible car seat features a memory foam head and side protection system and is travel system compatible with the popular Joie Chrome and MyTrax buggies.

The standout feature on this car seat is undoubtedly the fact that it lies flat, either in the car or on the buggy frame.

What our MadeForMums judges say about the Joie i-Level car seat:

“This car seat is very comfortable! It was easy to learn how to use and offers a smooth ride. I really like the different recline options and it has great side impact protection,” mum of 2, Meena

“I love the lie flat and how it can be adjusted without disturbing baby too much. It is also compact and a good price for an I-size seat.” Child car seat seat expert Claire Waterhouse

Check out our full parent review of the Joie i-Level

You can buy the Joie i-Level from: Kiddies Kingdom and Amazon.

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2. Jané Matrix Light car seat, £300 – MadeForMums Silver Award Winner

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 15 mths)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt or ISOFIX base (additional £225)

A lie-flat car seat that can also be used as a carrycot on Jane pushchairs, the Jane Matrix is suitable from birth to around 12 months. What separates the Matrix car seat from other lie-flat seats is that the car seat is safe for overnight sleeping too!

It has 4 recline positions, and can be fitted into the car with the Jane Matrix Platform base, which is rotatable.

What our MadeForMums judges say about the Jane Matrix Light 2 car seat:

“This car seat is a brilliant! When installed with the seatbelt, it has a low threading which anchors the seat into the car an awful lot better than other car seats. It is extremely light for the size of the seat, even with an 11-month-old in it! The 5-point harness adds extra security, and it is brilliantly padded and cosy and my little girl is extremely happy to sit in it, without any crying,” mum of 1, Sarah.

“Very easy to install, quite heavy but pleasingly sturdy, and with a reassuringly well-protected lie-flat option so babies can sleep on longer journeys with no danger of oxygen depletion. In fact, you can take the seat out of the base into your holiday home, for example, and they can sleep in the seat laid flat overnight,” mum of 2, Tanya

You can buy the Jane Matrix Light 2 car seat from  Samuel Johnston

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3. GB Vaya car seat, £375

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 12-4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: ISOFIX only base (included in price)

This rear-facing for longer car seat from GB has scoped our bronze award for its 360-degree rotating base-5 position recline and easy, one-click ISOFIX installation.

The GB Vaya is i-Size compatible, suitable from birth to 4 years and has easy to remove, washable covers!

We’ve got the full GB Vaya car seat review here

You can buy the GB Vaya car seat from Pram Centre and Kiddies Kingdom

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4. Britax Baby SAFE i-Size car seat, £190

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 15 months)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt or Baby SAFE i-Size base (additional £130)

This car seat is a firm favourite of the Royal family and the chosen infant car seat of Wills and Kate for both Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

It’s robust, super safe, well-made and affordable, it is also i-Size compatible, meaning it can be used rearward facing up to 15 months, has ISOFIX connectors (although it can be installed in a non i-Size way, by using the seat belt) and offers increased head and neck protection in the event of a side-impact accident.

When used with the Britax Flex base, the seat base angle can be adjusted to a near-flat position and the Britax Baby SAFE i-Size also features deep padding to keep your newborn and growing baby comfy.

Read the full Britax Baby SAFE i-Size car seat review here

The Britax Baby-Safe i-Size car seat is available from Pramworld

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5. Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size, £389

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 12-15 mths)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: ISOFIX only base (included in price)

The i-size version of the very popular Evo-Lunafix, this seat comes from a long line of groundbreaking, lie-flat infant seats, from Kiddy.

It comes complete with all the features that made the older version a best-seller, like a 5-point safety harness, rocker function and travel system compatibility. But it takes a step further. By using it with the ISOFIX base, it also allows you to let your baby lie flat in the car, which is perfect for long car journeys.

And it’s i-size compatible, which is part of the reason our MFM mums gave it 4.5 stars out of 5!

Read our full Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size review

You can buy the Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size from: Amazon

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6. Cybex Cloud Q, £240

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 12-15 mths)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt or ISOFIX base (additional £110)

A safe, lie-flat, versatile infant car seat, the Cybex Cloud Q battled some fantastic contenders to scoop the gold medal for best infant car seat at the 2017 MadeForMums awards, which is no mean feat.

The Group 0+ seat can be used from birth up until the age of 18 months, (although it does have a 13kg weight limit), has an 11-position height adjustable headrest and Cybex’s Linear Side Impact Protection system.

Universally installed, meaning it can be fitted with a seat belt or connected to the Cybex ISOFIX Q-Fix base, it is also a test winner in Group 0+ in the test 06/2015 conducted by Stiftung Warentest, Germany’s top safety and consumer rights organisation.

See the full Cybex Cloud Q review here

You can buy the Cybex Cloud Q at The Baby Room.

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7. Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix, £99

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx 12-15 mths)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt or ISOFIX with base (additional £130)

The Maxi-Cosi CabrioFixis one of the biggest-selling Group 0+ car seats, and is compatible with many best-selling pushchairs to create a travel system – such as Bugaboo and iCandy.

Suitable from birth to 13kg, the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix is ISOFIX compatible with any Maxi Cosi base or can be installed with a car’s seat belt. It has a top reputation for its safety features, durability and style, and is a classic favourite amongst many parents.

Read our full Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix car seat review

You can buy the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix on Amazon, at Argos, or John Lewis

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8. Jané Koos infant car seat, £145

Age: Birth – 13kg (12-15mths)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: ISOFIX base only (additional £160)

This lightweight (2.9kg) Group 0+ car seat (up to 13kg, 18 months approx) is the lightest car seat in the list.

Travel system compatible, with an adjustable, 3-point harness and ergonomic carrying handle with 4 different positions, it has a handy storage unit at the back of the seat – great for stashing a purse or any other small item.

It also comes with a smartphone barcode for accessing an in-car fitting demonstration.

Check out the review of the Koos car seat as a travel system here.

You can buy the car seat from Precious Little One.

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9. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus, £199

Age: Birth to 12kg (approx 12 months)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt or ISOFIX with base (additional £199)

The Pebble Plus is the updated version of the older, best-selling Pebble and a step on from the very popular Cabriofix car seat.

It can be used until your baby is 12 months in the rearward-facing position when teamed with a Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base. The clever bit is that, using the same base, you can then buy the 2WayPearl to keep your child rearward-facing until around 4 years.

The Pebble Plus offers all the safety features you’d expect, such as a 5-point harness, click-and-go installation and ISOFIX. And as it’s from Maxi-Cosi, the Pebble Plus car seat is travel system compatible with most of the biggest pushchair brands, including Bugaboo, Silver Cross and iCandy.

That’s why it’s one of the very few products that has scooped our coveted 5 out of 5 stars.

Read the full Pebble Plus review here.

You can buy the Pebble Plus on Amazon or Pramworld

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10. Recaro Zero.1 Elite i-Size, £495

Age: Birth to 18kg (approx 4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: ISOFIX only base (included in price)

Unlike any other car seat on the market, the Recaro Zero.1 Elite is a Group 1 seat that has a removable infant carrier attached to it.

That means you can use it from birth to 18kg (around 4 years), like a standard Group 0+/1 but detach the infant carrier to use it as a travel system with a Recaro pushchair, if desired.

Featuring a 360 degree rotating base, the Zero.1 Elite is also i-Size compatible and can be used in the rear-facing position to 18kg too!

Read our full Recaro Zero.1 Elite review here.

You can buy this seat from Uber Kids or Hello Baby.

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11. Joie Spin 360, £249

Age: Birth to 18kg (approx 4 years)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: ISOFIX only base (included in price)

As the name suggest, the Group 0+/1 seat rotates, meaning it swivels on its base, great for getting your baby or toddler in and out of the chair easily.

Featuring ISOFIX only installation, the car seat also has a Grow Together™ multi-height headrest and harness system that adjusts simultaneously, meaning there’s no re-threading of the harness and has a total of 10 recline positions; 5 rearward and 5 forward-facing.

Check out our Joie Spin 360 review

You can buy the Joie Spin 360 from  Precious Little One, Amazon or Argos.

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12. Cybex Sirona, £400

Age: Birth to 18kg (approx 4 years)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: ISOFIX only base (included in price)

A super expensive but extremely safe and smart car seat that takes your baby from birth to 4 years.

Its special feature is the rotating seat, which means you can turn it towards the door to easily get your child in, and then swivel it to the front. Plus it gives you the opportunity to keep your child facing rearwards (a safer position) for longer.

Read our full Cybex Sirona car seat review

You can buy the Cybex Sirona on John Lewis or Amazon

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13. Graco Milestone, £149

Age: Birth to 36kg (approx 12 years)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car: 3-point seat belt only

Amazing value for money, this car seat is one of a revolutionary breed of complete multi-stage, stretching from birth to 12 years. The idea, says Graco, is that this car seat will be ‘the only car seat you need to buy’. And considering at £179, it’s cheaper than many baby car seats that will last just over a year, that’s quite something.

Our reviewer even found it quick to install, sturdy and easy to clean. It’s obviously a bit heavy to lug around and if rear-facing for longer is important to you, it may not be your best choice, but it’s massive in the value stakes.

Read our full Graco Milestone review

You can buy the Graco Milestone car seat at Amazon.

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14. Simple Parenting Doona, £279.99

Age: Birth – 13kg (12-15mths)

i-Size compatible: No

Installation in car:  3-point seat belt or ISOFIX with base (additional £129.99)

We’re including the Doona because it’s a unique concept – a car seat that turns into a buggy. That’s right. It’s a car seat that has its own pull-out wheels.  What’s also unique is that the car seat has been approved for use on an aircraft!

But the uniqueness comes at a cost. Our reviewer found it doesn’t make for a great buggy – still it’s only designed to push your baby for short distances.

Read our full Doona car seat review

You can buy the Doona from Kiddies Kingdom or Amazon

Here’s some essential car seat reading for you…

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