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:

  • 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. Britax Dualfix i-size, £430

Age: Birth (minimum 40cm) to 105cm, or 18kg (approx. 4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 15kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (included)

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019, Rear-facing for longer car seat – Gold, i-Size car seat – Gold

The Britax Dualfix i-Size is a flexible car seat with reassuring safety features such as an adjustable rebound bar and superior side impact protection.

The seat has a long lifespan as you can use it from birth in the rear-facing position and then either continue to keep the seat rear-facing, or switch it to forward facing, until your child is around 4 years old (or 18kg).

You’ll find energy-absorbing padded inserts that provide a newborn with extra support and 12 recline positions.

The seat’s nifty 360° rotation means you can turn the seat towards the car door to get a baby in and out – handy when they’re fast asleep.

It’s not the cheapest option on the list, but unlike seats such as the Maxi-Cosi Pebble, the base is included – meaning no add-on purchases. Saying that, you can buy extras such as a summer cover or snug cosy toes.

MFM judge Susie says: “The rotating mechanism is smooth and simple to operate and safety is clearly at the heart of all its functionality. Great to see that it doesn’t lock into place in the sideways setting, so there’s no risk of parents driving off with a child in a potentially dangerous position.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Britax, Mothercare and Uber Kids

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2. Joie i-Level, £250

Age: Birth to 85cm, and under 13kg

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 9.95kg (seat – 5.03kg, base – 4.92kg)

Installation in car: Isofix base (included)

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019, i-Size car seat – Joint Silver

The Joie i-Level is a compact car seat that’s suitable from birth to up to around 15-18 months. It’s an i-Size seat and features a memory foam head and side protection system and is travel system compatible.

Parent-friendly features include a multi-height headrest that can be adjusted simultaneously with the harness as your little one grows, and for sunny days, a generous UPF50 + canopy that can be retracted or taken off if not needed.

The car seat’s standout feature though is the lie-flat recline, meaning your baby can travel in the car or the buggy in the most ergonomic position possible.

At nearly £200 cheaper than the Dualfix i-Size, it’s also good option considering the base is included in the price too, although it won’t last you as long.

MFM judge Maxine says: “The i-Level is good value for money and I love the innovative lie-flat function. This is brilliant as in the lie-flat mode you can keep your little ones in their car seat for longer if needed, putting your mind at rest – it can often be a worry on longer journeys making sure they’re not in a car seat for longer than two hours.

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Mothercare, John Lewis and Precious Little One

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3. Cybex Sirona S i-Size, £300

Age: Birth (minimum 45cm) to 105cm, and under 18kg (approx. 4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 14.6kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (included)

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019, i-Size car seat – Joint Bronze

The Cybex Sirona S i-Size is a high-end car seat that can transport your baby from birth to four years.

It boasts the special 360° swivel motion also seen on the much more expensive Britax Dualfix and Maxi-Cosi Assifix Plus. This allows you to get baby in and out of the car easily and to keep your child in the rear facing position for longer – until they’re at least 76cm. It is worth mentioning though that you can only rotate the seat in an upright position.

The seat clicks into place with the Isofix base and coloured indicators show that it’s fitted correctly. For extra protection with a newborn, an inlay is included to be used until your baby is at least 60cm. Enhanced safety includes ‘Energy Reduction Technology’ and extendable side impact protection on the car door side,

It weighs in much heavier than most of the seats on our list, and it also isn’t travel system compatible, unlike the similarly priced Joie i-Level. However for parents looking for a super-sturdy seat with smart safety features, it’s a reliable choice.

MFM judge Maxine says: “One really useful feature is that you have to get the harness at a certain height before you can use it forward-facing. It isn’t immediately obvious but it’s brilliant as means you can’t accidentally use it forward facing when they’re too little.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Uber Kids, Kiddies Kingdom and Amazon

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4. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus, £199

Age: Birth to 75cm and under 12kg (approx.12 months)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 4.55kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) or car’s 3-point seatbelt

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019, i-Size car seat – Joint Bronze

Maxi-Cosi’s Pebble Plus is the updated version of the older, best-selling Pebble and a step up from the brand’s very popular Cabriofix car seat.

When teamed with the easy-to-use Maxi-Cosi 3wayFix base (which you buy separately) your baby can travel in the Pebble Plus in the rear facing position until they are about 12 months old.

The appeal of Maxi-Cosi’s system is that using the same base, you can then buy the Pearl Pro i-Size seat that will keep your child rear-facing until around four years. Comparatively, the Recaro Zero.1 Elite i-size can last you this long, with just one purchase.

The Pebble Plus offers all the safety features you’d expect such as impact-absorbing material in the side wings and a newborn inlay to provide a better fit for a new baby. It’s also compatible with most of the popular pushchair brands, including Bugaboo, Silver Cross and iCandy.

MFM judge Kath says: “I like the light and beep system on this seat’s compatible Click & Go i-Size base, so you know when it is fitted correctly. The Pebble Plus is pricey when buying the base too, given that you can only use it up to 12 months, however it does fit on multiple travel systems. It can also be fitted with a belt if your car doesn’t have Isofix.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Maxi-Cosi, Kiddies Kingdom and Mothercare

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5. Jané Matrix Light 2, £300

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx. 18 months)

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 5.2kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) or car’s 3-point seatbelt

The Jané Matrix Light 2 car seat is a favourite with mums thanks to its versatility and ease of use with a newborn.

The seat’s appeal lies in its 180° flat recline, meaning a baby can sleep safely in carrycot mode, either in the car or on a compatible pushchair chassis.

If you buy the extra mattress it also doubles up as a bassinet that’s suitable for overnight sleeping – making it an asset for trips away or long days out.

The Jané Matrix Light 2 is fitted with either the car’s seat belt or Isofix base. The seat isn’t i-Size however, so you may want to opt for another lie-flat seat such as the Joie i-Level or Kiddy Evo-Luna, if this is important to you.

Our reviewer says: “The Jané Matrix Light 2 is incredibly light for its size, with a spacious, comfy seat and cushion. I like that the straps were long when extended and the transition from upright to lie-flat was very smooth. Although it’s not an i-Size compliant seat, the seat has been put through rigorous testing to ensure a high standard of safety.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Jané, Uber Kids and Precious Little One

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6. Recaro Zero.1 Elite i-size, £499

Age: Birth to 18kg (approx. 4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 2.9kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (included)

The Recaro Zero.1 Elite is a unique car seat that stands out on the list due to its first-rate features.

At nearly £500, it’s certainly a big spend, but this high-performing seat will last you until your child is around four years-old.  The seat’s nearest rival is likely to be the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus, but with the Recaro Zero.1 Elite, you do get a slightly more superior finish.

You can use the seat from birth to 18kg like a standard Group 0+/1 car seat, but what’s nifty here is there’s a removable infant carrier, that detaches and can be used as a travel system ­– using an adapter it slots on to a Recaro pushchair.

This i-Size seat has a smart, 360° rotating base and can be used in the rear-facing position to 18kg  – both features are also be found on the Britax Dualfix i-size.

Our reviewer says: “The Recaro Zero.1 Elite is pricy, but you definitely get what you pay for – a high standard of protection and comfort for your child, This product should definitely be on the radar of parents to be, or new parents, who want to invest in one car seat that does it all.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Uber Kids, Pramworld and Oliver’s Babycare

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7. Joie Spin 360 Group 0+/1 Car Seat, £280

Age: Birth to 18kg (approx. 4 years)

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 13.9kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (included) 

As the name suggests, the Joie Spin 360 rotates – meaning this seat swivels on its base to make getting your baby or toddler in and out of the chair easily.

Parents also rate the seat’s multi-height headrest and harness system that adjusts simultaneously so there’s no re-threading of the harness. With a total of 10 recline positions; five rearward – that can be used up to 18kg, and five forward-facing, it’s a super-flexible option that will take you to school-age.

Our reviewer says: ‘The Joie 360 Spin is a fantastic product. For its group stage and life span it’s pricier than most Joie seats, but if you use it for the full four years it’s a great investment.’

It has a similar price-tag to the Cybex Sirona S  – another i-Size seat that also swivels – and like the Sirona, the Joie Spin features Isofix only installation, so it’s essential that your car is compatible.

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Mothercare, Boots and Halfords

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8. Britax Baby Safe i-Size Car Seat, £190

Age: Birth to 13kg or 83cm (approx. 15 months)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 4.8kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) and car’s 3-point seatbelt 

Here’s a car seat that has the Royal seal of approval – Wills and Kate used it for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

It’s robust, super safe, well-made and affordable, and it’s also i-Size compatible, meaning it can be used rearward facing up to 15 months.

You can fit it in the car with one of Britax’s bases, which is an additional spend – unlike with the Cybex Sirona that has it included, and the seat offers increased head and neck protection in the event of a side-impact accident.

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

Our reviewer says: “The seat is ideal for parents who are keen to buy a product that complies with the new safety regulations, and who want their newborn to still fit in the seat beyond the 12 month mark. It was easy to install, both with or without the Isofix base, and was comfortable for our son.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Britax-roemer, Halfords and Mothercare

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9. Maxi-Cosi Axissfix Plus, £399

Age: Birth to 105cm and under 19kg (approx. 4 years)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 12.5kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included)

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2019, i-Size car seat – Joint Silver

For parents looking for a long lasting, from birth option, the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus delivers. It offers rearward-facing travel until around two years, and can then be used forward facing until your child is around years-old.

The seat has a 360° spin, as seen on the slightly cheaper Joie Spin and the more expensive Britax Dualfix – ensuring amazing ease-of-use for parents. The spin allows you to face baby towards you when getting them in or out, to ensure the perfect fit, then you can spin them back into position.

The AxissFix Plus complies with i-Size safety regulations and it’s easy to install with the seat’s Isofix system. A cosy inlay offers a newborn baby extra comfort and support. At 12.5kg it’s much heavier than the Graco Milestone, but still lighter than the Britax’s Dualfix.

MFM judge Stephanie says:  “It’s a sturdy and well-engineered car seat, my little one sleeps very well and comfortably in it. Plus, is it was very intuitive to install.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Maxi-Cosi, John Lewis and Mothercare

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10. Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size, £409

Age: Birth to 13kg

i-Size compatible: Yes

Weight of seat: 4.9kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (included)

This seat comes from a long line of groundbreaking, lie-flat infant seats, from Kiddy and is the i-size version of the very popular Evo-Lunafix. It’s one of the more expensive seats on the list and with a maximum weight of 13kg, it won’t last you as long as the Britax Dualfix or the Cybex Sirona S.

It does however have bestselling features such as a five-point safety harness, rocker function and travel system compatibility. And it also allows you to let your baby lie flat in the car, which is perfect for long journeys.

This function means the seat rivals the Jané Matrix Light 2 for the option of keeping baby in their car seat for longer if they fall asleep.

Our reviewer says: “A sturdy seat packed with state-of-the-art technology, the Evo-Luna i-Size offers a brilliant solution to the safety issue of keeping your baby in a car seat for more than two hours at a time. But you’ll need a reasonably big car to house it, and strong arms if you intend to carry it around.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Amazon, Natural Baby Shower and Uber Kids

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11. Silver Cross Dream, £195

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx. nine to 12 months)

i-Size compatible: Yes

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included)

 The Group 0+ Dream is one of the new models in this heritage brand’s first range of car seats. The i-Size seat is suitable for babies from birth up to around 12 months, which makes it a strong rival for the Britax Baby Safe seat – that’s similarly priced albeit can be used for a few months longer.

The seat is compatible with the Dream i-Size base and has been designed to be used as a travel system with Silver Cross prams and pushchairs.

With robust safety features such as four-layer side impact protection, five-point safety harness and ventilated hood, parents have maximum reassurance on the road.

A newborn insert, the softest bamboo fabrics and five head-rest position ensures the comfiest fit for small babies.

Available from: Silver Cross, Natural Baby Shower and Pramworld

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12. Cybex Cloud Q, £220

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx. 18 months)

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 5.7kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) or car’s 3-point seatbelt

The Cybex Cloud Q is a safe, lie-flat, versatile infant car seat that has won over parents with its ergonomic design and travel system compatibility.

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 for reassurance on the road.

It’s universally installed, meaning it can be fitted with a seat belt or connected to the Cybex Isofix Q-Fix base.

The seat’s lie flat feature is great for letting baby continue to sleep in the seat, although it’s worth mentioning this function can only be used once you removed the seat from the car – unlike with the Jané Matrix Light 2 or Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size.

Our reviewer says: The Cybex Cloud Q is very easy to fix in my car and feels very sturdy. What I loved about it was, when my baby fell asleep during a car journey, I could take him out, bring him in the house, and turn the seat into lie-flat so he could carry on napping.

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Uber Kids, Baby Planet and Natural Baby Shower

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13. Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix Group 0+, £139

Age: Birth to approx. 12 months

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 3.6kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) or car’s 3-point seatbelt

The Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix is one of most popular 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 seat 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.

Once you have added on the base to the cost of the seat, it’s not quite as good value for money as longer lifespan seats such as the Graco Milestone, but it’s a reliable option that will get your little one around safely for the first 12 months.

Our reviewer says: “It’s for those who want a reliable car seat from a trusted name with good protection for baby but don’t want to spend an absolute premium.  Using the CabrioFix with seat belt is easy enough and does the job just fine. But this seat does come into its own with the click-in and go base.”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Maxi-Cosi, Amazon and Mothercare

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14. Jané Koos, £160

Age: Birth to 13kg (approx. 18 mths)

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 2.9kg

Installation in car: Isofix base (not included) or car’s 3-point seatbelt

Not only is the Jané Koos a well-priced seat that’s travel system compatible, it’s also the joint lightest seat on the list – weighing in at just 2.9kg. This is the same as the much more expensive Recaro Zero.1 Elite i-size.

This Group 0+ car seat will last until your baby is around 18 months and has an adjustable, three-point harness and ergonomic carrying handle with four different positions. If i-Size compatibility is important  to you, there’s also an i-Size model available.

There’s also has a handy storage unit at the back of the seat, which is great for stashing a small purse or other small item. You’ll find the smartphone barcode that comes with the seat handy for accessing an in-car fitting demonstration.

When testing the seat as part of the travel system, our reviewer says: “The Koos car seat is very easy to use with the Crosswalk chassis and it takes no time to safely attach the car seat to the buggy and take it off again. It’s also fits to the car seat base really swiftly and at all times you know that it’s connected safely.

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Jané, Trendy Baby and Pramworld

graco-milestone

15. Graco Milestone, £220

Age: Birth to 36kg (approx. 12 years or 135cm, whichever comes first)

i-Size compatible: No

Weight of seat: 8.6kg

Installation in car: Car’s 3-point seatbelt

The Graco Milestone is a versatile car seat that offers real value for money. It’s one of a revolutionary breed of complete multi-stage seats that stretches from birth to 12 years, with just one purchase. The idea being: you only need to buy one seat.

At £220, it still comes in cheaper than car seats on the list such as the Kiddy Evo-Luna, that will only last you over a year, but it’s worth noting that this seat isn’t i-Size compatible.

What you do get is a seat that’s quick to install, sturdy and easy to clean. Weighing 8.6kg, it’s not the lightest or smallest seat to lug around, but it’s massive in the value stakes.

It will grow with your little one, converting from a rear-facing Group 0+ seat, to a forward-facing harnessed seat, to a highback belted Group 2-3 seat with a maximum weight of 36kg. A washable seat pad and cup holder are nice little extras.

Our reviewer says: “I just love the one-step headrest and harness adjustment, plus the easy installation. It looks safe, is comfortable and I won’t have to buy a new car seat every 3-4 years. What more could a busy mum want?”

Read our full MFM review

Available from: Amazon and Argos

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