Why are lie-flat car seats important?

Research shows that it's healthiest for newborn babies to lie flat for the majority of the time when they're sleeping or lying still for periods. Historically, car seats held babies, even newborns, in an upright position. Now, certain key manufacturers have created car seats that can lie flat.


The lie-flat position is important for two reasons:

  • Allows babies to breathe optimally and inhale all the oxygen they need. Babies who sit in upright car seats for a period of time often slump a little, which can restrict their breathing, particularly if they slump forward
  • It's the best lying-down position for encouraging healthy development of your baby's spine and hips

Read more about the scientific research behind lie-flat recommendations for buggies and car seats

So should I buy one - or will my baby still be safe in a car seat that doesn't lie flat?

Firstly, upright car seats ARE safe. It's just that it's recommended that babies stay in upright car seats for no longer than two hours at a time. So if you're intending to have your baby spend many hours in a car seat for long periods of time - either in the car or on a buggy - then it's worth investigating lie-flat car seats. Also, if you're looking to use the car seat as a carrycot at home, lie-flats may be of interest.

The two-hour rule doesn't mean you can never take a baby on a car journey that's longer than two hours, but you are advised to take regular travel breaks every two hours or sooner, and take your baby out of the car seat for at least a few minutes so your baby is repositioned when you put them back.

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Many parents also find their baby may spend a long time in one go in a car seat, if babies are transported from car to travel system and remain in the car seat for the whole time. This 2-hour rule includes babies in car seats outside of the car, for example it applies to babies in travel systems, if your baby is in a car seat at home or at a restaurant or friend's house.

The key advice is that upright car seats should not be used as a regular place for your baby to go to sleep for long periods - so if your baby has fallen asleep in the car, you'll need to take them out of the car seat when you get home and lie them on something flat - even if that means waking them up.

Car seats that lie flat on a buggy AND in a car - pros and cons

Pros - Your baby lies completely flat in the car as they would in a cot. In the car, there's a safety restraint holding your baby in, and a safety mechanism to keep the seat fixed in the car. These car seats can usually also be used at home as carrycots.

Cons - Often, the main drawback is that these car seats may only last until your baby is 6 months (they're called Group 0) but this is not old enough for the next stage. This means you'll have to buy a car seat that either takes you to the next stage (12-15 months) or a combination car seat that will take you from birth to 4 years. The combination car seat is more cost-effective but your choice is more limited and either way you're still paying for a car seat that's suitable from birth even though you're not using it from the beginning.

The Kiddy Evoluna i-Size and Jané Matrix 2 do take your baby to 12 months (15 mths in Kiddy's case) but they can be bulkier than normal infant car seats and the Evoluna needs to be in the upright position to move around. Some of these car seats can also take up extra space in the back seat of your car - reducing the number of passengers or other car seats you can have in your car.

Best for - Parents who are going to be travelling on a lot of long car journeys with their baby and want to use the car seat as a carrycot too.

Car seats that lie flat only on a buggy - pros and cons

Pros - Fantastic for using as a travel system, these car seats have a mechanism to change to a lie-flat position when out of the car - either attached to your buggy or lying flat at home. These car seats are suitable at least up to 12 months, some last until 18 months.

Cons - The car seat is positioned upright in the car so you can't take advantage of the lie-flat mechanism.

Best for - Parents who frequently use their travel system, enabling them to keep their baby safely in the car seat on a buggy for longer periods than 2 hours.

Best lie-flat car seats for babies

Cybex Cloud Z, £225


Age: Birth - 18 months (Group 0+)

Type of lie flat: Lies flat only on buggy frame

Travel system compatible: Yes

The Cloud Z Group 0+ seat can be used up until the age of 18 months. It has an 11-position height adjustable headrest and Cybex’s Linear Side Impact Protection system as featured on its Sirona car seat. It's isofix compatible with the Cybex Z base (£185), which rotates making it easier to get your baby in and out of the car.

However, it's worth noting that the Cloud Z cannot lie flat while in the car, only when attached to a pushchair frame.

The Cloud Z is travel system compatible with the Cybex Priam buggy and other Cybex buggies with adapters, plus many other big name pushchairs including Bugaboo and UPPAbaby.

Buy the Cybex Cloud Z from Uber Kids, John Lewis and Natural Baby Shower.


Jané Matrix Light 2, £205

Age: Birth - 12 months (Group 0+)

Type of lie-flat: Lies flat in car AND on buggy frame

Travel system compatible: Yes

As the name would suggest, the Matrix Light is a lightweight lie-flat car seat and carrycot.

Suitable from birth to 12 months the Group 0+ car seat is travel-system compatible with most Jané buggies and has a built in shock absorber. It can also be used with the Matrix Light 2 platform, which works like a secure base to fix the seat into the car, and also has a swivel rotating base.

Read the full Matrix Light 2 review here

Buy the Jané Matrix Light 2 from Samuel Johnston and UberKids

Maxi-Cosi Jade car seat in and out of car

Maxi-Cosi Jade car seat/carrycot, £199

Age: Birth - approx 6 months (Group 0)

Type of lie-flat: Lies flat in car AND on buggy frame

Travel system compatible: Yes

The Maxi-Cosi Jade is a lie-flat only car seat and designed to be a carrycot for home and buggy use too. It can be used up to around the age of 6 months, so you will need to buy an additional car seat or combination car seat once your baby is 6 months.

It's the first 'car cot', as Maxi-Cosi calls it, that is i-Size compatible and it neatly slides on to the Maxi-Cosi 3-wayFix base (additional £199), which also works with the Pebble and Pearl car seats. It will also attach to any Maxi-Cosi compatible buggy and you can buy an optional Jade rain cover (£25).

Buy the Maxi-Cosi Jade from John Lewis, Natural Baby Shower or Mothercare.


Jané Transporter 2, £270

Age: Birth - approx 6 months (Group 0)

Type of lie-flat: Lies flat in car AND on buggy frame

Travel system compatible: Yes

A leader in the lie-flat car seat industry, Jané has enjoyed growing success with this award-winning lie-flat only car seat, so much so that it is in its second generation.

The Transporter is a combination of car seat and carrycot and is travel system compatible with all Jané buggies, including the Trider Extreme, Slalom Pro and Mumm pushchairs.

While the Transporter is suitable for babies up to the weight of 10kg (which is around 9 months), realistically your baby may be too tall past the age of 6 months or may want to sit upright once they've learnt to sit, so age-wise 6 months is a more likely top age. At which point, you'll have to buy an additional car seat in order to take your baby through to the next stage (Group 1).

Buy the Jané Transporter 2 from Samuel Johnston and Kiddies Kingdom


Britax Baby Safe i-Size, £265

Age: Birth - 15 months (Group 0+)

Type of lie flat: Not lie-flat as such, but lies 'flatter' for young babies

Travel system compatible: Yes

Offering a near lie-flat position with the Britax Flex base, the Baby Safe i-Size is the latest version of the popular Britax infant car seat.

It is travel system compatible, features side impact protection and 5-point safety harness. When tested, our MFM mum said the seat "offered more room to grow than our Stokke Izi Go and nudged ahead of our Maxi-Cosi Pebble on account of its secure, five-point harness, together with the fact it is suitable for babies up to 83cm."

You can see the full review of the Britax Baby Safe i-Size here.

This car seat is available to buy from Britax or PramWorld

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Hazelann WilliamsFormer Reviews Editor

Having been a journalist for 15 years – and Reviews Editor at MadeForMums for five of those – Hazelann has accrued a lot of experience testing and reviewing every baby product imaginable.