What types of car seat are there?
We explain the main car seat styles you’ll come across for your child, from lie-flat infant carriers, forward and rear facing car seats to child booster car seats.
Lie-flat carrycot with carry handle
This type of car seat is a Group 0 car seat. It sees your newborn lying down flat on their back, like they would in a cot, but with a restraint holding them in.
The carry handle enables you to move your baby in and out of the car and home without waking them.
A carrycot-style car seat is often compatible with a buggy to create a travel system. Some are even suitable for overnight sleeping, too.
A lie-flat car seat probably won’t last longer than 6 months, and it won't last up until your baby is ready for a forward facing car seat, when they weigh more than 13kg (around 15-months old).
So you will end up needing to buy another Group 0+ rear facing seated option for a few months of use. Remember, you don’t have to use a lie-flat car seat from birth, so it’s not essential you buy one.
Check out the six best lie-flat car seats from birth here.
Lie-flat and rear facing with carry handle
This type of car seat is really like two car seats in one. First it’s used as a lie-flat carrycot-style car seat, or Group 0.
Once your baby is slightly older, it’s then a rear facing car seat where your baby’s in a more seated position, like they would be in a standard Group 0+ car seat.
This means you can use a lie-flat option in the early months, but don’t need to purchase a separate rear facing car seat to cover the gap between being too big for a lie-flat option but too small for a forward facing Group 1 car seat.
The carry handle means you can move your baby about in the car seat, from car to home and vice versa, without having to take them out of the seat.
This type of car seat may be compatible with a buggy to create a travel system, and sometimes can be suitable for overnight sleeping.
Rear facing with carry handle
A rear facing car seat with carry handle is usually a Group 0+ car seat. That means you can use it from birth (you don’t have to have a lie-flat option), right up until your baby is big enough for a forward facing car seat.
The carry handle lets you move your baby about, so if they fall asleep in the car seat you don’t have to disturb them.
Many rear facing car seats with carry handle are compatible with a buggy to create travel system.
Rear and forward facing
This type of car seat is like two car seats in one. It used to be that most rear and forward-facing car seats fell into the Group 0+/1 car seat category.
However, with the new iSize guidelines have now become part of car seat law, we're seeing a growing trend in rear-facing for longer seats.
Legally your baby has to travel in a rear-facing position from birth, and then change to a forward facing position once they weigh at least 13kg (around 15-months-old). But many new chairs allow you to keep your baby in a rear facing position for up to 4 years, some go even further than that!
This type of car seat doesn’t have a carry handle because it’s not designed to allow you to carry your baby about. The seat is generally heavier and will stay in the car, with you moving your baby instead of the seat.
A rear and forward facing car seat isn’t travel system compatible.
Your baby can use a forward facing car seat once they weigh 13kg or more. This car seat type will be either a Group 1, Group 1/2, Group 1/2/3, or Group 2/3.
This type of car seat stays in the car and isn’t able to be used on a buggy to make a travel system.
This type of car seat can convert into a booster seat by having the backrest removed. It usually falls into the Group 1/2/3 and Group 2/3 category.
The car seat is used as a standard forward facing option, and while this style of car seat meets current standards and regulations, there are some parents who aren't fans of backless booster seats as they feel that the level of protection offered by backless booster seats isn’t adequate.
We've investigated the backless booster versus high-backed booster issue.
Backless booster seat
This type is like a car seat with no back or arm rests. A booster seat falls into Group 2/3. A booster is designed to ensure the adult seatbelt is positioned correctly across your child’s shoulder and pelvis, plus it gives your child a bit of comfort.
Simple ways to help your child learn to be clever with money
Make learning about money simple and fun for your kids with these easy tips.