How to choose the best baby car seat 2018: 10 of the best from £80 to £500

Buying a new baby car seat? We take a look at some of the best products on the market to help you find the right one

If you have a baby on the way, one of the first things you’ll need is a baby car seat to take your newborn home. With a wide range of baby car seats to choose from finding the right one can be tricky, but to help we’ve rounded up some of the best child car seat options on the market.

The law requires that all babies and children must use a car seat up until they are either 135cm in height or the age of 12 – whichever comes first. It is the driver’s responsibility and not the parents’ to ensure that all children under the age of 14 (using a seatbelt from 12 to 14) are restrained properly in any car on UK roads.

Child car seat and booster seat laws explained

However, despite the law stating ages, it is essentially the child’s weight that’s important when buying a new car seat as most manufacturers state product suitability for child car seats using different weight categories. It’s normally suggested that you weigh your child before buying a car seat, but with baby car seats you’ll probably need to make the purchase before your newborn arrives so simply focus your car seat search on products suitable for newborn babies.

Don’t just head to shop and pick up the first baby seat that you lay your eyes upon though as there are many things to consider when buying.

How to choose a baby car seat

As we've said, car seats are separated into various groups that depend on the child’s weight, however many car seats have removable parts that enable it to 'grow' with your child and therefore can cover more than one weight group. Group 0+ and Group 0-1 are the most popular car seats from birth, but there are some big differences between these two.

Child car seat categories

  • Group 0: Suitable from birth to 10kg (birth to 6-9 months)
  • Group 0+: Suitable from birth to 13kg (birth to 12-15 months).
  • Group 1: Suitable from 9kg to 18kg (9 months to 4 years)
  • Group 2: Suitable from 15kg to 25kg (4 years to 6 years)
  • Group 3: Suitable from 15kg to 36kg (4 years to 12 years).

Group 0+ seats are known as ‘infant seats’ and are suitable for babies from birth to 13kg. In reality, Group 0+ seats should last until your baby is just over one year of age, at which point you will have to upgrade to a bigger child seat. Despite their short life span, infant seats are the lightest on the market and are always portable with a carry handle.

Group 0-1 seats, or ‘combination seats’, differ in the fact they are suitable from birth up until your child hits 18kg, which should be around four years of age. They work by growing with your child, as many parts can be removed to make the seat bigger, plus they can be adjusted to be rearward-facing from birth until 9kg and then forward-facing from 9kg to 18kg. The downside with combination seats is that they are heavier, far less portable and more expensive.

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i-Size seats are the latest to arrive and offer improved safety in the event of an accident by providing better side impact protection. They ensure your little one can stay rearward-facing until 15 months of age, further helping to protect the neck and spine.

Most modern baby car seats are also fitted as part of a modular system, with a base connecting into your car’s ISOFIX points. As your child grows, each new seat can then simply be connected to the base, ensuring that each seat has less of a chance of being fitted incorrectly. Of course, the traditional option to secure with a seat belt remains.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that the baby car seat you like can actually fit and fix into your car. Drive to the shop before buying and ask for a demonstration in your car.

Read below for our round up of some of the best baby car seats available…

BeSafe iZi GO

Price: Around £210Category: Group 0+Weight: 3.7kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (sold separately)

You’ll struggle to find a lighter i-Size compatible infant seat than the BeSafe iZi Go, which weighs in at just 3.7kg. The seat features padded memory foam inner sides and head cushion inserts to maximise comfort and safety, plus they are fully removable so the seat can grow with your baby up until he/she reaches 13kg. The iZi Go can be secured with a seat belt, or combined with the iZi Modular i-Size Base (sold separately) for quick ISOFIX installation.

Buy the iZi Go from Amazon here

Britax Römer Baby-Safe i-Size

Price: Around £340Category: Group 0+Weight: 4.8kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (included)

The Britax Römer Baby-Safe i-Size is the most expensive on this list, but it comes with the flex base (normally sold separately) making it arguably the best value for money. As the name suggests, it’s fully i-Size compatible and features a patented reclining mechanism that allows newborns to lie flat before switching to a more upright position for older babies. It’s one of the heavier infant seats on the market, but comes in a variety of colours and is suitable from birth up until your baby hits 83cm.

Buy the Römer Baby-Safe from Amazon here

Cosatto Hold

Price: Around £150Category: Group 0+Weight: 3.9kgi-Size: NoBase compatible: Yes (included)

Cosatto products are designed to stand out, and that’s certainly true of the Cosatto Hold infant seat. It comes in a variety of quirky styles that’ll certainly put a smile on your baby’s face as he/she grows older. It comes complete with a headhugger and tummy pads to aid comfort, and can be installed either with a seat belt or with the Hold ISOFIX base (sold separately). The Hold is not i-Size compatible, though.

Buy the Cosatto Hold from Amazon here

Cybex CloudQ

Price: Around £220Category: Group 0+Weight: 5.4kgi-Size: NoBase compatible: Yes (sold separately)

Noticeably heavier than some of its rivals on this list at 5.4kg, so the Cybex CloudQ may not be the one for you if you are planning on carrying the seat about. However, it’s one of the most eye-catching seats on the market, especially in Autumn Gold, and it features a fully reclining backrest to allow your baby to lie in a flat position outside of the car. The CloudQ is suitable up to 13kg and can be quickly installed with the ISOFIX Base Q-fix (sold separately), but is not i-Size compatible.

Buy the Cybex CloudQ from Amazon here

Joie I-Gemm

Price: Around £130Category: Group 0+Weight: 4.85kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (sold separately)

At around £130, the Joie I-Gemm is the cheapest i-Size compatible infant seat on this list – which looks even better value when you consider the non-i-Size Cosatto Hold, Cybex CloudQ and Silver Cross Simplicity are more expensive. The headrest and harness adjust to ensure the seat can be used from birth up until 13kg, while the Intelli-Fit memory foam padding should keep your newborn comfortable and safe on trips. Can be used with the Joie I-Base (sold separately) for quick ISOFIX installation.

Buy the Joie I-Gemm from Amazon here

Mothercare Ziba

Price: Around £80Category: Group 0+Weight: 3.5kgi-Size: NoBase compatible: No

The Mothercare Ziba is easily the cheapest baby car seat on this list at well under £100, however it does come with its limitations. It’s not i-Size compatible and it cannot be installed using an ISOFIX base, meaning the traditional seatbelt method is required. If you’re happy with this, then the Ziba is a bargain. It’s very lightweight at just 3.5kg and it features a newborn body support cushion.

Buy the Mothercare Ziba from Amazon here

Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus

Price: Around £200Category: Group 0+Weight: 4.45kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (sold separately)

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus is the updated i-Size compatible version of the popular Pebble car seat, and is suitable from birth up to around 15 months. While heavier than the BeSafe iZi Go, it’s still significantly lighter than some of its other rivals at just under 4.5kg, and it features a cushioned baby-hugg inlay to keep your newborn comfortable. The Pebble Plus can either be fitted using your car’s three-point seat belt system or fixed directly to the 2wayFix ISOFIX base (sold separately).

Buy the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus from Amazon here

Silver Cross Simplicity

Price: Around £150Category: Group 0+Weight: 4.0kgi-Size: NoBase compatible: Yes (sold separately)

As the name suggests, the Silver Cross Simplicity is designed to be straightforward and easy to use. It features a head support and internal padding to ensure it’s suitable from birth up to 13kg and can be installed by using the car’s seatbelt or the Simplifix ISOFIX base (sold separately). Just like the Cosatto Hold, which is a similar price, it isn’t i-Size compatible, though.

Buy the Silver Cross Simplicity from Amazon here

Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus

Price: Around £395Category: Group 0-1Weight: 12.45kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (included)

Being a combination seat, the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus costs more than regular infant seats but will last your child from birth to 18kg (around 4 years of age). It’s relatively light for a combination seat at 12.45kg, and comes with the base included meaning it’s fully i-Size compatible. The AxissFix Plus can also be rotated through 360 degrees, making it easy to switch between rear-facing and forward-facing as well as turning the seat towards the door to easily lift your child in and out. The seats itself is padded and can recline into four different positions.

Buy the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus from Amazon here

Recaro Zero.1 Elite

Price: Around £495Category: Group 0-1Weight: 17.9kgi-Size: YesBase compatible: Yes (included)

Recaro are famous for producing racing seats, but they are also a big name in the baby car seat world. Like the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus, the Zero.1 Elite is an i-Size compatible combination seat that will suit your little one from birth to around 4 years of age and it fully rotates through 360 degrees. Unlike the AxissFix Plus, though, it can be used as a handy infant seat with a carrying handle, but it does cost around a hefty £100 more.

Buy the Recaro Zero.1 Elite from Mothercare here

What are your top tips for choosing the right baby car seat? Let us know in the comments section...

Web producer

Pete has over 20 years journalistic experience. Having previously worked for Ladbrokes and the Racing Post, he switched from sports writing to automotive journalism when joining Auto Express in 2015.

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