How to choose the best child car seat 2021: 10 of the best from £100 to £500

Finding the right child car seat can be tricky, but it’s important to get it right. We’ve rounded-up some most highly rated available

Choosing a car seat for your child can be a challenge with such a wide variety available, but UK child car seat rules require children up to 12 years old to use one, so it’s an important decision. It’s also worth considering that as your child gets older, you will have to buy bigger seats to keep up with them.

If you're expecting a new addition to the family anytime soon, in order to get your newborn back from the hospital, you’ll need a baby car seat. The problem is these seats are only designed for use up to around the age of one, by which point you’ll be shopping around for a child car seat.

There are many options for child car seats which are categorised into different groups. Combination seats (group 0-1 seats) are designed to be used from birth up until the child reaches 18kg (approximately 4 years old). These seats are adaptable, facing rearward when the child is born and then increasing in size and changing to a frontward-facing configuration as your child grows.

• Best baby car seats on the market

Group 0-1 seats tend to be expensive, so the most common seats in this category are known as Group 1. These seats are forward-facing, suitable from around 9 months up until 4 years of age, and are normally a cheaper alternative. 

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 1-2-3 seats cover a much wider age range, usually from around nine months right up until 12 years of age, and feature a higher back and a harness. Group 2-3 car seats are similar to Group 1-2-3, but are only suitable from four years of age as they come without a harness – instead you secure your child with the car’s adult seat belt.

• Child car seat and booster seat laws explained

Once you’ve decided what size of child car seat to buy, you’ll also need to take into account how the seat will be fitted. Most Group 0-1 seats employ a modular base to connect to the ISOFIX points in your car, with the child seat then clipping securely into the base. This ensures that the seat is fitted correctly every time and also makes securing and removing the seat a simple and easy process. 

If you’re buying Group 0-1, then i-Size compliance is also something to look out for. The new safety standard was introduced in July 2013 and it only applies to ISOFIX seats, but it does offer significantly improved side impact safety in the event of an accident.

Regardless of how you decide to fix your seat, it’s always best to drive to a shop beforehand and check that the one you want can actually fit. Most stores will happily give a free demonstration.

Need to sell your car?
Find your best offer from over 5,000+ dealers. It’s that easy.

Read our list below for some of the best child car seats available right now…

 Joie Every Stage

Price: Around £180Category: Group 0+/1/2/3Weight: 8.86kgISOFIX: No 

The Joie Every Stage is a great seat that can be used from birth through to 12 years’ of age. It does have its limitations as it’s not ISOFIX compliant so you have to secure it with your car’s seat belt. That said, this is one of the most affordable and best value car seats around. It can be used rearward or forward facing and has five recline positions as well as added side impact protection for the head, body and hips.

Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

Recaro Salia Elite i-Size

Price: Around £500 Category: Group 0-1Weight: 17.9kgISOFIX: Yes (base required, included) 

The Recaro Salia Elite i-Size sits at the higher end of the market, costing around £500. Included in the price, however, is an ISOFIX base which should keep the car seat secure, and makes it easy to install and adjust. It’s 360 degree adjustable, meaning it can be switched from rear-facing to forward-facing fairly easily.

Buy now from Halfords

BeSafe iZi Modular 

Price: Around £250Category: Group 1Weight: 8.7kgISOFIX: Yes (base required, sold separately) 

Norwegian company BeSafe produces some of the lightest products on the market and the iZi Modular child seat predictably comes in well under 10kg. The seat follows on from the iZi Go infant seat, and fits on the same Modular i-Size base (sold separately at around £200). That means it’s completely i-Size compliment and is secured to your car using ISOFIX.

Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

Britax Romer King II LS 

Price: Around £150Category: Group 1Weight: 10.3kgISOFIX: No

The Britax King II LS is currently reduced from £190 to just under £150. It’s a great seat that makes keeping your loved one safe that little bit easier with a unique light and sound indicator, which ensures that you harness your child to the correct tension. Suitable from birth to around 4 years of age, the King II features advanced side and frontal protection. There's no ISOFIX system, but the seat tilts forward to allow for easy seat belt installation. 

Buy now from Britax

Maxi-Cosi Pearl 

Price: Around £150Category: Group 1Weight: 7.3kgISOFIX: Yes (base required, sold separately) 

The Maxi Cosi Pearl follows on from the Pebble Plus infant seat and is suitable from approximately 6 months until 4 years of age. It’s very lightweight at just over 7kg, has four different reclining positions and can be easily rotated between rearward- and forward-facing. It’s also i-Size compatible when secured with the 2wayFix base (sold separately at around £200), ensuring maximum side impact protection.

Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

Britax Romer Advansafix IV R

Price: Around £220Category: Group 1-2-3Weight: 9kgISOFIX: Yes

The Britax Romer Advansafix IV R is a group 1-2-3 seat, suitable for children aged nine months to 12 years old. It features a five-point harness which can be changed to a three-point seat belt as your child grows. Britax Romer’s Secureguard technology claims to offer optimal lap belt positioning when using a three-point seat belt to keep your little one safe. It also has three recline positions, which can be adjusted with the child in the seat.

Buy now from Britax

Graco Nautilus

Price: Around £120Category: Group 1-2-3Weight: 9.0kgISOFIX: No

With most Group 1-2-3 seats costing well over £200, the Graco Nautilus looks a bargain at under £120. It’s a bit basic compared to some of its rivals and you can’t secure it to your car with ISOFIX, however it boasts many of the features you would expect to find on a more expensive product, such as different reclining positions and a 5-point harness system.

Buy now from Halfords

Joie Bold

Price: Around £175Category: Group 1-2-3Weight: 12.9kgISOFIX: Yes

The Bold is one of the best value-for-money child car seats on the market at around £175. It comes with a wide range of features, including a range of fully-retractable ISOFIX connection points, extra safety panels that fold into the seat when not in use, a headrest and harness system that adjust simultaneously and a harness hideaway that stores the 5-point harness out of sight when using as a Group 2-3 seat.

Buy now from Halfords

Have you owned any of these child car seats? Let us know what you think of them in the comments...

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.

Most Popular

‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’
Opinion - Fiat Scudo

‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’

With some huge savings to be had, Mike Rutherford thinks a van could be the perfect vehicle
3 Dec 2023
Deal of the Day: Spacious Skoda Superb is a peerless estate for £223 a month
Skoda Superb Estate - front tracking

Deal of the Day: Spacious Skoda Superb is a peerless estate for £223 a month

The Superb is one of our favourite estates and our Deal of the Day for Monday 4 December
4 Dec 2023
New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates
Renault 5 EV concept at 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates

Renault’s reborn Renault 5 will start from €25,000 in Europe, suggesting a circa-£30k price in the UK. It's due on sale in the summer of 2024. Here's …
1 Dec 2023