How to choose the best child car seat 2020: 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
By law your child must use a car seat until 12 years of age, but picking the right one can be difficult with so many options on the market. You also need to factor in that as your child grows, you will need to buy new seats to accommodate their size.
If you have a baby on the way, you’ll need a car seat to take your newborn home from the hospital. However, baby car seats are only designed to last until around the age of one, so you’ll soon need to start looking at child car seats.
Child car seats come in many shapes and sizes, but are categorised into various different groups. Group 0-1 seats, also called combination seats, are suitable from birth up until your child hits 18kg (around 4 years of age). These seats start off as rearward-facing and then convert into bigger, forward-facing seats as your child grows.
Group 0-1 seats are expensive though, meaning 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.
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 ISOFOX 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.
Read our list below for some of the best child car seats available right now…
Nuna REBL plus
Price: Around £350Category: Group 0-1Weight: 15.6kgISOFIX: Yes (base required, included)
Suitable from birth, the Nuna REBL plus will fit children up to 4 years of age. As with most Group 0-1 seats it’s quite expensive to buy, but it comes with plenty of features and is fully i-Size compliant. The seat also rotates through 360 degrees, so it’s simple to switch between rearward- and forward-facing and it’s easy to take your little one in and out of the car. The ISOFIX base needed to fit the seat is included in the price.
Recaro Zero.1 Elite
Price: Around £500Category: Group 0-1Weight: 17.9kgISOFIX: Yes (base required, included)
The Recaro Zero.1 Elite sits at the top end of the Group 0-1 market at around £500, but it does come with an i-Size ISOFIX base included in the price. This ensures swift and easy seat installation and it’s simple to switch between rearward- and forward-facing as, like the Nuna REBL plus, it rotates through 360 degrees. It also boasts a removable infant carrier to make transporting your baby as simple as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Britax Romer Advansafix III SICT
Price: Around £290Category: Group 1-2-3Weight: 11.2kgISOFIX: Yes
The Advansafix III SICT is a Group 1-2-3 seat that’s suitable for children from around 9 months up until 12 years of age. The seat is fixed to the car via ISOFIX points and uses Britax’s SICT (side impact cushion technology) to provide a deep, softly padded side wing that can be moved to use on the side closest to the door. Extra protection when using the car’s adult seat belt is also a benefit thanks to SecureGuard, which provides optimal lap belt positioning.
Price: Around £230Category: Group 1-2-3Weight: 11.0kgISOFIX: Yes
You’re certainly not going to miss the Cosatto Hug as it comes in a range of brightly coloured patterns guaranteed to put a smile on your child’s face. This Group 1-2-3 seat is suitable from around 9 months up until 12 years of age, and features Cosatto’s anti-escape system, a 5-point wriggle-free harness. The seat connects to the car via ISOFIX points and also has a top tether.
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.
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.
Have you owned any of these child car seats? Let us know what you think of them in the comments...