Choosing the perfect car seat for your little one can be hard as there is so much information and so many seats to choose from. We are here to help make that decision as easy as possible. The advice we give is tailored specifically to your needs, your child, and your vehicle, so there is no correct answer that will suit everyone, but we can certainly guide you in the right direction.
The best car seat is the one that is most suitable for your child, fits your vehicle(s) and is approved for use in your vehicle(s).
Best Car Seat for Babies & Infants
Best Car Seat for Your Newborn Baby
When choosing a car seat for your newborn baby, you will have the option of infant carriers which typically last to around 18 months, or a combination seat that will grow to about 4 years of age. There are of course pros and cons with both.
Infant Carrier Pros
Infant Carrier Cons
· Most can be attached to your pram.
· Most have an ISOFIX base available to make installation as easy as possible.
· Designed for babies giving optimum protection at that age.
· Easier to move between vehicles as they are so light.
· Do not last long – around 12 to 18 months.
View our infant carriers here.
Combination Seat Pros
Combination Seat Cons
· Last for a long time – typically around 4 years of age.
· Most have the swivel function which is incredibly handy (although some infant carriers now have this feature too – see Cybex Cloud Z i-Size here).
· More adjustments meaning it can be adjusted perfectly to your child.
· Hard to move between vehicles as they are heavy.
· Designed to suit all ages so not perfectly suited to your child at one particular stage.
· Can sometimes be too upright for newborn or smaller babies.
View our combination seats here. Please note not all combination seats are suitable from birth so you must check the seat you are interested in.
Choosing a seat for your baby is down to personal preference, and what seat will be compatible with your vehicle(s). Get in touch if you are not sure which option is best for you.
In Northern Ireland, children must leave the hospital in an infant carrier so you will need one regardless.
Best Car Seat for Your 6 Month Old
At 6 months old, we would always recommend keeping your child in their current seat if there are no issues such as changing your vehicle or needing the seat for another baby. At this age, lots of parents will start thinking about a car seat for a second car as the primary caregiver may be going back to work. If you do need to change your little one’s seat or need a second car seat, they will still need to be rear facing at this age, and ideally for as long as possible. You can read more about the importance of rear facing here.
Typically, at this stage, you will be choosing between an 18kg seat or a 25kg seat. You will need to know if you want to rear-face your child for longer, as you will get approximately 2 extra years use out of a 25kg seat. The 18kg/105cm seats will typically have the swivel feature and are installed using ISOFIX meaning they are extremely handy seats. The 25kg seats are typically harder to install as they use the seatbelt and tether straps, but they will last for a longer period. You need to decide if you prefer a handy seat, or a seat that will last for a longer time. Of course, if you are not sure what seat is best for you, get in touch and we can advise.
If you want a combination seat that lasts for as long as possible and is great for a second car, we would suggest looking at the likes of the Joie Every Stage as this is the only seat that will last from birth right up to 36kg (12 years of age). It can rear-face to 18kg (approximately 4 years of age) and then forward face in a high back booster style, until your child no longer needs a seat. We would not recommend this seat for your everyday car simply because the likelihood of a seat lasting well for 12 years is very unlikely. This seat is great for a second car that is not used as much, or possibly as a spare car seat.
Best Car Seat for Your 9 Month Old
Many people tend to think their child has outgrown their infant carrier at 9 months. It seems there is some confusion with the fact that child used to be able to forward face from 9kg. 9 months of 9kg is far too young to put your child forward-facing. We recommend waiting until at least 18kg before turning your child forward-facing and you can read more about why we recommend rear facing here.
Check the seat your child is currently in as this will be outgrown at a specific weight or height, not an age. Infant carriers, for example, typically go to around 13kg or 75cm so this is when they will have outgrown the seat.
If you do wish to move your child into a different seat, you of course can do so. At this stage we will typically ask these questions?
- What weight/height is your child? If they are bigger than average, you may wish to opt for a seat that lasts longer.
- Do you want to rear-face for longer? If yes, then opt for a 25kg Extended Rear-Facing seat rather than an 18kg seat.
- What vehicle(s) do you have? You will need to make sure the seat you are getting is compatible with your vehicle(s).
Best Car Seat for Your 12 Month Old-18 Month Old
At 12 months old, some babies will have outgrown their infant carrier, or you will simply want to move them onto a bigger seat. By 18 months old, most babies will have outgrown their infant carrier. Although infant carriers will typically go to 13kg/75cm, lots of next stage seats can be used from 9kg so it’s up to you if you want to make the move.
At this stage, you will have two main options – an 18kg/105cm seat that lasts to approximately 4 years of age, or a 25kg seat that lasts to approximately 6 years of age. You need to know if you wish to rear-face for longer. We always recommend rear facing for as long as possible. You can read more about why here. If you want to rear-face for as long as possible, choose the 25kg seat option.
The 18kg/105cm seats will typically have the swivel function and are installed using ISOFIX. They are user-friendly and extremely handy if you need to adjust harness-height, recline positions, etc. These seats will typically last to around 4 years of age. If you have a bigger than average child, they may outgrow this type of seat around 3 years or so. You may want to opt for a larger seat if this is the case as it will last longer.
The 25kg seats are typically rear-facing only and will be installed in a fixed position. This means adjustments are not as easy, and installation will be with seatbelt and tether straps which can take a bit more time, but we are here to advise on that. The major plus of using these 25kg is that they last on average 2 years longer than the 18kg seats, meaning you can rear-face for as long as possible. Many of these seats are also Swedish Plus Tested meaning they have been tested to a higher standard. Read more about the Plus Test here.
Best Car Seats for Toddler Aged Children
Best Car Seat for Your 3 Year Old
If you have an 18kg/105cm seat, you will usually think your child will get to at least 4 years of age in this seat, but unfortunately this is not always the case. The rate at which a child outgrows a seat is totally dependent on that child’s growth, what weight and height they are, whether their torso is longer than their legs… the list goes on. Every child is different! This is why age is always just a guide, and the seat is in fact outgrown at a particular weight or height. We always recommend keeping an eye on your child’s weight and height, because as soon as they are too big for their current seat, the seat is no longer safe as it will not perform in the way that it is designed to, should you be in a collision.
Some children will just grow quicker than others and have outgrown their seat much earlier, so at 3 years of age, they may have to go into a bigger seat. At this age, it is up to you if you wish to keep your child rear facing. We always recommend rear facing for as long as possible (you can see why here) but we totally understand that purchasing another rear facing seat isn’t feasible for everyone. If it is, you can opt for a 25kg seat that will give you approximately another 2 years of time rear facing. After this, your child will go into a high back booster.
If you wish to move your child into a seat that will see them through the rest of your childhood, there are a couple of options. If your child is short but heavy, the Britax Advansafix i-Size and the Cybex Pallas G i-Size can be used with a harness/impact shield to 21kg or 102cm. These seats then transform into your high back booster seat, meaning you get extra peace of mind while they are still smaller but can then use the seat until they no longer require a car seat.
If your child is taller, your can either opt for the Joie Bold which has a harness to 25kg and then turns into a high back booster or go straight into using a high back booster. This will depend on what is compatible with your vehicle, and if you think your child will sit safely with the 3-point seat belt in the vehicle. When looking at HBBs, we would recommend opting for an i-Size compliant one. These seats have been tested to a higher standard for the newer regulation R129. You can view our i-Size high back boosters here.
Best Car Seat for Your 4 Year Old/5 Year Old
At 4 years or 5 years of age, most children will outgrow their current car seat or be close to outgrowing it, whether than be an 18kg/105cm car seat or a 25kg car seat. At this stage you must take your child’s weight and height into account.
High back boosters are technically suitable from 15kg, but we recommend a minimum of 18kg/100cm/4 years of age, so please take this into consideration. You may also think your child is too young or not yet mature enough to use a high back booster, and this is up to you as you know your child best.
At this stage, you can choose to put your child into one of the following:
- A 25kg Extended Rear-Facing Seat (if your child would still get some time out of this and you wish to continue rear facing)
- The Joie Bold – a forward-facing seat which harnesses to 25kg and then turns into a high back booster (dependent on vehicle compatibility)
- Or a High Back Booster (HBB).
Of course, if your child is already forward-facing at this stage, you will be choosing between the second and third options. And all options will require you to check your vehicle is compatible, or to get in touch with us and we can help.
If you are choosing a HBB, we recommend going for an i-Size compliant one as these are tested under the newest regulation. If you would like more information, please get in touch. If you would like to see our i-Size High Back Booster range, click here.
Best Car Seats for Children & Pre-teen
Best Car Seat for 6 Year Old
If you have managed to keep your child rear-facing up until now, that is amazing. But after 25kg (or 32kg for the Klippan Opti129) your child will be too big for a harness and must now go into a high back booster.
For high back boosters, you will find it easier to find one that fits your vehicle so typically this will be your easiest choice when it comes to the confusing world of car seats. The main thing we recommend is opting for an i-Size High Back Booster (HBB) as this means it has been tested to the newer regulation that requires additional testing. You can read more about regulations here.
You can view our range of i-Size High Back Booster seats here.
Best Car Seat for Your 7 Year Old/8 Year Old
If you think your child has outgrown their high back booster, make sure you have measured their height as a child must be at least 135cm (150cm in Europe) before coming out of their child seat. Otherwise, they must stay in this seat until that height or 12 years of age.
Many people get in touch to ask what age their child should go into a backless booster cushion, but your high back booster (HBB) will go to the same weight as a booster cushion so keep your child in the HBB for as long as possible. A HBB provides additional side protection that a booster cushion does not have. Once your child has outgrown their high back booster, they are big enough to use the standard 3-point seatbelt in the vehicle.
You can view our High Back Boosters here.
All these recommendations are simply that, a suggestion of a seat that could suit your child’s needs, but we know that every child is different as well as every vehicle and every setup being different, so we always advise that you get in touch for tailored advice. We can check which specific car seats are suitable in your vehicle, and make sure it is the best option for you. That is why we are here, to make sure children are travelling safely in a suitable and safe child seat. Please get in touch with our experts who will be happy to help with any guidance or queries.