Looking to buy a car seat for your new arrival? Not sure where to begin or which car seat is best for you and your little one? We’re here to help.
Baby car seats are a must-have baby essential (even if the only journey you do is from the hospital to your home) and is the one item you should really buy new. A recent BBC Panorama programme flagged investigations made by Which? Magazine into faulty car seats sold by Amazon and similar sites. The investigations launched in 2014, 2016 and 2019 and on all occasions it was found that some car seats for sale online were faulty.
On all occasions the car seats were reported to trading standards with no long-lasting effect. From one test in 2014, footage showed a fabric car seat ripping apart by the forces created during a 30mph crash.
So, it’s important to buy a car seat that comes from a reputable seller, and it’s something worth investing some money in. But once you’ve read through our handy guide, buying a car seat really won’t be as daunting as it seems.
Best baby car seats on the high street
Some of the leading UK baby stores have shared their bestselling car seats with us.
Mamas & Papas’ bestselling car seat
Age range: Ready to use from birth up to 18 months
Features: The Cybex Aton 5 is a rear facing car seat which is 80% safer during your child’s development. It is ISOFIX compatible with a one click installation with the ultra-safe ISOFIX base. This travel system also easily attaches to any of their pushchairs.
GoodtoKnow: This car seat has superior side impact protection designed to carry them safely from birth.
John Lewis & Partners bestselling car seat
Age range: Suitable from birth up to 13kg/29lb (approx 12-15 months)
Features: The i-Level from Joie comes complete with the Isofix base for easy fixing. The Grow Together multi-height headrest and harness system adjusts simultaneously meaning that there is no need for the harness to be re-threaded.
GoodtoKnow: The i-Level has patented side and head impact protection systems.
Where to buy one: Top car seat for toddlers
Boots’ top-rated car seat
This Cosatto Zoomi 123 Car Seat is Boots’ most highly rated car seat. Reviewers say they love the quality of the product and the secure fit – the fun designs are a bonus!
Age range: Suitable from 9kg to 36kg (from 9 months to approx. 12 years)
Features: This forward-facing Cosatto Zoomi 123 Car Seat comes complete with an anti-escape system, a comfy padded seat and adjustable headrest. The standard 3-point vehicle seat belt can be tightened with one hand, perfect for when you’re multi-tasking.
GoodtoKnow: It comes with a 4 Year Guarantee for your peace for time.
Maxi Cosi’s top-rated toddler car seat
Age range: 6 months to 4 years
Features: The car seat allows children to have a great view of what’s going on inside and outside the car. It’s secured with a seatbelt using the belt routing points, seatbelt tensioner and a colour indicator, located on the harness. Offering full recline options in both positions, this is one of the most adaptable Maxi-Cosi car seats.
GoodtoKnow: The harness and headrest are easily adjustable with 7 height positions.
How to buy a reliable yet cheap car seat
We’re all about saving money here at GoodtoKnow – especially when it comes to expensive products, so we’re sharing some of our top tips for buying a car seat on the cheap.
- Online vs in store: Make sure you view the car seat and try it out – even in your car, before you buy in store or online. Some stores have exclusive discount deals that are only available online or the other way round, only in store, so its always worth doing your research before buying.
- Sales: If you want to save a lot of money in one go, holding off until there are sales on is a great idea. Some of the most popular include Black Friday, Boxing Day sales, January sales and end of season sales are great for bagging yourself a bargain!
- Vouchers and discount codes: It’s always worth having a look on Google to find out if there’s any recent discount codes for the store you’re buying from – even if its free delivery, it’ll make a difference to your overall budget.
Car seat safety: what to remember
When buying a car seat, you need to look out for either the ECE R44/04 approval or the ECE R129 approval label, both of which are current approval standards for children’s car seats in the UK.
Our car seat safety guide has all the info you need to know about keeping your little one safe in the car, as well the key things to look out for when buying a new one.
Is a second hand car seat ok?
If you do use a second-hand car seat, you must be certain of its history. Test it in your car as car seat sizes vary based on your baby’s age and weight. It must be properly installed, tightly secured with very little movement. Group 0 rear-facing infant carriers (for better head and neck support) are for newborns up to 9 months (up to 10kg/22lb) and Group 0+ for newborns to five to 18 months (up to 13kg/29lb).
Leading mum blogger at themumblog.com Liz Jarvis says, ‘There are some things you should avoid getting second-hand for safety reasons: Your baby’s mattress and their car seat, for example. It’s very important these items are bought brand new, particularly in the case of mattresses, and car seats should only be second-hand if you’re absolutely sure about their previous history.’
For safety reasons and regulations we’d recommend you opt for a brand new car seat.