Best car seats of 2021

Whether you need a portable carrier for your newborn or a baby car seat that adapts as your child grows, here's how to make a safe choice.

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Car seat FAQs & jargon buster Learn more
The best car seat will protect your baby in a side-on and a head-on crash. A bad car seat could lead to them suffering serious injury, or worse. So it’s essential to do your research before you buy. Happily, we’ve done the hard work and selected the best car seats for newborns and children up to the age of 4, so you can catch up on your sleep.

How did we pick these car seats?

Our top picks are for newborn babies and children up to the age of 4. We based our research on expert car safety tests and parenting sources.

First we chose the highest-rated seats from ADAC, Europe’s biggest automobile organisation and the gold standard of child car seat testing. ADAC rates each seat individually for security, service, ergonomics, pollutants and processing and cleaning, then gives it an overall score, from Very Good to Inadequate. All the seats we chose either scored Very Good or Good. We also looked at the individual scores for their safety.

To make sure real-life reviews backed up the ADAC best car seat results, we then scoured top parenting and car safety websites including Mumsnet, MadeForMums.com, Mother & Baby, Driving.co.uk, ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), Good Egg Car Safety and the In Car Safety Centre. We also checked user reviews on car seat retailer websites including John Lewis, Argos and Boots.

Best car seats overall: Our top 3

Maxi-Cosi Jade: Great for newborns and safe flat travel
Silver Cross Dream: Great for comfort and growing with your newborn
Maxi-Cosi Coral: Great for flexibility and transporting from car to inside

Finder's pick: Maxi-Cosi Jade i-Size Carrycot Car Seat

Price

£229

Group

0

Weight

5.9kg

Isofix

The Maxi-Cosi Jade is one of only three car seats to be rated Very Good in ADAC’s car seat tests since 2015, and, out of all the seats featured here, it scored the highest Very Good rating in ADAC’s individual safety test.
Maxi-Cosi claims that the Jade is the first lie-flat car seat that complies with R129 i-Size safety standards, which makes it safe for babies to travel in for longer than in a regular car seat (not advised for more than two hours).
It’s compatible with and easily attached to most Maxi-Cosi buggy frames, so you can use it as a carrycot.
  • Very low risk of injury in a side-on or head-on crash
  • Very easy to install and operate
  • Compatible with and easily attached to Maxi-Cosi buggy frames
  • Offers a 180° flat sleeping position and can also be used as a carrycot
  • Easy to remove the cover for cleaning
  • It’s heavy, at 5.9kg
  • It’s quite small and only for babies up to six months old, so you’ll need to buy a new seat after that
Harness type 3-point harness
Max. age 0.5
Rotating seat Yes
Recline positions 1

Finder's pick: Silver Cross Dream i-Size Donnington Newborn Baby Car Seat

Price

£195

Group

0+

Weight

5.3kg

Isofix

Like the Maxi-Cosi Jade, this is one of only three car seats to be rated Very Good in ADAC’s car seat tests since 2015. The Silver Cross Dream is very safe (scoring a Very Good rating in ADAC’s individual safety test), stable and has many satisfied customers. Reviewers on MadeForMums raved about its removable insert padding, which can be changed as your baby grows so they’re supported at every stage. They also loved its super-soft bamboo cushioning, which is breathable and thermo-regulating to keep your baby at a comfortable temperature whatever the weather.
  • Very low risk of injury in a side-on or head-on crash
  • Very easy to install and operate
  • Super comfy, thermo-regulating cushioning that you can adapt as your baby grows
  • At 5.3kg, it’s rather heavy
  • A bit tricky to remove the cover when you need to wash it
Harness type 5-point safety harness
Max. age 1
Rotating seat No
Recline positions 5

Finder's pick: Maxi-Cosi Coral Baby Car Seat Group 0+

★★★★★

Buy now at Boots

Price

£199

Group

0+

Weight

kg

Isofix

The Maxi-Cosi Coral is made up of an outer plastic shell and a 1.7kg detachable soft carrier with soft fabric handles that you can lift out to carry your baby into the house, or even on a short walk. This unique feature is a big hit with John Lewis and Boots shoppers, described as “exceptional”, “a brilliant bit of kit” and “an essential buy for any parents to be”. MadeForMums reviewers agreed, with one saying: “It is such a simple idea that I’m surprised other manufacturers haven’t thought of it sooner.” It also scored a Very Good rating in ADAC’s individual safety test.
  • Very low risk of injury in a side-on or head-on crash
  • Very easy to install and operate
  • Unique 1.7kg detachable soft carrier
  • Extra large sun canopy
  • Easy to remove the cover for cleaning
  • No sun/rain shield
Harness type innovative easy-in harness
Max. age 1
Rotating seat No

Compare the best car seats

Name Product RRP ADAC rating Best for Group
Maxi-Cosi Jade i-Size Carrycot Car Seat
Maxi-Cosi Jade i-Size Carrycot Car Seat
£229
Very good
Overall best
0
Silver Cross Dream i-Size Donnington Newborn Baby Car Seat
Silver Cross Dream i-Size Donnington Newborn Baby Car Seat
£195
Very good
Overall best
0+
Maxi-Cosi Coral Baby Car Seat Group 0+
Maxi-Cosi Coral Baby Car Seat Group 0+
£199
Very good
Overall best
0+
Nuna Prym i-Size Baby Car Seat
Nuna Prym i-Size Baby Car Seat
£350
Good
Up to 4 years
0+/1
Britax Romer DUALFIX 2 R Group 0+/1 Car Seat
Britax Romer DUALFIX 2 R Group 0+/1 Car Seat
£225
Good
Up to 4 years
0+/1
BeSafe iZi Modular X1 i-Size Car Seat
BeSafe iZi Modular X1 i-Size Car Seat
£249
Good
Up to 4 years
0+/1
Cybex Cloud Z i-Size Car Seat
Cybex Cloud Z i-Size Car Seat
£239
Good
Lie-flat
0+
Joie Baby Spin 360 Group 0+/1 Car Seat
Joie Baby Spin 360 Group 0+/1 Car Seat
£200
Good
Swivel
0+/1
Nuna Pipa Next i-Size Car Seat
Nuna Pipa Next i-Size Car Seat
£200
Good
Small cars
0+
Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro - Essential Graphite
Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro - Essential Graphite
£199
Good
Small cars
0+
Cybex Aton 5 Car Seat
Cybex Aton 5 Car Seat
£140
Good
Versatility
0+
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Best car seats for newborns up to 1 year old

Finder's pick: Maxi-Cosi Jade i-Size Carrycot Car Seat

Price

£229

Group

0

Weight

5.9kg

Isofix

The Maxi-Cosi Jade is one of only three car seats to be rated Very Good in ADAC’s car seat tests since 2015, and, out of all the seats featured here, it scored the highest Very Good rating in ADAC’s individual safety test.
Maxi-Cosi claims that the Jade is the first lie-flat car seat that complies with R129 i-Size safety standards, which makes it safe for babies to travel in for longer than in a regular car seat (not advised for more than two hours).
It’s compatible with and easily attached to most Maxi-Cosi buggy frames, so you can use it as a carrycot.
  • Very low risk of injury in a side-on or head-on crash
  • Very easy to install and operate
  • Compatible with and easily attached to Maxi-Cosi buggy frames
  • Offers a 180° flat sleeping position and can also be used as a carrycot
  • Easy to remove the cover for cleaning
  • It’s heavy, at 5.9kg
  • It’s quite small and only for babies up to six months old, so you’ll need to buy a new seat after that
Harness type 3-point harness
Max. age 0.5
Rotating seat Yes
Recline positions 1

Best car seat for up to 4 years old

You’ll need a 0+/1 group size seat for your toddler and it must be rear-facing until your child weighs 9kg (about 15 months). After that you can turn them from rear- to front-facing if you prefer. Other useful features to look out for are a swivel function, an adjustable headrest, adjustable reclining and leg positions and a five-point harness, so they can’t wrestle their way out of the seat.

Finder's pick: Nuna Prym i-Size Baby Car Seat

Price

£350

Group

0+/1

Weight

kg

Isofix

The Nuna Prym i-Size baby car seat is suitable for kids from birth to 105cm (or age four). It scored "good" on the ADAC scoring safety system and offers isofix compatibility through a separately purchasable base.
  • Suitable from birth up to 4 years
  • Rotating seat
  • 7 recline positions
  • Pricier than other car seats
  • Base is sold seperately
Harness type No re-thread 5 point harness
Max. age 4
Rotating seat Yes
Recline positions 7

Finder's pick: Britax Romer DUALFIX 2 R Group 0+/1 Car Seat

★★★★★

Buy now at Argos

Price

£225

Group

0+/1

Weight

kg

Isofix

BeSafe iZi Modular X1 i-Size Car Seat scored "good" in ADAC;s safety testing. It features side impact protection for additional safety and a universal fit, making it suitable for most cars.
  • Isofix compatible
  • 4 recline positions
  • Base sold separately
Harness type 5-point harness system
Max. age 4
Rotating seat Yes
Recline positions 4

Finder's pick: BeSafe iZi Modular X1 i-Size Car Seat

Price

£249

Group

0+/1

Weight

kg

Isofix

BeSafe iZi Modular X1 i-Size Car Seat scored "good" in ADAC;s safety testing. It features side impact protection for additional safety and a universal fit, making it suitable for most cars.
  • Isofix compatible
  • 4 recline positions
  • Base sold separately
Max. age 4
Recline positions 4

Best lie-flat car seat

In most standard rear-facing car seats, a baby will sit at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees. Being in this position for a while could impact their breathing. That’s why you’re advised to take newborns out of their seat every half an hour and when they’re over 6 months old, at least every 2 hours. Lie-flat seats are a great alternative for longer journeys, as they don’t constrict the lungs and so babies can lie in them for longer. Some also attach to buggy frames, so you can move your child with minimal disturbance.

Finder's pick: Cybex Cloud Z i-Size Car Seat

Price

£239

Group

0+

Weight

kg

Isofix

The Cybex Cloud Z i-Size Car Seat is a great lie-flat car seat option for babies from birth to 1.5 years old. It features extra wide Y-harness straps with soft shoulder and crotch pads, a rotating seat and scored a "good" rating from ADAC.
  • Extra wide Y-harness
  • Shoulder pads
  • Crotch pads
  • Rotating seat
  • Isofix base sold seperately
Harness type Extra wide Y-harness straps with soft shoulder and crotch pads
Max. age 1.5
Rotating seat Yes

Best swivel car seat

Swivel car seats rotate so you can put your child in and take them out more easily. The best swivel car seat we found is the Joie i-Spin 360. Mumsnet also raved about it, saying it was the best seat it tested for all-round usability, comfort and feel. Argos shoppers also loved it, giving it an overall score of 4.9 out of 5.

Finder's pick: Joie Baby Spin 360 Group 0+/1 Car Seat

Price

£200

Group

0+/1

Weight

11.95kg

Isofix

Joie Baby Spin 360 Group 0+/1 Car Seat was easily our top pick for a swivel car seat. It scored "good" in ADAC's safety tests and users around the internet praised the seat's comfort levels and usability.
  • 360 swivel
  • Suitable from birth to age 4
  • User friendly
  • Isofix base sold separately
  • Very heavy at 11.95kg
Harness type 5-point harness with shoulder and lower buckle covers that tightens with one pull motion
Max. age 4
Rotating seat Yes
Recline positions 5

Best car seats for small cars

If your car’s on the small side that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your child’s safety or comfort. Our 2 best seats for small cars were loved by John Lewis shoppers and Mother & Baby readers for being lightweight, sturdy and very easy to install.

Finder's pick: Nuna Pipa Next i-Size Car Seat

Price

£200

Group

0+

Weight

3.58kg

Isofix

The Nuna Pipa Next i-Size Car Seat received a "good" score on ADAC's safety tests and is a great, smaller car seat suitable for kids up to the age of 1. This seat is super light at only 3.58kg and features a height-adjustable headrest and memory foam infant inserts.
  • Super light at 3.58kg
  • On the cheaper end of car seats
  • Compatible with pushchairs
  • Isofix base sold separately
Harness type No re-thread, 3-point harness
Max. age 1

Finder's pick: Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro - Essential Graphite

Price

£199

Group

0+

Weight

4.55kg

Isofix

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro scored "good" in ADACs safety tests and weighs in on the smaller end our range of top picks with a weight of just 4.55kg. It features a machine washable cover, adjustable headrest and one-pull three-point harness system
  • Light at just 4.55kg
  • Machine washable cover
  • Isofix compatible
  • UV protection hood included
  • Airplane approved
  • Only suitable up to 1 year
Harness type 3-point harness system
Max. age 1

Most versatile car seat

Sometimes your child might be travelling in a different vehicle, such as a grandparent’s car or a hire car on holiday. Seats that offer both Isofix and seatbelt fastening options are great for this, and – as long as the seat has been properly installed in the first place – either is as safe as the other. Our top pick also scored an impressive Very Good in ADAC’s individual safety tests.

Finder's pick: Cybex Aton 5 Car Seat

Price

£140

Group

0+

Weight

4.8kg

Isofix

The Cybex Aton 5 Car Seat is suitable for babies from birth up to 18 months and received a "good" rating from ADAC. It garnered our badge for "most versatile" car seat due to its flexibility. This seat is light, strong, stylish and offers lie-flat positioning.
  • 8-position heigh-adjustable headrest
  • Integrated XXL fold-away sun canopy
  • Light at only 4.8kg
  • Extra wide soft padded Y-belts
  • Not isofix compatible
  • Base sold seperately
Harness type 3-point harness system
Max. age 1.5

Child car seat jargon explained

As a new parent – or parent-to-be – you’re faced with learning a whole new lingo when buying a baby car seat. Our experts have translated it all here.

Car seat groups and ages

Child car seats are usually categorised into groups based on weight and height. There are 4 types of group seats for newborns:

  • Group 0: From birth to 10kg/40–75cm (around 9–12 months)
  • Group 0+: From birth to 13kg (around 18 months)
  • Group 0+/1: From birth to 18kg/105cm (around 4–5 years)
  • Group 0+/1/2/3: From birth to 36kg or 135cm tall (around 12 years)

i-Size

i-Size is part of the R129 regulation for child car seats. Based on a child’s height, all i-Size car seats will fit into all i-Size-approved cars with Isofix. Babies in i-Size car seats must sit rear-facing until they are at least 15 months old.

All i-Size seats are based on a child’s height:

  • i-Size baby: Birth to 85cm (around 15–18 months old)
  • i-Size baby and toddler: Birth to 105cm (around 4 years old)
  • i-Size toddler and child: 61–105cm (around 15 months to 12 years old)
  • i-Size child: 100–135cm (around 4–12 years old)

Using Isofix

Isofix is the international standard for child car seat fittings in cars. An alternative to fastening a car seat with a seatbelt, Isofix comes in the form of a built-in metal attachment that you simply connect to the corresponding car seat Isofix points. The seat is then braced by using either a support leg or a top tether.

Isofix has been around since 1997, so most – but not all – cars will have it. Before you buy a car seat, or car, make sure you check its manufacturer’s compatibility list.

isofix points

How to choose the right car seat

The most important thing by far is to make sure the car seat is the right size for your baby. You also need to ensure it fits into your car and that it’s installed properly.

What’s the law?

All children need to be in a car seat up to the age of 12 years old or 135cm – whichever comes first. It’s also a legal requirement to rear-face babies in i-Size (R129) child seats until they are at least 15 months. You can turn non i-Size (i.e. seatbelt or R44) car seats forward a little earlier if you want – but child safety experts do not recommend it.

How do I know a car seat is the right size?

Child car seats are categorised into groups based on weight and height, rather than age. Some car seats are for newborns up to the age of 1, while some can be adapted to grow with the child as they grow – even from newborn up to the age of 12. You should only ever move your child into the next seat up once they have reached the maximum height or weight. Moving them on too quickly could lead to more severe injuries in a car crash.

How do I fit a car seat?

Every adult using the car seat must know how to use and fit it. The Isofix system means that i-Size car seats are usually much easier to fit correctly than seats requiring seatbelt fastening, so you should just be able to follow the fitting instructions.
For extra peace of mind, though, lots of retailers have trained car seat fitters who will show you how to fit the car seat properly and safely then watch you give it a go to make sure you’re doing it right.

Is Isofix safer than a seatbelt?

As long as the car seat is correctly installed, both the Isofix system and a seatbelt fastening are equally safe. But with Isofix there is less margin for fitting the seat incorrectly, which could be more reassuring for you.

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to buy a second-hand car seat?

Hand-me-downs of baby clothes and other equipment are always really helpful, but you should never buy a second-hand child car seat unless it’s from your immediate family. Even then, it’s essential that you know of its history in case there is invisible damage to the structure (even if it has just been dropped).

Is a multi-group car seat worth it?

A multi-group car seat (Group 0+/1/2/3) will grow with your child, sometimes even from newborn up to the age of 12.
There are many multi-group car seats available, but none got a Good or Very Good score in ADAC’s tests and our research showed that there are much safer options out there, like all the ones in our own car seat round-up. This makes sense when you think about how much children change from birth and how they need very different protection at different stages.

How long should a newborn stay in a car seat?

Child safety experts advise that babies up to the age of about 6 months should be taken out of the car seat every 20 to 30 minutes to make sure the 40- to 45-degree angle at which they’re sitting doesn’t affect their breathing. You should then give them a break from the car seat every 2 hours until they’ve reached the age of 4.

Can I have a car seat in the front of a car?

While it might be nice to have your little one next to you, it’s much safer to have them in the back. If there is no choice but to have them in the front it is absolutely essential to make sure you have deactivated the passenger-seat airbag.

When can I put my child in a front-facing car seat?

It is a legal requirement to rear-face babies in R129 (i-Size) child seats until they are at least 15 months old. This is because it is much safer for them. Although you can turn them forward-facing in R44 seats a little earlier, child safety experts do not recommend it.

How do I clean my baby car seat?

Most car seats will have removable and washable covers that you can easily throw in the washing machine. Some will even come with 2 covers so you don’t have to wait for the other to dry.

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