Looking to buy the best car seat for your baby or newborn? Get your baby from A to B in comfort and style with our pick of the best car seats for newborn babies and toddlers.
Working out which is the best car seat for your baby or toddler is a big deal. After all, there’s nothing more important than your child’s safety. You want the very best car seat for your baby, but where do you start? The first thing to know is that until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall – whichever comes first – children must sit in an appropriate car seat when travelling in the car. Next, you need to know that car seats are sorted into ‘groups’ according to the weight and/or height limitations of each seat. So the best car seat for your baby depends on your little one’s height and weight at any given time – not their age.
In this round-up, we’ve chosen the best car seats from several different groups. This means they have different features and can’t be compared like-for-like. Some have rotating bases, some recline, some are only suitable for your baby’s first year or so, and some can be used right up until your child no longer needs a car seat. But there’s something here to suit different budgets, lifestyles, and preferences. Our panel of mums tested these car seats over a period of several weeks with their babies aged between 11 weeks and nine months old.
Best car seats at a glance
Our pick of the best car seat is the Cybex Cloud Z iSize. It reclines flat outside of the car so your baby can stay in the optimal, ergonomic lie-flat position when you pop this car seat on a pushchair frame to create a travel system – brilliant for moving between the car and the pushchair without worrying about your baby being scrunched up in the car seat for too long. That alone makes us love it – the lie-flat option is a real standout feature – but the base also rotates for easy access to your baby or child, making trips out of the house virtually hassle-free. Overall, this seat is an impressive marriage of form and function, with practical design features that make your life as a mum that bit easier, wrapped up in a stylish package.
Best car seat overall: Cybex Cloud Z iSize – John Lewis | £224.95
Best premium car seat: Be Safe iZi Twist B-E iSize – Uber Kids | £429
Best budget car seat: Cosatto All In All Rotate – Cosatto | £249.95
Recaro Salia Elite – John Lewis | £519
Nuna Arra iSize – John Lewis | £350
Maxi Cosi Coral iSize – John Lewis | £191.20
Ickle Bubba Mercury iSize Car Seat with ISOFIX Base – Ickle Bubba | £319
Chicco Seat4 Fix – Very | £259.99
Joie iLevel – Mamas & Papas | £200
Uppababy Mesa iSize Infant Car Seat – Mamas & Papas |£199.99
Graco Enhance Group 0+/1/2 Car Seat – Very | £79.99
Things to consider when buying the best car seat
All babies need a rear-facing seat to begin with. These are Group 0+ seats and they’re typically suitable from birth until your baby is around 12-15 months. Some car seats (they’re called combination or multi-group seats) are designed to keep your child rear-facing beyond this point, up to around four years old. These are well worth considering because research shows that a rear-facing car seat is the safest option, providing better protection than a forward-facing seat in the event of a collision.
We’ve also included i-Size seats in this roundup. This means the seat meets or exceeds R129, which is the latest European car seat safety regulation. iSize seats offer extra protection to prevent head and neck injuries and are designed to keep babies in a rear-facing position. They’re chosen according to the child’s height rather than weight, and they’re compatible with Isofix, which is the fitting system for child car seats – most modern cars have Isofix anchor points which make installing a car seat easier.
An infant carrier car seat is a popular choice for a baby’s first car seat. These are suitable from birth and shaped a little like a bucket to help ensure your baby lies in the optimal position for a healthy spine and lung development. They also have a carry handle so you can move the car seat between the car and the house easily, and this acts as a roll bar in the event of an impact.
1. Best car seat overall: Cybex Cloud Z iSize
A rotating seat that reclines flat in the car
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 4.8kg | Suitable for: Birth-24m
✅ Swivel base
✅ Reclines flat
✅ Stylish design
❌ Base not included
VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £224.95
This is an excellent rear-facing car seat with exceptional safety features, a stylish design and – our favourite bit – a rotating base, so you don’t have to be a contortionist to get your baby in and out of the car.
The Cybex Cloud Z is perfect for parents who want a smart looking car seat packed with safety features. The seat itself is easy to take in and out of the car, but it’s also designed to make it easy to take your baby in and out of the car as you can rotate the seat to face the car door. Until you’ve used this type of seat, it’s difficult to convey just how handy this feature is – it really makes light work of popping your baby in and out of the car. The swivel base makes this seat an especially good choice for anyone with a bad back or other injuries that could make taking a baby in and out of the car seat tricky.
Installing a car seat can be a challenge but this one comes with extra peace of mind. The support leg, which attaches the base to the car, has lights that indicate when everything is correctly installed. There’s also an alarm that sounds if you haven’t got the base attached correctly. The seat also has a removable newborn inlay for added comfort, and the height-adjustable headrest has 11 different settings so you can customise it every time your baby has a growth spurt. Outside the car, your baby can lie-flat in this seat thanks to the recline feature. It’s also compatible with selected pushchairs to create a travel system.
Hanna Cesek, mum to Noa, six months, says: “It was very hard to find anything wrong with the Cybex Cloud Z. It looks great, it’s easy to use and – the piece de resistance – it has a swivel base! I think that alone makes it well worth the price. Why would you not go for a seat with a swivel base if you can afford it?! After all, you take your baby in and out of their car seat every day for two years. And this base can also be used with Cybex’s next seat up, so it could last your child until they are four years old. Apart from it being heavy to lift and carry, I pretty much love everything about this seat.”
2. Best premium car seat: Be Safe iZi Twist B-E iSize
A rotating seat that keeps your child rear-facing up to age four
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 15kg | Suitable for: Six months–four years
✅ Easy to install with safety indicators
✅ Rotates for easy access to your child
✅ Extra support for newborns
❌Heavy to lift
❌ Takes up lots of space
This i-Size car seat is an extended rear-facing seat. This means your child can travel in the safest position – facing the back of the car rather than the direction of travel – all the way up until the age of four. It also rotates, making it extra easy to get your baby in and out of the car. We love the electronic indicators which ensure you’ve installed the seat safely and correctly in your car. This seat has passed the world’s toughest crash test and has three layers of safety features, including built-in side impact protection in the seat shell. It has four recline positions and the adjustable headrest has 11 different settings. It comes with a baby shell and a head hugger to provide extra support for newborns.
“This was so easy to install – the light indicator completely eliminates any guesswork as to whether you’ve secured the seat properly, offering real peace of mind,” says Jenny Meechan, mum to Orlaith, six months. The straps are straightforward to tighten and loosen – they glide really effortlessly between positions and don’t dig into the baby’s shoulders. It’s quite heavy to carry though – I managed to carry it alone but felt I’d bitten off more than I could chew! It also takes up quite a lot of space in the car – I have a medium-sized family car and had to push the front seat quite far forward to create enough space to install the seat.”
3. Best budget car seat: Cosatto All In All Rotate
A rotating combination seat from birth to 12 years
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 10.9kg | Suitable for: Birth – 36kg
✅ Impressively versatile
✅ Excellent value for money
✅ Rear-facing until age four
|❌ It’s bulky
❌ It can be used with a pushchair to create a travel system
Designed by Paloma Faith, this striking car seat covers all the car seat groups (0+123), meaning it’s suitable from birth right the way up until your child weighs 36kg, which is around 12 years old. It’s another rotating seat, so it’s easy to get little ones – and not so little ones, as they get older – in and out. You can use it rearward-facing until your child weighs 18kg (around four years old) and then turn it round and use it as a forward-facing seat until your child no longer needs a car seat. You can secure it in your car using ISOFIX anchorage points but if your vehicle doesn’t have these, you can use the car’s seat belt instead. It has flip-out side impact protection wings an an anti-escape system, so it’s a good choice for little ones who like to try unbuckling themselves! The seat has multiple recline settings, and they’re easy to adjust.
“This is an amazingly adaptable and flexible seat. Knowing I only needed this one seat all the way up until my child is 12 years old and that I can secure it in the car using ISOFIX anchor points or the vehicle seat belts gave me piece of mind – moving it between my car and my husband’s van was straightforward, and I knew this seat would adapt to suit my life rather than me having to plan my choices around a car seat. The design is so fun and my son will love it even more as he grows,” says Emma Goodall, mum to Charlie, nine months. “I also love the fact that it takes the environment into account and the fabric is made using 30 recycled bottles. Another standout feature is the anti-escape system; this is really useful for a wriggly little one.”
Not everybody wants a combination seat that can be used across different age categories, but there’s no denying that they offer good value for money since you won’t need to keep buying the next stage seat as your child grows. The rotating design and the eco element of this seat also add extra appeal and real value, which is why we think it’s the best budget car seat.
4. Recaro Salia Elite
A highly versatile 2-in-1 seat with rotating base
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 18kg | Suitable for: Birth – 18kg
✅ Clever 2-in-1 design
✅ Extra safety features
✅ Very stylish
✅ Easy to rotate with one hand
|❌ Infant carrier is quickly outgrown|
This is a cleverly-designed 2-in-1 car seat that can be used both rear-facing from birth-105cm and forward facing from 15 months – 76cm, until your baby weighs 18kg or 40lbs. It’s effectively an infant carrier and child seat combined. The seat rotates 360 degrees so it’s extra easy to lift your baby in and out of the car. Light indicators on the base let you know what the seat is safely installed, offering extra peace of mind before you travel. It offers threefold protection in the event of a side collision and has integrated side wings that fold out.
“The Recaro Salia Elite is on the expensive side but you can understand why. It’s simple and smooth to use, offers a high standard of protection, and my son was very comfy in it,” says Emma Goodall, mum to Charlie, nine months. “It’s also extremely easy to use. The rotating feature works with one hand, making it ideal when juggling a little one and multiple shopping bags. The infant carrier is very light and would be ideal for transporting a sleeping baby. Having the child seat as the base for the infant carrier means you don’t need to store an additional bulky seat while your baby is using the infant carrier – helpful when you already have a huge amount of baby items taking up space in the home! Having both the infant seat and child seat in the same unit meant I wouldn’t have to think about purchasing the next size car seat once my son was bigger too; it’s all ready for the exact time he needs it. The design is also sleek, modern and really appealing.”
What we love about this seat is that you’re effectively getting two seats for the price of one. Our tester loved the infant carrier for making it possible to move her baby between the house and the car easily, minimising the stress that sometimes goes along with that transition.
5. Nuna Arra iSize
A lightweight iSize car seat that reclines flat
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 3.9kg | Suitable for: Birth-13kg
✅ Extremely light to carry
✅ Easy to use / attaches to a pushchair
✅ Luxurious newborn insert
|❌ Requires Isofix|
This rear-facing iSize seat can be used until your baby weighs 13kg, which is around 18 months. It’s standout feature is the fact that it reclines fully flat. It also comes with the base included. It has helpful installation indicators that show when it’s safely installed. It’s also light to carry – another selling point – and attaches to a number of strollers. We love the memory foam merino wool newborn insert.
“Having spent a lot of time sitting in the car waiting for Rory to wake up after a journey and knowing that moving him would result in a very grumpy baby, we found the lie-flat feature really appealing, and as it’s so light, it’s easy to attach to the stroller frame with minimum fuss – we tested it with the Triv stroller, which it matched perfectly in design,” says Katie Archer, mum to Rory, seven months. :The harness doesn’t need to be rethreaded for changing position either, another plus when trying to make a quick journey without disturbing Rory. The lie-flat recline is a game-changer for parents of newborns as the safety advice is not to leave a small baby crunched up in a car seat for too long. At its greatest recline, the Arra offers an ergonomic position that is good for the baby’s spine and allows them to breathe more easily. Rory is usually a car seat hater, but we had a great journey in the Arra, with a lot less crying than usual because of the lie flat position and the very comfortable memory foam insert padded with merino wool, just like the seat of the Nuna stroller. It’s an ISOFIX-only seat so can’t be fitted with a seatbelt harness, which is a shame because with it being so light we would love to take it on the train to visit grandparents, but without an Isofix base in their car, we couldn’t use it. It does come with an ISOFIX base and is very quick to install, made easier by the coloured installation indicators.”
6. Maxi Cosi Coral iSize baby car seat
An innovative iSize seat with a lightweight removable baby carrier
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 5.3kg | Suitable for: Birth-12kg/26lbs
✅ Modern design
✅ Light to carry
✅ Removable carrier
|❌ No recline mode
❌ Fixed base
The Maxi Cosi Coral is a modern-looking car seat, with a cosy newborn insert that’s easy to remove when your baby outgrows it, and a soft inner shell that can be lifted out of the outer shell with your baby in it for a cosy, lightweight carrying option. It’s a good choice for anyone looking for a very lightweight way to get your baby in and out of the car, and perfect if you live in a flat or have to park a distance from your home, as you can leave the main seat in the car and still carry your baby easily into the house.
“The Coral has a futuristic look and comes in a variety of colours but its USP is that the interior of the seat can be removed from the hard shell, so baby can be easily taken out of the car but kept cosy and cocooned – a lovely feature,” says Hanna Cesek, mum to Noa, six months. The cocoon itself is very light, if you’re just removing that bit from the car. It has an alarm system that lets you know if you’ve not fitted everything correctly and as well as indicators, the Maxi Cosi lights up, which is helpful in the dark and feels like a premium feature. I liked the large release buttons, they were very easy to use. I preferred the buckle on this seat to any of the others because you push the button down rather than in to release, which was easier to use and meant I could do it with one hand. This seat has a really distinctive, ‘open’ look and Noa seemed happier in this seat compared to others, but that ‘openness’ somehow makes it seem less safe to me. The removable insert only weighs 1.7kg so if you’re only removing that bit, it’s very light. I thought this might only work with a tiny baby but we used it several times with Noa and it’s an easy (and cute!) way of getting your baby out of the car and carrying them inside. If you want to attach the car seat to a pram base, you’d have to take the whole thing out of the car, however.”
7. Ickle Bubba Mercury iSize Car Seat with Isofix base
An iSize seat with cosy newborn insert and base included
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: | Suitable for: Birth-22kg
✅ Base is included
✅ Newborn insert
|❌ Fixed base|
This iSize infant car seat with Isofix base is suitable for rear-facing use from birth until your baby is 80cm tall (around 15 months old). As it’s an iSize seat, it meets the very latest car seat safety regulations and has reinforced shell technology with advanced side impact protection. We love the memory foam newborn insert and headrest cushion, which are easy to remove when your baby no longer needs them. The six-position headrest is easy to adjust, and integrated vents allow for air circulation. You can secure it in your vehicle using the Isofix base or the vehicle’s seatbelts, and the seat can be used on selected pushchair frames to create a travel system.
“We actually replaced our own Maxi Cosi car seat with this Ickle Bubba seat as it’s so good!” says Jo Hewitson, who tested it with her three-month-old daughter. “My little one looked so snug and secure with the newborn insert in place and she has never once fussed about being put into this car seat. Now she’s bigger we have removed the insert and she still looks safe and snug and it’s clear that she is comfortable in it. The car seat is easy to fit on to the Isofix base, and there is a button to make it clear where you need to push to lengthen the straps – something I have found tricky with other car seats as they tend to be hidden away and fiddly.”
8. Chicco Seat4 Fix
A rotating car seat suitable from birth to 10+
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 12.5kg | Suitable for: Birth-36kg
✅ Lasts all weight categories
✅ Rotating base
✅ Good value
If you like the idea of buying one car seat that fits multiple car seat groupings – meaning you don’t need to buy a new seat when your child outgrows each category of car seat – this is worth considering. It’s suitable from birth right up until your child weighs 36kg. You can use it rear-facing for longer than other car seats, up until your baby weighs 18kg, and then turn it round and use it as a forward-facing seat until your child weighs 36kg. It has a reducer with a removable wedge, which offers extra support and comfort for your baby, and the base rotates for easy access. It has an adjustable headrest and side impact protection.
“My daughter looked very happy to be in this seat and her travelling position looked good too – she seemed very comfy and her head didn’t loll forward but there was also plenty of cushioning around her,” says Jenny Meechan, mum to Orlaith, six months. “The 360° rotation makes it easy to put your baby in the seat and get her out, which is great for anyone with a bad back or any other reason for difficulty reaching over. It’s great that this car seat is suitable from birth to 10+, which I think makes it brilliant value for money. The various components can be adapted for all age groups which is a huge bonus when buying anything for a rapidly growing child. It’s a good price point for something that will last a long time and it looks nice too. I think it will really appeal to parents who like things to be aesthetically pleasing but who appreciate value for money. It’s quite heavy, though, so if you’re pregnant or have just given birth, you might need help carrying it to the car.”
9. Joie iLevel
A rear-facing seat that reclines flat in the car and on a pushchair
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 5kg | Suitable for: Birth-13kg
✅ Reclines flat
✅ Removable newborn insert
✅ Easy to install
|❌ Canopy is fiddly to use
❌ Fixed base
“This seat is easy to fit and adjust, and really cosy inside for baby,” says Hanna Cesek, mum to Noa, six months. “It has lots of padding around the head and on the harness, so you know your baby will be really comfy. The newborn insert is really easy to remove and the straps and headrest adjust very easily, so it can grow with your little one. I also loved the padded handle, for extra comfort when carrying. The reclining feature will probably be what appeals most to people about this seat – and it’s really easy to recline by simply pushing on the top and bottom. Installation was a breeze, too. The hood is quite clunky and gets stuck behind the handle. I’d love this all the more if the base rotated but you can’t have everything!”
10. Uppababy Mesa iSize infant car seat
A light, stylish iSize seat that’s easy to install
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 4.5kg | Suitable for: birth – 22kg
✅ Installation indicator
✅ Can be used on a pushchair
|❌ Only suitable up 14 months|
11. Graco Enhance Group 0+/1/2 Car Seat
A great value seat for budget-conscious parents
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Weighs: 8.95kg | Suitable for: Birth-25kg
✅ Excellent value
✅ Easy to use
|❌ Fixed base
❌ Fiddly straps
❌ Can’t be used with a pushchair
Suitable from birth right the way up to seven years, this seat is designed for both rear-facing (birth – 18kg) and forward facing (9 – 25kg) use. Your child can sit rear-facing for longer than many other car seats allow, which offers extra protection in the event of a collision. The seat has four recline positions and a colour-coded installation guide, so you can be sure it’s correctly installed before you set off. It also has a steel reinforced frame and a side impact protection system.
What is the best car seat for a baby?
The best car seat for your baby depends on your baby’s height and/or weight. Your lifestyle also determines which car seat will be the best choice for your baby. Your car is also a factor to take into account – most car seats are installed using a compatible base that plugs into anchor points in your car, with a support leg that prevents the base from tipping over. The seat then clips onto the base. Some older vehicles don’t have this Isofix anchor system.
i-Size seats meet or exceed the latest European child seat safety regulations. The purpose of these regulations is to make car seats safer than the previous legislation required. iSize seats keep your baby rear-facing up to 15 months, which is the safest way to travel. To offer optimal support to your baby’s developing spine, neck and back and to prevent decreased oxygen saturation in the car seat, choose a car seat with a lie-flat recline option.
What is the safest car seat?
If you’re buying a seat for a newborn baby or one which will be used from birth, our advice is to choose an iSize seat specifically designed to be used for the first 12-15 months of your baby’s life. This will be a rear-facing seat. A combination seat, which fits several of the various height/weight categories of car seat and thus can be used for several years can seem like better value for money value – but babies, toddlers and children have very different bodies and need different levels of protection. Whichever car seat you choose, make sure it’s in the right ‘group’ for your baby’s height and/or weight, and do not move your child into the next stage seat too soon.
Installation is a really important factor in car seat safety. Make sure you know how to install the seat properly and don’t set off on a journey if you’re in doubt about whether the seat is safely installed in your car.
Note that not all car seats are approved for use in all vehicles – check with the car seat retailer or manufacturer before you buy to make sure the car seat you choose is compatible with your car. Factor in any other cars you might want to use the seat in, too. Might a partner, grandparent or childminder wish to use the seat in their car? Some infant carrier car seats can be installed using your vehicle’s seat belt but generally speaking it’s safest to use a compatible car seat base, which attaches to your vehicle’s Isofix anchor points. You might need to purchase the base separately, which bumps up the cost, so factor this into your budget before you start shopping.
Remember that your baby should not be in a car seat for more than two hours at a time, and car seats should not be used for sleeping. The best place for your baby to sleep during the first six months of their life is in a cot or Moses basket of their own in the same room as you. But don’t worry if your baby falls asleep in the car – just make sure you stop for regular breaks and take your baby out of the seat if you’re travelling for two hours or more. If you’re using the car seat as a travel system, consider using a carrycot or a lie-flat car seat.