If you have your baby in hospital or a birth centre, you will need the car seat to drive your newborn home safely. It’s a good idea to practise fitting the seat before your baby is born.
Tips for buying a baby car seat
- When buying a car seat, it’s best to try a few in your car before making a decision. Try to find a retailer who is willing to help you with this. Ask whether staff have been trained in fitting car seats.
- Check whether your car has Isofix connectors built into it. These are designed to make fitting baby and child car seats simpler. Most modern family cars have them. They may be hidden in the cracks between the padding of your car seats.
- Some car seat manufacturers have online guides showing which cars their seats will fit in. If your baby is likely to travel in another car regularly – for example, with other family members – check the car seat fits their car, too.
- Always choose a baby or child car seat that’s right for your child’s current height and weight – see What size car seat? for more.
- Do not buy a secondhand car seat. It could have been damaged in an accident, and may not have all its parts, including the instructions. It may also not be the safest and most user-friendly model, plus it may not fit your car properly.
- Only accept a car seat from friends or family if you know its history, it’s not too old and it comes with instructions.
- Think about how you will be using the car seat. If you’ll be lifting your baby in and out of the car a lot, for example, you may be better off getting a lightweight seat with a base that stays in the car.
- All car seats in this country should be EU approved. Look for the “E” mark label on the seat.
What are i-Size car seats?
i-Size is an European safety standard for baby and child car seats. It’s part of regulation ECE R129, which will eventually replace the old safety regulation R44/04. The idea is that all car seats will eventually meet the tighter i-Size safety standards.
Your car must have Isofix connectors for you to be able to use an i-Size car seat. At the moment there are only a few i-Size seats on the market in the UK and not all cars have Isofix connectors.
Visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) child car seats website for more on i-Size car seats.
What size car seat?
Car seats are divided into 3 main groups, depending on your baby or child’s age and weight:
- group 0+ – rear-facing car seats suitable for babies aged up to about 15 months or who weigh up to 13 kg (29lb); some can be clipped on to a pushchair frame and are known as travel systems
- group 1 – forward-facing seats suitable for children who weigh 9-18kg (20-40lb) or who are aged from about 9 months to 4 years
- group 2/3 – high-backed booster seats suitable for children who weigh 15-36kg (33lb-5st 9lb) or are aged from about 4 to 11 years
You can also buy combination seats that cross over these groups, such as group 0+/1 seats, which are suitable from birth until your child weighs about 18kg (40lb) or is aged about 4. These can be more economical, but may not offer the same level of protection.
Car Seat Recommendations
There are many car seat choices on the market. Use the information below to help you choose the type of car seat that best meets your child’s needs or print out NHTSA’s car seat recommendations for children (PDF, 370 KB).
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
Top Of The Line Infant Car Seats (Top 5 Updated)
Below we selected the top of the line infant car seats to share with you:
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat is one of the top of the line infant car seats you can buy on Amazon. The Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (4-50 lb) to forward-facing harness (22-65 lb).
It features a 4-position extension panel that provides up to 5” of extra rear-facing legroom, allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer. With Extend2Fit, the adjustable extension panel and 50 lb rear-facing weight limit allow the seat to grow with your child, providing extended rear-facing use.
Key Features of the Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat
- 50 pound rear-facing weight limit
- 4-position leg extension which adds an extra 5 inches of legroom
- 10-position headrest
- No-rethread harness
- Buckle pockets
- 6-position recline
- Two removable integrated cupholders
- 10 year expiration
- InRight LATCH system with push-on connectors
- 1 year standard Warranty
Parents love that this seat is still affordable even though it has a large feature set. They also appreciate that even with the leg extension the car seat is streamlined and not as bulky as you’d think it might be.
One of the biggest complaints some parents had involved removing and replacing the cover when washing it. There are a bunch of little loops that hold the cover on, and some of the hooks are small and in hard to reach areas. This is probably the most disappointing aspect of this seat. When you have babies and young toddlers, having an easy to clean seat cover is a huge time saver.
- Convertible baby car seat
- Has reclining feature
- Cheap-looking quality
- Not easy to clean or wash
- Super tight straps
The Fit4 offers four different stages for transition. The first is the rear-facing stage for infants between four and 16 pounds. The second is the rear-facing stage for toddlers between 12 and 40 pounds. The third stage is rear-facing for preschoolers between 25 and 65 pounds. The final stage is the booster for children between 40 and 100 pounds.
The car seat includes protection for side and head-impacts called DuoGuardA. A frame reinforced with steel, and energy absorbent EPS foam surrounds the torso and head for all stages. Nine different reclining positions are available with ReclineSure. Adjustments are quick and simple. The headrest offer 10 positions to help prevent the head of the child from falling forward during a collision or a nap.
- Both the seat and manual are color-coded for all four stages. This makes it much easier for parents to understand which mode is correct for the child to ensure safety.
- The Chicco Fit4 has been approved by the FAA for use on an airplane in harness mode only. The label showing approval can be found beneath the seat of the Fit4. The FAA has not approved any car seats in booster mode or actual boosters for use on an airplane. This is because both shoulder and lap belts are required for booster seats. Only lap belts are currently available on airplanes.
- According to the manufacturer’s label, the car seat has a lifespan of 10 years.
- Comfortable and perfect fit
- Easy to install
- Features DuoGuard’s side-impact protection
- Has short straps that are too tight
- A bit overpriced
- Too hard for comfort
The Cybex Eternis S is a popular choice for parents who prefer to buy an all-in-one car seat as opposed to buying separate car seats. While it may have some issues when it comes to adjusting and tightening the straps, the safety and comfort features outweigh the challenges.
The Cybex Eternis S is an all-in-one seat built for longer use as with an expiration of 10 years. Hence, making it the only child car seat you’ll need and can transition from newborn until he graduates into a booster seat. This seat is integrated with an adjustable Linear Side-impact Protection (LSP) system which helps absorb up to 25% more impact in case of a side collision.
The seat also uses a strong and durable steel reinforced frame for optimum protection. At the same time, it has a three-point reclining headrest to prevent your little one’s precious head from falling forward while he is asleep giving you peace of mind.
- This child car seat is suitable for kids from four lbs. up to 120 lbs.
- This all-in-one car seat can be used in three modes: rear-facing, forward-facing, and belt-positioning booster.
- The car seat’s five-point safety harness is integrated with Sensor Safe Technology in the chest clip which makes it convenient for parents to strap their child in the seat.
- It is built with an Integrated Linear Side Impact Protection System (LSP) which reduces the impact of a crash up to 25%.
- The seat has a three-position reclining headrest to make your child feel more comfortable during the ride.
- It is designed with a 10-position reclining angle for better flexibility.
- This seat is built with a magnetic buckle holder for ease of use.
- This child seat has an expiration of 10 years and can be used for a long time.
- Straightforward installation
- Sensor Safe Technology
- No-rethread harness
- Magnetic buckle holder
- 50-pound rear-facing limit
- Removable machine-washable cover
- Removable cup holder
- Straps are difficult to adjust
- LSP system interferes with the tightness of the seat belt
- Tightening the latch is difficult
- Materials do not feel premium
The Britax One4Life is a quality Britax option that is easy to install and easy to use. We like the padding and comfy fabric cover you can remove in 4 parts. This seat uses the ClickTight installation method that means you don’t need to tighten anything making installation a breeze. Unfortunately, this seat suffers in a critical category, crash test analysis. With disappointing results during crash testing, we feel this option is not one we’d recommend as you can find a better seat with better crash test results that costs the same or less than this option with similar scores overall.
Britax has been creating juvenile products for over 70 years. They design gear for families keeping fun and safety in view. The company began distribution in the United States in 1996 after becoming the best-selling car seats in Europe.
The One4Life has one of the lowest crash test analyses results in the group with disappointing results for the chest sensor data and better than average HIC results. Each seat in this review meets or exceeds the federal safety guidelines in the FMVSS 213. This Britax has lower results than most of the other Britax options in this review. We commission our crash tests using the same guidelines and the same facility used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Solid car seat
- Has 9 recline positions
- Can accommodate up to 123 pounds
- Can be used in three modes
- It may take some time to install
- Not easy to clean
The most unique thing about the Revolve360 is that it could be a one time installation for harness mode (rear and forward facing) since there is only one belt path.
In addition, the top tether anchor is attached to the base, not the seat’s shell. Since the lower anchors have a fairly low weight limit (35 pounds for rear facing, 40 pounds for forward facing), installing this seat with the vehicle seat belt is the preferred method. It’s entirely possible that caregivers who own this seat would only need to install it one time. Ever.
Of course, safety should always be front of mind when kids are involved, and Evenflo has ensured that you can trust the Revolve 360 with your kid’s life. This new car seat has been tested for structural integrity (at 2x the federal requirement), side-impact, temperature, and rollover. Of course, it passed all the tests with flying colors.
The seat part locks securely into the swivel base with Evenflo’s LockStrong system. With this, you can visually check to make sure the seat is securely locked to the base, not something you want to be guessing about.
- Spins 360 degrees
- Easy to put child in and out of seat
- Has three use-modes
- Soft and well-cushioned
- Nice fabric
- Difficult to install
- Buckles aren’t very comfortable
- Quite expensive