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The best car seats

(Image credit: Amazon)

Shopping for the right car seat for your baby can seem like a minefield. But don’t fret – it’s not as complicated as it might seem! In the UK, the law states that all babies, toddlers and children travelling in a vehicle must use a suitable child restraint. All UK car seats are sorted into groups according to their maximum weight and / or height limits. In other words, your baby’s height and weight are what determine which car seat is right for her.

In the USA, car seat laws are set by each state. Most states require that infants use a rear-facing car seat until they’re a year old or weigh 20 pounds. However, extensive research shows that it’s safest to keep children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. It’s also safer to keep a child in a car seat with a 5-point safety harness for as long as you can before moving to a booster seat.

Beyond this, think about whether you want an infant car seat that you can remove from the car seat and attach to a pushchair frame (only suitable for use up to around 12 months) or whether you’re looking for a robust seat for a toddler that will remain securely fitted in your vehicle.

The most important thing to consider when buying a car seat is whether it’s compatible with your vehicle, so make sure you check this before making your purchase.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Graco Slim Fit

A slimline car seat suitable from birth to 12 years

Cup holder
Easy to install

The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Car Seat is designed to save space in your back seat at the same time as giving your child plenty of room to grow. Because it’s slimmer than conventional car seats, it’s a good choice if your car is on the small side or if you have other car seats in place for other children. It's designed to grow with your child, so you can convert it from a rear-facing infant seat to a belt-positioning booster seat for an older child. 

It has also been engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed US standards, and has been side impact tested and SafeSeat Engineered. The seat has four different recline positions, so it’s comfortable if your child nods off on a long journey. The seat cover is washable incase of spillages and it’s easy to remove without having to detach the car seat harness. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

Diono Everett NXT High Back Booster

A versatile, lightweight car seat for use from from 4 to 12 years old

Easy to install
Less padded than others

This car seat is suitable from 18kg - 50kg (approximately 4 to 12 years old) and is designed to grow through multiple stages of development with your child. It’s lightweight, so it’s a practical choice if you have more than one vehicle or regularly move the car seat between family cars. Not only is it easy to adjust, its 7-position headrest, its support cushions and padded armrests provide additional comfort. Thankfully, the seat cover is machine washable and easy to remove too.

Offering good safety features, with side impact protection that has been engineered and tested to high standards, the Diono Everett NEXT is also easy to install in your vehicle with universal connectivity. Simply attach it using the vehicle seatbelt or use the integrated connectors that anchor the seat to the car’s mainframe. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

Cybex Aton Q Plus

A lightweight rear-facing infant car seat

Side impact protection
Angle reduces risk of breathing difficulties
Rear-facing only

The Cybex Aton Q Plus Infant Car Sear is designed to provide the flattest possible lying angle for younger babies so it can help reduce the risk of breathing difficulties for premature babies and small newborns. 

It’s a rear-facing only infant car seat, which uses a 5-point adjustable harness to secure your child in the seat, and it’s suitable for babies weighing between 4 and 35lbs. It’s also lightweight, so it’s a good choice if you have back issues which make carrying the car seat between the vehicle and the house a difficulty. 

The safety features include triple side impact protection, a flexible shell lined head to toe with EPS foam, and an internal adjustable EPS-lined headrest that offers superior side-impact safety.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

A versatile child car seat that grows with your child

Easy to adjust
Machine washable cover
Tricky to install

This 3-in-1 car seat is designed so that you can adjust it to suit your child throughout three different stages of her development. It starts out as a rear-facing seat suitable for newborns weighing up to 40 pounds, then converts to a forward-facing seat for use for children weighing from 22 to 65 pounds, before becoming a belt positioning booster suitable for older children weighing from 40 to 100 pounds. 

Its harness holders keep the straps out of the way so it’s easy to pop your child in and out, and you can adjust the harness and headrest when needed too. The seat pad is easy to remove and can be placed in both the washing machine and tumble drier.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat

An easy-to-adjust car seat that grows with your child

Reclining seat
Easy to install
Bulkier than some seats

Evenflo has been making children’s products for almost 100 years. The Evenflo EveryStage DLX all-in-one seat is another versatile option that converts from rear-facing to forward-facing and can also be used as a belt-positioning booster seat. 

The harness is easy to adjust without having to rethread it, and the seat has several recline settings, but it’s designed to ensure your child’s head doesn’t slump forwards so her airway won’t become restricted when she’s in this seat.

Heidi Scrimgeour

Originally from London, Heidi Scrimgeour is a freelance writer who lives near the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland with her husband and their daughter and two sons.