The best car seats to keep your toddler safe on the move

A good car seat can save lives as well as make long journeys more comfortable

A child sat in a car seat

by car-products |
Updated on

Car seats are a requirement if you have a small child. All children under the age of 12 (or under 4.4 ft tall) are required to use a car seat by law. The other problem is that children have growth spurts and there's a chance the car seat you buy them when they're young will last.

There are a number of car seats available to buy that will see them through their childhood. The only problem is, there are so many for sale that it can quickly become a minefield finding the right one for your child. We've had a look and found our top picks for safe and comfortable car seats to give you total peace of mind.

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Featuring a five-point safety harness and bright red cloth, this car seat does look somewhat similar to the seats found in a Ferrari F40 (if you squint a bit). That aside this car seat from Kinderkraft is our top pick because of its sturdy design, indicators to ensure it's properly mounted to Isofix anchors and comfortable padding. It can be used forward and rearward facing and is suitable for newborns all the way up to 12-year-olds.

The Joie Bold car seat will see a child from 9 months old all the way up to the age of 12 thanks to its clever design. It comes with a five-point harness that can be switched to a belt booster once the child is old enough as well as a Guard Surround Safety to keep them safe in the event of an accident. And in terms of comfort, this seat offers ventilation, an adjustable headrest and even comes with a cup holder.

A very safe option if your child has an inherent ability to escape, this seat from Cosatto comes with an Anti-Escape system alongside the usual five-point safety harness and side protection. Aside from this, the seat is forward and rearward facing making it usable for children aged from birth to 12 years old. This seat can also rotate to make loading and unloading your child an easier affair.

A very clever and easy to move child seat from Maxi-Cosi, it may only be designed for children up to the age of four but it is possibly the best way to keep a very young child safe in a car. It makes use of memory foam and a comfortable inlay as well as making use of a five-point harness and stay-open crotch pad to keep very young children safe and comfortable. It can spin to make loading and unloading easier and can be used both rearward or forward-facing.

The Polestar of the car seat world, the Axkid one combines modern Scandinavian design with exemptional safety features but at a rather high price. Made from lightweight aluminium and reinforced with steel beams, this seat is strong yet svelte and should be comfortable for long journeys. The unique design allows children as old as seven to travel facing rearward to improve safety.

Recaro may be more known for the bucket seats found in the Audi R8 and other suitably fast cars but they also produce some fantastic child seats like this model here. Designed to be safe yet comfortable, this seat is forward-facing only and suitable for children up to the age of 12. It doesn't feature anything fancy but it's comfortable, safe and good value compared to some of the more luxurious options on this list.

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What you need to know about toddler car seats:

What features should I look for in a good car seat?

With any child seat, your top concern should be safety. There are currently two safety-related aspects you should look for in any car seat:

Isofix - All modern cars (and most manufactured in the last 15 years) come with Isofix mounts for car seats. These are mounting points that tether the seat directly to the car's chassis that means you don't need to use seatbelts to hold the car seat in place. They make installing a car seat easier and are safer in the event of an accident.

i-size - This is an EU safety standard for child seats that seeks to make them safer all-round. i-seats include side-impact testing, increase the rearward-facing requirement to 15 months and factor in a child's weight rather than height for better protection. Don't consider buying a new car seat that does not comply with ECE R129 because it will not be up to scratch in the event of an accident.

What are the different groups of car seats and what do they mean?

There are different groups of car seats available depending on age:

Group 0+ - These seats are designed for newborns making them suitable to use up until the age of 15 months. These seats will be rearward facing to keep the babies necks safe in the event of a collision and often integrate into a buggy for easy travelling.

Group 0+/1 - The most popular car seat option, this type is designed for birth to 18kgs and are available in both rear-facing and forward-facing options.

Group 0+1/2/3 - The all-in-one option designed to last until the child advances to a booster seat, these are suitable from birth up to 36kg. These are usually permanently kept in your car, however.

How do I clean a car seat?

If you've spent more than a couple of minutes with a child you'll be aware that they can quickly make any area a mess. Whether it be food, dribble, drinks or something a bit messier (accidents happen) you'll be wanting something you can clean down with ease.

Most modern car seats have removable covers that can be placed in the washing machine or can easily be sponged down with some soapy water and a clean sponge.

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