The NHS recommends to buy a baby car seat before your baby is born and emphasises the importance of buying a seat that fits your car and is suitable for a newborn.
“If you have your baby in hospital or a birth centre, you will need the car seat to drive your newborn home safely,” according to the NHS. “It’s a good idea to practise fitting the seat before your baby is born,” they added.
So from around week 20 of pregnancy, I started my quest for the perfect car seat. Who knew there were so many of them?
I got so overwhelmed and ended up at a random area in London, two hours away from us, to collect an old carrier that cost us around £50. We cleaned it, disinfected it and made it look brand new and it did the job, but once the midwife got wind of this, she said to never buy a secondhand car seat because it could have been damaged in an accident and may not have all its parts, so we actually put our baby in danger more than keeping her safe.
So, I went back to my research and have tested a few car seats and chose ones that were right for my children’s current height and weight.
I also thought about how I was going to use the car seat i.e. long car journeys and lifting baby in and out of the car and longevity.
For further reassurance on safety, I checked for safety standards. You can visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) child car seats website for more on i-Size - a European safety standard for baby and child car seats.
The products I've tested below are some of the best ones around with some lasting until your child reaches the age of 12 making the seemingly hefty price tags justifiable.
Silver Cross Discover
I actually feel cool just having this high back booster seat in the car. Then you look at the science bit and it becomes even more impressive.
Silver Cross Discover is in the Group 2/3 category which means that it is approved for children from three years to 12 years to use. Just like its sibling Dream (for newborns until about 12 months), Discover’s headrest can be adjusted into five different positions, while the side wings expand to offer ample space and protection as the little ones grow.
With super active children, the soft natural bamboo fabrics’ thermo-regulating properties take moisture away from the skin, keeping my little ones warm, yet dry. Plus, bamboo fabric has anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic properties, making it perfect for my tiny testers’ sensitive skin.
If you need help installing the car seat - an often daunting task for first time parents - Silver Cross also has an easy to use mobile app which links a QR code on each car seat in the collection. The simple five-step installation guide will ensure you get a perfect fit from the first go. Win-win.
Maxi-Cosi Coral Car Seat
I love the splash of colour on this one. It reminds me of my primary school back pack, only this time, it contains something more precious than a limited-edition Hello Kitty pencil case. This new offering from Maxi-Cosi allows parents to be closer to their baby while on the go. It’s a light carrier with retractable handles and it easily becomes a car seat thanks to the FamilyFix3, which connects to the ISOFIX anchors in your car. Don’t worry if your car has no ISOFIX anchorage points, because the Coral can also be installed using only the seat belt of your car.
Ickle Bubba Solar Car Seat
If your little one has outgrown their Group 0 or Group 0+ rear-facing seat, the award-winning Ickle Bubba Solar is a great option when moving to the next stage.
From nine months until about age 12, this popular car seat has magnetic buckle retainers the hold the safety straps in position to make it easier to move your child in and out of the car seat.
In the summer, its luxury stay-cool fabric and two sun visors come in really handy.
Silver Cross Dream
A brand that the British royals love, this stylish creation from Silver Cross gives your baby cushioned comfort from their first journey home. It looks so comfy, that every time I look at it, it makes me want to get in and have a nap.
I must confess that after unboxing it, I did spend a good few minutes pressing the padded bits covered by soft natural bamboo fabrics.
It comes with a newborn insert as well as removable sections in order for you to be able to adjust as your baby grows. I love the five-position adjustable headrest to help avoid neck strains when the little ones are asleep.
This model, suitable from birth until 12 months, can be used with Silver Cross car seat compatible prams thus creating a travel system and Dream can also be easily installed in the car with an adult seat belt or with a Dream i-Size base. For extra peace of mind, the Dream car seat was also recently awarded the highest rating by the German independent testing organisation ADAC. Stylish, safe and oh-so comfy.
Joie Every Stage Group 0+/1/2/3 Car Seat
Ideal for children from birth to 12 years, my little ones loved the multi-recline positions and adjustable head support, so this is perfect for long car journeys. Like most good car seats, this has a cushy padded seat that comes with side impact protection and a five-point harness to secure the precious ones. An extra feature that I love is that the protection panels fold into the seat when not in use.
Bubba dropped jam toast on the seat? Not to worry, the seat comes with a removable, washable cover.
Kiddy Phoenixfix 3
This lightweight forward-facing only car seat is easy to instal and it has even been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority in the US for use on aircraft. For decades, German company Kiddy has been developing ways for children to travel safely and is well known for its impact shield system in its children’s car seats. This model meets stricter safety criteria, which means that with crash testing from every angle, I feel that my mini testers are as safe as possible in the Phoenixfix 3. It’s suitable for children around nine months up to four years and comes in a variety of vibrant colours.
Also available on Amazon (£179)
Britax Romer Baby-Safe Plus SHR II
As the seat of choice for the royal family, the Britax Baby-Safe plus SHR II is one of the best car seats you can get for a newborn. The softly padded side wings acts like a protective shell and comes with its patented side impact protection. This only fits children from birth up until about 15 months, but if you love this brand, you can upgrade to the next size up.
I really like the retractable handle and how easy it is to go from being a baby carrier into a car seat.
This stylish offering from Nuna is an all-in-one car seat that can be used in a rear-facing position from 0-4 years and forward-facing from four until 12 years. My tiny testers loved being cocooned by the soft padded fabric and I really love how this seat is geared for a napping newborn through to supporting an independent tween. I’m not going to lie, I found set up really complicated that I had to get my Dad - who happens to be a structural engineer - to help me. But that’s just me because I know others who have bought this type of seat and they set everything up in minutes. Just remember not to get overwhelmed by the big manual - those steps are for the different features, so focus on the basic set up from about step 23.
Cybex Gold Pallas S-Fix 2-in-1 Child's Car Seat
Some parents will confess that the five-point harness can be fiddly especially when a child is having a tantrum.
This offering from Cybex swaps the five-point harness for a safety cushion that sits in front of your little one and is secured using the seatbelt. The idea is that in case of a crash, the cushion prevents pull on the precious one’s neck and shoulders as well as preventing your child from breaking loose. Note that this is in group 1/2/3, so it means that it’s not really suitable for kids under 9kg and the cushion is quite large so your child needs to be a certain height to be able to use it safely and effectively.
Good news is that it will last until your little one is 12, so it still makes a good investment.
Britax Advansafix IV M
Let’s face it, children are a messy bunch and mine are no exception. What I love about this car seat is that it has a machine washable cover that can easily be taken off without even removing the harness. I can have the whole thing smelling fresh once again.
Suitable for children from around three and a half years old, it’s made to adapt and grow with your child, so you can switch from a five-point harness to the three-point seat belt with just a simple steps using the “Flip and Grow” function. There’s absolutely nothing to remove from the seat, so not one part can get lost.
Also available from Boots (£189)
With it's stylish design and impressive safety features, Silver Cross' Discover is a wide-ranging winner and my top pick. NUNA Tres picks up points for comfort and when it comes to newborns, Silver Cross' Dream is a perfect choice for baby's first journey home.