Car seat technology is changing and improving all of the time and the current safety standards are higher than ever.
As with all baby products there’s a huge choice of car seats and bases out there, with options to suit every budget and family. But it might not be until you start researching car seats that you realise a base is also something many people choose to buy.
Why buy a car seat base?
A base adds an extra safety element because it attaches to the ISOFIX anchors in your car and then the seat, or carrier, is fixed on top. This is an alternative option to using the regular three-point seat belt or the ISOFIX connectors on a child seat.
What to look out for when shopping for a car seat base?
If you’re choosing a Group 0+ car seat (birth up to 13kg / 12-15 months) for your new arrival, consider buying a base too, especially if you’ll be lifting the car seat in and out of your vehicle regularly. Bases can be quite heavy, but can be left inside your car and attached quickly and easily to the seat when needed. The infant seat clicks on and off and many bases have an indicator to tell you when it’s fitted correctly.
This is really reassuring for tired new parents grappling with a wriggly or sleeping baby. Many prams are now ‘travel systems’ which means they have adaptors for car seats which can be popular with parents who do a lot of driving or if you can’t fit a pram bassinet in the boot.
Why do most bases have ‘i-size’ in their name?
Some bases have i-size in their name. This is a new safety regulation for child car seats and bases (ECE R129), introduced in 2013. It was made to make car seats easier to fit, to provide better protection from side impacts and to keep children facing backwards for longer. Since 2006, all new cars have been required by law to have two ISOFIX fittings (Semi-Universal). The idea is that an i-size car seat and base will one day fit in every car.
It’s mandatory for children in i-size seats to stay rearward facing until they are at least 15 months old. However, some i-size/R129 seats can be used backwards until a child is 105cm, or around four years old, which many people are choosing to do now.
Always remember that a rearward-facing car seat should never be used on a passenger seat where there is an active airbag.
Do I need a base for an infant car seat?
No, and if your car doesn’t have ISOFIX connectors then many of the bases on the market will not be an option anyway. But if your budget allows, and your car is compatible, it’s recommended that you get a base for your Group 0+ seat. A base gives the seat a rigid foundation to the car which is safer than securing the car seat with an adult seatbelt which is great for giving you peace of mind. Using a base also raises the height your child sits at, giving them more leg room.
A car seat can be heavy before you’ve even put your baby into it but some companies have made things a bit easier by creating bases which allow the seat to rotate. This means you can reduce back pain for you and any awkwardness for your baby by turning the seat to face you when you strap them in and lift them out.
Remember that most bases are sold separately to car seats so you will need to factor in the cost of both when budgeting for a new baby or researching products.
Here are our top picks
Maxi Cosi i-Size Familyfix 3
There are many features to this base which make it a great choice. It’s compatible with Maxi Cosi’s Group 0+ and Group 0/1 seats which means you can continue to use it as your baby grows. It can be easily attached to and removed from the ISOFIX anchor points and once it has been installed, you can just leave it in your car.
An adjustable support leg which automatically snaps into the correct vertical position to keep the base in place is a great additional feature: it stops the seat tipping forward in a crash.
The car seat is easy to fit on top of the base, and light and sound indicators will tell you when it’s installed correctly. It has i-size in its name which means it is compliant with the European safety standards and can be used rear-facing until your child is four years old. It is suitable for children from 0-18kg and from 40-105cm.
Buy now £169.00, John Lewis
Cybex Base Z i-Size Rotating Car Seat Base
A rotating car seat base really does make life a whole lot easier, especially as your child grows and gets heavier. This Cybex base allows you to swivel the seat to face you and the car door so you can lift your baby in and out without putting your back out! This makes this base a great option if you use your car a lot.
The seat is compatible with the Cloud Z i-size car seat which can rotate 180° and the Sirona Z i-size for older children which can rotate 360°. If you are using it with the Sirona seat, the full swivel means you have the choice of having your child either forward-facing or rear-facing. It is easy to install as it clicks onto the car’s ISOFIX connectors and an indicator will let you know if it’s been done correctly or not.
Buy now £188.95, John Lewis
Silver Cross Dream i-Size Base
Silver Cross have been creating innovative and stylish baby products since 1877 which gives you some reassurance when choosing to buy from them.
The base is designed to connect to your car’s ISOFIX anchors with one click and it’s also easy to remove with its two release levers. It has four indicators which helpfully turn green when it’s correctly installed. It also has a vertical leg which connects with the floor to add extra stability and security and also has a green indicator on it.
It’s compatible with the Silver Cross Dream i-size car seat which is sold separately and costs around £230. The Dream i-size car seat is only suitable for babies aged from birth to around 15 months which means you would need to buy another product when your baby gets bigger.
Buy now £169.00, Boots
Joie i-base ISOFIX car seat base
This is a simple and easy to install car seat base at a great price.
The base is compatible with the Joie Gemm and Joie Juva Group 0+ infant carriers and as the name states, it fixes to the car’s ISOFIX anchors. While this base is less costly than others on this list, it doesn’t scrimp on safety features. It has coloured-coded indicators to let you know that it has been fitted correctly. It also has a foot prop which adds extra stability and can be adjusted for different vehicles.
Joie’s products usually receive really positive reviews so this base with one of the car seats mentioned above would be a great option for families on a tighter budget.
Buy now £89.95, Uber Kids
Nuna i-size Pipa Next Car seat base
This Nuna product is on the pricier end of the sale, but it’s packed with features that make it worth parting with the extra pennies.
The base has coloured indicators and a stability leg to help you install it correctly. Made from resilient, shock-absorbing plastic, this base works hard to keep your baby safe if an accident were to occur. There are 13 ISOFIX positions which will provide a custom fit for your vehicle.
It also has something the Dutch company calls a five-second ‘True Lock’ installation to ensure it’s attached properly, and auto-deploy side impact protection wings which open once the seat is installed.
Buy now £140.00, John Lewis
Maxi Cosi FamilyFix 360 Car Seat Base - Essential Black
This is another car seat base designed to reduce stress and backache for parents. It’s a great choice if you don’t want to buy another base when your baby turns into a toddler. It is suitable rear-facing until four years old and forward-facing from 15 months.
This is another base with a 360° function which allows you to face your baby when lifting them in and out, and it can be operated single-handedly, if needed. There is a TravelSafe rotation lock which gives you extra peace of mind that your baby is safe in the rearward-facing seat.
The base is compatible with the Pebble 360 (Group 0+), Coral 360 (Group 0+) and Pearl 360 (Group 1) car seats which must be bought separately. The base also has a TravelSafe rotation lock which means you can’t switch to rearward-facing travel until the child is 15 months.
The base has visual and audible indicators to tell you when the seat has been attached properly and it also has a support leg to give some extra stability.
Maxi-Cosi has long been the go-to company for car seat safety and it’s easy to see why. The price of this base may put some people off - and the fact that it weighs 8kg - but being able to use it until your child is four is a huge bonus.
Buy now £209.99, Boots
BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size Base
This is another excellent car seat base which fits to the ISOFIX anchors in your car and has indicators to let you know it’s been installed correctly. One unique feature of the BeSafe base is that it offers adjustable leg room using an adjustable brace bar and was voted ‘Best in Class’ for the growing child in a rear-facing position. Note that the brace bar can only be used with the older age iZi Modular seat.
People who have bought this base have also praised it for the large accessible buttons to attach it to the ISOFIX connectors - izi by name and easy by nature! It’s suitable for use from birth to four years old and compatible with BeSafe’s izi baby and toddler car seats.
Buy now £177.46, UberKids
UPPAbaby i-Size Mesa Car Seat Base
UPPAbaby is known for its stylish and practical buggies and this is another innovative product from the American brand. The base is compatible with the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat which is suitable up to 78cm and a maximum of 13kg. It has similar features to other bases on this list, such as an easy-to-read graphic display with five indicators and audio confirmation that it’s been installed properly. It also has an audio alarm to indicate if the load leg moves out of position and a low battery level warning indicator too. This will give adults peace of mind that their child is safe and secure on every journey.
The only drawback of this product is that it is quite bulky which could mean space is restricted on the backseat, especially if you have more than one child.
Buy now £174.99, John Lewis
Britax Baby-Safe ISOFIX Base
Our final option is from Britax with a base which has many features designed to make life easier for people with children.
This Baby-Safe model has an easy release button at the front which makes lifting the carrier off much less stressful. Removing car seats from bases can often involve reaching over the child at awkward angles to press buttons so this will be welcomed by many customers.
Like others on this list, this base comes with indicators which go green when it’s correctly installed and a support leg for increased crash protection. One helpful feature is that the support leg folds up under the base making it easy for storage in the boot when you’re not using it.
The base is a great price for a product which will suit Britax car seats for babies from birth to 13kg.
Buy now £119.99, Halfords
We’ve chosen the Maxi-Cosi FamilyFix 360 base as our top choice.
A rotating seat is a huge bonus when it comes to using a car seat. It stops you from having to contort yourself into weird positions to release the seat when lifting it off the base and makes it easy to strap your baby in as they can face you. Yes, it is quite a heavy base but most bases stay in the car so once it has been fitted, it’s unlikely to be moved. The base is compatible with the Pebble 360 and Pearl 360 car seats which always come out top when it comes to comfort and safety for babies. This also means it’s designed for long-term use because a child’s seat can remain on it until they are four.