The car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make before the arrival of your baby. Luckily for you (not!), it is also one of the most complicated and often overwhelming buys. At times, it may well feel like you need an engineering degree to navigate the process - but you will get there!
One consideration is whether or not you want to be able to transfer your baby from car to pram in its car seat. Often, it makes being out and about with a newborn that bit easier - and means, crucially, if they’ve fallen asleep you don’t need to wake them up to get them out the car.
Sounds ideal? Well these kinds of pram attaching car seats often have a shorter shelf life than their static counterparts. Most are only suitable from birth to about two years, compared to from birth to up to 12 years old. This means you’ll inevitably be shelling out more cash.
While there is no right answer, here we tackle the pros and cons of both types - and scroll below to find a few of the best on the market.
Car seat safety - what do I need to know?
First things first, safety and legality. In the UK, all children must use a car seat until they’re 12 years old or more than 135cm tall.
This article is specifically about newborn seats - so ones that are safe to use from the moment you drive away from the hospital. All newborn seats are rear facing for safety. Legally, babies should only turn forward once they weigh at least 9kg.
All car seats must adhere to either of two safety standards: ECE R129, which is the latest regulation, or ECE R44. The former are called iSize seats and are Isofix - the term used for how they are installed into your car using hidden attachments that you will not have noticed unless you have a baby. Most new car seats on the market in the UK are R129.
While iSize are fitted depending on your child’s height, ECE R44 seats are fitted based on your child’s weight and often fit to the car using just a seatbelt. This is essential if your car doesn’t have Isofix fixings. Since 2006, most cars have had to have Isofix fittings.
The different safety standards categorise the size of the seat differently. So, for this article, the seats will be either iSize baby – suitable from birth to 85cm or about 15 months - for R129. Or Group 0/0+ – suitable from birth to 13kg or about 15 months - for the R44.
It is not generally recommended that you buy a car seat second hand - unless you know it has not been in a car accident (i.e you get one from a close family member or friend).
What are car seat bases?
A number of car seats - whether they attach to the pram or not - have bases, meaning they come in two parts - the base and the seat itself. Once you buy a brand’s base, you will - on the whole - not need to upgrade it as your child grows. This is the case for both pram attaching and static car seats. Some are sold separately - so watch out.
How essential is a spin function?
In recent years, car seats that spin - i.e. from their backwards position to facing the door so you can lift the baby in and out with greater ease - have become increasingly popular. It is also a feature in car seats that last you through from newborn rear facing to toddler forward facing for obvious reasons.
While spin is not essential, for newborns it is incredibly handy! However, there are only a handful of seats that spin AND lift out and attach to the pram. So you might have to make some tough decisions on what is more important.
Can I get a demonstration? Or some fitting advice?
I went to all of the major car seat retailers in the UK to see what kind of advice they gave and the facilities they offered. Halfords offered by far the best service. Shoppers can turn up and ask for guidance from a specially trained team member (or book if you prefer) who will take you through the car seats and show you how they are fitted to your car. If you buy, they will also fit it - and should you change cars or want some reassurance, you can pop back in at any time to see another expert.
Some brands have apps or online consultations for this service.
What are the benefits (and cons) of a static car seat that doesn’t fit on to my pram?
These seats tend to be more cost effective and will last you longer. Not only are they, on the whole, a bit cheaper, you don’t have to replace them as often. This means better value for money.
For those who don’t drive much or live in central London, I would suggest the seat-to-pram function is less important than to someone who uses their car a lot. And you’ll likely have more money in the bank because of it.
Which models should I look at?
What are the benefits (and cons) of a car seat that does attach to my pram?
Obviously, they offer more travel flexibility especially if you are a regular driver. On the whole, they are lighter even with the base and are easier to move from car to car as well.
Official advice suggests a newborn shouldn’t be in a car seat for much longer than two hours to protect their developing spines. So again - if you’re not in and out of a car a lot you should consider if this function is for you.
Above all, CHECK the brand you pick fits on to the chassis of the pram you have bought. Sounds obvious, but brands often offer “complete travel systems” where you buy the seat, pram chassis and attachments all together in a bundle - and therefore don’t make it that obvious what other brands you can use their seat with. Especially pertinent if you have a second hand pram.
Which models should I look at?
SILVER CROSS DREAM ISIZE (£410)
Find out more below
STATIC CAR SEATS: Joie I-Spin 360 I-Size Car Seat
Joie is a stalwart car seat brand and this is probably one if it’s best known - and best rated seats. As its name suggests, it spins all the way round so is suitable for rear facing and forward facing ages and comes with a number of removable inlays meaning it will fit both your baby and your toddler.
It has various fool-proof features, including an installation indicator to show you it is secure and a mechanism meaning it cannot spin front facing while your baby is still small enough to need to be backwards. A good, solid investment that will last you to the age of about 4.
Buy now £299.00, Halfords
Silver Cross Motion All Size 360
Silver Cross is one of the longest-running and historic baby brands on the market. This innovative seat will last you from newborn to 12 years old - that’s right. This is a one-purchase option that will no doubt appeal to a lot of parents.
It spins, allowing for forward and backwards driving, has a number of inlays - offering eight head rest positions and three recline positions for newborns - that will protect babies through to young children. There’s also a stow-away harness suitable for each of the various ages. If you want to buy a car seat and be done with it - here is your best bet.
Buy now £375.00, Amazon
Nuna Todl Next
Nuna is rapidly establishing itself as THE celebrity baby brand - with everyone from the Kardashians to Katherine Ryan using Nuna. The range all work from one base whether you plan to buy a seat that attaches to a pram or not. Worth noting - the base will set you back about £200 on top of the seat.
The Todl is suitable for children up to about 18.5kg. It has five recline positions and a shoulder harness that expands with each of the six headrest positions.
Buy now £300.00, John Lewis
ATTACH-TO-PRAM: Cybez Cloud Z Isize Rotating Lie Flat Baby Seat
Cybex is a highly regarded German brand that is regularly hailed as the gold standard for car seats. It is also a rare beast - it spins AND can fit on to the pram. Again, the base is sold separately - so factor in an additional £200 for that. But that will be usable on all other Cybex products in the future - including the Cybex Sirona Z - which is the brand’s best-selling static seat - should you decide to stick with them. Cybex are compatible with a variety of pram brands as well (usually with an adaptor) meaning you don’t have to go down the travel system route.
This model can be changed to a lie-flat position outside of the car (great for newborns) and has a newborn inlay that can be removed. Regardless, it will only last you until about the 24-month stage. As you’ll be taking this out on your pram, the seat comes with an XXL hood UPF50+ sun canopy - offering sun and wind protection when you are out and about.
Buy now £239.00, Halfords
Silver Cross Dream i-Size
The stylish beautifully designed Dream i-Size will fit on to your pram and it is easy to see why it is award-winning. It is made from naturally anti-bacterial bamboo fabrics are super-soft and breathable, great for sensitive newborn skin. However, is only compatible with Silver Cross prams. So if you don’t have a pram from the brand - or plan to pick one up - it is not for you. It also doesn’t spin.
The seat is suitable until about 15 months or about 13kg - and Silver Cross has a service where they will collect your old seat once you are finished with it and recycle it. This service, the only of its kind in the UK, means it wont end up in landfill.
There is also the Silver Cross App - which will help you install and check the seat is in your car correctly. Handy if you move from car to car or get a new motor.
Buy now £176.57, Amazon
Nuna Pipa Next
This is a great option for people who are in and out of cars a lot as the seat itself is super lightweight - about 3kg - meaning moving from the car to the pram easy peasy. It is also compatible with various pram brands.
The car seat can be used with a belt path as well as its usual base installation meaning you can use it in a taxi or a friend’s car.
This is the second age group from the Nuna brand - there is also the Cari which is a lie-flat car seat modelled on a carry cot hat can attach to your pram chassis.
Buy now £230.00, John Lewis