How to choose the right car seat for your baby or toddler
Dan PowellEditorial, heycar
Buying a children’s car seat can be a daunting task. There are hundreds to choose from, in a wide variety of styles and sizes. We’ve spoken to car seat safety experts to give you the lowdown on finding the perfect seat for your child.
Work out your child’s weight and height
Child seats are grouped by the age and size of the child. Without this information, you’ll find it very difficult to find a child seat that is perfectly fitting for your baby or toddler. So, before you start looking for a car seat, put them on the scales and measure their height.
Armed with this valuable information, you can work out the most suitable child seat weight group (listed below).
Car Child Seat Weight Groups
Weight range: up to 10kg (22lbs)
Age range: birth to 9 months
Weight range: up to 13kg (29lbs)
Age range: birth to 15 months
Weight range: up to 18kg (40lbs)
Age Range: birth to 4 years
Weight range: 9-18kg (20-40lbs)
Age range: 9 months to 4 years
Weight range: 15-36kg (33-79lbs // 2st 5lbs-5st 9lbs)
Age range: 3-12 years
Weight range: 22-36kg (49-79lbs // 3st 7lbs-5st 9lbs)
Age range: 6-12 years
You should always choose a child seat according to your child's weight and height. The age range is a general guide and shouldn’t be treated as an absolute. You’ll also notice that the weight ranges of the seat groups crossover. Top tip: if you can’t decide which group to go for it’s always safer to keep a child in the lower group for as long as possible.
You can also buy ‘1/2/3 group’ seats, which cover the entire spectrum, adjustable to convert from a baby seat into a booster, as well as the ‘i-Size’ setup that covers from birth to around four years old.
Choose the right child seat for your car
Now you’ve established your child’s size, it’s time to find the right seat for your car. But before you start, it’s important to note that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for children car seats. Some car seats will not fit certain makes or models of car, which means you need to do some research before shopping around for a seat that fits your child and your budget.
To save time and hassle, we've created a brilliant Car Seat Chooser that makes it easy to see which brands of car seats are compatible with your car so you don’t need to shop around many different websites.
To Isofix or not Isofix - that is the question
The Isofix anchor system has been around for many years. In 2013 it became a legal requirement for carmakers to fit them as standard. Isofix works by latching the children’s seats into the car, to create a secure link between the two. However, you don’t have to fit a car seat via Isofix - you can also use the seat belt to fix it. We explore the differences between the two here, in our Isofix vs seat belt guide.
Don’t forget yourself
Choosing a car seat can be a little overwhelming, and it’s easy to forget yourself in the whole shopping process. But the seat will need to be compatible with you. Can you lift it? Is it easy to fit? Can you use your car comfortably when the car seat is positioned behind the driver’s seat? These are all important questions you should ask before buying.
A reputable children’s car seat seller will be happy to talk you through a few options. They should also give you a demonstration that will run through the fitting process for your car. Try a few out with an expert and pick one you’re most comfortable with.