The 10 best car seats for toddlers 2019

best toddler car seat

After four months of in-depth testing by parents, here’s our round-up of the UK’s best toddler car seats to buy right now.

Choosing the right car seat for your child can be a tricky business and once they've reached the maximum limit of their infant seat you'll need to move them up to the next stage.

Whether you're looking to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible or a seat that'll last all the way up to 12 years old, we've got you covered.

Read on as we take you through the best car seats for toddlers.

If you're short on time…

Read our toddler car seat reviews | Top tips for buying a car seat | The different types of toddler car seats | What are extended rear-facing seats? | What's the difference between R44 and R129? | Questions retailers should ask you | Why backless booster seats are a no-no | Why you should trust our reviews

How real life comparative testing makes Mumsnet Reviews unique

To help you wade through the car seat minefield, we commissioned Alison Williams to research and write about toddler car seats.

Alison is a mum to two grown-up children and has experienced almost every stage of the parenting journey. As a freelance journalist, she has written articles on a wide variety of subjects, including reviews on the best baby car seats, the best maternity pillows and the best breast pumps for Mumsnet.

Alison spent approximately 30 hours knee-deep in research to find the car seats that came most highly recommended. This involved scouring the Mumsnet forums and other review sites for opinions from parents, reviewing independent crash test results undertaken by ADAC and Which? as well as understanding car seat safety laws and speaking to experts in the field. These experts included Jan James, Chief Executive of Good Egg Safety, Nick Lloyd, Acting Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), Margaret Bolt, founder of Rear Facing Toddlers, and Claire Waterhouse, founder of Child Seat Safety.

After assessing all of the above as well as price, overall design and age range, Alison created a longlist of 30 seats, which was later narrowed down to a shortlist of 16.

She partnered with parent testers Anna and Abigail to put each seat through its paces. Anna is a mum of two who tested all but one of the seats with her youngest child (aged two). She fitted most of the seats in her 2012 Ford B-Max, but also tried some in a Vauxhall, Audi and 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Abigail is also a mum of two with a two-year-old and five-year-old who tested the Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT with both children in her 2013 Ford C-Max as it didn't fit in Anna's car.

All products were tested for a minimum of one week each, excluding additional time spent for cleaning, and scored on the following criteria: safety and stability, assembly, day-to-day use, aesthetics, cleanliness and value for money.

Five products were then awarded a Mumsnet Best badge – these are the products that we feel offer the best value for most parents. We also gave honourable mentions to five others.

And the results are in.

Here are the 10 best toddler car seats for 2019, according to parents

1. Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size: Best Overall Toddler Car Seat 2019

1. Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size: Best Overall Toddler Car Seat 2019

The Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size, an upgrade on the 2wayPearl, is an extended rear-facing seat that'll last until your child is around four years old.

Out of all the seats we tested, this was one of the easiest to install, fitting seamlessly into everyday family life and dealing well with a multitude of toddler-induced stains. A must, if you ask us.

Yes, the cover does take a little while to dry and the seat's ISOFIX base needs to be purchased separately (at a less-than-appealing £200, may we add), but the Pearl Pro i-Size still ticks a lot of boxes.

Great for parents who

  • Want their toddler to rear-face for as long as possible
  • Need extra reassurance that they've fitted the seat correctly

Pros

  • Rear-facing until approximately age four, but you can forward-face if you want to as well
  • Easy to fit with the ISOFIX base – visual and audible feedback confirms correct fitting
  • Five-point harness stays open so you can get your child in and out of the seat easily
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Four-position recline
  • Machine-washable cover, which is simple to remove

Cons

  • ISOFIX base must be bought separately
  • Has lots of padding, which means it takes ages to dry
  • Not as much legroom for rear-facing toddlers as offered by other extended rear-facing seats we tested

Product information

  • Age range: 67 to 105cm (six months to around four years)
  • Safety credentials: R129 (i-Size) – includes side impact protection
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX with 3wayFix base
  • Dimensions: 47.5 × 61 × 500-595cm
  • Weight: 7.55kg
  • RRP: £229 (3wayFix base is an additional £200)
  • Guarantee: Lifetime warranty

Read the full review

View on John Lewis & Partners

2. BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size: Best Extended Rear-Facing Toddler Car Seat 2019

2. BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size: Best Extended Rear-Facing Toddler Car Seat 2019

With plenty of legroom and failsafe installation, the BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size is a great choice if you want your child to rear-face for as long as possible.

Tested to some of the highest safety standards and offering safety features such as a Side Impact Protection (SIP)+ shock absorber, the iZi Modular i-Size should give you that extra little bit of reassurance.

While the cover is tricky to remove and even trickier to put back on, the iZi Modular i-Size is ideal if you're looking for a car seat with top-notch crash test ratings.

Great for parents who

  • Want to rear-face for longer
  • Have an ISOFIX-ready car

Pros

  • Rear-facing until approximately age four
  • Unique Side Impact Protection (SIP)+ shock absorber
  • Offers lots of legroom
  • Double-cushion insert allows seat to grow with your child
  • Easy to install
  • Harness has cushioned straps that sit snugly and securely against the body
  • Four recline positions – ideal for naps and curious toddlers who want to sit upright to look out of the window
  • Five-point harness has magnets on the straps to hold them back while you get your child in and out of the seat
  • Covers are machine-washable

Cons

  • ISOFIX base not included as standard
  • Covers are difficult to remove and put back on
  • Harness release button can be a bit stiff
  • The side impact protection (a unit that clicks onto the side of the seat) can fall off when carrying the seat to the car

Product information

  • Age range: Rear-facing from 61 to 105cm and forward-facing from 88 to 105cm (six months to four years)
  • Safety credentials: R129 (i-Size); ADAC 'Good' 2.4; Stiftung Warentest 'Good'; additional side impact protection
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX with BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size ISOFIX base
  • Dimensions: 56 × 45 × 60cm
  • Weight: 8.7kg
  • RRP: £289 (ISOFIX base to be bought separately for £200)
  • Guarantee: Two years

Read the full review

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3. Cozy N Safe Galaxy: Best Value Toddler Car Seat 2019

3. Cozy N Safe Galaxy: Best Value Toddler Car Seat 2019

If you're looking for a seat that'll take some of the stress out of those daily car journeys with the kids, then the forward-facing Cozy N Safe Galaxy could well be it.

While its cover may be handwash-only and a bit fiddly to remove, the Galaxy shines thanks to its easy-to-install top tethering system and deep padding, which will keep your toddler comfy and secure at all times.

Great for parents who

  • Don't mind a forward-facing-only car seat
  • Are on a tighter budget

Pros

  • Quick and simple to fit into the car, with indicators to show you that it's been correctly fitted
  • Five recline positions
  • Memory foam allows air to circulate to keep your child comfortable in all temperatures
  • Really comfy
  • Adjustable headrest

Cons

  • Cover is tricky to remove and can only be handwashed

Product information

  • Age range: Group 1 (9kg to 18kg or up to age three/four)
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; side impact protection
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX
  • Dimensions: 67 × 44 × 56cm
  • Weight: 10kg
  • RRP: £120, but widely available for less than £100
  • Guarantee: 12 months

Read the full review

Read next: Mumsnet reviews the Cozy N Safe Merlin

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4. Britax Römer Advansafix IV R: Best Combination Car Seat 2019

4. Britax Römer Advansafix IV R: Best Combination Car Seat 2019

The Britax Römer Advansafix IV R is a forward-facing-only car seat with a very reasonable price tag – and, best of all, you can use it all the way up to 12 years old!

With more safety features than you can shake a stick at and an installation process that doesn't require an ISOFIX base (hurrah!), the Advansafix is an attractive-looking car seat that will go the extra mile.

It's worth bearing in mind that this is a big seat, one that you'll want to keep permanently fixed in the back seat of your car. You should be able to fit another car seat in next to it, but it's unlikely you'll fit three in a row when you're using the Advansafix IV R.

Great for parents who

  • Are looking for a seat that will go the distance
  • Want the benefit of a seat with ISOFIX and seatbelt fixings

Pros

  • Seat can be fitted with ISOFIX up to 18kg, then ISOFIX and/or seatbelt after that
  • Three-position recline
  • Soft neoprene chest pads
  • Safety features include highback booster protection, SafeGuard lap belt positioner (once your child has outgrown the five-point harness) and advanced side impact protection, which fits onto the side of the car seat that's nearest the door
  • No need for an ISOFIX base
  • Height-adjustable V-shaped headrest that grows with your child
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons

  • Cover is hard to remove and takes a long time to dry
  • Five-point harness is a little stiff to release

Product information

  • Age range: Group 1/2/3 (nine months to 12 years or 9kg to 36kg)
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; ADAC – 'Good' 2.3; pivot link ISOFIX system; SecureGuard; SICT advanced side impact protection
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX with top tether (Group 1); seatbelt with ISOFIX (Group 2/3); seatbelt (Group 2/3)
  • Dimensions: 60-83 × 44 × 47cm
  • Weight: 11kg
  • RRP: £250
  • Guarantee: Two years

Read the full review

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5. Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT: Best Versatile Toddler Car Seat 2019

5. Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT: Best Versatile Toddler Car Seat 2019

In need of a car seat that can be fitted using ISOFIX or a seatbelt? Look no further than the Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT.

A great solution for parents with more than one car (and different car seat fixings), the Evolva will provide a safe journey for your child whatever vehicle they're travelling in. And, like the Advansafix, it'll last well into the pre-teens too.

While the instructions are a little confusing and the five-point harness is stiff to adjust, the versatility of this car seat more than makes up for its shortcomings.

Great for parents who

  • Need to switch their car seat between cars
  • Want a product that'll last for the long haul

Pros

  • Recline position for all ages
  • Advanced side impact protection
  • Soft-Latch ISOFIX installation system connects the seat directly to the car (no need for an ISOFIX base)
  • Highback booster protection
  • Click & Safe audible harness system
  • Adjustable headrest and harness
  • Small enough to leave room for two other seats in the back of certain cars
  • Cover is machine-washable and quick to remove

Cons

  • Instructions are a bit confusing
  • Five-point harness quite stiff and difficult to adjust

Product information

  • Age range: Group 1/2/3 (9 months to 12 years or 9kg to 36kg)
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; Advanced Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT)
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX and seatbelt or seatbelt alone
  • Dimensions: 61-86 × 51 × 48cm
  • Weight: 8.6kg
  • RRP: £240
  • Guarantee: Two years

Read the full review

View on Amazon

6. Cozy N Safe Arthur

6. Cozy N Safe Arthur

The Cozy N Safe Arthur is a hard-wearing extended rear-facing seat with an adjustable headrest and four recline positions, including a lie-flat angle for newborns.

Designed to grow with your child from birth to 12 years old, it's a great value car seat, even if you only start using it from 12 months. While it can only be fitted with a seatbelt when it's rear-facing, you do have the option to use ISOFIX points when it's safe for your child to face forwards.

With loads of padding and an in-built ventilation system, the Arthur will keep your child safe and comfy no matter their age.

Pros

  • Frame reinforced with steel and padded with high-density polyurethane foam
  • Covers are machine-washable

Cons

  • Tricky to install when using seatbelt fixings – you can only use ISOFIX for forward-facing travel
  • Heavy

Product information

  • Suitable from: Birth to 12 years – rear-facing from birth to 18kg (or four years) and forward-facing from 9kg to 36kg (approximately nine months to 12 years)
  • Safety credentials: R44/04, side impact protection, steel frame for improved structural strength and energy absorption
  • Fixing system: Seatbelt for rear-facing and seatbelt or ISOFIX for front-facing
  • Weight: 12.5kg
  • Guarantee: 12 months
  • RRP: £300 but widely available for between £159 and £200

Read the full review

View on Amazon

7. Britax Römer Dualfix i-Size

7. Britax Römer Dualfix i-Size

Britax Römer's Dualfix i-Size is designed to keep your child rear-facing from birth up to the age of four.

While it is a huge contraption that'll likely dominate the back seat of your car, it's well padded, has no less than 12 recline positions and can be rotated 360 degrees, which makes it easier for parents to get their child in and out of the seat. Talk about revolutionising the nursery run.

Pros

  • Deep protective side wings, V-shaped headrest and a height-adjustable support leg
  • Machine-washable seat cover that can be removed in a flash

Cons

  • Can be tricky to install
  • The price!

Product information

  • Age range: Birth to four years (40 to 105cm)
  • Rearward-facing from 40-105cm; forward-facing from 76-105cm
  • Safety credentials: ECE R129; Stiftung Warentest 2.1; ADAC 2.1; ÖAMTC – good; optimised side impact protection; pivot link ISOFIX system
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX
  • Dimensions: 48 × 44 × 74cm
  • Weight: 15kg
  • RRP: £430
  • Guarantee: Two years

Read the full review

View on John Lewis & Partners

8. Joie i-Spin 360

8. Joie i-Spin 360

If you're after a great all-rounder, the Joie i-Spin 360 may be just the ticket. Suitable all the way from birth until your child reaches four years old, this extended rear-facing car seat has a very reasonable price tag considering how long it lasts.

It's a bit too heavy to be carried between cars, but, like the Dualfix i-Size, it spins, which means you'll be able to wrestle a stubborn toddler into their seat without breaking a sweat.

Pros

  • Chunky padding
  • Multi-height headrest and harness system adjust simultaneously – requires no re-threading

Cons

  • Floor leg fixture is a bit fiddly
  • Design makes it difficult to carry the seat to and from the car

Product information

  • Age range: Rear-facing from birth to 105cm or four years old; forward-facing from 15 months to 105cm
  • Safety credentials: ECE R129/02; Smart Ride™ lock-off; Guard Surround Safety™ panels for side impact protection; Tri-Protect™ headrest
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX
  • Forward-facing dimensions: 65 × 58 × 51.5-76cm
  • Weight: 13.9kg
  • RRP: £300
  • Guarantee: Two years

Read the full review

View on Very

9. Kiddy Phoenixfix 3

9. Kiddy Phoenixfix 3

The Kiddy Phoenixfix 3 is a forward-facing-only option designed to last until your child is around four years old.

With a high seat position that'll satisfy curious toddlers, this seat is easy to use, simple to install and one of the lightest we tested as well.

But while there was a lot we liked about this seat, including the covers that took less than 30 seconds to remove, the bulky impact shield isn't to everyone's liking. Our tester's toddler didn't take kindly to it at first – that is until it became affectionately known as the 'snack shelf', which soon rectified matters.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to install – can even be used on an aeroplane (approved by the Federal Aviation Authority)
  • Lots of legroom and a high seat position

Cons

  • Some children don't like impact shields
  • Tricky to adjust the impact shield cushion – this replaces a traditional five-point harness

Product information

  • Age range: Group 1 (nine months to four years or 9kg to 18kg)
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; enhanced impact shield; side impact protection
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX or seatbelt
  • Dimensions: 68 × 53 × 50cm
  • Weight: 6.6kg
  • RRP: £234
  • Guarantee: 12 months
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10. Joie Every Stage FX Signature

10. Joie Every Stage FX Signature

A breeze to install and the highest scoring seat of all on test, the extended rear-facing Joie Every Stage FX Signature is a luxurious take on the Every Stage FX, an upgrade to the ever-popular Every Stage, featuring textured fabrics, faux leather touches and new and improved colour options.

Unfortunately, in safety tests carried out by Which?, the seat scored poorly in frontal impact results when used as a forward-facing Group 1 car seat, which is why it didn't make our top five. It did score well in other seat combinations however, and lots of parents rave about the value and usability this seat offers.

Pros

  • Grows well with your child – 10 position height-adjustable headrest and flexible infant insert
  • Simple to install – less than five minutes with ISOFIX and three minutes with seatbelt

Cons

  • Straps a bit tricky to tighten
  • Heavy – you wouldn't want to move it between cars often

Product information

  • Age range: Group 0+/1/2/3 (from birth up to 36kg or 12 years) – rear-facing from birth to 18kg; forward-facing from 9kg to 36kg
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; side impact protection; Guard Surround Safety™ panels provide extra side protection for the head, body and hips which fold into seat when not in use; AutoAdjust™ side wings widen as headrest is raised
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX and seatbelt
  • Dimensions: 55 × 48-52.6 × 66-85.5cm
  • Weight: 14.6kg
  • RRP: £279
  • Guarantee: 12 months
View on Argos

Mumsnet's top tips for buying a toddler car seat

  1. Don’t move your child up to the next stage seat too early – it’s safer to let them reach the limit of their infant car seat before moving them to a bigger one
  2. It's important to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible because it's the safest way to prevent serious injury in a collision
  3. Check that your new seat will fit all the cars you want to use it in
  4. Try to find a seat that has easily removable covers – toddlers will be toddlers after all

What type of car seats are available for toddlers?

1. i-Size car seat: Extended rear-facing seat

  • Suitable from 67 to 105cm (approximately six months to four years) – some can even be used from birth
  • Can typically be used in both rearward and forward-facing positions – some allow your child to rear-face until they're four years old
  • Fitted with an ISOFIX base

2. Combination seat: Group 0+/1, Group 0+/1/2 and Group 0+/1/2/3

  • Group 0+/ 1 used from birth to 18kg (approximately four years)
  • Group 0+/1/2 used from birth to 25kg (approximately five or six years)
  • Group 0+/1/2/3 used from birth to 36kg (around 12 years old)
  • ISOFIX and seatbelt fittings available
  • Some combination seats offer an extended rear-facing option for toddlers

3. Forward-facing car seat: Group 1

  • Used from 9kg to 18kg (approximately nine months to four years old)
  • Forward-facing only – it’s recommended that you keep your baby rear-facing until at least 15 months
  • ISOFIX and seatbelt fittings available

4. High-back booster with harness: Group 1/2/3

  • Used from 9kg to 36kg (approximately nine months to 12 years old)
  • Forward-facing only
  • ISOFIX and seatbelt fittings available
toddler car seat reviews

What does extended rear-facing mean and why is it important?

In a collision, a child’s head can be thrown forward with great force in a forward-facing car seat because the body is held in place by the harness but the head and neck are not. An infant’s neck muscles are weak and their head is disproportionately big compared to their body, so this can cause serious injury.

In a rear-facing seat, the force pushes the child into the seat, so the head neck and spine are protected, which reduces the risk of injury.

While they can be more expensive, keeping your child in a rear-facing position as long as you can will be generally be safer for them, especially if you know you'll be driving a lot. It also depends on the size of your vehicle and how the seat is fitted.

What's the difference between R44 and R129 (i-Size)?

At the moment, both R129 and R44 car seats are available to buy and legal to use in the UK, but eventually i-Size will replace all R44 seats.

R44

  • Classification is based on weight
  • Side-impact tests aren’t required, although some manufacturer’s do them anyway
  • Frontal collision testing is done at a speed of 50km/h and rear impact collision testing is done at 30km/h
  • Seat can be fitted using a seatbelt or ISOFIX fittings
  • Seat must be rear-facing until the child weighs 9kg (around nine months)

R129

  • Classification is based on height
  • Side-impact tests are mandatory
  • Seat can only be fitted using ISOFIX – ISOFIX reduces margin for error
  • Seat must be rear-facing until the child is older than 15 months
  • Side-impact protection, which usually takes the form of padding around the headrest and sides, absorbs the force of the impact in the event of a car accident to prevent serious head injuries

Questions your retailer should ask you when fitting a car seat

You should make sure that your chosen retailer asks the right things. Last year, Good Egg Safety conducted undercover testing and found that 89% of retailers failed to ask the key car seat questions.

Make sure they ask:

  1. Child’s weight
  2. Child’s height – if you’re buying an i-Size car seat
  3. Child’s age
  4. Your vehicle make and model and details for other vehicles you’ll be using the car seat in – not all car seats fit in all cars
  5. If your vehicle has ISOFIX – only for an ISOFIX seat
  6. If your vehicle has underfloor storage – some seats may not be suitable in cars that have underfloor storage
  7. If you seat has a top tether – a piece of seat belt material with a hook on the end that attaches to an anchor point behind the back seat

Read Good Egg Safety's full car seat safety assessment form used for all retailers.

Don’t use backless booster seats for toddlers

As of February 2017, a booster seat law came into force which states that children weighing less than 22kg or shorter than 125cm tall should not sit on booster cushions.

Backless booster seats or cushions aren’t meant for toddlers – they offer no side impact protection and they can only be used when your child reaches the height and weight limit of your toddler car seat.

If you already own a backless booster that was designed and manufactured before 9th February 2017, you are still allowed to use it. However, it is always recommended to use a high-back booster seat rather than a backless booster as they offer so much more protection and also position the seatbelt correctly on your child's shoulder.

Three-in-one car seats are an option if you want yours to go the distance. These transition from a forward-facing toddler seat to a high-back booster seat, but check that they fit in your car first.

Read our full toddler car seat buyer's guide

Why you should trust our reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust – brands can’t pay to be featured in our articles or win a Mumsnet Best award.

We spend hours researching, speaking to parents, analysing data and listening to experts before we test out the products on our shortlist.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about how we tested the products we recommend. We won't always recommend the cheapest products, or the ones with the most extra features. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the one's we'd recommend to our own friends and family.

We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful and independent review pieces like this one. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.

Our recommendations are always made entirely by our journalists without input from our commercial team, and our writers are never made aware of any business relationships.

If you decided to buy something that we recommended as a result of our research and testing, we usually (not always) get paid affiliate commission from the retailer where you make a purchase. But, if you weren't impressed with the product and decided to return it, we wouldn't make a penny.

There's no incentive for us to be lazy with our research or in our testing process. There's no reason for us to respond to pressure from retailers or brands trying to promote new products. It's actually quite the opposite, and we think it's a good system, one that keeps us focused on making parents lives' easier.

Read next: How we tested toddler car seats

All prices on this page correct at time of writing