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Buying Your First Car Seat

Updated: Apr 11

Your child's car seat is an important safety device, which you are legally required to have if you or anyone else transports your child by car. The current law* requires that if your child is travelling in an i-size (R129) car seat, they have to rear face until they are over 15 months. All children need to use a car seat (there are legal exceptions**) until they are 135cm or 36Kg or 12 years old.


There are 2 options for your first car seat


Option 1


You can get a car seat which you can carry your baby around in and put on your travel system. This is called an infant carrier car seat.


Most infant carriers can be installed with a seat belt or you can have an isofix base which clips onto the isofix points in the car and then the seat clicks on and off the base. Both ways of fitting are equally safe, however the isofix is quicker to fit. Obviously, if you do not fit the seat correctly then neither way of fitting the seat will be safe.


If you are going to be carrying the car seat to and from the car then you don't need to buy an expensive spin base. The ability to spin your seat towards you is mainly beneficial when you are putting your child into a car seat already fitted in the car.


There is a lot of information on the internet on the benefit of lie-flat car seats and the benefits for newborns. If your baby is premature then they may not fit in a standard infant carrier which generally is used from 40cm. The alternative might be a lie flat seat which can also be used as a carrycot. This will only last until your baby is 70cm or 9 kg as a car seat and until your baby can sit up as a carrycot. There are car seats that almost lie flat for baby's that are 40cm (most newborns). These seats can be heavy. The idea of the lie flat is that the baby gets better oxygen to the blood (as a mother who wore all three of my children in upright baby carriers for hours at a time, I question that) and also means that their chin won't fall to their chest which could make breathing harder. If you give your baby regular breaks from their seat and monitor them as you travel then they will be fine. Please click here to read the factsheet produced by the Lullaby Trust for advice on travelling with a newborn


Things you might want to look out for when buying an infant carrier:

  • The harness

Most infant carrier car seats come with a 3-point harness, these are two straps which you connect together and click into a buckle between your baby's legs. On a 3-point harness these straps come down over the shoulders, chest and stomach. With a 5-point harness the two straps are in a loop so when you do them up they also come over the top of your baby's legs so that the pelvis is also protected. We prefer the 5-point harness because of this extra protection.



  • The head rest

A helmet-shaped head rest will give excellent protection for your baby's head. Don't worry if the head rest seems small, although a newborn's head is approximately 40% of their body weight, they are still little. Another good head rest is one that is made of force absorbing material.




  • Seat weight

Infant carriers can vary in weight, the difference is only a few kilograms, but by the time you have added a baby, they can get pretty heavy. Some people are more comfortable lifting than others. If you have to have a c-section then obviously this will factor into your ability to carry your baby around in their seat.





  • Pushchair Fitting

Universal car seat adapters
Universal car seat adapters

If you are planning on putting the infant carrier on your travel system and it is not the same brand as the pushchair, make sure it can fit on universal car seat fittings. The car seat adapters are particular to the model of pushchair you own, but very often they will fit different models of car seat. If the adapters have a u shape at the top then they are a universal fitting and you'll need to make sure your seat will go with that. You can buy a travel system with the infant carrier, or just check before you buy. All our infant carrier car seats will fit a universal adapter.


Pros of having an infant carrier:

  • You can transport your newborn around without having to disturb them when they are asleep in their car seat

  • It fits on your travel system

  • You can put you baby in the seat and take them out of the seat where it is convenient to you

Cons of having an infant carrier:

  • The seat will only last the first 12 - 18 months (on average) and then you are going to have to buy another car seat.

  • It is easy to carry your little one in their car seat in the first few months, but babies grow very fast the first year and they will get heavy to carry around before they have outgrown the seat.

  • If you have to have a c-section you are not going to want to be carrying your car seat around for the first few weeks.

Option 2


You can get a car seat which stays in the car all the time. There are a variety of options that will do this from newborn. Sometimes parents worry they will have to wake up their baby every time they want to put them in or take them out of the seat. babies generally are very adaptable and will get used to whatever routine you have. If they are asleep and you take them out of their car seat to put them in a pram/carrycot/baby sling they will soon get used to settling back to sleep. However, you can get a BeSafe Izi Transfer, which is a cloth carrier that you can harness your baby into and use it to move them where you need to safely whilst allowing them to continue sleeping.



A spin seat can be useful to get your baby in and out of the car. They are particularly useful if you suffer from back pain as they remove the need to be lifting and twisting your spine at the same time. Spin seats are generally fitted with isofix. They can go from newborn up to 105cm and between 18-20Kg (approximately 4 years old.) They have a 5-point harness as standard. Make sure you are buying the seat with the baby insert. Some models come with it as standard but some you have to make sure you buy the version for newborn. If it is suitable from 40cm then it will have a newborn insert.


If you don't feel you need a spin seat then we would definitely recommend looking at extended rear-facing (ERF) car seats. These seats are rear facing only. This is the safest way for your child to travel and we recommend keeping them rear facing for as long as possible. These can be quite expensive, but over the life of the seat work out to be quite reasonable. They last until 125cm (approximately 7 years old) with varying weight limits. All of our ERF seats are Swedish Plus Tested***. The added benefit of the ERF seat is that once your child has outgrown it, their body is more mature and therefore will cope better with their final car seat, a high-back booster which uses the car seat belt.


Pros of having a stay in the car seat

  • It will last you a few years before you need to buy another car seat.

  • It will save you money because this is probably the seat you will buy after the infant carrier if you were to have one.

  • These seats tend to sit slightly higher up in the car so once you baby is able to appreciate looking out of the window, they will be able to see better than in the infant carrier (may help reluctant travellers)

Cons of having a stay in the car seat

  • It's more difficult to transport your newborn out of the car without having to disturb them when they are asleep in their car seat

  • It won't fit on your travel system

  • If you have to move it between cars, they are bigger and heavier to move around

The best advice we can give about buying your first car seat is to come and have a look at them before you buy. There are so many different ones on-line and there is such conflicting advice on social media platforms and even between manufacturers, it is better to see what you are buying. It is also a good idea to try the seat in you car before you buy so you know how it is going to fit. We are an independent retailer so we often give advice on best user experience, safety and what will suit your budget. We can also show you how to use it if you aren't sure. We offer free car seat fitting and checks.


NEVER BUY A SECOND HAND CAR SEAT FROM SOMEONE YOU DON'T KNOW. IF THE SEAT HAS BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT IT IS NO LONGER SAFE TO USE AND YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO TELL FROM LOOKING AT IT.


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