10 Best Toddler Car Seats

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Buying a toddler car seat can be stressful.

Firstly, there are a huge number of different seats on the market and it can be almost impossible to work out which is the best — and even to know what features make a good car seat.

And then, of course, there’s all the technical jargon and legal specifications.

Added to all that is the pressure of knowing how important this buying decision is — unlike most other baby and toddler purchases that we make, buying a car seat is solely concerned with the safety of your child while you’re travelling.

It’s enough to make your head explode 🤯

Or maybe consider just walking everywhere instead…

To try and help you make the best decision for your family, we’ve rounded up a list of the best toddler car seats on the market right now.

We’ve also got the down-low on what you need to know before buying.

Let’s get straight into it…

Things to Know Before Buying a Toddler Car Seat

We’ll shortly get into all the little details of what makes the best car seat for toddlers, but there are a couple of things worth knowing before we jump in.

Namely, a couple of the technical features: i-Size and ISOFIX.

If you’re already well acquainted with them, feel free to skip forward to the Best Seats rundown below. If not, we’ll break it down for you quickly.

Remember to double check that the car seat you choose is compatible with your car before you buy.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is an attachment system that allows you to reliably and safely connect your car seat directly to the car without using a seatbelt.

Seatbelt installation is notorious easy to get wrong which can lead to a lack of security and protection for your child in the event of a car accident.

With ISOFIX, connectors on the seat are directly fixed into the metal-bar ISOFIX connectors that are integrated with the car’s chassis.

Most ISOFIX car seats also have a support leg from the base to be fixed snugly against the car floor, ensuring the seat doesn’t tip forward.

What is i-Size?

i-Size is something you’ll come across time and again when searching for car seats, and at first glance it seems as if it’s just some term that allows brands to charge a lot more.

Essentially, it’s part of a new regulation (R129) from Europe that is aiming to provide children with safer car seats.

If you see a seat that says it’s i-Size compliant, that means:

  • It requires your child to stay rear facing until 15 months (vs 9kg in the old regulation). Rear facing is definitely the safest way for children to travel until this point as it reduces pressure on their not-yet-developed necks in the event of a collision
  • It has side impact protection, as well as front and rear impact protection (vs just front and rear impact protection in the old regulation)
  • It fixes to the car using ISOFIX (the old regulation allows for seat belt installation as well)
  • It is classified according to the height of your child (vs their weight in the old regulation)

i-Size has not replaced the old regulation (R44/04), so you don’t have to buy an i-Size seat if you don’t want to.

Plus many of the i-Size features have already been integrated into seats built to the old regulation — ISOFIX, extended rear facing and side impact protection in particular.

i-Size seats are generally more expensive than non i-Size, but a lot of parents do appreciate the extra peace of mind they afford for their safety features. It’s worth spending a bit more for if your budget allows. If not, take a look at some of the seats that integrate some of the i-Size features instead as they’re usually more wallet-friendly!

Another thing to note is that i-Size is currently only a feature in Group 1 (or Group 0/1) seats as older children have stronger necks and are better able to withstand the pressure from a collision if they’re forward facing.

Car Seat Groups Explained

Although i-Size now requires their car seats to be classified by height instead of by weight, you’ll see ‘groups’ mentioned in almost every car seat listing regardless of what regulation they conform to.

Here’s a little breakdown of what they mean.

GroupWeight/HeightApproximate Age Suitability
00-10kgBirth to 9 months
0+0-13kgBirth to 12-15 months
0+/10-18kg/to 105cmBirth to 4 years
19-18kg/to 105cm9 months to 4 years
1/29-25kg9 months to 6 years
1/2/39-36kg9 months to 12 years
2/315-36kg4 to 12 years

Best Toddler Car Seats

Cybex Sirona S i-Size

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 0+/1 – Birth to 105cm tall
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes
Spin360°

Why We Chose It

  • Full 360° rotation
  • Extended rear facing available until 105cm tall
  • 12 different headrest positions
  • 5 backwards and 3 forwards recline positions adjustable by one hand
  • 5 point safety harness
  • Very easy ISOFIX installation
  • Compatible with SensorSafe
  • Materials and padding feels comfortable and luxurious
  • Seemingly better value than the Sirona Z as the base is included

Potential Cons to Consider

  • It’s very hard to find fault with this brilliant seat!

Silver Cross Motion

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 0+/1 – Birth to 105 cm tall
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes
Spin360°

Why We Chose It

  • Full 360° rotation at the touch of a button
  • Allows for extended rearward facing
  • 5 point safety harness
  • Padding is designed in removable sections that you can remove as your child grows
  • 3 reclining positions and 5 headrest positions
  • Cover is made from anti-bacterial bamboo fabric that’s thermo-regulating, keeping your toddler warm and dry
  • Silver Cross app is very useful for installation

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Quite expensive

Cybex Sirona Z i-Size

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 0/1 – Birth to 105cm tall
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes, with Base Z (sold separately)
Spin 360°

Why We Chose It

  • Can be fully rotated 360° with just one hand
  • Allows for extended rearward facing to 105cm tall
  • 12 different headrest positions and 5 recline positions – adjustable with just one hand
  • Very easy ‘two click’ installation with ISOFIX
  • 5 point safety harness
  • Available in lots of different colours
  • Compatible with SensorSafe technology

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Base Z for ISOFIX attachment is required and sold separately, which ramps up the cost if you don’t already own it

Joie i-spin 360 iSize

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 0/1 – Birth to 105cm tall (around 4 years)
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes
Spin360°

Why We Chose It

  • 360° rotation using just one hand
  • Extended rearward facing available for the life of the seat
  • 5 point safety harness with no re-threading
  • 6 recline positions both ways and 6 position adjustable headrest
  • Grow-with-me padding allows you to adjust the seat to fit your child perfectly as they grow
  • Guard Surround Safety panels engage when harness is tightened for extra security
  • Headrest includes Intelli-Fit memory foam for extra comfort and protection
  • Easily installed with ISOFIX
  • Padding feels plush and comfortable
  • Installation indicator on load leg

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Can be easy to confuse the rotation button and recline adjustor as they’re positioned next to each other
  • Some users have found it a little fiddly at first to loosen the belt straps when needed

Nuna Rebl Basq

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 0+/1 – 4 months to 105cm tall
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes
Spin 360°

Why We Chose It

  • 360° rotation with one hand
  • Extended rearward facing available until 105cm
  • 8 headrest positions, adjustable with one hand
  • 7 recline positions
  • Integrated ergonomic footrest is great for older toddlers
  • Ventilation panels on seat shell
  • No re-thread five point safety harness
  • Simple installation with 9 ISOFIX positions
  • Less bulky than some of the other Nuna carseats

Potential Cons to Consider

  • No newborn insert

Britax Römer DUALFIX M i-Size

Age Suitability/Group61 to 105cm tall (around 3 months to 4 years)
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes
Spin360°

Why We Chose It

  • 360° rotation that makes it super easy to get your toddler in and out of the seat, even if your car is on the small side
  • Can be used rear facing all the way to 105cm tall
  • 12 recline positions in both rear and forward facing
  • Quick-remove cover is easy to clean
  • V-shaped headrest provides optimal protection and comfort
  • 5-point harness
  • Support leg is height adjustable to allow for complete stability
  • Easy to install using ISOFIX

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Quite expensive but worth the investment if your budget allows

Maxi-Cosi Titan Plus

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 1/2/3 – 9 to 36kg
Seat PositioningForward
i-SizeNo
ISOFIXYes (until 18kg)
SpinNo

Why We Chose It

  • Excellent value for money
  • Should last with your toddler for as long as they need a car seat (approximately 12 years)
  • Easy ISOFIX installation
  • ClimaFlow controls the temperature of the seat
  • Belt hooks to allow you to easily put your child in
  • 5 recline positions
  • Comfortable padding
  • 5 point safety harness can be used up to 18kg (around 4 years old)

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Not iSize
  • No 360° spin feature
  • Doesn’t feel hugely sturdy

Maxi-Cosi Pearl Smart i-Size

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 1 – 9-18 kg/105cm
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes, with FamilyFix One i-Size or FamilyFix 2 base (sold separately)
SpinNo

Why We Chose It

  • Good price for an i-Size car seat
  • Allows for extended rearward facing up to 105cm
  • Base (sold separately) is easily installed and offers interactive feedback to ensure compliance and accuracy
  • Recline positions available
  • Harness and headrest can be adjusted simultaneously as your child grows

Potential Cons to Consider

  • No spin for easy entry/exit
  • Base must be purchased separately if you don’t already own one
  • No newborn insert

Britax Römer Multi-Tech III

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 1/2 – 9kg to 25kg (around 6 years)
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeNo
ISOFIXNo
SpinNo

Why We Chose It

  • Offers very extended rearward facing up to 25kg (around 6 years)
  • Side impact protection
  • Installation indicators for extra peace of mind when installing
  • Adjustable width positions, headrest and harness to grow with your child
  • Premium fabric and performance chest pads for comfort and safety
  • Made in Britain
  • Easy to install even without ISOFIX

Potential Cons to Consider

  • No ISOFIX installation (seatbelt installation when forward facing/tethers and a support leg when rearward)
  • Expensive
  • No spin feature
  • Not i-Size

BeSafe iZi Modular X1

Age Suitability/GroupGroup 1 – 6 months to 4 years
Seat PositioningRear and forward
i-SizeYes
ISOFIXYes, with iZi Modular i-Size base (sold separately)
Spin No

Why We Chose It

  • Dynamic Force Absorber in head area for extra protection and security in case of a collision
  • Magnetic Belt Assistants helps to get your toddler in and out
  • Ergo-Move Shoulder Pads are super comfortable
  • Very easy ISOFIX installation using the iZi Modular i-Size base (sold separately)
  • Optical and audio installation indicators
  • Adjustable headrest and legroom
  • Recline positions available

Potential Cons to Consider

  • Base must be purchased separately unless already owned
  • No newborn insert
  • No spin feature

Why We Chose Them

The overwhelm that comes with choosing a car seat is very real, but we’ve found that you’re in the best frame of mind for decision making when you focus on 4 features:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Convenience
  • Price

Everything else is just noise when it comes to choosing the best car seats for toddlers.

We’ll go into each one in a little more depth so you can understand the background.

Safety

Safety is the headline feature when it comes to car seats, no matter how old your child is.

As we’re talking about toddlers though, there are a few easy indicators of safety in these seats.

We’ve covered it already, but opting for an i-Size seat is a quick shortcut for the brand to tell you that their seat is considered one of the safest on the market and meets all the latest safety regulations from Europe.

Is i-Size more expensive? Yep, almost always.

If you can’t afford an i-Size seat, take a closer look at the description for other safety indications. Many of the seats built to the old regulation incorporate many of the i-Size features (and are often much cheaper).

Good features to look out for include:

  • Extended rearward facing available
  • Side impact protection
  • ISOFIX installation
  • 5 point safety harness

Some of the Cybex car seats are compatible with a clip-on piece of tech called ‘Sensorsafe’ which syncs with the seat and your smartphone to alert you immediately if your child’s seatbelt is unbuckled, if the ambient temperature gets too high and even if they’re left alone in the car.

Certainly useful tech if you are planning a long drive with your toddler.

toddler car seat

Comfort

Right after safety comes comfort.

After all, you can have the safest car seat in the world, but if your toddler refuses to sit in it (or, more likely, screams the whole time they’re in it 🤪), then what’s the point?

There are plenty of little features that add up to a comfortable seat. Generally, you’ll get more of these little features the more you spend — but there are good compromises to be found, even in cheaper seats.

Take a look out for these:

  • Multiple recline positions (great for longer journeys if you want your toddler to seat)
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Plush padding
  • ‘Grow with me’ padding inserts that you can add and remove to custom fit your child’s shape
  • A footrest (great for older toddlers)
  • Climate control technology

Convenience

We love toddlers (most of the time!) but there’s no doubt that they can occasionally, ahem, be a bit of a handful when you’re getting them into the car seat.

As such, you want to make sure that the seat you end up buying allows for easy entry and exit — no faffing around and getting them frustrated!

  • 360° spin feature allows you to get them in and out quickly — and saves your back
  • Belt hooks mean you’re not digging around under their body trying to find the belt
  • A ‘no re-thread’ safety harness stops the belt getting twisted in the buckle, which can be unsafe if left

Also under the umbrella of ‘convenience’, we’d recommend investing in a seat that’s easy to install.

There’s nothing worse than the pain of installing a bulky car seat and then not knowing if it’s been done correctly or not.

Ideally, your seat will have the following installation features:

  • ISOFIX installation (much more reliable to be done correctly than seatbelt installation)
  • Installation indicators on the ISOFIX connector and support leg
  • Accompanied by an easy-to-follow video or app for extra assistance

Price

The final horseman of buying a toddler car seat is price.

There are no two ways around it: car seats are expensive.

But thankfully, there is a range of prices on the market so you should be able to find something to fit your budget, even if you have to compromise in some places.

Remember that it’s always better to buy a car seat brand new rather than getting one second-hand or as a hand-me-down as that’s the only way you know that the seat hasn’t been damaged in a previous accident or by mishandling.

And it’s also worth considering the purchase as an investment.

If you’re buying for a toddler, the seat should last until they’re about 4 (if it’s a Group 1 seat), or even all the way up to 12 if you go for a Group 1/2/3 seat. Like the best pushchairs, they are an essential investment.

You’re putting your child’s safety in the hands of this car seat every time you get in the car, so it’s definitely worth stretching your budget if you can.

Easy ways to lower the price of a car seat are to go without i-Size and 360° spin features.

And make sure that you factor in the cost of a base if the seat you choose doesn’t have one integrated already (like the BeSafe iZi Modular X1, Maxi-Cosi Pearl Smart and Cybex Sirona Z).


What’s your recommendation for the best toddler car seat?

Head over to our advice section for more tips on travelling with a toddler!

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