car seat guide - default thumbnail mobile
From driving your newborn home from the hospital to heading off on your first family day out, you need to feel confident that your little one is strapped in as safely as possible. But with so many types of car seats out there – not to mention changes in regulations - we know how confusing it can be to figure out what’s going to be the best car seat for your family. So, we’ve broken down the different categories of seats, the latest safety standards and the most helpful features to look out for when you’re shopping around.
car seat guide - article story block image

Which category is my baby in?

Firstly, you need to work out which category of car seat you need for your baby’s stage. Seats are currently categorised into groups, which are determined by your child’s weight rather than their age. This is known as the ECE R44 standard - a weight-based safety standard. However, this is being gradually replaced by a new safety standard called ECE R129. This new safety standard uses the height of your little one to work out what type of seat you need, rather than their weight. This is known as a height-based standard.

R129 standard – which should I choose?

While ECE R44 (weight-based) seats are currently still legal and safe, the R129 is the most up-to-date safety standard, so it’s worth looking for a car seat that meets this new standard. You’ll know your seat fits this standard if it has ‘R129’ and a capital ‘E’ printed on the label. You’ll find a huge range of car seats at Mamas & Papas that meet this new R129 standard. Some R129 car seats are also known as i-Size seats.

Which stage is my baby at?

As a general rule of thumb, the guidelines towards categories, types of seats and approximate ages are as follows:

Appropriate car seat type Age range Weight
Rear-facing car seat for infants Birth to 6-9 months 0-10 KG
Cell Birth to 12-15 months 0-13 KG
Convertible car seat Birth to 4 years 0-18 KG
Cell Birth to 6 years 0-25 KG
Forward-facing car seat 9 months to 4 years 9-18 KG
Cell 9 months to 11 years 9-36 KG
Booster seat 4-6 years 15-25 KG
Cell 4-11 years 15-36 KG
Wedge pillow 6-11 years 22-36 KG
Cell 4-11 years 15-36 KG

Confused? Our Car Seat Consultation service will help

Don’t worry if you’re feeling a little confused by the different regulations and categories– there’s a lot to get your head around. That’s why we offer a free in-store Car Seat Consultation service. Our team are fully trained and IOSH- accredited, so they know these safety standards inside out, have up-to-date knowledge and can help you find the most appropriate fit for your baby.

Our car seat consultation is also a really helpful way of checking whether your baby is ready to move on to the next stage of the car seat. Book a free 4-week car seat checkup or a free 9-month car seat checkup when your little one is ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an Isofix?

An Isofix is a base that is fitted to your car, as a way of fixing your car seat in place securely and safely. i-Size R129 seats must always be fixed using an Isofix base. While not all R44 seats need to legally be fixed in place with an Isofix base (they can be strapped in using the seat belt) we do recommend using an Isofix base regardless of whether you choose an R44 or R129 seat, as it’s easier to ensure the car seat is fixed in correctly and safely. If you’re not sure how easy a seat will be to fit, this is something we will go through during our free Car Seat Consultations where we’ll show you how it works, and make sure that you know how to do it yourself.

Is it compatible with my car?

When shopping for a car seat you will need to know if it's compatible with your car model and make. You might not find this in the car’s manual – sometimes this only recommends which car seats are approved by the car manufacturer.

Additional features

As well as making sure your family is safe to travel, car seats have plenty of other features that’ll make those road trips a little comfier. We’ve picked out our top features to look out for.

Extra Protection

Some car seats offer side impact protection, to reduce the G-force baby’s head feels in a collision. It’s worth noting that this additional protection is only mandatory in R129-approved car seats. Impact shields protect better in a head-on collision, by dissipating the force over the whole of the top of the spine, not just the neck.


You’ll be the one carrying your car seat around when it’s not in the car, so it’s important that you’re able to lift it in and out of your car easily. Some seats weigh as little as 3 or 4 kilograms, perfect for when you’re also carrying a changing bag or your shopping bags.

Travel System Compatible

To make your life much easier, look out for a car seat that’s compatible with your stroller. This means you can get your baby in and out of the car without disturbing naptime. If you’ve yet to buy your pushchair, it’s worth shopping around for a travel system that includes a stroller, car seat and carrycot – that way you’ll know that everything is compatible.

360º Rotation

This feature lets you choose whether your seat faces forwards or to the rear. It means your seat can swivel around, making it easier for you to get your little one in and out. Plus, you’ll still be able to use it when your baby gets a little older and doesn’t need to be rear facing.

Washable Fabrics

Choosing a car seat that has removable covers that you can pop in the washing machine is ideal for keeping your car seat nice and clean. All the car seats we sell at Mamas & Papas have removable covers, you’ll be pleased to know!

Adaptable Harnesses & Headrests

To make sure your little one stays safe as they grow, look out for harnesses and headrests that can be adjusted. Some will even let you remove padding to make a bit more room for growing toddlers.

Finally, a few top tips from the experts…

Adaptable Harnesses & Headrests

We understand that baby budgets can be tight and a good deal on a second-hand car seat can seem tempting. However, it’s highly recommended that you buy a brand new seat that you know complies with all of the latest safety laws. A used one may have been involved in an accident and have internal damage that you won’t be able to see just by looking at it. Without knowing this, you can’t be confident that it’ll keep your little one safe.

If you’ve got a price in mind for your seat, book a free Car Seat Consultation and let us know – we stock seats from trusted brands to suit all types of budgets.

Try it before you buy it

Another great benefit of booking our free Car Seat Consultation service is being able to get hands-on with a car seat before you buy it. We can offer you lots of advice and guidance when it comes to choosing the right seat, and our team have all been trained in the latest safety laws – you can even have a go at fitting it inside your car. Remember as well as offering this service before your baby is due, we can also checkup on your seat once your little one has arrived, to be sure it is fitting correctly (book our 4-week car seat check-up service for this) or when it’s time for an upgrade (book our 9-month car seat check-up service.)

Good to go?

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little clearer about choosing a car seat. Remember, once you’ve got the right fit for your baby’s weight or height, make sure you choose one with features that’ll make your life easier, too. We love a lightweight model – carrying all your baby bits around can be heavy enough without a car seat in tow! Once you’ve found your perfect seat, all that’s left to do is plan those family adventures.