Buying a car seat for your little one can be a minefield. Safety is, of course, the number one consideration for parents, but there are lots of other factors to consider. Will it attach to your stroller? Does it grow with your child from birth to toddlerhood? Does it recline into a lie-flat position for comfy sleep? These are just a few of the things to think about. To help you make the right decision, we’ve teamed up with Nuna to create a handy car seat buying guide.
What are the four different types of car seats?
Children must use a car seat from birth up to 12 years old, or until they are 135cm tall. Car seats typically fall into four different categories, based on your child’s developmental stage. Some car seats, however, cover more than one category by being adjustable. These are typically called all-stage or multi-group car seats.
CARRYCOT CAR SEAT
Carrycot car seats are suitable from birth up to around six months old. They allow your baby to lie flat in the car, combining the safety of a car seat and the comfort of a carrycot.
INFANT CARRIER CAR SEAT
Infant carrier seats are rear-facing, which has been proven to be the safest way for babies to travel. Infant carriers typically recline into a semi lie-flat position for comfortable sleep. They are also designed to be removed from the car with your little one in them so that you can carry them straight into the house, or attach your car seat to your stroller frame.
TODDLER CAR SEAT
A toddler seat is a next stage up from an infant carrier. They can be rear-facing or forward-facing, and some are designed to do both. However, it is important to note that you should keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible for extra safety.
CHILD CAR SEAT / HIGH BACK BOOSTERS
Once your child has outgrown their toddler car seat, you will need to get a child car seat. A child car seat raises your little one up, so that they can safely use the seat belt.
What is an ISOFIX base and why do you need one?
A car seat can either be installed with a seat belt or an ISOFIX base. With a seat belt, it can be difficult to ensure that the car seat is installed in the correct (and safest) position.
ISOFIX is an internationally standardised car seat fitting system. It locks your car seat base onto two metal clips called ISOFIX fixing points between the vehicle seat of your car. This reduces the risk of your little one’s car seat being installed incorrectly, increasing the level of protection. ISOFIX bases also have another touch point to secure them, helping to prevent movement in a collision. This will either be a top tether strap, which attaches to the car’s seat, or a support leg, which goes from the base to the car floor.
You will usually be able to purchase a corresponding ISOFIX base to go with your chosen car seat. However this can become expensive if you need to keep upgrading your ISOFIX every time your child is ready for the next car seat size up. It’s also not very good for the environment!
The Nuna BASE™ Next is compatible with all four of the Nuna car seats in the brand’s NEXT System™: the CARI™ Next, the PIPA™ Next, the ARRA™ Next and the TODL™ Next. This means that you won’t have to purchase a new base as your little one grows.
The BASE™ Next is super easy to install with just one click using your car’s ISOFIX points. It also has a 360 degree rotation feature making it easy to get your child in and out of their car seat. You also won’t need to bend over when you get them out! It has a display as well to ensure that you have installed the seat correctly. The green lights will only be activated when the load leg is in the correct position, the seat is attached to the base correctly, and the seat rotated into the correct position for travel.
How do I choose the safest car seat for my child?
Your child’s height or weight (not age), determines whether a car seat is suitable and safe.
The weight group standard is known as R44. This standard categorises car seats into groups based on your child’s weight. Once your little one has reached the upper limit for their car seat, it’s time to move up to the next weight group. Some car seats cover multiple weight groups as they can be adjusted.
The height-based regulation is known as the R129 standard or i-Size. i-Size is the new standard for increased safety and is gradually replacing R44. i-Size car seats have improved protection at higher forces for side and front impact and better protection for your little one’s head and neck. They are required to be rearward facing up to 15 months. i-Size seats also promote the use of ISOFIX and will fit all i-Size cars and almost all cars with ISOFIX. The length classification is also easier for choosing the right car seat.
All four of the Nuna car seats in the brand’s Next System: the CARI™ Next, the PIPA™ Next, the ARRA™ Next and the TODL™ Next, are i-Size approved, giving you peace of mind that they meet the highest safety standard.
What extra things should I consider when buying a car seat?
Once you’ve chosen the correct size car seat for your child, there are several other things you should consider.
Firstly, is your car seat compatible with your stroller frame? This is an important one, because transferring a sleeping little one from a car seat to a pram carrycot or stroller seat can be a near-impossible task. If you can lift your car seat out of the car and use the correct adaptors to clip it to your stroller frame, this can be a game changer. The Nuna CARI™ Next, the PIPA™ Next, and the ARRA™ Next car seats can all be used with the strollers in the Nuna NEXT system™.
Secondly, how lightweight is your car seat? A heavy car seat can be difficult to carry from the car to the house when your little one is in it, especially as they get bigger. The Nuna CARI™ Next, PIPA™ Next and ARRA™ Next are all designed to be lightweight and portable.
Another important thing to think about is what fabrics are used. Chemical fire retardant fabrics are not good for the environment or your little one’s skin. The car seats in the Nuna Next system are made using toxic free and sustainable fabrics including GOTS certified organic cotton, merino wool and TENCEL. These are naturally flame retardant and much better for your little one’s skin and the environment.
Comfort is also a huge factor you’ll need to consider. Nuna’s Next car seats are made using soft fabrics to make sure your little one is super cosy and comfortable. The PIPA™, ARRA™ and TODL™ all have multi position headrests and recline functions to make sure your little one is in the most comfortable position for sleep. The CARI™ Next allows your baby to lie completely flat, which is the best position for a developing spine. The CARI™ and PIPA™ Next car seats also come with the Dream drape™, to help your little one have an uninterrupted nap.
And finally, does your chosen car seat grow with your child? Choosing a car seat that has multiple harness lengths, headrest positions, and inserts can take them right through from birth to toddlerhood. The Nuna NEXT system™ offers you the ultimate flexibility with four solutions to choose from for the first four years.
So which Nuna NEXT™ car seat should you choose?
Best for: Newborn sleep and spine development
Carrycot-meets-car seat, the CARI™ Next is both comfortable and safe for your little one. The innovative design allows your baby to lie completely flat, which is the best position for spine development. Perfect for the newborn stage, it can be used from birth up to when your baby weighs around 9kg. Baby is secured with a three point harness and it comes with the Dream drape™ reducing overstimulation for your little one. It clips onto the base easily with one hand and is released simply by lifting the side lever on the car seat base. This is where it goes from clever to ingenious as it clips straight onto the pram and away you go. What we love about the CARI™ Next is that you can easily transition from car to pram without waking up your baby and also you won’t need to worry about their spine.
Best for: City dwelling families
At only 2.8kg the PIPA™ Next is around a third lighter than the brand leaders, but is still super strong. If your lifestyle means a lot of switching from taxis to the family car, then this is the seat for you. It can be used with the BASE™ Next or secured with a seatbelt to give you flexibility. PIPA™ is a rearward facing seat only. It is i-Size approved and designed with superior side impact protection built into the shell, awarding it a GOOD result in the ADAC safety testing. It comes with an adjustable headrest, a no-rethread harness, and an in-built UPF 50 Dream drape™ which attaches with magnets. It attaches easily to the Next system™ strollers and is suitable from birth up to 13kg.
Best for: Comfortable sleep
If your little one sleeps best in the lie-flat position, then the ARRA™ Next is a great choice as it has a 157 degree recline position. Suitable from birth up to 13kg, it has a total of three recline positions and 10 headrest positions, which can be adjusted using one hand. The removable head insert is made from memory foam technology allowing for a custom fit around your baby’s head as it grows. It is also lighter than most car seats at 3.5kg. It has a leatherette handle, which is not only comfortable to carry, but also serves as an extra safety feature as the high-strength material that it’s made from transfers a large portion of the crash forces into the shell and thus protects the particularly sensitive head area. The ARRA™ clips easily out of the BASE™ Next and onto your pram.
Best for: Growing with your child
The TODL™ Next takes your child right through from birth to approximately four years old. It has five recline positions and six headrest positions to support your growing little one. It can be both rearward facing and forward facing and used up until your child weighs 19kg. The safety features include Steel Strength Technology, ultra resilient, top of the line plastics and steel reinforcement which makes for a heavy duty and secure shell and there are additional side impact protection pods which can be fitted on the side nearest to the door. The memory foam cushion lining also uses energy absorbing foam which works to help significantly reduce force of impact. The TODL™ stays in your car and can’t be attached to the pram, but it’s a great option if you only want to purchase one seat to take your little one from birth into toddlerhood.