The best child car seats
For children up to the 4th birthday.
Seats for kindergarten and school age.
Child seats that grow with your child
Flexible. Can be used for a long time.
Safe backward travel. Greater space requirements.
Seating for the little ones.
Seat cushion without backrest. Inexpensive emergency solution.
Advice on child seats
Best protected by i-size, growing rarely top
Key facts at a glance:
- two standards: body weight (ECE R 44) and body size ("i-Size")
- Price-performance comparison: even expensive seats can be defective
- very good baby carriers allow backward transport up to 15 months
- Growing seats in large group I-III are only conditionally recommended
- Isofix connection is generally safer than mounting with a belt
- Well-known brands for safe Maxi-Cosi (baby car seats) are Britax, Joie, Cybex, Kiddy and BeSafe
"Concord Vario XT-5" as an example for a growing Group I-III seat. The level of protection of a child seat that grows with the child often provides only average. (Source: concord.de)
How do test magazines proceed when testing child seats?
If the auto motor & sport child seats rated, various dummies are also waiting for their use, testers also check handling, comfort for the child and whether the operating instructions have reserves for intelligibility. All test magazines, however, put child seats of various sizes on the test sled, whether car seats for babies from birth, child seats up to four years (group 0 / I or group I), somewhat less often so-called reboarder, which are only or optionally mounted back into kindergarten age in the vehicle ; Child seats in large groups II-III or those that grow with the child throughout their entire childhood (groups I-III) must also provide an at least satisfactory level of protection; a poorer test result would result in the lack of security having a greater impact on the overall rating.
What is striking with regard to the test history for child seats is that the measuring methods with test sled and child dummy have become increasingly complex; This enables new insights into accident safety and technical developments in vehicle construction to be gained, for example with regard to the operation of a child seat. Last but not least, new test methods take account of changes in the legal situation. For example, the entire test bench with the test body, including all impact scenarios, must comply with the strict i-Size test standard (ECE R 129).
Since a child seat also has to score points in daily operation, handling and ergonomics are incorporated in the quality assessment with a fixed proportion. Especially with the mostly heavy and bulky reboard child seats, such as the Axkid Wolmax model, seat installation and conversion to other vehicles are critical factors. The testers expect lightweight, easy-to-attach models and belt systems that do not twist or have to be threaded through hidden tabs on the child seat; In general, especially with rear-facing seats, the testers focus on the space available for the legs and the visibility outside.
Do not be blinded by the advertising of the manufacturers: Parents do not always benefit from having complex belt or Isofix systems in front of them. It goes without saying that the testers assume that a child seat must also be safe with regard to the design-related risk of incorrect operation. This means: Even people who are otherwise not familiar with child seats must be able to install them safely. With tests for PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), certain plasticizers, formaldehyde, flame retardants or phenolic compounds, the testers finally track down harmful substances that could harm children’s health.
Child seats with side impact protection
- A good 2.0
- A good 2.0
- A good 2.2
Inexpensive but good: which are the best child seats without Isofix?
The Cybex shell "Cloud Q" protects babies well even without Isofix. (Image source: cybex.de)
- In the category baby car seats without Isofix, the Maxi-Cosi child seats Citi or Pebble stand out positively (test 6/2016) – and the Cybex Cloud Q even did slightly better at Stiftung Warentest (edition 6/2015) without Isofix basis than with Isofix base Q-fix.
- The Stokke iZi Go Modular by BeSafe (a twin of the BeSafe iZi Go Modular) was in the test (test 6/2017) with the Isofix base (iZi Modular i-Size Base) even one grade worse than without the Isofix station.
- The Cybex baby car seats Aton 5 and Aton 5 with Isofix base Aton Base 2 (test 6/2017) shared a good placement in the upper range of notes – but also a price range in the three-digit range. The same result for the baby car seats GB Idan and GB Idan with Isofix base Base-fix: The Stiftung Warentest came to a good judgment regarding safety, the price difference of the online retailers extends over a high double-digit amount.
- Good toddler child seats for mounting with the car belt are rare in the test landscape. Most of these seats for children up to about four years are in the medium range of grades. In Group I-III for children up to twelve years of age, the Cybex Pallas M SL is a good and therefore recommended representative of the belted category (test 6/2017).
Which are the best child seats from birth with very good accident protection?
A small selection of i-size baby car seats:
What advantage make child seats turn?
The development of swivel child seats has two forms. On the one hand, as toddler seats that can be fitted forwards and backwards and can be stowed in the car for up to four years; on the other hand, as a rotating baby car seat, but with a focus on ease of use: this is about getting in and out quickly and comfortably buckling up without deep bowing thanks to the rotatable car seats. The latter are very popular with parents – and examples such as the Recaro Zero.1 Elite, Nuna Rebl Plus i-Size or Joie spin 360 show the efforts of manufacturers to support parents in using the seats as well as possible. But the advantages are often theoretical, as user opinions show: The usefulness of rotating toddler seats such as the Maxi-Cosi Milofix, GB Vaya i-Size or Cybex Sirona M2 i-Size fails due to too little legroom for the little ones, often having to do with two and a half years new seat. Customers usually find baby car seats that can be turned to the door convincing – and the additional price is relativized, since a subsequent seat only becomes due after about three to four years. Baby car seats, including those for children up to 15 months, have to be replaced much earlier.
Checklist, installation tips, test results
Key facts at a glance:
- Classification according to body weight (previously valid norm groups) or body size (i-size)
- i-size seats compatible with i-size-capable and almost all Isofix cars
- Installation with a seat belt or (additionally) Isofix
- not every seat fits into every car – trial installation and trial sitting are indispensable
- Baby seats always backwards, subsequent seats up to four years optional
What do I need to know about standards, sizes, age and weight??
Graco Milestone All-in-One: a single child seat from birth to the end of the child seat requirement? Testers advise against security reasons. (Image source: amazon.de)
More and more i-size child seats are being launched, and even for larger children up to 150 centimeters or around twelve years old, the range of seats that are no longer by weight is increasing by height to be grouped. The general rule of thumb of the Stiftung Warentest is that babies should travel backwards in a baby seat for at least 15 months. This is how the impact of an impact is absorbed over the backrest, where it is – heavily damped – distributed over a large area over the upper body. Group 1 or i-size seats up to 105 centimeters are suitable for children between one and four years, and a group 1-2-3 model for children from 9 months to 12 years or from 9 to 36 kilograms. Children between 15 and 36 kilograms can use a group 2-3 seat, preferably a booster seat with a fixed backrest, to travel with them.
Can’t I just buy a combi seat? How do test magazines assess growing child seats??
Classify child seats: Tabular overview of groups and sizes
- From birth to 10 kg / 13 kg body weight (group 0/0 +)
- From birth to 18 kg body weight (group 0/1, for children up to 9 or 18 months)
- From 9 kg to 18 kg body weight (group 1, for children between 9 months and 4 years)
- From birth to 25 kg body weight (group 0-2, for children up to 7 years)
- From birth to 36 kg body weight (group 0-3, for children up to 12 years)
- From 9 kg to 36 kg body weight: (group 1-2-3, for children between 9 months and 12 years)
- From 9 kg to 25 kg body weight (group 1-2, for children between 9 months and 7 years)
- From 15 kg to 36 kg body weight (group 2-3, kindergarten to school age)
- i-Size up to a maximum of 105 cm in height (from birth to 4 years)
- i-size from 100 to 150 cm in height (approx. 4 to 12 years)
- i-size from 61/67 to 105 cm height (approx. 1 to 4 years)
In Germany, children up to 12 years and under 1.50 meters tall need a child seat. From this point on, children can use the vehicle’s normal three-point seat belt.
Handy, cheap and light, but nonetheless “not recommended”, according to auto, motor und sport, booster seats like the Baby Relax Manga are. The problem is the lack of side support and side impact protection. (Image source: amazon.de)
How do the test magazines react to seat increases without a fixed backrest??
Buying child seats: Checklist for visiting a specialist dealer
- Only child seats with test standard ECE 44-03 and 44-04 and may be used in Germany.
- Not every child seat fits in every car. Child seat manufacturers show in the so-called vehicle type lists exactly which model can be installed in which car.
- The seat belt can be tightened comfortably and without fumbling?
- The belt clicks into place with a click?
- Test sitting: optimally guides the car’s diagonal seat belt over the collarbone and pelvis?
- Seat reducers in the smaller groups (0/0 + and 0-1) minimize lateral displacement of the body and prevent possible contact with parts of the seat shell.
- Does the seat have side impact protection (heavily padded cheeks in the area of the pelvis, shoulder, head)?
- Can the seat be comfortably adjusted to the size of the child? (important for smaller and growing child seats in groups 0-1, 1, 0-2 and 1-2-3)
- Also not unimportant: the seat is so narrow that there is room for several seats next to each other?
- Is the webbing sufficient? This is particularly important for the rear-facing baby car seats without Isofix. Larger child seats can also use a lot of webbing if they have to include both the seat and a child wrapped up in winter.
- Is the distance between the back seat and the front seat sufficient? If the foot space is scarce, reboarders for children up to four years of age are excluded, in extreme cases even a baby seat.
- For Isofix seats with a support leg: is there a storage compartment in the footwell in front of the child seat? The manual for the vehicle or child seat states whether the support foot stands up safely there.
- For Isofix seats with Top Tether: The vehicle has an easily accessible Top Tether retaining eyelet, for example in the center behind the headrest?
Install child seats correctly: from jump test, Isofix and belt attachment
Child seat in group 2-3 with Isofix: Isofix hooks at the bottom of the seat increase grip when cornering and when driving empty. (Image source: cybex-online.com)
Cornering grip. A disadvantage of Isofix is that these seats only fit in approved vehicles. An alternative installation with the vehicle belt is usually possible, but the Isofix advantage is then lost: more comfortable handling, stronger connection and safe installation without errors.
A tight seat also has a significant share in the level of protection of a child seat. The so-called jump test reveals whether this is the case: If you push the child seat firmly into the seat cushion before buckling up, it has to jump up after unbuckling – then it sits firmly enough. Nothing should slip or tip over, so only seats with a firm footing and a solid connection to the vehicle in the “accident safety” division achieve good or satisfactory results.
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