WHEN DO I NEED IT? From birth.

WHAT IS IT? A sturdy rear-facing Group 0 or 0+ seat with an integral 3- or 5-point harness for your baby that fits into your car using either the seat belt or Isofix fittings (either with a base or simply using the integral Isofix fittings).

WHY DO I NEED IT? A baby car seat is essential for transporting your baby safely – and legally – in a vehicle. You’ll need it from birth, in fact, the hospital will not let you go home without one! Many Group 0 or Group 0+ seats also have a carry handle, so you can easily transport your baby in and out of the car.

FEATURES TO CONSIDER This is one vital piece of kit that you should always buy new rather than second-hand, as a second-hand seat might be compromised through exposure to the impact of an accident. Ensure the car seat conforms to the safety standards in your country (the ECE R44.03 and R44.04 standard is the United Nations regulation to which all car seats must conform to offer optimum side impact protection). It is also highly recommended that you keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, as this has been shown to be safer for children up to the age of four. Although you can fit your seat using the car seatbelt, a more reliable option is to use Isofix (International Standards Organisation FIX points, to be precise) LATCH or similar, to provide a more foolproof “plug-in” system for fitting the seat swiftly, simply and, most importantly, safely.

Since 2006, all new cars are manufactured with inconspicuous attachment points in standard locations; Isofix-compatible seats have latches on the back to lock onto these mounting points with a simple click-and-push system

Some car seat models convert from rear-facing baby seat to child seat then booster, so will last you across multiple stages, however while these generally perform brilliantly in one category, they generally don’t perform as well across all categories (usually the baby/infant category).

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? None really – you will need a Group 0 or 0+ rear-facing seat for your baby, though you can opt for one of the baby seats that comes with special adapters (to buy at extra cost) to make it compatible to fit onto a pram chassis as a travel system for greater convenience. There are some infant car seats with unique features: the Maxi-Cosi Pebble has a unique ‘stay-open’ harness that makes it super easy to get your baby in and out of the seat without the usual fiddling with harness straps, while the gorgeous looking Kiddy Evolution Pro offers five height adjustments, and the Cybex Sirona has been designed to be used rear-facing from birth up to 18kg or around four years.

SEE THE FULL ‘NEW BABY CHECKLIST’ FEATURE HERE for all those other baby essentials…