Having a baby gets expensive with plenty of kit to splash out on, but a Which? survey has found that parents pay twice as much for a pushchair than what they spend on an essential piece of safety kit – a child car seat.
In February 2019 we surveyed 2,949 parents and carers who currently own and use a child car seat and 1,931 who currently own and use a pushchair.
Average spend on a new pushchair is £340.32 compared with just £119.67 for a child car seat. This rises to around £144 for a baby car seat, which is the first-stage seat new parents need to buy.
Choosing a child car seat
While pushchairs with the latest on-trend animal patterns look great in the park and are something you could use every day, a baby car seat is an essential – and legally required – piece of safety kit to help keep your baby, toddler or child as safe as possible when you’re out and about. Check out the law on child car seats.
Our advice is not to scrimp on a car seat and to get the best you possibly can. We crash-test each car seat we review, and it’s uncommon to see a cheap car seat that provides enough protection to become a Best Buy.
The newest car seats tend to incorporate the latest technology and developments, and i-Size seats, for example, are approved to the latest car seat regulations, which now include a side-impact crash test, something Which? has included in crash-testing for many years.
Many parents don’t want to fork out too much for a first-stage car seat, as our survey shows, but are willing to splash out hundreds on a pushchair. But a £300 extended rear-facing Best Buy car seat, which will last until your baby is four years old/18kg/105cm, works out around 20p a day over four years of use.
Cheap car seats
A third of parents we surveyed spent £50 or less on their child’s car seat.
We’d recommend cutting some of the cash from your pushchair purchase and investing it in your child’s car seat, which will help keep them safe. But we have found instances where you don’t always have to splash out to get great safety. We’ve found baby car seats we’d recommend that start at around £100.
Adding an Isofix base can push up the total cost of a car seat, but Isofix is designed to reduce the risk of error when installing your car seat in a car. Many car seats now come with a base you can use for multiple stages.
Group 2/3 high-backed booster seats can be a cheaper purchase. They can withstand the forces of a crash a bit better, so this is where you can save money but still get a decent seat.
Warning on second-hand car seats
It’s also tempting to save cash by buying a second-hand car seat, but there are a number of reasons why we advise against this:
- The most important thing is that you cannot tell just by looking at it whether or not it’s been in a crash.
- It could be an older model that is no longer legal to use.
- You may not get instructions, which are vital.
- You will not know how it’s been stored or cared for, which could weaken key parts such as the harness or buckle.
- You could end up with a Don’t Buy baby car seat.
If you must use a second-hand seat, only accept one from a family member or friend. And only if you are absolutely certain that you know its history, it comes with the original instructions and it’s not too old (and that the approval label on the seat is still current). Check that it’s in good condition.
And make sure that it fits both your car and your baby or child correctly.