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22 Apr 2020

How to shop safely for a baby or child car seat during lockdown

The latest on where you can buy a baby car seat and how to get it fitted properly

While we're being urged to only make essential car journeys during the coronavirus lockdown, if you need to go somewhere with your baby or child in tow it's still vital to use the correct car seat and ensure it's properly installed.

Which? advice is that wherever possible, you should buy your car seat from a reputable retailer in person.

This is so that trained fitters can take your seat out to your car to check it fits and install it correctly.

So whether you're pregnant and have a baby on the way, or if your child is about to outgrow their car seat, we'll help you find the best place to buy your baby car seat and what you can do to ensure it's fitted safely.

Head straight to our Best Buy car seats.

Man sitting on sofa with laptop and baby

Where to buy a baby car seat during the COVID-19 outbreak

Many car seat retailers are still selling products online during the coronavirus lockdown, but those that used to offer fitting services out of their stores will now be unable to do so.

The table below shows where you can buy car seats, and whether there are any changes to deliveries and returns from major retailers and manufacturers during this time.

Website/brand/retailerLockdown shopping options
ArgosArgos stores in Sainsbury's supermarkets are also still open, but only to collect orders that have been paid for online. Returns extended to 30 days after stores reopen.
BabystyleBabystyle direct purchase website is not available, but it also sells via retailers, so it's worth checking if they have stock.
BootsStill possible to buy car seats online via Boots.com for home delivery.
Britax RoemerBritax sells via retailers. It has confirmed there are currently no supply issues. The Britax website has a live chat function where you can ask questions about its products.
CosattoOnline purchase and delivery still available. The Spares & Repairs service has been paused. Offering a 20% discount for all NHS workers in April.
HalfordsStores aren't open for browsing car seats [or other products] but for collection only. Stores still offer car seat fitting demonstrations, guidance and fitting instructions to customers at a safe distance, it will no longer fit them in your car.
Independent retailersCheck to see if your local retailer provides online/phone support.

How to make sure your child car seat is correctly fitted

As most fitting services are suspended, it's unlikely you will be able to get your car seat installed by an expert.

However, there are plenty of resources to help ensure you've followed all the steps needed to fit your car seat correctly.

Our key tips include:

  • Read the instructions. Each child car seat is slightly different, so have a thorough read of the booklet before you even attempt to put it in your car.
  • Check online for any manufacturer installation videos and watch these.
  • Watch our car seat fitting videos to help provide guidance on fitting car seats both rearward and forward facing, and with Isofix or the adult seat belt.
  • Look out for common fitting problems once your seat is installed, including twisted seat belts, loose harnesses, not all Isofix points being connected, and seat belts sitting incorrectly across your child. Our guide provides a useful picture gallery on signs a car seat is fitted incorrectly.
  • Download our PDF guide on 10 quick child car seat checks.

Remember, it's always best to keep your child in their current car seat until they have completely outgrown it.

Don't be tempted to move up to the next size too early.

If there's still a bit of wiggle room for growth with your current seat, you may be better off waiting a bit, and hopefully by the time your child has grown out of the seat, car seat retailers will be fully operational and offering fitting services.

For more information, read our multi-page guide to fitting a baby or child car seat.

What do the experts say?

Good Egg Safety provides information on car seats and car seat safety and also organises car seat checking events across the country.

Jan James, chief executive of Good Egg Safety, says: 'It is a really difficult period for everyone during this lockdown period and we welcome Which? raising awareness of what to do if you need to buy a new child seat. New babies won't wait!

'Good Egg recommends that you buy from a quality independent retailer online as many will provide free phone or email advice to assist in installation. If you ring them first and advise them of your make or model of car and details of your baby, they can check their compatibility lists and advise which seats should be suitable.

'If you get stuck; we also operate a free Ask the Expert service on our website goodeggcarsafety.com.'

New child car seat reviews due in May 2020

We'll be publishing our next batch of child car seat reviews towards the end of May, where we'll provide the latest information on a range of baby and toddler car seats that have been put through our tough tests.

We crash test every baby, toddler and child car seat we review to reveal which ones give the best protection in a crash.

We use state-of-the-art crash-test dummies and sensors, and crash test child car seats in two specially designed crash scenarios that go beyond the minimum legal standard.

Our Best Buy car seats will tick the most important boxes - they'll have good or excellent safety scores, an easy installation process, and good ergonomics and comfort.

However, our Don't Buy car seats may have poor crash test scores, or be extremely difficult or complicated to fit, and so pose a risk of incorrect installation.

Head to our Which? car seat reviews to see our latest tested models and look out for our new reviews next month.

Read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?.