The best child car seats for older children
Child car seats are designed to protect children's soft bones and vulnerable internal organs from birth to the age of 12, or 135cm, when your child will no longer legally need to use a car seat in the UK.
In the table below we've rounded up 10 of the best car seats for children aged four and older. They're i-Size and Group 2/3 car seats that are the top-scoring models in our rigorous car seat crash tests.
We’ve also picked three of the worst Don't Buy child car seats, so you know which ones to avoid, as they didn’t provide a suitable level of protection in our crash tests.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of November 2020.
Low scoring car seats for older children to avoid
As well as recommending the best, we think it’s also important to highlight the child car seats for older kids that you need to avoid.
Below are the low-scoring car seats for kids aged between 4 and 12 we've labelled Don't Buys because the samples we tested weren’t as safe as they should be.
Child car seat law for older children
Child car seats distribute the crash forces over as wide an area as possible and protect your child from being injured by coming into contact with the vehicle interior.
According to UK law, every child must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first.
In many other European countries the cut-off is higher, at 150cm/4ft 11in, and many child car seats for older children sold in the UK can be used with kids up to 150cm tall.
High-back booster seats and backless booster seats compared
Your child's bones continue to strengthen as they grow older, and once they reach around four years old you can swap to a high-back booster seat (Group 2/3 or i-Size).
These car seats raise your child and help guide the adult seat belt across them, so that it lies properly across the chest and pelvis. They also have a protective headrest and side wings, which will help protect your child's head in a crash.
Backless booster seats can be cheaper and seem more convenient to use (especially if you need to move the child car seat between cars), but they offer very little protection in a crash, particularly if you’re hit from the side, and they have no way of keeping the shoulder strap of a three-point adult seatbelt in the right place on a child.
* In March 2020, Which? surveyed 1,800 parents with children under 12.
Video: how to fit a high-back booster seat
What are the best child car seats for tall children?
If you want to keep your in a child car seat for as long as possible for safety reasons, but they have reached or now exceed the 135cm/4ft 5in height threshold, there are still some options available to you.
We’ve tested child car seats that can be used up to 150cm/4ft 9in, and in some cases up to 160cm/5ft 3in.