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20 July 2021

Swivel car seats for babies and toddlers

What are rotating or swivel car seats and why are they popular? Find out which baby and toddler rotating car seats we've tested and what our experts think
Hannah Fox

If you've ever contorted yourself into strange positions to get your baby in and out of their car seat, or huffed and puffed while trying to turn and reinstall your rearward car seat to face forward, the benefits of a swivel child car seat are clear.

The good news is that there are now more models than ever on the market that have this handy feature.

Head straight to our child car seat reviews for a full selection of the best we’ve tested.

The best swivel car seats in our tests

  • 80%

    This child car seat is an extended rearward-facing swivel seat that has been tested not just to the i-Size R129 regulations, but also the Swedish Plus Safety test. Read our full review to find out what this is and whether this child car seat has also impressed in our own tougher-than-the-regulations Which? crash testing.

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  • 79%

    If you’re looking for a baby car seat to use as part of a travel system, then this Best Buy baby car seat is worth considering. It gets an excellent five stars for safety in our crash tests, and when used on a pushchair this car seat can recline into a lie-flat position that’s better for babies. When used with the base this seat can also swivel 180 degrees, making it easier to place and remove your child from the seat.

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  • 78%

    This i-Size car seat gets a good four stars for overall safety. It has a 360-degree rotating base so it can be used rear or forward-facing, and the swivel feature also makes it easier to put your child in and remove them from the seat. The side-impact panels automatically pop up when the harness is tightened so you never drive off without them activated.

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  • 77%

    This i-Size car seat is approved for use with babies measuring 45 to 87cm tall, which is from birth to around 18 months. As well as being a swivel car seat, it’s travel system compatible and comes with an 11-position headrest and a padded insert for younger babies.

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  • 75%

    This baby and toddler car seat is approved to the latest car seat regulations and is an updated version of one we've previously tested. It can be used rear-facing until your child reaches four years old and features a handy 360-degree swivel design, which should make it easier to get your child in and out.

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  • 75%

    This car seat and Isofix base has a 180-degree swivel to help you put your baby or toddler in the car seat. It’s suitable from birth up to about four years old, and it gets an excellent overall safety rating of five stars in our crash tests. It sits securely on the seat when installed, and the harness works well and is very easy to adjust.

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(Table last updated July 2021)

Need a car seat for newborn or young baby? Find out which are the best baby car seats.

Rotating toddler car seats to avoid

  • 38%

    This multi-group seat is difficult to install and it had disappointing crash test results whether it’s used rearward-facing or forward-facing. In our tests this seat scored poorly for frontal-impact when used rearward-facing in Group 0+/1 mode and forward-facing Isofix Group 1, as well as belted-only in Group 2/3 mode for older children.

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Swivel child car seat sideways

What are swivel car seats?

A swivel baby car seat is one where the seat can be rotated on the base. 

The base is usually installed using Isofix connectors (so make sure you have this option in your vehicle), although there are some bases that can be belted in.

The swivel feature is added to either help you put your child into the seat, as you can turn it towards the car's door, or to make it easier to switch between rearward-facing and forward-facing seat positions, or both.

Some swivel seats will rotate a full 360°, while others will move in a 180° degree semi-circle. 

This usually means that a 360° car seat can be turned not just to aid the installation of your child, but so you have a choice to have them both rearward or forward-facing. 

A 180° seat can only turn to one side or the other, and the feature is mainly to aid getting your little one strapped in.

Check out our selection of swivel car seat reviews.

Swivel child car seats

Things to consider when buying a rotating car seat

Ease, convenience and safety are the main reasons that parents choose a car seat with a swivel function. But before you go out and buy one, here are some key things to consider about a swivel or rotating car seat.

How does it rotate – 180° or 360°?

As we mentioned earlier, some swivel seats will turn in a full circle, while others will only move within a semi-circle.

How heavy is it?

As most rotating car seats are attached to a rotating base, they’re very heavy to move around – most will weigh more than 10kg. This is something to bear in mind if you have to move the seat between cars.

Is it easy to rotate?

Lots of swivel car seats are turned by simply pressing a button or lever and it swinging round while still attached to the base. However, there are some models which require you to unclick it from the base to twist it around so it’s forward facing.

What regulations is it approved to?

Most rotating car seats will be installed via Isofix connectors on the base. However, you should check what regulations it’s approved to. R44 is the older regulation and most swivel seats will be group 0+/1. R129 is the newer i-Size regulation with tougher crash testing and will usually last your child until they measure 100-105cm (around age four).

How much does a swivel car seat cost?

Most swivel baby car seats are designed to last your child for a few years, so tend to be relatively expensive – usually between £200 to £400 depending on the brand and features it has.

Get more information on the difference between the two car seat regulations by reading our guide to i-Size child car seats.

Putting a child in a swivel child car seat

Is a rotating or swivel car seat safe?

As long as you’re able to install the seat correctly, it should hopefully be a safe car seat. We would always recommend you keep your child rearward-facing until he or she is at least 15 months and preferably longer.

Some swivel car seats are extended rearward facing up to the age of four, and crash tests have shown that keeping your facing backwards for longer is much safer for your baby or toddler.

However, one danger of swivel car seats is that some can be turned forward-facing when your baby is still too young without anything to stop this happening. Look out for car seats that have a mechanism to stop this happening – we’ll mention it in our reviews.

If there is no way to stop the car seat being rotated to the forward-facing position too early, it loses marks in our tough crash tests because of the potential for misuse.

For more information read our guide to the best extended rearward facing car seats.