Swivel car seats for babies and toddlers
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.
The best swivel car seats in our tests
(Table last updated December 2020)
Rotating toddler car seats to avoid
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.
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.
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.