Before you buy, make it your mission to find the safest seat by:
Researching it - and leave no stone unturned. Check out the manufacturer’s website – Graco, Maxi-Cosi and Britax all have comprehensive sites to look around. Don't forget the product reviews, and also hunt out parenting forums where the 'people in the know' will have made a comment if it's particularly bad or good.
Take a look at parenting magazines and professional review sites like 'What Car'. Most will have lists of their top 5 best car seats. They’ve done the hard work for you, so you might as well use it.
Check the seat fits - you might be surprised to know that they're not all compatible – particularly ISOFIX designs, therefore you may have to consider using the seatbelt to secure the car seat. Take a look at our ISOFIX vs seatbelt comparison later.
Weight - consider what it'll be used for. If you'll be moving the seat from one car to another, you might want to buy a lighter model to avoid putting your back out.
Combos - Pushchair/pram/car seat combo are great as you can just lift the baby seat out of the car and straight onto the buggy/pram frame. But don't be wooed by the buggy first – make sure the car seat meets your requirements too.
Safety tests - take a look at NCAP's website for a safety review of the car seat you are considering. NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) rigorously tests all car seats in all different accident scenarios. They're independent and are purely interested in the safety of the car seat.
Safety labels - make sure that the car seat you opt for shows either the orange ECE R44/04 label or the i-size label. These ensure the seat complies with the current child safety standards.