How to Pick a Mini Car Seat

Check local and national guidelines to find an ideal car seat for your Mini. Be sure to read the owner’s manual before installing, as well.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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As a new parent, it’s important to pick the right car seat for your Mini. New Minis come equipped with the standard ISOFIX anchoring system, but you should still check the owner’s manual and research the proper guidelines to make sure your child is as safe as possible.
Having a baby is a joyous occasion, but picking out a car seat—well, it’s a little less fun. There are so many safety ratings, product recalls, user reviews, and price points that it can make your head spin. You know you have to pick a good one, no matter what, but it can start to seem like an impossible decision.
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expert
Jerry
is here to tell you that it’s not impossible, and we’ve created a handy little guide to picking the best car seat for your Mini. We’ll help you get the ball rolling by giving you some tips on how to choose and install the right car seat. In addition, we’ll tell you about some of the best Mini models for families and give you an overview of car seat laws in all 50 states. But wait, there's more—we'll also give you some tips on how to lower your
Mini insurance costs
.
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How to choose a car seat for a Mini

The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has a set of car seat guidelines for children aged 0-12 years. Your child’s age, weight, and height will roughly determine what kind of car seat they need.
For very young children, the NHTSA recommends the use of a rear-facing seat until the child outgrows the height and weight requirements (usually around age three). You’ll then move on to a front-facing seat for the four to seven age range. After that, the NHTSA recommends the use of a booster seat until your child is 12 years old or taller than four foot nine.
Still a bit unsure as to what kind of seat your child needs? Take a look at the table below:
Category
Age groups
Features
Types
Rear-facing
0-12 months and up to three years
Protects neck and spinal cord during crashes
Infant car seat, convertible seat (for 12+ months), or all-in-one seat (for 12+ months)
Forward-facing
Four to seven years OR over manufacturer’s weight and height limits for rear-facing seats
Uses a harness and tether to limit forward movement during crashes
Convertible seat, all-in-one seat, or combination seat
Booster seat
Seven to 12 years OR over manufacturer’s weight and height limits for front-facing seats
Raises the child so the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly
Combination seat, all-in-one seat, high back booster seat (for cars without headrests), or backless booster seat (for cars with headrests)
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The best car seats for Mini owners

Once you’ve settled on what kind of car seat your child needs, you still have to decide which one you’re going to buy. Before you start looking, check the dimensions of your back seats, because these measurements will determine which car seats will fit in your vehicle. Here are a few good car seats for Mini owners:
Note that several of these options are able to be converted as your child gets older, so you could theoretically buy one car seat and stick with it permanently. The NHTSA offers a
Car Seat Finder
on its website, which you can use to compare ratings for different seats. For booster seats specifically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes
booster ratings
that you can check to ensure you make the right pick.
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Installing a car seat in a Mini

After you settle on the specific car seat you need for your child, you’ll still have to install it. To do this, you’ll need to locate your Mini’s ISOFIX attachment points. The ISOFIX system, also known as LATCH (“Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children”), has been a legal requirement for all cars sold in the United States since 2002. 
Detailed instructions
are available on the NHTSA website, but the basic steps are the same no matter what kind of seat you’re installing:
  • First, read the instruction manuals for both the car seat and your vehicle
  • Use the seat belt or ISOFIX/LATCH lower anchors to connect the car seat or seat base.
  • Test the seat to see if it moves. If it moves more than an inch, secure it more tightly.
  • Make sure your child is buckled in tightly, but comfortably.
For maximum safety, it's best to
install the car seat
behind the front passenger seat. The rear seat may be the most protected from possible collisions, but advantages of the outer seats include:
  • The ISOFIX attachment points are located in the rear outer seats, not in the middle.
  • You can more efficiently keep an eye on your child
  • The outer seats protect you from traffic as you take the child in and out of the vehicle. 
Despite what you may think, it is never a good idea to put the car seat in the front passenger seat. Sure, you can watch and interact with the child better, but the front seat is not designed to secure a car seat. Your child will actually be in more danger this way.
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The best family Minis for car seats

You might not think Mini is an ideal brand of family car, given the name, but you would be surprised. While a Mini Cooper's trunk space and legroom may not rival, say, a
Dodge Grand Caravan
, Mini nevertheless offers several models that would make excellent pint-sized family cars.

Mini Countryman

Starting price: $29,100
NHTSA safety rating: 4 stars
IIHS safety rating: Good 
IIHS LATCH ease of use: Acceptable
A plus-size version of the flagship Mini Cooper, the
Countryman
still has plenty of the zip and pluck that its little brother is famous for. It also has an advanced infotainment system, surprising cargo space for its size, and a distinct, comfortable interior. If you’re determined to get a Mini for your family car, this would be a great choice.

Mini Clubman

Starting price: $29,900
NHTSA safety rating: 4 stars
IIHS safety rating: Good
IIHS LATCH ease of use: Marginal 
A hatchback/wagon that is more passenger-friendly than other Mini models, the
Clubman
exists as a middle option between the 4 Door Hardtop and the bulkier Countryman. It offers the finely-tuned handling that Mini is famous for while also including more storage space than usual. You can use the premium Harmon Kardon sound system to serenade your child with Blippi The Musical and maybe even open the panoramic sunroof to let in some rays while you’re at it. 
As a downside, the IIHS has noted that attaching a car seat to the Clubman’s ISOFIX system can be a bit difficult. Remember to read the instructions properly, and you should be fine.
MORE:

Car seat laws by state

If you want to make sure that your Mini’s car seat is in compliance with all state ordinances, check the table below:
State
Minimum requirements for adult seat belt
Maximum base fine
6+ years
$25
7+ years OR 57 inches or 65+ pounds
$50
5+ years AND 57+ inches
$50
6+ years OR 60+ pounds
$100
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$100
8+ years
$81
8+ years AND 60+ pounds
$50
8+ years OR 66+ pounds
$25
6+ years
$60
57+ inches
$50
4+ years AND 57 inches or 40+ pounds
$100
7+ years
$79
8+ years OR 40+ pounds where only a lap belt is available
$75
8+ years
$25
6+ years
$25
8+ years OR 80+ pounds OR 57+ inches
$60
57+ inches
$50 for children restraint, $30 for booster seat
9+ years OR above manufacturer’s height and weight restrictions
$100
57+ inches OR 80+ pounds
$50
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$50
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$25
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$10
8+ years AND 57+ inches
$25
65+ pounds OR 57+ inches
$25
8+ years OR 80+ pounds OR 57+ inches
$50 if child is under 80 pounds or 57 inches; $10 for others
6+ years
$100
8+ years
$25
6+ years
$500
7+ years OR 57+ inches
$50
8+ years or 57+ inches
$75
7+ years
$25
8+ years
$100
8+ years OR 40-80 pounds in seats without shoulder belts
$25
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$25
8+ years
$75
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$50
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$115
8+ years
$75
8+ years OR 80+ pounds OR 57+ inches
$85
South Carolina
8+ years OR 57+ inches *only if* belt fits correctly
$150
5+ years OR 40+ pounds
$25
9+ years or 57+ inches
$50
8+ years
$25 (minimum)
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$25
8+ years AND 20+ pounds
$25
8+ years
$50
57+ inches OR 4+ years where only a lap belt is available
$124
8+ years OR 57+ inches
$20
8+ years OR 80+ pounds and 57+ inches
$75
9+ years
$50
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How to find affordable Mini insurance

Whatever car seat you choose, take a few minutes to compare
car insurance
rates in the Jerry app. You just might save a little money before you hit the road.
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Yell, all Minis are equipped with the ISOFIX system. They may be harder to find or use in some models, though, so be sure to check your particular model’s
IIHS child seat anchor
ratings to see how accessible the LATCH system is in your vehicle.
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