Important Baby Car Seat Guidelines
If you're about to welcome a new baby into the family, you're probably doing all you can to prepare yourself.
You may have lists as long as your arm for your new baby, including clothes, bottles, a cot and much more. Did you know that one of the very first items you'll need for your baby is a baby car seat?
In fact, many hospitals now check that parents have a suitable car seat before allowing them to leave the hospital. Getting the right car seat for your child, no matter what stage of childhood they're in, is so important.
Here's a quick guide to help you make the right choices.
What is ISOFIX?
You've probably heard the word ISOFIX by now if you're an expectant parent.
That doesn't necessarily mean you'll know what it's all about. In the UK, many ISOFIX bases come as a package deal with travel systems. When you start shopping for your perfect pram, you may be asked if you want an ISOFIX base, so it's a good idea to get familiar with them.
ISOFIX is an internationally standardized car seat that makes life a lot easier for many parents. Most cars now have anchor points for ISOFIX connectors, allowing you to easily install the base.
Once the base is in your car, you'll be able to easily click in the car seat. You'll also have peace of mind on each and every journey because once the base and seat are installed, both are completely secure.
What About iSize?
iSize was introduced to offer parents an alternative to standardized seating.
Standardized seating is based on the weight of the child, but many parents were finding that their children were too tall for certain seats. iSize allows parents to choose a seat based on the length of their child in addition to the weight.
It's not a replacement for standardized seating but it can give parents a wider choice as their children grow. It also means that children can be in rear-facing seats for longer. Research has shown that young children, especially under the age of two, are safer when in rear-facing seats.
Small children, especially babies, don't have the neck strength most adults do. Babies heads are often larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies, which is why they find it so difficult to hold their heads up. In the event of an accident, a child's neck is much safer in a rear-facing seat.
What is the Law?
In the UK, the law dictates that every child between the age of birth and 12 years (or until they reach 135cm tall) should use a car seat when traveling in a car. The car seat you purchase should meet EU standards. You'll be able to find this out by looking at the label and searching for the E symbol.
Can you use backless booster seats for children?
The answer is yes, but under certain conditions. Backless booster seats are only recommended for older children. Your child needs to be over 22kg and taller than 125cm. Therefore a backless booster is never a suitable car seat for an 18-month old or younger.
If you're unsure of when you can use a booster seat for your child, it's best to get your child weighed and their height measured, then check with manufacturer guidelines.
Car Seat Groups
If you've never had to buy a car seat for a child before, car seat groups may confuse you. Once you understand what you're looking for, it couldn't be easier. For example, when shopping for a car seat for a newborn, you'd be looking for a group 0+ seat.
Group 0+ is for children between the age of birth to twelve months or up to 13kg. These are almost always rear-facing seats that can be easily carried to and from the car with baby strapped in and often connected straight to your travel system.
The car seat groups continue to grow with your child. For instance, the next group would be group 0+/1 and this group is suitable from birth to four years.
These seats can be both rear and front facing.
The car seat groups will take your child right up to the age of twelve.
Knowing Your Car Seat
There's no point in buying a car seat and storing it away until the day you need it.
You'll need to know how the seat works, if it's suitable for your car and whether you like using it. Some stores offer a free fitting service so you can watch how it's done before your baby arrives.
The last thing you'll want to be doing is figuring out your car seat when you're ready to take your new baby home for the first time. It's also useful information for grandparents or babysitters to know once your baby has arrived.
The more you know about using and adjusting your car seat, the more advice you can pass on.
Driving Safely With Children
It's easy to become distracted when you have children in the car.
Perhaps you'll be looking in the rear mirror to check on your baby. Maybe you'll be playing a car game while trying to occupy your toddler on a long journey. You may even be trying to break up a fight between siblings somewhere down the line.
While driving with children in the car, always aim to give the road your full attention. Do not use your phone while driving. Do not smoke while driving. If you need to take your attention off the road for any reason, always try to stop and pull over in a safe place first.
Baby Car Seat: Choosing the Best
It can feel like a minefield when you're trying to choose the best baby car seat for your new arrival. The good news is, there are some amazing seats to choose from. Take a look at some of the best on the market and see what other parents are saying about them.