Top Tips for Choosing the Right Car Seat
Staying Safe On the Road: The Top Tips for Choosing the Right Car Seat
Almost two-thirds of children are riding around in an inappropriately fitted or sized car seat. Which means kids are not as safe on the roads as they should be.
When shopping for a car seat, do you know what features and fit to look for to make sure your kids are secure?
Let’s look at the top tips to keep in mind when choosing the right car seat for your little one.
Car Seat Law
By UK law, all children must sit in an appropriately sized car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm in height, whichever comes first. If your child is taller than 135cm or over the age of 12 years, they can sit in a regular seat belt.
Forward or Rear Facing?
Babies will start out in rear-facing car seats. From newborn to 15 months old, or 13kg in weight. This is because smaller babies don’t have the strength in their necks to withstand the pressure of a head-on collision if they were facing forward.
Once your child is older than 15 months or weighs more than 13 kg, they can graduate to the forward-facing seat.
Choose by Height or Weight?
This is where it gets confusing for a lot of people. Because there are two different sets of regulations currently on the market.
The newest one is R129, or i-Size (which we’ll get into later). This is a height-based regulation. All ISOFIX car seats marketed after 2018 will fit this way.
The older regulation is R44. This is based on your child’s weight.
Both sets of regulations are still legal and safe to use. So, it’s up to you which one you go with. New parents might find it easier to follow the height-based regulations as this will become standard in time.
There are currently three main categories of car seats. They depend on your child’s age or weight.
• Group 0/0+: Rear-facing seats for newborns to 15 months old, or 13kg in weight
• Group 1: Forward-facing seats for children 9 months to 4 years old, or 9 to 18kg in weight
• Group 2/3: High backed booster seats for children 4 to 12 years old, or 15 to 36kg in weight
A cost-saving way to buy car seats is to get combination seats which cross over groups, such as combining group 0+ and group 1. These will grow with your children and end the need to buy another car seat sooner. Yet, you want to make sure these seats are not sacrificing any safety features.
Make Sure It’s Approved
An easy way to find out if the car seat you are looking at has been tested and approved for use in the UK is by looking for a few marking details.
Car seats that show an “E” in a circle have been EU-approved for use in the UK. If you’re looking for a height-based seat, look for a “R129” mark. Weight-based seats will show a “ECE R44”.
How to Fit a Car Seat Safely
As simple as it sounds, first read the manual that’s included with the car seat. All seats should come with fitting instructions and it’s important to follow it exactly. It’s also a good idea to pull out the manual to your car and look up fitting instructions from the car manufacturer.
You can also see if any of the employees at the store you bought the car seat from have training in proper fitting techniques. They can install the seat for you.
What is an i-Size Seat?
This is the R129 height-based regulation that the EU introduced to make car seats easier to fit. It aims at keeping children rear facing for longer and to provide better protection.
In fact, it uses a side impact test to make sure each seat is better protected from side impact collisions.
Brexit won’t affect this regulation at all.
Other Things to Consider
Here are some other things you should keep in mind when you’re choosing the right car seat for your child.
Secondhand Car Seats
It’s not a good idea to buy a secondhand car seat. You don’t know if that seat has ever been in an accident. If it has, it could compromise the safety of the seat.
It may also be missing parts and the instruction manual, which is crucial for making sure you get a proper fitting.
You could accept a car seat from a family member or friend only if you know the seat has never been in a car accident. And if it includes the manual and the seat itself isn’t too old.
How Will You Be Using the Car Seat?
Think about how often you’ll be lifting your child in and out of the car. If keeping your baby in a carrier would be easier, consider looking at light-weight car seats with a base that stays fastened in the car.
Or check out the ease of using a 360 Rotating and Swivel car seat.
Test Several Car Seats Before You Buy
To make sure you get the right seat for your car, try testing several different car seats in your car before you buy. Find a retailer who is willing to let you do this. You want to check the fit and the ease of getting your child in and out of the seat.
Also, have your child sit in different seats to see which one is the most comfortable and secure for them.
Modern family cars will contain ISOFIX connectors, which help make the fit of a car seat simpler. Check to see if your car has these built-in features. You may find them hidden in the cracks of the seat padding.
Make the Right Car Seat Choice for Your Family
Finding the right car seat is one of the most important purchases you can make for your child. And with these tips, you’ll have confidence knowing your child will be safe and secure next time you’re on the road.
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