Is your child in the right type of Car Seat?
Choosing your child’s / children’s car seats can feel like a minefield. There so are many brands, qualities, models, sizes and features. A key element that may also impede your choice of which car seat to go for is what the rules are.
The regulations have changed a couple of times over the last few years and a lot of people feel that it’s not always clear which type of car seat our children should be in. The law currently states that ‘children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 (4ft 5) centimetres tall, whichever comes first.’
Even with this guideline in place, there are so many options:-
- Front facing
- Rear facing
- Height based seats
- Group numbers and weight based seats
- Detachable bases
- Booster seats
This is an international standard which makes attaching your child’s car seat more straight forward. Instead of the car seat being strapped in with a seat belt, there are ISOFIX connectors or anchor points built into both the child’s car seat and the car’s passenger seats. All cars made from 2006 onwards are fitted with an ISOFIX system.
In the UK there is a plethora of front facing car seats to choose from. Always ensure that the harness or seat belt is not loose or twisted.
Very little children, in proportion to the rest of their bodies, have heavy heads. Therefore if he / she is in a car involved in a collision, being in a rear facing car seat is a safer, gentler way for them to be, rather than forward facing when their head will be violently thrown forward. Some feel that a child should be in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible. And now with the i-Size regulations, it is much easier to keep your child facing rearwards until they’re at least 4 years old, possibly longer
i-Size or Height based seats
i-Size car seats are based on your child’s height, rather than their weight and is a European standard which aims to make buying a car seat easier and are fitted into a car using the ISOFIX system, reducing the risk of car seats not being fitted properly.
Group Numbers or Weight based seats
Here is a guide of suitable car seats depending on your child’s weight and age range.
In February 2017 the regulations changed, preventing new backless booster seats or booster cushions coming into the market for children shorter than 125cm (4ft 1) or weighing less than 22kg (3stone 6.5 pounds). If you are already using a booster seat, it is not illegal for smaller children and can still be used. However bearing the safety of your child in mind, the evidence shows that high backed car seats offer more protection for children aged between 4 and 7 years than backless ones. Here is a video on the current legislation and how car seats are fitted
Front or Back?
Unless the front passenger seat airbags have been deactivated, it is illegal for a child to sit in a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat. Apart from that, infants and children car seats can be placed in a front passenger seat. However, according to Child Car Seats it is safer to put them in the rear of the car. Also bear in mind that your child will also be more protected in the back seats, in case of an accident.
Of course, always check with your car manufacturer to make sure any car seat you plan to get fits your car before you buy.