A child car seat is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your baby to keep them safe, so it’s crucial that you get the right one. So keep reading for everything you need before heading out to the shops.
Children’s bodies are different than adults and far less force is need to cause serious injury. That’s why getting the right child car seats to fit their growing body as it changes is so important.
Child car seats are split into groups from naught to three with each group designed to provide the right protection as your child grows. It’s so important that the law now says that you must use a seat for your child until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall. Wed go even further and recommend your child stays in the seat until they’re one hundred and fifty centimeters tall.
Before your baby is born you’ll need a rearward-facing group zero plus child car seat and remember you won’t be able to leave the hospital without one. This kind of seat provides the best protection for babies and toddlers.
We recommend that you keep your child rearward facing until they’re at least 15 months old, reach the weight of 13 kg, or the crown of their head is level with the top of the car seat.
Babies heads are about a third of their body weight and their neck muscles are weak so if they’re forward-facing, there’s a risk of the head being pulled by the force of the crash causing severe neck and spine injuries.
Once they’ve grown too big, they’ll need a group one child car seat, which is for 9-18kg, and that’s around 9 months old to 4 years. Once your child has outgrown a Group 1 seat, they’ll need a Group 2 or 2-3. This is for children from 15 kg. which is around three years old.
The recommended weight for each group overlaps, so hold off until your child reaches the top of the range before swapping. For a group one, two, or three child car seats, your child will also have outgrown it if his or her eyes on a level with the top of the seat. Once your child’s old enough for a Group 2-3seat its always good to get a high backed one rather than a backless one.
Our test has proven that in a crash a seat without side protection will leave your child’s head, neck, and body at risk of hitting the side of the car causing serious injury.
You can get child car seats that combine more than one group such as 1,2,3. But our tests have found that not all car seats protect your child at every single stage.
I mean there is a big difference between a 9 kg baby and a thirty-six-kilogram child. If you really want to use this kind of seat then make sure you take a look at our best buy and booster car seats.
As well as weights there three important things you need to consider when buying a child car seat. Firstly, what car will you be using fitting it in? Not all child car seats fit in all cars, so it’s vital you take it on the car going to be using. You can check it fits properly. You should also make it will fit in any other cars you plan to use it in such as grandparents or childminders.
Some manufacturer’s websites will list what cars their seats are expected to fit in, so it’s worth checking before you head to the shops. Check whether your car has ISOFIX mountings.
ISOFIX is a standard system of fitting which is in most new family cars and it basically means that you can fit the child car seat without the use of a seat belt.
Isofix seats have 2 or three points that can be fixed. There are two at the base and a third either as a strap to go over the back of the car seat or a drop-down foot.
We recommend looking for one with 3 points as its generally more secure if fitted correctly. If you get one with a drop-down foot just check that you haven’t got underfloor storage as this will stop the brace from working.
Click the link below where you can look at our fitting post where we explain this further. Will you be transporting more that one child.
If you already have child car seats make sure you take them along to the fitting so that you can check the new one will fit alongside provide them. Or if you can’t take them with you, at the very least mention it to the retailer.
How tall are you? tall people in front seats can affect how much room there is for rearward-facing child car seats, so keep this in mind while shopping.
Never buy a child car seat secondhand or buy unofficial replacement parts. It may have been weakened by an accident or have wear and tear that could make it less safe, child.
Even if you are using one from a friend or family member, it may have damage that you can’t see. We’ve tested hundreds of child car seats and found big differences between a good one and a bad one.