Preparing for the arrival of a new addition to the family is a really exciting time – as is watching your child grow. But, at the top of your priority list is keeping your little one safe and sound – especially when it comes to buying a car seat.
There is so much to do and so much to think about right from the moment you discover you are pregnant. If it’s your first time round, then every step of selecting the right equipment for your child might be a daunting task. One of the biggest areas that confuse parents is how to choose and use a child car seat. Current law states that a child has to be in an appropriate child safety restraint from birth to 135cm tall or 12 years (150cm tall in Europe). Recently, a new legislation was passed that reinforces the importance of rearward facing child seats. This is called ‘iSize ECE R129’.
What are iSize seats?
iSize seats are purely ISOFIX seats and will fit all iSize ready cars – you will need to check to see if your vehicle is iSize ready. Or, if you select an iSize seat, check the fit with a vehicle application list which will simply tell you yes or no. All current seats on the UK market approved by ECE R44:04 and are arranged into groups. Following the advice below will guide you to making the right choice for your child, your car and you:
What is the age and weight of the child?
This information tells you what group of seat you need to be looking at:
Group 0+ is from birth to 13kgs (approximately 15 months). This will be an ECE R44:04 seat
Group 0+/1 is from birth to 18kgs (approximately 2 years). This could be ECE R44:04 or iSize
Group 1 is from 9 to 18kgs (approximately 9 months to 4.5 years) This will be an ECE R44:04 seat
Group 2,3 is from 15 to 36kgs (approximately 4 to 12 years) This will be an ECE R44:04 seat
Group 1,2,3 is from 9 to 36kgs (approximately 9 months to 12 years) This will be an ECE R44:04 seat
For babies: rearward facing
Many parents wish to move baby forward facing far too soon. An infant carrier can take baby up to 13kgs (approximately 15 months old). A baby’s bones are really soft and take a long time to strengthen. Your baby is safest during travel rearward facing. In the event of an impact, the shell of the seat is designed to protect your baby, absorb impact and distribute the force away from your baby while your baby’s spine and vital organs are protected by the inner part of the shell. You are advised to leave your child rearward facing for as long as possible. Your baby’s legs are meant to bend in the seat and the seat will still fit your baby until the top of its crown reaches the top of the seat. You should invest in your infant carrier and use it to its maximum – it’s safest for your baby.
Does your vehicle have ISOFIX?
ISOFIX is the international standard for fixing points for child safety seats in passenger cars. ISOFIX minimises incorrect car seat fittings and makes fitting of the seat easier for the user. To locate ISOFIX fixtures, you need to look for the two metal square hook fixings at the back base of the vehicle seat. Sometimes these are highlighted with icon badges, or they can be hidden away between the cushions. Your vehicle manual should also be able to help you.
What car do you own?
Not all seats fit all cars and you will need to check this with the retailer you purchase the seat from. You can also research on manufacturers websites for vehicle compatibility. Vehicle seat shapes all differ as does the available space a child seat can be positioned. Airbags, placement of vehicle seat belt points, under floor storage are all elements that need to be considered to avoid purchasing a seat that could be an incorrect fit.
Consider your lifestyle
Do you have one car or two? Will the seat fit both cars? Do you need two ISOFIX bases for your infant carrier? Will anyone else need to know how to fit the child seat, for example grandparents, nursery staff, aunties and uncles? Take the list of vehicles your car seat will need to fit with you to your retailer so that they can check these points for you.
Get professional advice how to use and fit your child seat
For maximum safety, it is advised that a retailer who specialises in child car seats shows you how to use and fit your child seat. They will be able to point out what to look out for and what different situations in fitting will mean for the seat and your child. This advice will give you peace of mind that the child seat is fitted correctly and you have done the best for your child. Your retailer will also advise you to check the fitting regularly to ensure you maintain a safe and secure fit.
Transporting more than one child
If you are transporting more than one child, you will need to make sure that there is sufficient room in the vehicle for the different types of seats you are using.
It is NEVER recommended to purchase a second-hand child seat. The history of that seat is not known.
There are so many forms of media that provide a wide source of information, so you should use it for your research before you visit the shops to help give a clearer picture as to exactly what you need to purchase. You can visit consumer websites, magazines, general internet, manufacturer’s websites, and retailer websites. When you arrive at the shop, you will feel that you know what you need, the questions you want answered and leave with the correct choice of seat.
Taking care of your purchase
There are some simple maintenance tasks you can do to maintain the quality and life of your child seat. After all, you will be using them for a long time:
- Keep the working parts of the seat clear from debris (buckle and harness areas)
- Check the fabric maintenance, it is possible to machine wash some car seat covers
- It is recommended that when the child seat is not in use it is still secured into position to protect other passengers and parents in the event of a collision
- Encourage your child to want to sit in the seat. As children get older, there can be more resistance to wanting to sit in a child seat. Children need to be aware that it is the law, the same as adults having to wear a seat belt. There is a reason for it, in the event of an accident it could save your life.
About the author
RECARO Child Safety is a leading manufacturer in Child Seats. RECARO empowers discerning consumers with revolutionary seating solutions featuring the same life-tested technology found in the world’s finest automobiles and aircraft. RECARO child safety products are designed for ease of use, exceptional comfort and unrivalled protection, providing families the confidence born of 100 years of precision German engineering.
Safety is paramount at RECARO all seats are tested beyond the requirements required by law. Ease of use is a focus area for our business, it is important that parents are able to install seats correctly, safely and with minimum effort. For more information on RECARO and our range of seats, visit www.recaro-cs.com