child car seats

Child Car Seats – How to Choose and Use Correctly

Travelling with your baby

In addition to the essential pushchair or pram, you will have to buy a child car seat if you possess a car or if you are going to be getting lifts in a vehicle without a suitable child seat. You could also choose that a baby carrier, or sling, would be considered a useful means of getting around with your baby, especially during the first weeks. If you wish to use a bicycle with your baby, you will require a child seat or perhaps a trailer.

child car seatsThere’s a wealth of baby travel accessories, made to make life easier for you when you are away from home – some examples are portable changing mats, in-car bottle-warmers and toys that affix to your baby’s car seat. More substantial items, including travel cots and travel highchairs, may be convenient to you if you ‘re going on vacation or staying somewhere overnight.

As soon as you have a baby, getting from A to B securely, comfortably and as effortlessly as you possibly can necessitates that you buy a particular amount of baby equipment especially for travelling.

Child car seats

A car seat is one of the few things you really must purchase for your baby if you are going to be travelling by car. It is illegal to transport an infant in your arms within the front of the vehicle, and never advisable, from the safety point of view, to do this within the back either. If your baby will probably be travelling in a vehicle from the first day – for instance, from hospital to your house following the birth – you really should invest in a seat prior to the birth.

Other accessories can wait, but not really a child car seat. It is also the only real item of equipment you want to buy new, unless you understand with total certainty it’s never been involved in any kind of accident. A car seat that’s been in a collision might have suffered damage that you can’t see but which might affect the ability of the seat to safeguard your child properly.

Child car seats vary substantially in price, but the cost you pay out for your seat doesn’t always relate to safety. All seats need to comply with rigorous safety specifications so you won’t be obtaining a safer seat in the event you pay more. What we pay more for is additional extras like deeper cushioning, footrests, belt hooks to keep the belt out of the way when you are positioning your little one in, and extra comfort adjustments.

Child Car Seat classifications

Makers and retailers categorize their child car seats into different types based on child weight. Confusingly, there’s two systems used within the UK to explain seat groups. Several retailers and producers categorise seats into groups 0, 0+, I, II and III, while some talk about stages 1, 2, 3 and 4. It may be useful to put these classifications towards the back of your mind when choosing a seat and also to focus rather on familiarising yourself with the kinds of seats on the market and their features, checking how the ones you like are appropriate for your child’s weight.

Child Car Seat types and sizes

You will most likely have to buy 2 or 3 types of car seats, as your child gets bigger. You will find three basic kinds of child car seat available: infant seats, combination seats and forward-facing seats. (Booster seats, which simply enhance the child up so the adult belt could be safely used, are used for older kids.) Some seats are made to remain in the vehicle, while some are lighter and much more portable. Make your mind up before you buy which would end up being most suitable for your requirements. As a starting place, for any newborn you have to buy either an infant seat or perhaps a combination seat.

infant car seatsInfant car seats

They are created for babies up to 13kg (about 15-18 months), based on the model of seat. They’re rearward-facing and also have a carrying handle in order to transport your baby back and forth from the vehicle easily. You use the adult seat belt to keep the seat in place, and your baby is secured to the seat using an intrinsic safety harness. These seats cost between $30 and $100.


  • you may use the seat to transport your baby back and forth from the vehicle
  • it’s really a useful additional baby chair for that home
  • a few can be adjusted to have a rocking motion when positioned on the ground – great for soothing your baby (they offer more support than the usual bouncy cradle and therefore are suitable for brief naps)
  • several can be fitted onto a pushchair when they are part of a travel system.


  • If you buy an infant seat, you’ll have to acquire an additional seat when your baby gets bigger new babies look scrunched-up and uncomfortable since these seats are hardly ever made to recline (for safety reasons, the seat shouldn’t be shifted to lie in a flatter position whilst in the car unless it’s been created specifically to permit this) – a head-support cushion might help which sometimes come with the seat
  • don’t expect it to double up as an extra baby carrier other than to move your baby back and forth from the vehicle – it is a fairly heavy piece of equipment and when your baby is past the newborn stage you’ll be aching to put it down.

forward facing child car seatForward-facing child car seats

These kinds of seats tend to be for more mature babies over 9kg (about nine months) and youngsters up to about 25kg (age four to six), depending on the seat. (Booster seats can also be found for kids of about four to eleven – up to 36kg.) This might be the subsequent seat to acquire if you begin with an infant seat. There’s two primary kinds – the ones that are semi-permanently fixed to the car using the adult belt and that have an intrinsic harness to secure your child to the chair, and detachable ones which use the adult diagonal belt to secure the child and also the seat in the car ‘in one’. Both have their pros and cons.

Fixed forward-facing seats have a similar look as the combination seat, but minus the rearward-facing option. You affix the seat to the vehicle interior making use of the adult belt, and your infant is secured within the seat with an integral harness. On a few versions this harness can be taken off when your child ages and replaced with the adult diagonal belt. These types of seats can generally be put into an assortment of reclining positions.


  • reclining options mean they may be much more comfortable models that allow you to remove the harness and use the adult belt for older kids tend to be more adaptable because older kids might find a harness over-restricting Cons:
  • not made to be portable
  • these seats are usually made to remain in the vehicle – so can restrict space if, for instance, you don’t have your child with you and want to give other people a lift
  • more costly than the other kind of forward-facing seat, at $40-135.
  • Portable forward-facing seats possess a simpler design compared to the fixed type, and utilize the diagonal adult seat belt to secure the seat and also the child ‘in one’. You place your child within the seat, pull the adult seat belt through a seat-belt lock close to the child’s shoulder, pull it across your child then secure it as normal.


  • the least expensive type of child car seat, at $20-90.
  • light and easily transportable so could be moved from car to car or thrown in the trunk when not being used


  • They do not recline, so younger kids could find them less comfortable
  • the simple design means that they have a tendency to not be too padded or ‘luxurious’ as the more costly forward-facing type of seat
  • lack of integral harness implies that escaping may be easier for many determined kids.

combination child car seatCombination child car seats

These can be situated to be both rearward-facing, for a young baby, or forward-facing, for any child who has the potential to sit unaided. They may be used from birth until your youngster weighs around 18kg (about age 3 to 4). The seat is semi-permanently connected to the interior of the vehicle using the adult seat belt and an intrinsic harness secures the kid to the seat. The seats have variable seat-recline positions for resting. They cost from $45 to $130.

Many have a high sitting position – great for reducing boredom in smaller youngsters by allowing them to see out of the vehicle window


  • theoretically, you shouldn’t have to buy an additional seat until your child is able to proceed to a booster seat.
  • The reclining positions help make the vehicle ride much more comfortable for any sleepy child.


  • throughout the baby-months these types of seats aren’t as transportable or adaptable as an infant seat – for instance, you can’t easily move the seat to transport a sleeping baby back and forth from the vehicle
  • older kids could find some designs restrictive and you could end up forking out for an additional type of seat sooner than you realized.

Child Car Seat Safety Concerns

Tests by Consumers’ Association (, July 2001) demonstrated that the design of child safety seats is lagging behind advancements in safety for adults in car accidents. During these tests on a range of child car seats meant for babies and youngsters up to 18kg (approximately three to four years of age), most seats did not stop neck and chest injuries in front- and side-impact crash tests.

Consumers Association have criticised the official safety test that manufacturers need to put their seats through before they’re permitted on to the European market. It says the present test mimics a fairly unrealistic and undemanding front-impact collision. In the more true-to-life 40mph front-impact test, most child car seats fared badly. Surprisingly, there isn’t any requirement for child car seats to pass a side-impact evaluation, regardless of the fact that side impacts would be the second most typical type of crash (frequently happening at junctions).

Where does this leave parents, who wish to buy a secure child car seat for their child? It is vital that you be aware that many accidents take place at a lower speed compared to 40mph at which the seats were tested, and that any correctly installed seat will offer much better protection than not using one whatsoever. Fitting the best size of seat for your car as well as for your child is really a crucial safety measure – professionals state that most child deaths in car accidents are caused by seats that haven’t been installed correctly, and might be averted if people bought the best seat for that car and invested some time to read the instructions and get to know the way the seat functions.

Child car seats, your baby and the law

Legally, you mustn’t let your baby to travel within the front of an automobile unless secured inside a suitable child car seat and, although it is technically legal for you to transport your baby in your arms within the back of an automobile without a car seat, it is far less dangerous to use one.

The seat ought to be either an infant seat or perhaps a combination seat. It has to be rearward-facing until your child reaches 9kg approximately (about nine months old) and can sit down unaided. You may then use a forward-facing seat.

Kids under the age of three travelling within the back of the vehicle are only legally required to use a seat where one is available -although, for safety’s sake, any smart mother or father would make certain one is available. Children under the age of three travelling within the front seat of an automobile should be seated in a car seat appropriate for his or her weight; an adult belt by itself isn’t satisfactory.

Best Buy child car seats

Regardless of the overall poor performance of child car seats within the tests described above, four seats did emerge as Best Buys since they performed much better than numerous others and possessed the fewest disadvantages. They were the following.

  • Concord Baboo – this seat got the very best score of all of the seats on test, and it is light and simple to fit. It has a cutting-edge ‘anti-roll’ feature made to stop the seat turning upside down in a collision. Offered by Halfords.
  • Jane Matrix – it was the only seat on test that may be fitted in the rear of an automobile within the carry-cot position and may also be used in the standard placement for an older kid. Not really widely obtainable so ring Jane for stockists.
  • Bebe Confort Iseos – this had great instructions, and it is simple to adjust and secure a young child into. On the negative side, it’s a little tricky to fit at first and also to keep thoroughly clean. Available from Tesco (You and your child).
  • Britax Renaissance – this seat was simple to alter, secure and clean, and also the instructions were excellent, however it is pretty weighty and difficult to fit. Offered by Mothercare, Babies `R’ Us, Halfords and Tesco (You and your child).

Other factors to think about before buying a child car seat

  • Your child’s weight, instead of his / her age, may be the deciding factor when choosing or using a car seat.
  • Choose removable, machine-washable covers – the seat can get filthy and machine washing is the greatest method of keeping the covers thoroughly clean.
  • Seek advice from the sales staff how the seat you want works with the make and model of your vehicle. There isn’t any industry standard, meaning there isn’t any child seat that matches all cars – even though most designs will fit the majority of cars
  • Do not employ a second-hand child car seat. Even though a seat looks undamaged, if it has already been in a collision it might not safeguard your child. It might also not be designed to existing safety specifications and you are therefore unlikely to have the fitting instructions.

Fitting a child car seat properly and maintaining safety

Request a demonstration, if at all possible. Halfords, for instance, offers a child-seat-fitting service in the stores. An experienced member of staff will demonstrate how you can fit the seat correctly inside a customer’s car. Other baby-product outlets give a comparable service – the Lilliput chain, for instance, will fit your child car seat even though it hasn’t been purchased at one of their stores.

Stick to the instructions thoroughly when fitting the seat yourself and keep a duplicate of the instructions in the vehicle. Don’t purchase the seat if you discover the instructions tough to comprehend. Providing clear instructions is really a simple but crucial measure that manufacturers should be getting right.

  • Make certain the child seat fits firmly on to the car seat – there ought to be hardly any forward or sideways motion.
  • When the seat includes a harness, make certain it is properly adjusted each time you use it – only one or two fingers ought to fit between your child’s chest and the harness. Place the harness buckle over the hips, not over the abdomen.
  • If a diagonal seat belt is used, this ought to rest about the child’s shoulder, not on his / her neck.
  • The seat belt buckle ought to be straight when locked. It shouldn’t rest on the car-seat frame because this could potentially cause it to snap open in an automobile accident.
  • By no means modify the seat – for instance, with the addition of extra padding.
  • Never ever modify the seat harness or buckles because this may affect the quick-release mechanism.
  • In the event you have an automobile accident, buy a brand new seat – the present one may happen to be damaged even though this isn’t noticeable.
  • Secure your child correctly for each journey, regardless of how short.

Safety Issues

  • Infant seats and portable forward-facing seats are ideal for use within the back or front of the vehicle; combination and fixed forward-facing seats can usually be used within the front seat however this depends upon the model of child car seat.
  • Under no circumstances use a child car seat on the front passenger seat fitted with an airbag. In the event of an accident, the airbag could result in the serious injury or death of the child. Airbags are specifically dangerous with rearward-facing child car seats.
  • The safest spot for a child’s car seat is the middle of the back seat (by doing this it is safeguarded from side impact). If it is difficult to put the seat here, an outside rear seat may be the next smartest choice. The front passenger seat ought to be your last choice, although a lot of parents think it is more practical to have a young baby alongside them instead of behind them.

Child car seats on aeroplanes

The safest method for a young child aged between 6 months and two years to travel on a plane is using a child restraint – either a child car seat supplied by you or perhaps a restraint supplied by the airline. This is actually the theory. The truth is that your child car seat won’t automatically be appropriate for use on the flight, and not all airline carriers supply their own restraints.

If you are going on the airplane with a child under three, talk through the seating choices with the airline or tour operator. In the event you are planning to use a car seat, make sure that it’ll be suited to use on the aircraft. You will have to site early if you wish to use an airline’s child restraints (and don’t forget that not all offer them) – if you just turn up there might not be enough on the plane.

Sitting on the parent’s lap with a loop-extension belt, that is what a lot of children end up doing, is the second best with regards to safety. (Children between the ages of two and three should sit in their own individual seat having a special belt, or in a child restraint. Babies under 6 months old are too small to sit in a separate seat, so typically must sit on your lap – however some aircraft possess a limited number of ‘cradles’ built in certain sections of the aircraft. Once your child is three, there aren’t any special requirements.