Before purchasing a child car seat, remember that your choice must comply with the law and all safety requirements. Here’s what you need to know:
If you have a newborn baby, or a child under 13kg, your child is in Group 0 and will require a rear-facing seat to support their head, neck and back.
The infant carrier will have its own integral straps, but use the seat belt to hold it in a safe and sturdy position. Some infant carriers will come with ISOFix. When installing the infant carrier, ensure to deactivate the airbag in the front passenger seat if installing in the front of the car. This is a requirement by law. Consult your car handbook when undertaking any airbag maintenance.
For children weighing 9kg to 18kg, you will need a Group 1 child seat, progressing to a forward-facing or rearward seat.
These have their own straps and impact shield, but should still be secured by seat belt. ISOfix is also available in a child seat (see below).
In the front passenger seat the airbag does not need to be deactivated, but keep the child seat as far from the dashboard as possible.
As the child grows to 15kg to 25kg, they will need to progress to a Group 2 forward-facing car booster seat. These have no integral straps and the child should be restrained using the existing car seat belts.
For children over 22kg, a Group 3 booster cushion satisfies the legal requirements. With no back, the booster raises the child in the seat and they are secured using a seat belt.
What is ISOFix?
ISOFix is the standard used to install car seats and is intended to make fitting child seats safe and easy. All new vehicles must be fitted with ISOFix points by November 2012.
During an accident, the car seat is slowed to the speed of the car and removes the strain placed on the baby’s spine and head. Any sideways, or forwards motion is also minimised.
Ask the retailer
Considering the legalities, there is a lot of information to keep in mind while shopping for a safe, secure and robust car seat. Pick a reputable shop and ask questions during purchase.
Selecting a seat
- Purchase European-approved car seats as these are the only ones legal in the UK. Identify legal car seats by checking the label, which marks ‘E’ in a circle.
- Test the movements of the seat for ease of adjustment.
- Ask the retailer: discuss your child’s weight, height, head position and the car the seat will be used in.
Installing the car seat
Before strapping your child in for a journey, test the car seat stays stable and secure. If the seat does not fit your car correctly, return it to the shop for a refund.
- Car seats should not be installed on sidewards-facing seats.
- The car seat belt should not bend over or rest on the child car seat.
- You will not need force the seat to fit the car, i.e. you should not need to change the seat belt to make it fit.
Liam Williams writes writes for the Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on subjects including finance and motoring.
*This post was a guest post from Sainsbury's Bank