Child car seats

Child car seats

Child car seats are the best way to keep your kids safe in the car. Research has shown that rear-facing seats improve the safety of babies and infants by up to 90%, compared to not using a child restraint at all. Older children in forward-facing seats were 80% safer than those not using a child restraint. i For these reasons, child car seats are mandatory for all children in the UK. Industry standards are being strengthened all the time, as more research improves our knowledge of car safety.

In 2015 the government introduced new European rules.ii There are now two standards—the existing Regulation 44, and the new Regulation 129 (i-Size). You don’t have to change your child seat if you already use one designed to meet the old regulations. If you would like to explore the differences in more detail, NI Direct has information on what these changes mean for Northern Ireland parents.

Types of child car seats

Child car seats are divided in four groups, 0—3, each corresponding to four broad types—rearward-facing, forward-facing, booster seats, and booster cushions. All are manufactured for the Regulation 44 and the newer i-Size specifications.

Child car seat groups

Type of child car seat

Weight range

Approximate age range

Rearward-facing baby seat

Group 0
0-10 kg | 22 lbs.

Birth to 6-9 months

Group 0+
0-13 kg | 29 lbs.

Birth to 12-15 months

i-Size
Check the manufacturer’s height range

Up to at least 15 months

Combination seat—rearward and forward-facing

Group 0+ and 1
0-18 kg | 40 lbs.

9 months — 4 years

Group 0+, 1 & 2
0-25 kg | 55 lbs.

Birth to 6 years

Forward-facing child seat

Group 1
9-18 kg | 20-40 lbs.

9 months — 4 years

Group 1, 2 and 3
9-36 kg | 20-79 lbs.

1 to 11 years

High-backed booster seat

Group 2
15-25 kg | 33-55 lbs.

4 to 6 years

Group 2 and 3
15-36 kg | 33-79 lbs.

4 to 11 years

Booster cushion (from 9 February 2017)

Group 3
22-36 kg | 48-79 lbs.
125 cm or taller

6-11 years

Group 2 and 3
15-36 kg
These seats are being phased out

4-12 years

Rearward-facing baby seats

Rearward-facing baby seats have clear advantages in the event of a crash. The most harmful crashes are head-on collisions. On average, these accidents involve the highest speeds and result in the greatest damage.

Rearward-facing baby seats provide more protection for your baby’s head, neck, and spine, than forward-facing seats. They feature energy-absorbing interiors and integral three or five point harnesses to hold babies firmly and comfortably. Make sure you take the time to fit your baby’s harness properly:

  • The top of the harness should be about 2 cm below your baby’s shoulder.
  • Tighten the harness until you can only fit one or two fingers between your baby’s chest and the harness.
  • The buckle should not rest over the child’s tummy.
  • Check the harness on each journey.

Rearward-facing seats are safer to use on the back seats of the car. Do not use them in the front passenger seat with an active passenger airbag.

For more information read the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ guide to rearward-facing child car seats

Forward-facing seats

Forward-facing child seats are used from about 9 months of age, or when the baby is around 9 kg. They feature integral five or three point harnesses or impact shields. Take time to strap your child in and adjust the harness.

  • The top of the harness should be about 2 cm below your baby’s shoulder.
  • Tighten the harness until you can only fit one or two fingers between your baby’s chest and the harness.
  • The buckle should not rest over the child’s tummy.
  • Check the harness on each journey.

Many seats have an adjustable back to accommodate different heights. It allows adjustments to the harness without unthreading it from the seat. Some seats have an impact shield or cushion, held in place by the car's three-point seat belt.

Never place a forward-facing child seat in a front passenger seat with an active airbag. Wait until your child has outgrown their seat—they are too tall or too heavy—before moving onto a booster seat.

For more information read the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ guide to forward-facing child car seats.

Booster seats

Use a group 2 or group 2/3 high-backed booster seat when you child has outgrown their group 1 forward-facing seat. They are much less likely to be injured in a crash than children wearing seat belts alone. They are simple to install. In general, the car's seat belt pass over both the child high-backed booster seats to hold them in place. They have red marks or slots to show where the seat belt should go. The seat belt should go across the child's pelvis, chest and shoulder:

  • Tighten the seat belt as much as possible.
  • The lap belt should go over the pelvis, not the stomach.
  • The diagonal strap should rest over the shoulder, not the neck.

High-backed booster seats also have side wings that help to protect the child's head in an impact. Booster seats are safest on the rear seats, especially if there is a passenger airbag in the front. Only move your child onto using the seat belt alone when they both too tall and too heavy for the booster seat.

For more information read the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ guide to high-backed booster child car seats.

Booster cushions

Booster cushions—backless seats that raise a child to help fit a seat belt—are no longer recommended. New regulations for backless booster seats took effect on 9th February 2017. There will be no new models of backless booster seats for children under 125cm and less than 22kg.

This change does not affect existing models of booster cushions classed as a group 2/3 seat. Parents are not required to buy new booster seats to meet the rule change.

For more information read the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ guide to booster cushions.

Isofix

In the past, child car seats were secured using the car’s seat belts. The new Isofix system allows child car seats to be anchored to the car’s frame. Car and child car seat manufacturers now build their products with Isofix features. These are fitting points that allow you to 'plug' the car seat into the car. A top tether and support leg prevents the seat from tilting or rotating on impact.

Look for the Isofix labels on your car between the base and the back of the seats, or check your vehicle's handbook. For more information read the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ guide to Isofix seats.

Child car seat checklist

Use this checklist to help you buy your child car seat.

My child

Suitable car seat

From birth to 6-9 months

Up to 10 kg | 22 lbs.

Group 0

Rearward-facing

From birth to 12-15 months

Up to 13 kg | 29 lbs.

Group 0+

Rearward-facing

Up to at least 15 months old

Check the baby's height is within the range of the i-Size seat

i-Size

Rearward-facing

0—4 years

Up to 18 kg | 40 lbs.

Group 0+ & 1

Rearward & forward-facing

Combination

0-6 years

Up to 25 kg | 55 lbs.

Groups 0+, 1 & 2

Rearward & forward facing

Combination

9 months to 4 years

9—18 kg | 20—40 lbs.

Group 1

Forward-facing

9 months to 12 years

9—36 kg | 20—79 lbs

Group 1, 2 & 3

Forward-facing

Combination

4—6 years

15—25 kg | 33—55 lbs.

Group 2

Forward-facing booster

4—11 years

15—36 kg | 33—79 lbs.

Groups 2 & 3

Forward-facing booster

6—11 years

22—36 kg | 48—79 lbs.

Group 3

Booster cushion

For a comprehensive guide, visit http://www.childcarseats.org.uk/choosing-using/buying-child-car-seats-checklist/.


ihttp://www.roadsafetyobservatory.com/HowEffective/vehicles/child-restraints
iihttp://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/04/new-parents-unaware-of-i-Size-child-car-seats-law-change/

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