Choosing a car seat for your child is one of those baby essentials that can be a nightmare to choose and I remember spending a lot of time and effort choosing ours and making sure they fit in our cars.
The law now requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.
Car seats are an expensive buy, but they are keeping your most treasured possession safe. It is worth remembering that using the wrong type of child car seat, or fitting it incorrectly, can lead to a child suffering more severe injuries than they would do using the correct seat in a crash.
My first tip is to understand what you need. For newborns many prams and pushchairs become handy travel systems and you can attach the car seat to the wheel base which is convenient when popping to the shops as you don’t have to disturb a sleeping baby or you can choose a car seat that will grow with them and change from rear facing to forward facing as they get older. For older children, you want something that will grow and adjust with them as it will save you money in the long run.
Secondly find out what type of seat is suitable for the weight, height, age and stage of physical development of your child. You can use an online checker to make sure that the seat will fit properly in all the cars that your child will travel in or go into store where they can check the car seat fits your car before making an expensive purchase. If you are likely to need to swap the car seat between cars regularly it is worth checking to see how heavy it is and how difficult it is to install. There are many factors that affect fitting – from whether or not your car has Isofix to how curved your car seats are.
Group 2/3 seats can be cheaper and as children get older and they can withstand the force of a crash a bit better, so this is where you can save money but still get a decent high-backed booster seat as these offer added protection from side impact.
It is important to learn how to fit your child car seat properly and adjust it safely. I found YouTube a real help with this as they can be tricky things to get right.
On a personal level I prefer my Isofix seats to belted seats as they feel more secure and are less likely to move, however we did have our first issue with them last week. We broke down and had to be recovered and the recovery vehicle didn’t have isofix points so we couldn’t use them. Luckily Eliza’s seat could be used as both an isofix seat and a belted one so Sebastian went in there and Eliza used our emergency boostapak.
For indepth car seat reviews and their top buys, I can highly recommend the Which? website for impartial advice.