Buying a car seat is one of the hardest decisions to make.
You are making one of the most important items in your new child’s life. So there has to be a lot of thought and research that goes into the decision.
We at Car Buying Guru are always here to try and make your life easier by giving you as much impartial advice to help you with decision making. If you have children and are buying a new car you may need to see the implication that has on your car seats or even consider a new car seat purchase. This guide will help you decide….
So where to start
Babies need a lot of protection as they have soft bones and vulnerable internal organs. It is important that seat you choose overs the highest level of protection. The guidelines state all infant child seats must be rear facing as before this their necks are not strong enough to withstand the pressure of a head-on collision in the forward-facing position.
There are different groups of seats dependant on a childs age. We go through the different groups here.
Group 0 – 0 -10kg (approx. 0-9 months)
Newborns between 0 – 9 months should be in a group 0 seat. All group 0 seats will be rear facing. Most seats within this category are part of a travel system. These particular seats are used for premature and low weight babies and allow the baby to lie flat.
Group 0+: 0 - 13kg (approx. birth to 12-15 months)
This is a more common type of seat. This should be used rear facing as this age baby is still vulnerable and need more protection. Again they are normally part of a travel system so can be fitted with a push chair with the right fittings and adaptors. Most will indicate which individual items are compatible. It is important to remember that babies cannot be in these seats for a prolong amount of time. Babies should be flat when sleeping.
Group 1: for toddlers weighing 9-18 kg (20-40 lbs) roughly from 9 months - 4 years.
This seat is normally a front facing although there are a few rear facing versions of this seat. However they are big and don’t fit in all cars.
The most common type of Group 1 is forward facing so it is important your child is the right weight.
The safest option is to use a Group 1 forward-facing seat with an integral harness, which will last them up to the age of four (or until they are around 18 kg). The harness can be adjusted as your child gets bigger and side impact wings provide protection for the head and body.
Combination seats Group 1,2 and 3 for toddlers and children from 9 to 36 kg (20 - 79lbs), roughly from 9 months to 12 years
Combination or Multi group seats are seats that can be adjusted as the child grows. Many give the flexibility of being forward or rear facing and have adjustable harnesses and recline positions to allow for greater flexibility. These seats do cost more but can be a great investment. It is important to note that you still must adhere to safety guidelines when using these seats (for example, even if a seat has the forward-facing option you’d still need to keep the baby rear-facing until 15 months)
The Booster Seat 15kg or approx. 4 years old
The booster seat is the next step after the group 1 seat and can be high backed or backless. The law has recently changed to encourage later transitions from high backed to backless because of safety fears. Previously, children weighing over 22kg (typically aged three and over) were okay to use a backless booster but as of this year the recommendation is that children remain in a high-backed seat until they are at least 125cm tall (typically aged seven and over).
Booster seats still benefit from side wing protection and often have adjustable head rests. There is usually no integral harness and you use the cars seatbelt as a child’s seating position is raised so an ordinary seatbelt can fit safely through slots on the seat. The belt should sit across the pelvis, chest and shoulder, not the stomach and neck.
Isofix and I Size
So now we have wrapped up the different groups within car seat we now have to decipher the different types of seats from Iso fix to I size there are various different seats and fittings to be aware of before choosing your right car seat
An Isofix seat is designed to be fitted and installed into a car quickly and easily. All new vehicles feature this system. These cars will have anchor points that fitted to the chassis of the car, these are normally behind the seat padding. They allow for the Isofix connectors on the base of your seat to click into the Isofix anchor points in the car. Once the Isofix connectors are clicked together, the car seat is secured by a third point – either a support leg that comes built-in into the seat or seat base, or a top tether (a strap that attaches to a mount somewhere behind the rear seat). Both of these work to stop the car seat tipping forward in an accident.
I-size is a new European standard for child car seats that forms part of regulation R129 (i.e. the height-based seats approval system mentioned above). The idea behind i-size is that children will be seated in an appropriately sized option based on their height, outgrowing it only when they exceed the maximum height listed on the label. I-size is currently running in parallel with the old regulation but many new cars are now “i-size ready”, so it’s worth checking if you have the option to go down the i-size route.
I-size seats are only compatible with cars that have isofix and are set to be the standard going forward which car manufacturers and seat manufacturers ensure full compatibility.
If you are in any doubt of what car seat to buy it is a good idea to check with the guidelines of what seat you need and then go to reviews online of particular seats.
There are plenty of seats available but its not always the most expensive ones that are the best.
If you are stuck on car seats or cars which are compatible. Click here to contact us