Having a child can be one of the most exciting times, but when it comes to car seats, it can be extremely confusing as there are so many different features to think about. Whether you’re looking for a new car seat because you’re a first-time parent or you’re simply looking for one due to your child outgrowing the last, we are going to discuss how to choose a car seat for your child.
Choosing the right car seat for your child
Before you start, there are a few things you need to know. Here in the UK, every child from birth will need to use a car seat until they reach the age of 12 or are 135cm tall. Each car seat purchased in the UK has to meet strict EU standards, and your child will have to be in the correct car seat for their age and even size.
You will also need to look at your vehicle’s manufacturers manual to see where you can place the car seats and what size can fit your car. If your vehicle is slightly too small, this may now be the time to think about getting a bigger one.
Car seats for babies
Young children and babies car seats are designed specifically to protect their soft bones and vulnerable areas in their bodies such as organs. Throughout each stage of your child’s life, they will need a variety of different protection throughout their lives so its imperative you have the right car seat for your newborn baby.
It’s not often it happens but there are a few instances where new parents have not purchased a car seat before their child is born. However, if you are looking to drive your child home from the hospital you will need a car seat. Most hospitals here in the UK will not discharge you if you have an incorrect seat or do not have one at all.
A great aspect of car seats now is many can be used in conjunction with another piece of equipment such as a pushchair. If you are looking for an all in one travel system a great place to look is Argos, they have a wide selection of pushchairs and a range of prices. Another place to look for a good range of reviews, Which? is a great place to look.
How much should I spend on a child car seat?
If there is one item for your child you need to budget for, it is the car seat. There are some car seats going for as little as £20, however, you will want to think about spending a fair bit more than that to ensure your child is as safe as possible.
Many parents do not want to spend over a £100 on a car seat, but one that will protect your child as much as it can, will cost your possible around £300. If you think about it this way, the more you spend on the car seat the more you will get out of it. For example, a rear-facing car seat will cost you 20p a day over the course of 4 years, as many can be used as soon as your baby is born until they are 4 years of age.
What is Isofix?
For new parents getting to grips with installing a car seat can often be a bit of a nightmare, however, Isofix is designed to help you out and make the installation process much easier and quicker. Most new vehicles will have this system, to fit the car seat all you have to do is fit the Isofix connectors on the bottom of the car seat into the anchor points of your vehicle. The connectors are most likely hidden within the padding of the car seat. Isofix points are usually built into the chassis of the vehicle, ensuring the car seat is as secure as possible. Isofix systems have been introduced to prevent the car seat from tipping during an accident.
What car seat groups do I need to be aware of?
Car seats can be purchased in two different ways, either according to the age of the child or the weight. As children grow at such an unpredictable rate we usually recommend check for weight categorised car seats. The categories are as follows:
- Group 0 – newborn to around 6-9 months, weighing 0-22lb
- Group 0+ – newborn to around 12-25 months, weighing 0-29lb
- Group 0+/1 – newborn to around 4 years, weighing 0-40lb
- Group 1 – 9 months to around 4 years, weighing 20-40lb
- Group 2/3 – 3 years to around 12 years, weighing 30lb-5st 9lb
- Group 3 – 6 years to around 12 years, weighing 48lb-5st 9lb (booster seat)
- Group 1/2/3 – 9 months to around 12 years, weighing 20lb-5st 9lb
- i-Size – newborn to around 4 years, height from around 40-105cm
- Pull together a shortlist of car seats you like the look of and think work best for your child. Not only should you think about how the car seat will fit into your car but also other who may on occasion look after your child such as family members.
- Check the specification of the car seat against your car make and model, you will find most information you need in the car manual or manufacturers guide.
- If possible, try before you buy. Most companies will allow you to assemble and install into your vehicle before you purchase one. Most retail stores will also have someone on hand to help you if you have any questions or queries regarding the car seat.
- All car seat models should have ECE R44.04 mark which indicates they meet standards, however, i-Size standards are slightly different.
- Try the car seat in your vehicle before you give birth, remember most hospitals will not discharge you if you do not have it installed in the vehicle.
How to make a checklist for choosing a car seat
There are going to be a few benchmarks you need to consider when comparing car seats and ensuring they are not only going to work for your child but also the vehicle you have. First things first, take your car to an MOT testing centre, one of the items checked on your vehicle is the safety of the seat belts. The last thing you want to do is purchase an expensive car seat to find your car belts are not safe.
Always do your research when it comes to car seats, make sure you have budgeted correctly for it. At the end of the day, it is protecting your child and will be even more beneficial if you ever found yourself in a car accident. Make sure you check to see if you can get your car seat as part of a travel system, this not only saves you money but is also great for not having too much clutter around.