Life as a new parent comes with lots of challenges, including choosing car seats! Before you know it, your little one is starting to look a little big for his/her first stage seat. So, is it time to move up to a bigger seat? Should you choose a forward or rear-facing seat? What do you need to consider?
When is the infant carrier outgrown?
Firstly, check the approval sticker on your car seat (often found underneath.)This will tell you the regulation your seat is approved to and its weight and/or height limit.
Most infant carriers are approved to R44/04 and classed as a group 0+. These seats have a weight limit of 13kg/29lbs. They are also outgrown when the top of your baby's head is level with the top of the seat.
If you have an infant carrier approved to R129 (i-Size) then it will have a height limit, e.g. 75cm, and possibly a weight limit too. These limits are clearly marked on the seat.
The infant carrier is outgrown once your child reaches the height or weight limit, whichever comes first. Don't worry about long legs over the edge, they are perfectly safe; or that your baby looks "squashed" – think of the car seat as a crash helmet, a tight fit is good.
Should I choose a forward or rear-facing seat?
It is safest to rear-face your child for as long as possible. This is due to their anatomy and the physics of an accident.Young children have relatively larger heads with less developed neck bones and muscles.In a frontal impact the head is thrown forwards, putting stress on the neck and spinal cord. The less developed the spine is, the greater the risk of serious injury. When rear-facing, the child's head, neck and spine are kept in alignment and the force is spread out over a greater area.
Does this mean forward facing seats are dangerous?
Simple answer is no. Since car seat regulations were introduced in the 1980's the number of fatally and seriously injured children has reduced. Forward facing seats do offer adequate protection as long as they are fitted and used correctly. However, rear-facing provides even better protection for your little one. If you do decide to buy a forward facing seat it is advised to keep your child in the infant carrier until it is completely outgrown.
What does the law say?
If you have a seat approved under R44/04 then it is legal to put your child into a forward facing car seat at 9kg.However, they should be able to sit unaided for at least 30 minutes and fit the seat they are going into.
If you have an i-Size seat, then legally your child must stay rear-facing until 15 months.Each i-Size seat also has a minimum height limit for forward facing.
Bear in mind that the law is a minimum standard: experts recommend rear-facing up to 4 years.
What else do I need to consider?
If your child doesn't like the infant carrier, or you would prefer to move them into a bigger seat, then you could look at Group 0+1 as these are rear-facing from birth initially, then turn forward facing at 9kg. Some can even rear-face up to 18kg. Or if your little one is 9kg and you would like a rear-facing seat then a Group 1,2 may suit you. Have a look at our car seat selector tool as it can help when choosing a seat:
Follow these points:
1. Check your child's height and weight
2. Keep your child in the infant carrier until it is completely outgrown
3. Choose a seat that is suitable for your child
4. Choose a seat that is suitable for vehicle/s that the seat will be fitted into
5. Visit a retailer to try a few seats in your car
6. Consider rear-facing for optimum safety
As school breaks approach many families will be planning holidays away which require a car journey in order to reach their destination of choice. Here are our top 10 tips to make that journey as comfortable and hassle free as possible!
1. It is always important to remember the safety of older children when making a car journey. Children are legally required to use a suitable restraint up until they are 135cm in height, or 12 years old – whatever comes first.
2. Older children are safest travelling in a high-back booster seat which provides side impact protection, head, neck and torso support, as well as a safe place to rest their head to sleep, which can help prevent them falling out of the seat belt during the car journey.
3. Many car seats have additional safety features, such as protective seat belt pads, side impact protection technology and abdominal protection to provide both a safer and more comfortable fit for your older child.
For child car seats to legally be sold in the UK, they must pass various tests and gain recognised approval. To be sold, they can be approved to R44.04, which is a regulation that has been running for some years, or they can be tested under the new R129 (i-Size) standard, which was established in summer 2013.
This blog looks at the different group stages for R44.04 child car seats, along with the weight and the height limits that you should take into consideration. There are three main group stages and also combination group stages to create multi stage, longer lasting seats.
There have been many reports regarding the new stricter rules which may be coming out about booster cushions and this has caused much confusion.
This proposed change is a new amendment to the current regulation R44 and will only apply to new approved products. This means that parents who currently have booster cushions can legally continue to use them as they have been.
However, if the proposed amendment goes through, this would potentially mean that parents buying new backless booster seats (booster cushions) in 2017 would only be able to use them for children above 125cm in height and 22kg in weight.
It has not actually been confirmed that a new addition to the child car seat regulations will be coming into effect in December 2016.
Currently, it is in discussions and yet to be voted on. However, there is only one more stage of approval to go through and is unlikely to get rejected at that stage.
There are currently two child car seat regulations running alongside each other – R44.04, which are the weight based car seats, and R129, which is a new regulation.
R129 is making seats easier to choose, fit and use. However, R44.04 weight based approved seats will still be sold, legal and safe for some years to come. One of the key features of R44 is that child seats are chosen based on weight:
Group 0+ (infant seats) – 0 to 13kg
Group 1 (toddler seats) – 9kg to 18kg
Group 2,3 (Booster seats) – 15kg to 36kg
Part of the problem with R44, is that children tend to be moved up a stage as soon as they reach the minimum weight limit for the next stage, when it is actually safer for them to stay in each stage seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for their current stage. A step up in group stage is a step down in safety.
R44.04 currently allows boosters, even booster cushions, to be approved from 15kg – this can legally be a child as young as 2 years or less! While the weight limit is the main factor, there are also height considerations to take into account. A child can be 15kg in weight, yet still be far too small to use a booster.
Children's bones are very different from adults, and their hips and pelvis are very small and set far back. The hips and pelvis are what helps to keep a seat belt in place, and absorb energy. These bones are not really strong enough for a seat belt until a child is around 4 years of age. There are 25kg harness limit seats for children who reach the 18kg harness weight limit at a young age.
Children under 125cm in height and 22kg weight will not be allowed to use a newly type approved (R44.04 supplement 11) booster cushion, but can still use booster cushions that were approved prior to this change after December 2016, if the proposed amendment is approved. They will have to use a high back booster.
We always recommend that children travel in the high back booster if they are the correct weight and height for it, and fit comfortably within the headrest. A high back booster provides additional head, neck and torso protection.
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A shocking 34 per cent of 8 to 11-year olds in the UK are not using a booster seat on car journeys when one is required, according to a new report by Good Egg Safety.
Current UK law requires all children under 12 or less than 135cm in height to use a booster seat.
Using a booster seat provides older children with crucial protection. Parents have been advised to invest in a high-back booster seat for extra protection for older children, rather than a booster cushion.
Sarah-Jane Martin, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity said: "These figures are very worrying and show that we're not taking child car seat safety seriously enough. It's vital that all parents understand that it's not just toddlers who need protecting. We're supporting Good Egg Safety with this important awareness raising campaign and ask all parents to ensure that their child has the appropriate safety seat fitted."
Honor Byford, Chair of Road Safety GB, the charity that supports road safety professionals, said: "We know that every parent's strongest instinct is to protect their children. The legislation on booster seats changed to ensure that booster seats provide the level of protection that children's smaller bodies need in the event of a crash. This keeps them on a booster seat for longer than used to be the case. We urge parents to check out the legal requirements and keep their children on the right booster seat for as long as their child needs that extra protection – which is until they are tall enough for an adult seatbelt to fit their body.
Good Egg provides excellent, clear information and advice to help parents, grandparents and carers to provide the best protection for their children when they are travelling by car.
Your local road safety team will also be pleased to help and advise you on this or any road safety matter. You can find their contact details through the Road Safety GB website"
Kat Furlong Good Egg Safety Manager and Training Expert added: "A high-back booster is far more preferable to a booster cushion, to provide children with adequate head, neck and torso protection from side impacts, which booster cushions do not offer. We implore parents to buy these instead and ensure they are the right seat for their child and car"
The Good Egg Safety checks also showed that a high number of booster seats – both high-back models and cushions – were being used unsafely. In many instances, the seat belt was not routed properly around the child and seat, which would drastically reduce the seat's effectiveness in a collision.
Mark Bennett, Senior Technical and Training Manager Europe, Britax said
"It's imperative that older children do use the correct restraint system when travelling in a car until they no longer need so – when they're 135cm tall or 12 years old whichever comes sooner. High-back booster seats will not only guide and control the position of the adult seat belt correctly over the child's pelvis and shoulder but it will also give the much needed side and head protection in a road accident. As Britax we will continue campaigning on the safety benefits of high-back boosters and help save lives."
The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for roads policing Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said;
"The use of seatbelts and booster seats is an essential, effective method of reducing child fatalities and serious injuries in motor vehicle collisions. That's why their correct use is not a matter of choice, it is the law."
"I have no doubt that correctly used seat restraints for children have helped protect the most vulnerable from needless death and serious injury. So don't take any chances. "
For more information on booster seats, visit www.goodeggcarsafety.com/blog/goodmorningbritain
When you buy or use an ISOFIX child car seat, it will have the two ISOFIX bars on the back of the seat, and almost all ISOFIX seats will then have a third point of anchorage. This third point of anchorage is very important, as it prevents the ISOFIX child seat from moving too much in a collision. The third point of anchorage will either be a support leg, which is a very popular option, or a top tether. This article is focusing on the top tether – how to use it, what it does and the benefits.
The top tether is the third point of anchorage on an ISOFIX child car seat. It is a length of webbing which is attached to the back of the child seat, with a hook on the end. The top tether strap must have a green indicator on it to show when it has been pulled tightly enough.
The top tether will pass over the top of the vehicle seat, and hook onto the top tether point. The top tether point will either be in the boot, on the back of the vehicle seat, or it may be in the roof of the car.
Top tether points are normally indicated with the anchor logo, or your car handbook will tell you where your point is.
As we have already mentioned, ISOFIX seats tend to have a third point of anchorage, which reduces dangerous movement of the seat in a collision. The top tether hooks behind the child seat onto the bracket in the car holding it in place, along with the ISOFIX arms.
In a collision, a child seat will move forward, and the seat can pivot on the ISOFIX arms. To prevent this from happening, and to also absorb energy from a collision, the top tether point is able to then reduce movement in the seat along with the ISOFIX, and absorb crash forces.
It is very important to ensure the top tether is used, if it is supplied.
Many ISOFIX seats have the support leg which reaches into the floor well, and this leg does the same job as the top tether point. However, the support leg is not compatible with every vehicle, and cannot be used in conjunction with floor storage compartments.
For ISOFIX seats with a top tether, there are not so many constraints. Providing the ISOFIX seat with top tether is classed as universal, and your cars' ISOFIX and top tether point are approved as universal, you are able to fit the seat in the car.
Top tether seats also tend to take up less room in the car, as there is no support leg in the cab – this can make it much easier for other passengers to get in and out, particularly older siblings who may sit in the middle.
ISOFIX seats with tethers may also be lighter, and therefore quicker and easier to move from car to car, as there is no heavy leg attached to the base.
Finally, ISOFIX + Top tether seats have all the same features and benefits that you would expect, such as easy adjust harnessing, some seats offer longer rear facing, and some even swivel!
As with any seat you buy, it is very important to ensure the seat fits every car it will be going into. Not all cars have top tether points, so be sure to check each car. Many ISOFIX + Top tether seats are ISOFIX only, very few have an option belt the seat in the car.
A group 123 car seat is a combination seat that is approved for children weighing 9kg, and it will last them right through, until they no longer need a child seat. They are often an economical solution, as they last a long time.
Group 123 car seats are generally forward facing, although there are some which now allow your child to be rear facing to 13kg or 18kg. Your little one is safest rear facing for as long as possible.
There are different options to consider when choosing a group 123:
ISOFIX or Seat Belt Fitment
It is more common for group 123 car seats to be fitted with the adult seat belt, however there are some ISOFIX + Top Tether group 123 car seats available. Both methods of fitment are safe, however ISOFIX is considered safer as it reduces the risk of incorrect fitment.
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