Monthly Parenting Magazine

Choosing child car seats – Need to Know

Choosing child car seats – Need to Know

choosing a child's car seat

The law changed this year on backless booster seats, so we thought it’s time for a refresher course on choosing the best car seats for your little ones

Words Holly Kirkwood and Miriam Carey

It’s stressful enough getting your car seat knowlege up to scratch at the best of times, but changes to the law in February mean it’s a good time to do some revision – the new rules affect all children up until the age of 12.

The basics of car seats

The first thing you need to know is that in the UK all children need to use a car seat from birth until 12 years old (or until they are 135cm tall). The seat needs to meet EU standards, and your child needs to be in the correct category seat for their age and size.

Their purpose is to provide a protective shell to prevent littles from being hit by bits of car or debris in a crash, and to protect them by distributing the pressure from an impact across the baby’s body: in an infant, the strongest part of the body is the back. This is why babies and younger children should be in a rear-facing infant carrier or child car seat for as long as possible.

How has the law changed?

Since last February car seat manufacturers are no longer allowed to produce backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg. Seats with backs are deemed safer as they offer better side impact protection. Models that are currently in the marketplace can continue to be sold and any existing seats you own can still be used in accordance with government guidelines, provided they have the standard safety mark ECE R44.

Car seat groups

All child car seats are categorised according to either a child’s weight or height. Some seats span more than one weight group, and seem good value because they’ll last your child for longer. However, we think it’s worth bearing in mind there’s a big difference between a 9kg baby and a 36kg child.
Group 0 Group 0 is a rear-facing baby carrier with a harness, and suitable up to around 9 months.

Group 0+ Rear-facing seats with a carry handle suitable from birth up to 13kg. Many models can be used with Isofix fittings, so you don’t need to use a seatbelt to secure the seat, and many babies love their car seats and fall asleep in them.

Group1 A Group 1 car sear is suitable from 9kg to 18kg, or roughly 9 months to 4 years – and will be forward facing.

Group 1/2 A group 1/2 combination takes you from 9kg up to 25 kg, which is roughly 9 months to five or six years-old and is forward facing.

Group 1/2/3 A Group 1/2/3 car seat goes all the way from 9kg to 36kg or when the child is 135cm tall, or around 12 years old. Forward facing it has its own integral harness.

Group 2/3 Group 2/3 car seats are high-backed booster seats which face forward and are approved for use from 15kg—36kg.

Read more about car seats, and our car seat buying tips


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