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How to choose a safe car seat that will grow with ...

How to choose a safe car seat that will grow with your child

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A handy guide to help you choose a safe car seat that will grow with your baby, toddler, or child...

Choosing a safe car seat is one of the most important things to consider before your little one arrives. Even if you don’t have a car, having a car seat will help you travel safely home from the hospital or birth centre in a taxi, or relative’s vehicle. Safety features are, of course, the most important thing to consider when choosing a car seat. However, you might also want to think about whether you can use it with your pushchair, and also if it will grow with your baby. Before you click ‘add to basket’, here’s our guide to the best car seats for your little one…

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The UK law and rear facing car seats…

In the UK the latest law states that until your baby is 15 months old and 76cm, they must be in a rear-facing car seat when travelling in a car, however, Joie experts recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing position until 4 years old. If you have front airbags in your car, you should put the car seat in the back. If you’d like to keep an eye on your little one on the road, ask another adult to sit in the back next to your baby, or use a mirror available as an accessory.

Can I borrow a car seat or buy one second hand?

We would always recommend that you avoid borrowing a car seat or buying one second hand. You need to be absolutely sure it has not been in a car accident and it doesn’t have any wear and tear. Old car seats may not have all their parts, including the manufacturer’s instructions – and you will need these to ensure you fit the seat properly.

There are lots of affordable baby car seats on the market, and car seat systems are an economical solution. The Joie Encore Spinning System, for example, offers one base that pairs with several different car seats made to grow with your little one from the first ride home from the hospital to four years old. Plus, Joie instruction manuals are available online in case you lose the paperwork.

What are i-Size car seats?

When you’re shopping for a safe car seat you will come across various standards and names (R44, R129 and i-Size). They’re not as complicated as they seem, and they’re there to tell you the standard the seat is made to. ECE R129 is a European-wide car seat regulation which aims to make seats safer and simpler, and it’s the latest one, so it’s the one you need to know about. One of the benefits of R129 is that it ensures that the seat protects your little one from side impact. i-Size is an enhancement of R129 which helps to ensure fitting is simpler, if a vehicle has an i-size seating position then an i-Size car seat will fit, 3 i-Size seating positions means 3 will fit across. All of Joie’s car seats have undergone enhanced testing during development, so they’re a failsafe option, no matter which standard.

What is an ISOFIX base?

ISOFIX is an internationally standardised car seat fitting system. It locks your car seat base onto two metal clips (known as ISOFIX fixing points or anchor points) found in the vehicle seat of most cars. Using an ISOFIX base allows you to safely install your little one’s car seat in the correct position by simply clicking it on and lifting it off with a lever or button. It eliminates the chance of fitting your little one’s car seat incorrectly, so it’s much safer than just using a seat belt.

Do all car seats fit in all ISOFIX bases?

Most car seat manufacturers make different ISOFIX bases for each of their car seat designs. Buying a new ISOFIX base every time your little one grows out of their car seat can be costly though. We love the Encore Spinning System from Joie, as the i-Base Encore is compatible with no less than seven of the brand’s car seats. i-Size certified, it spins the compatible baby seats 90 degrees and the compatible i-Harbour toddler seat 360 degrees for easy loading and unloading.

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What is a five-point harness?

When you’re shopping for a safe car seat for your baby, you’ll come across the term ‘five-point harness’. This just refers to the straps that hold your baby in place: one over each shoulder, one round on each side of the baby, and one between their legs, which all click into a secure plug usually over the baby’s tummy or nappy, a standard find for larger seats, whilst most infant carriers only require a 3 point harness.

What’s the safest position for my newborn?

When looking for a a safe car seat for your newborn, there’s a few things to consider. Studies suggest that it’s best for babies to lie flat. Some car seats allow for this like the Joie calmi™ R129. Part of the Encore Spinning System from Joie, this deluxe car seat meets the highest safety standards (R129 certified) – coupling a car seat’s security with a carry cot’s cosiness. The lie-flat position is ideal for healthy sleep and spinal development. It’s also a lightweight design at just 3.6 kg for easy transfers from car to pushchair to home, without waking baby and travel system ready as it can be paired with the Joie Signature aeria or finiti pushchairs.

The calmi™ R129 is suitable from birth up to around 6 months, so if you want something that will last a bit longer, you could also look at infant seats that have a deep recline. Also part of the Joie Encore Spinning System, the i-Level™ Recline has a deep 157 degree tilt for safe spines and easy breathing when travelling by car or pushchair. It’s suitable from birth up to 85cm and less than 13kg and grows with your baby as it has a headrest and harness system that adjusts simultaneously and effortlessly. The i-Level™ Recline meets the new i-Size ECE R129/03 standard and spins 90º when paired with the i-Base™ Encore for getting your little one in and out of the car easily.

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The new Joie i-Jemini™ is also another good option. Suitable from birth to 15-months, the infant carrier meets the highest ECE R129 standard with i-Size certification. The i-Jemini™ offers an affordable price point, without compromising on luxurious detailing, practicality, or safety.  It also pairs with the Encore Spinning System, and can be used as a travel system with your favourite Joie pushchair.

It’s important to remember, however, that most manufacturers recommend that your little one should not be in a car seat for longer than two hours without a break in between.

What are the benefits of choosing a car seat that will grow with my child?

Most parents are just thinking about what they’ll bring their teeny tiny baby home from the hospital in when they are choosing a safe car seat. However, little ones grow so fast it’s definitely worth exploring what the options are when it comes to car seats that grow with your child.

The first thing to look at is whether your chosen car seat has an adjustable harness and headrest. Adjusting the harness can be a little fiddly, as often it requires you to take the seat out of the car entirely. Joie makes car seats with multi-height adjustable headrest and harness systems that adjust simultaneously and don’t require any re-threading.

You might also want to consider one car seat system that takes your little one right through from birth to toddlerhood. Suitable from birth up to approximately age 4, the Joie i-Harbour™ 360º i-Size Car Seat is also part of the Joie Encore Spinning System. This car seat has the latest R129 safety upgrades – meeting the highest R129 safety standard, is i-Size certified for a secure fit in your vehicle and effortlessly transitions from a rear-facing baby seat to a forward-facing child car seat. It also has 360° rotation on the spinning base for ease of loading and unloading and Simple Swivel™ turning activators on both sides of the seat, positioned where you naturally reach for an effortless spin. The Tri-Protect™ headrest offers security with three layers of protection inside the headrest, including patented Intelli-Fit™ memory foam. It can’t be used as part of a travel system, but it’s a good option for parents who are looking for longevity and adaptability.

Whichever car seat you choose, the Joie Encore Spinning System is a great overall choice if you’re looking for a car seat for the first 12+ months of your baby’s life, before switching to a toddler child seat. You won’t need to purchase a separate base, as the i-BaseTM Encore can be used with your selected Joie baby seat as well as your next-stage seat – saving you time and money.

This is a paid partnership created in partnership with Joie. Find out more about the Joie Encore Spinning System here:

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