- According to the official gov.uk site, a child must use a child car seat till they are 12 years old or reach the height of 135cm, whichever comes first.
- All children under the age of three years, when travelling in any vehicle must have the right child restraint on. With the exception in case of an emergency short trip or in a taxi where a child seat is not available.
- In the case of cars fitted with passenger side, front active air bags they must not keep the child in the rear facing position in the front seat.
- Since May 2008 child seats must be approved to UN ECE REG 44.03 standard. You can read more the child seat UN law here. (This is usually market by a “E” label on the child car seats).
- The seats should also meet the new ECE Regulation 129 (i-Size).
- It is always the drivers responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are properly and securely restrained according to law.
- The law for Taxis, Good Vehicles and Vans are different. You could click here to find out more about Other Vehicles from Buses to Mini-coaches and camping trailers.
Isofix is basically an international standard for attachment point to be followed by car manufactures and baby car seat manufacturers.
Basically fitting points are fitted into the car seat as well as the baby child seat, which easily clips onto the car.
The main purpose of the Isofix system is to define standard attachment points to be installed in a car. This system enables complaint child safety seats to be quickly and securely fitted.
The Isofix covers both the Group 0/0+ and Group 1 child seats as well. For Group 2/3 sets there is a system called Isofix, which holds onto the seat of the vehicle so it cannot slide around when not used.
A Isofix seat can either be attached to the Top Tether in the car. A Top tether is basically a strap made of fabric that secures the child seat with the tether point.
The other option is to have a Support Leg, which is fitted to the child seat and is extended to the floor of the car. This prevents the child seat moving forward incase of a collision. They are easier to use than the Top Tether fitting.
ISOFIX seats are available in mostly, all groups and is a good idea to have one of them for added security for your child, and for your peace of mind.
i-size is basically a new European standard for child seats. It works along side the existing law ECE R44.04. The new law is only applicable to the new seats that would be manufactured and one does not need to through away their existing child seats if there is not i-Safe approved.
The i-Size seats undergo additional test for side-impact and to access the protection if the vehicle is involved in a collision. It also ensures that the child is positioned in a rearward facing position as it is much more safer than the forward facing seats.
The i-Size seats are based on the height of the child instead of their weight.
You could check this YouTube video produced by the car seat manufacturer Maxi-Cosi, where they explain it more in length.
A i-Size seat will fit any i-Size approved vehicle. However at this point in time, as this law is fairly new, there are fewer cars that have a i-Size feature yet. Its natural to presume that in the coming years there would be more cars available that would be i-Size compatible.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying car seats for your child. And with so much information out there it can get a little scary and confusing when deciding what is the right way to move forward when choosing the right car seat for your child.
We have read around, heard what people are talking about the products the good and the bad, and have come up with a list of the important things we think you should consider before you buying a baby car seat.
- Decide before hand if you are going to be traveling with your baby on long journeys often, then you might want to consider having a “ — “ as one of the features provided by the car seat you choose for you kid. Safety and comfort first, I say.
- This is more a default point, as mostly all cars seats are manufactured to the UN ECE REG 44.03 standard. And is indicated by the letter ‘E’ being displayed on the seat. So it’s just a point to bear in mind.
- The seat also should confirm to the new ECE Law 129 (i-Size)
- Check the baby car seat is compatible with your vehicle seats.
- If you have a small three door car, I would recommend considering a Car Base System. (it help secure the child seat better)
- If you think you would be moving your kids often from one car to another, then you might want to consider features like, “light yet sturdy” and easy to move around cars.
Along with the above points, the links below go into a bit more detail for each age group along with the different kinds of seats available in each category. We have broken them down into different groups depending on weight and height.
Infant Car Seats
Age (Group) – 0 / upto 10kgs / from 6-9 months
Age (Group) – 0+ / upto 13kgs / upto 15 months
Toddle Car Seats (Or) Child Booster Seats
Age (Group) – 1,2,3 / 9kgs – 25kgs / from 9 months upto 6 years
Booster Seats / Cushions
Age (Group) – 3 / 22kgs – 36kgs / from 6 years upto 11 years
There are a number of different types of seats that are available in the market and it can get a confusing as to which one would be the right one for your child.
Below you will find the different kinds of child seats available in the U.K. This list should help you narrow down your search for the best child seat.
Rearward-facing Child seats
According to law infants and babies need to be carried in a rearward-facing seats, at least for the first nine months or until they are able to sit upright without assistance. This position helps keep the baby safe from injuries during a crash.
These seats are usually well padded from both sides, with high impact absorbing materials. This helps the baby be safe in both, the sitting or the laying down position. They usually come with a five-point harness that helps keep the baby more secure as well.
Rearwards facing seat are usually available for
- Group 0,
- Group 0+ and
- Group 1.
You also have the option of choosing between
- Isofix seats and i-size seats (rearward facing)
- Or a seat that could be fitted with a car’s seatbelt.
Forward Facing Child Seats
Once a child has outgrown a rearward-facing seat, the next option for them is to use the next group of child seats available. Forward facing seats are designed in such a way so as to protect the child from impact and the five-point harness helps hold the child securely in place.
Forward facing seat are usually available for
- Group 0+
- Group 1/2/3
You can usually choose between
- Child Seats with a Harness
- Child seats with forward Cushion Impact
You also have the option of choosing a child seat that is fitted
- With the cars seat belt or
- Is a Isofix forward facing seat Or
- i-Size Forward Facing Seat (As i-Size is fairly new, it is not widely in use at the moment)
High Backed Booster Seats
When a child has outgrown the group 1 forward facing seat, the next best option is to move them up to the Group2/3 high-backed booster seats. High backed booster seats do not use an internal harness to secure the child, it instead uses the car’s seat belt goes around the child and the seat.
Some booster seats have adjustable head and back support, which can be adjusted according to the child’s height. High-Backed Booster seats can be used in the front passenger seat or in the read seat. However it is always safe to have the children secure in the back seat.
High backed booster seats are usually available for
- Group 0+ (rare)
- Group 1/2/3
The options available in High Backed Booster seats are
- Fitting booster seats
- Isofix booster seats
Some High backed booster seats could also be used as Booster cushions by removing the back of the seat. However this is not advisable, as it does not provide the best protection to your child.
A Booster cushion basically increases the height of the child’s seat, thus enabling the seat belt to fit in a proper manner around the child. Booster seats can be used in the front seat or the rear of the car. As always it is advisable to have the children in the back seat while driving.
Booster Seats are usually available for
- Group 2/3
These booster seats are at the moment only available as Fitted booster cushions, which use the car’s seat belt to secure the child.
Infant carriers for babies from birth to 13kg (0+) or 10kg (0) (approx. 15 months or 6-9 months)
Your newborn baby won’t be able to support his or her head until about six weeks and won’t be able sit up until much later.
This is why child seats for the youngest children are all rear-facing, designed to support the head, neck and back evenly.
Remember that you must not use a rear-facing child seat on a passenger seat where there is an active passenger airbag fitted. The close proximity of the child’s head to the airbag could result in severe injury or death if the bag is triggered in an accident.
It is better to keep children in rear-facing restraints for as long as possible.
The smaller ‘Group 0’ seats can only be used for children up to 10kg, a weight most babies will reach by around 6-9 months.
Group 0+ seats are a better choice because they are suitable for children up to 13kg (around 15 months) and allow you to keep your child in a safer, rear-facing seat for longer.
Many infant carriers/baby seats are fitted using the adult lap-and-diagonal seat belt while the child is restrained in the seat by an integral harness. This means that these seats can be easily moved from one car to another – assuming the adult belts are long enough.
You can also buy infant carriers that are fitted using the Isofix system. Typically these combine a ‘base’ attached to the car and a seat that clips easily into and out-of the base. The base will have a front support leg to prevent forward rotation in an accident. Check the vehicle handbook first to make sure you buy the right Isofix category and ‘size class’ to suit the vehicle.
Seats that can be used rear-facing for the first 9 months and then forward-facing up to three or four years may look a good idea if money is tight, but they are a compromise.
They are bigger and heavier than an infant carrier so you lose all the convenience of being able to carry the child in and out of the house in the child seat.
Fitting instructions can be complicated as well which means that two-way seats are often installed incorrectly.
- Carrying handles are important. A sleeping child can be carried to and from the car with one hand which makes unlocking doors easier.
- Infant carriers that are part of a travel system allow you to transfer the child from the car to a buggy/pushchair without disturbing them.
- Make sure the infant carrier can be installed correctly in the car. It must sit securely at a comfortable angle for the child and the adult belts must be long enough to go around the child seat as shown in the instructions.
- Think about the child’s comfort. Harness adjusters located high on the straps can cause discomfort to a baby who falls asleep lying against them.
- Is the harness easy to adjust? You will have to adjust it regularly as the thickness of clothes changes and the child grows so it’s best to find a design you get on with.
- How easy is it to remove and replace the covers? You will probably have to remove it for cleaning at some point.
Forward Facing Child Seats
Despite the fact that seats in this group may technically be approved for children from 9kg – which could be as young as 6 months – it’s a good idea not to rush to get your child into a forward-facing seat; rear-facing provide better protection and the child has a lower risk of injury in a crash.
Group 0+ baby carrier, you can keep your child rear-facing for a minimum of 15 weeks or more.
Seats in group 1 usually are made up of a seat layer attached to a framework. Your child is held in the seat by an essential five-point harness and the frame is mounted to the car using the car seat belts or Isofix anchorages.
Some booster car seats, geared towards older children in groups 2 and 3 are supplied with a removable harness for younger kids, so it is possible to buy only one seat for your child when they are nine months old up until their 12th birthday. When buying, choose seats marked for age ‘Group 1, 2 and 3’.
Check if your car has Isofix anchorage points. Along with being much safer, these points can also make it faster and a lot easier to fit your child’s seat correctly.
Things to consider when buying a seat
- Easily adjustable seats
- Consider iSoFix compatible seats
- Look for Recliner Seats
Rearward Facing Child Seats
According to surveys conducted for child safety, it is 5 times more safe having the a child positioned int eh rearward position until they reach the age of 4 or 5 years or when they reach 25 kgs. Make sure the seat is compatible with your car before you buy a rearward facing child car seat.
Age (Group) – 1/2/3 / 9kgs – 36kgs / 9 months – 12 years
These car seats are generally approved for children over 9 months, but in some cases a child does weigh 9kgs before 9 months. In which case age group 1 seats would be the next option.
These seats have a five-point harness system, which helps secure the baby in the seat while the car’s seat belt helps keep the child seat secure without moving too much.
You want to try and keep your child in the rearward-facing seat for a long as possible, as it provides better protection than forward facing seats.
In this category you have a couple of options. You could go for either of the ones below
- Group 1
- Group 1/2/3
The second group allows for your child’s car seat to be used for a longer period of time, till they reach 36kgs or 12 years of age. After which they do not legally need to use a child restraint.
According to our research, a lot of people prefer using adjustable High Back Booster seats in the Group 1/2/3 category. These seats sometimes comes with a removable harness for their kids, hence making it possible to use one seat from 9 months all the way up to the child’s 12th birthday. These seats provide adequate protection to the head and upper body since they are well cushioned from the sides and help’s reduce the impact in case of an accident and keeps the child safer.
With some booster seats you could remove the back and only the base could be used as a booster cushion for older children.
The more newer models in Child Booster Seats are designed so they can have their backs removed, and be used as booster cushions instead. These seats have minimal safety and are light and convenient. They are ideal for kids who weigh over 22kgs.
Incase of making shot trips to and from the school, these seem to be quite useful. It is a good alternative to the adult seat belt by itself, as it will allow the car seat belt to fit better diagonally across the child’s shoulder.
Newer booster seats in the market now days are designed to give side impact protection as well as protect the child from frontal impact.
The side impact protection in booster cushions don’t really give any protection incase of a side impact, as most of the cushioning is at the base and there is no protection from the sides..
Booster cushions are designed to fit securely on a car seat and are held in place by the adult belt. An ordinary cushion must not be used, as these can’t be secured – in an accident the child is likely to slide under the seat belt.
Child Booster cushions can be used in the front seat or the rear seat of the car. It is always a safer option to put them in the rear of the car, specially if the passenger airbags are activated in the front.
The regulations for booster cushions are being reviewed. Some reports suggest changes to booster seats would come around December 2016. According to the new law booster seats will only be allowed for children who are taller than 125cm and weight more than 22kgs.
Safety and comfort
This is always going to be the number one priority while buying most things for our children. A new born baby is always kept in the lying position. It is generally a good idea to buy a pushchair/carrycot combination. Or a pushchair with a recliner so the baby can lie down on the back.
Here you have to consider storage in three places.
Space at home If where you live has space constraints, or you are just someone who likes to keep things out of sight, you would definitely want to consider something that is small enough to fold up and put away easily, but yet steady enough to keep the baby safe when on the move.
Space on the pram If your someone who’s on the move a lot, you might find having storage spaces provided by the pushchairs a useful option. We all need to carry baby food, nappies, a pair of clothes to change for the baby and so on. This storage does come in handy.
Consider the surroundings your mostly going to be moving the pushchair in. If your someone who’s going to frequent the parks often or someone who likes to walk a lot, then maybe you would want to consider a Swivel wheels pushchairs, as they easy to manoeuvre. While fixed wheel pushchairs are easier on smooth surfaces. Again if you are someone who has to climb a lot of stairs in the day then considering a light weight pushchair would be a good option. If you use public transport a lot, you might want to consider something light. If you use the car, you want to make sure it fits in the car seat well.
You want to stretch the use of the pram for more than six months. Another thing to consider would be if you could use it as a carrycot and a pushchair combination. The 3 in 1 combination pushchairs are usually suitability for babies up to 12 months old.
Height and Brakes
It is a good idea to get a feel of what the pushchair is like when the breaks are used. Are they easy to locate and not messy when trying to reach it. Are the breaks reliable and not flimsy. Another things to consider is how easy is it to handle for you and your partner. Incase you’ll are tall, you might want to consider a pushchair that has a adjustable handle height for you to stretch and hold the pushchair easily.
Pushchairs and Prams
A pram is designed more for new born babies since they have to be mostly positioned in the lying down position. While pushchairs are would see your children through their toddler years.
With a wide variety of pushchairs and prams they would obviously be a lot of different features available to suite each ones individual needs.
Some of the features available are
- Pushchairs with recliner seats
- 3 wheel pushchairs
- Swivel wheels pushchair
- Forward and rearward facing travel seats
Buggies and Strollers
Buggies and Strollers are usually light in weight, easy to carry around and fold up and store in small places. If you use public transport frequently, then this is the idea thing for your child.
Some of the features available are
- Lightweight Easy to manoeuvre
- Reclined seats
Travel Systems ( 2in1)
A complete travel system usually consists of a carrycot which is designed to fit in the car, according to law. And it can also be used as a pushchair as the carrycot system allows you to plug the cot straight on the pushchair. This is quite handy if you don’t want to wake your baby up, as its easy to move around. A feature that is available in the travel system, is where you can choose a recliner carrycot which keeps your baby in the lying position, as required.
Some of the features available are
- Recliner seats
- Easy to manoeuvre
- Forward and rearward facing
Tandem / Double pushchairs
Tandem or double pushchairs are basically two chairs for your children. You could have them either side by side or one in front of the other. They usually are position one behind the other. They are designed for two kids of different ages. One is usually suitable from birth, while the other chair is for older children. They are ideal for families with two kids, allowing you to take both the kids together. Newer designs have a optional feature that allows you to attach the second chair, when the need arises.
Some of the features available are
- Recliner seats in the back for the little one
- Suitable for children of different age groups
- Some models have infant carrier seats