Car safety and how to choose a car seat is something you’ve probably given a lot of thought to as a parent. Being able to get around and easily go to places without the struggle of public transport is highly beneficial when you have children.
As, let's face it, when you become a parent you basically become a taxi service for a tiny human! Between school, parties, play dates, days out and more having a car makes life so much easier.
So ensuring your children safe and comfortable in the car is crucial. Car seats and booster seats are the best way to go about this, and it’s not a decision you should make lightly.
Here are some tips to bear in mind when picking a car seat for your child.
How to choose a car seat
#1 Measure your car
If you have a smaller car, or more than one child, you might discover that you can’t comfortably fit all of the car seats and booster seats in the back. Knowing what kind of size you have to work with will narrow down your options when you’re choosing a seat.
You may even need to replace your car with a bigger model as your family grows. Some cars are also generally safer and so switching to a more family-friendly model may be on the agenda anyway.
#2 Always buy new
Since second-hand car seats could have been dropped, broken or even been in a previous crash- it’s essential you buy brand new. Even a second-hand seat that looks in good condition could be damaged which you’d never be able to tell from looking at it on the outside.
Any damage will affect how sturdy and safe it is, and so don’t take the risk. Buy a car seat from a reputable seller too, which will be made according to all of the safety laws in your country.
#3 Consider your child’s height and weight
Newborns and babies need to sit in rear-facing car seats, this is the safest position for them. Forward-facing seats have a minimum height and weight restriction, you’ll probably find your child reaches this at around age two.
Once they’re big enough to fit in a forward-facing seat, they can safely use them. Even when your child gets older, they are likely to need a booster seat up until around age 12 years. This is because seatbelts don’t sit on the correct places on smaller children making them dangerous in a crash.
"UK law states that children must use a child car seat until they're 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first." - Which?
#4 Know where to put a car seat
The safest place to put a car seat is in the back of the car, on the middle seat. Research on car safety for children has shown that this is the best place for a child seat to go. Even once they’re big enough to no longer need a booster seat, children should always be seated in the back seat as opposed to the passenger seat too.
"If the middle rear seat has a three-point (lap and diagonal) seat belt, this is the safest place to put a child restraint (unless the manufacturer's instructions say one of the other seats is better) because it is the furthest away from the sides of the car." - Source
#5 Consider a travel system
There are lots of travel systems which incorporate a child car seat and stroller that will grow with your baby and any new additions to the family. Having a car seat that is part of a travel system means you don’t have to wake baby when moving baby from car to stroller or vice-versa as you simply move the baby seat from the car and attach it to the stroller without needing to disturb them.
#6 Check the latest car seat laws in your country
There’s a lot to consider when you’re choosing a car seat for your baby. But when their safety is involved, it’s essential that you choose well and follow all of the current the safety guidelines regarding car safety and children. Safety guidelines in each country are regularly updated too, so make sure you checkout the latest legal guidelines like these for the UK: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules.
#7 Ask for advice at car seat retailers
Many car seat retailers offer an installation service, so do check these out for some of the best and latest advice!