As parents, there are many decisions you have to make for your child’s safety – and choosing the right car seat is one of them. It can be a bit of a daunting process, especially if you’re unsure if you’ve picked the correct one for you, your child and your car. It’s also a very important purchase, as you won’t be able to leave the hospital after giving birth, without one. So, it should be a priority on your baby-buys shopping list, and definitely worth the time to make sure you have the right one.
As your child grows older, their safety in the car whilst you’re driving is still just as important, so the time and thought behind buying a car seat should continue throughout the years, as they move from a baby to a toddler car seat, and then a child’s car seat.
There can also be some misinformation out there when it comes to buying a rear-facing car seat, with 1 in 3 parents planning to go forward-facing sooner than is recommended, as shown in a recent survey conducted by In Car Safety Centre.
To help make that decision easier, and ensure you don’t have the wrong seat, read through this handy guide for mums, all about car seat safety.
Do you need a rear-facing car seat?
A common query that mums face is whether to go for a front-facing or rear-facing car seat. According to research by the Baby Products Association (BPA), a rear-facing child’s car seat is much safer than that of a front-facing, offering up to 75% more protection if you happened to be involved in an accident, especially as a frontal collision is the most dangerous of accidents. In this case, a rear-facing car seat will take most of the impact, as a child is flung into the back of it, rather than forward, which can cause strain to the neck and limbs.
Despite this research and expert recommendations, the recent children’s car seat survey found that 1 in 4 parents plan to move to forward-facing car seats as soon as possible. So, it’s a common mistake that you may be making by moving your child into a forward-facing seat too soon. After all, according to the experts, the longer you can keep your little one in a rear-facing seat, the better.
How does a car seat work?
Majority of mums know what a car seat is, but do you know enough about them? Car seats are detachable seats with a hard shell and certain safety measures in place, in order to transport your child or baby when you’re in a vehicle.
There are various brands available, such as the Britax Car Seats in the UK, as well as different ways it is secured into the interior of the car. Most car seats use a harness to fasten your baby in place, which can evolve to use the already installed seat belt when your child gets older. In terms of securing the car seat itself, it can use the car seat belts again, or some sort of fastening system or in-car base unit, like an ISOFIX. This will depend on the car seat you buy and the type of car you own, so you should research which type suits you best, or talk to an expert, to make sure you buy the right one to fit in your car.
How tall is your child and how much do they weigh?
Did you know that the right car seat for your child depends on their weight and height? So, if your child is below or above the minimum or maximum weight or height restrictions for their seat, then you’ve got the wrong one. Other than consulting the manual of the car seat for these figures, you can also check the harness for too much or too little slack – as a guide, you shouldn’t be able to get more than two fingers between the harness and your child’s chest.
Your child only becomes too big for their car seat when they exceed the maximum weight for that seat, or when the top of their head is higher than the top of the seat. So, if buying the next stage car seat – from baby to toddler, or toddler to child – always measure their height and weight to check if they are ready to do so. When they reach 135cm or 12 years old (whichever comes first) then they will have to start using the adult car seat belts, with the option of a booster seat or cushion.