Monday, 16 July 2012

Guest post: Child car seats - a quick guide

We're starting to think about the practicalities of having another child in the house (rather than just the soft and squishy yumminess - yep those pregnancy hormones are kicking in BIG time) and one thing we will need to consider pretty quickly is a car seat for Peanut. There are so many legal requirements around child car seats, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's confused, so I'm happy to hand over to Sainsbury's Car Insurance today who've developed this quick and simple guide.

If you’re driving with children, using an appropriate child car seat is a legal requirement - and with good reason: experts say that a correctly fitted child car seat greatly reduces the risk of death and serious injury in a crash.

Despite this, many parents still don't know how to choose and use car seats properly. In fact, according to the Observer, 66% of child car seats are incorrectly fitted.

So here are some things that all parents should know about child car seats.

Child car seats and the law

The law requires all children travelling in cars to use the correct child restraint until they are either 135cm in height or the age of 12, whichever they reach first. (After this they must use an adult seat belt.) 

There are various types available, and which you need depends on the child’s weight:

Rearward-facing baby seat - for babies up to 13kg

This is the first type of seat your baby will need. It should be used for as long as possible, as it protects the baby’s head, neck and spine. In fact, a rear-facing baby seat reduces the risk of fatal injury in a crash by more than 70%, according to the AA.

However, a rear-facing baby seat cannot be fitted in the front passenger side if the car has air bags. (This could cause severe injury to the baby upon impact.)

Children should be moved to a forward-facing seat only when the top of their head is higher than the top of the seat, and when they can sit up unsupported.

Forward-facing child seat - for children weighing 9-18kg

This is the seat to buy when your child has outgrown the rear-facing seat. This seat should be used with an integral harness which can help reduce injuries during a crash. It also prevents the child from slipping out of the seat. If the car has air bags in the front, the seat should be fitted in the rear. The seat should be used until the child has outgrown it.

Booster seats and booster cushions - for children weighing 15-25kg and 22-36kg

Modern booster seats are suitable for children between 15-36kg. However, booster cushions vary. Some are suitable for children between 15-36kg and others for children above 22kg. Check before purchasing. These seats and cushions don't have any harnesses and should be properly fastened using the car’s seat belts. If the car has front air bags, it’s safer to use these seats in the rear.

Safety standards

All UK child car seats must follow the United Nations ECE regulation R44.03 or the later version, R44.04. If you have an older version of the R44, you may need to upgrade.

Another important standard is ISOFIX. It aims to make the fitting process quicker and easier and is internationally recognised.

Fitting tips

  • Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The seat belt buckle shouldn’t bend or rest on the frame of the child seat.
  • Ensure the child seat is secured firmly and the seat belt passes through all the correct grooves.
  • The seat belt or the child seat should not be altered to make them fit.
  • Visit a clinic run by your local road safety team to get the best advice on fitting. 
Replacing a child car seat after an accident

Every child car seat involved in a crash must be replaced. You must still replace it if there is no outward damage - an accident can affect the seat’s quality and prevent it from functioning properly in the future. The seat belt and all its attachments should also be thoroughly checked for damage. Check that your car insurance covers the cost of replacing a child car seat.


  1. 15 October 2012 10:59

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  10. 26 April 2013 10:57

    I know I'm the same! Glad you find it useful :D

  11. 26 April 2013 10:57

    Oooh now this is interesting that they don't mention the option of rear facing car seats for group 1...tut tut Sainsburys:
    "Forward-facing child seat - for children weighing 9-18kg
    This is the seat to buy when your child has outgrown the rear-facing seat."
    I've just blogged about it funnily enough. We are in love with the rear facing ones now.

  12. 26 April 2013 10:57

    Ahh now THAT'S interesting, just read your post too and I wasn't aware of it either. Will drop them a line to let them know, thank you!

  13. Bradley26 April 2013 10:57

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