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Best car seats 2024, tried and tested for safety | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey | #hacking | #aihp

Car seats FAQs

Fran Vaughan, managing director of Ickle Bubba, answered our questions:

Car seat safety standards explained

Car seats used in the UK must adhere to two standards: ECE R129, which is the latest regulation, or ECE R44. Car seats that adhere to ECE R129 are called iSize seats. These seats are fitted against your child’s height and ensure children are rear-facing until they’re 15 months old. Rear-facing travel is optimal for babies and children because it offers more protection for their necks if a collision does occur. All iSize seats have Isofix as standard and have side-impact collision testing as part of the approval process.

ECE R44 seats are fitted based on your child’s weight. Many allow your child to face forward from 10 months, and some allow you to fit the seat using just a seat belt. This is handy if your car doesn’t have Isofix fixings. These seats aren’t required to have side-impact collision testing as standard.

What is Isofix?

Isofix is a way for a car seat to be secured into your car. It’s designed to make fitting the seat easy, as research shows many older car seats are fitted incorrectly, which makes the seat unsafe. Car seats with Isofix have connectors that come out of the back of the seat and slide into your car’s Isofix fitting points. Many seats then have a green indicator or lights (usually in the base) to let you know the seat is securely fitted in place. Isofix anchors the car seat to the chassis of the car, locking it in place more securely than if you were to use just a seat belt. Often an additional top tether or support leg is then used to stop the seat tipping forward.

How do I know when my child is too big for their car seat?

Figuring out when your child is ready for the next size of car seat is relatively straightforward. With iSize seats, it’s based on height:

  • iSize baby – suitable from birth to 85cm (this tends to be around 15-18 months)
  • iSize baby and toddler – suitable from birth to 105cm (this is around four years of age)
  • iSize toddler – suitable from 65cm to 105cm (around 15 months to four years)
  • iSize child – suitable from 100cm to 135cm (around four years to 12 years of age, when they aren’t required to travel in a seat any more)

For the R44 seats, seat sizes are based on weight and go up in groups:

  • Group 0/0+ – suitable from birth to 13kg (up to about 15 months)
  • Group 0+/1 – suitable from birth to 18kg (up to about four years)
  • Group 0+/1/2 – suitable from birth to 25kg (up to around seven years)
  • Group 1 – suitable from 9kg up to 18kg (from about nine months to four years)
  • Group 1/2/3 – suitable from 9kg up to 36kg (from about nine months to 12 years of age)
  • Group 2/3 – suitable from 15kg to 36kg (from about nine months to 12 years of age)
  • Group 3 – suitable from 22kg to 36kg (from about five years to 12 years of age)

Your child may not fit the seat based on their age. It really depends on their weight or height, so it’s important to measure or weigh your child to check.

Multi-group seats are great for those who have different aged children using the seat, such as childminders or grandparents.

Why are car seats for babies rear-facing?

It’s generally much safer. When babies are sitting in a rear-facing car seat, the shell acts as a protective shield and absorbs any force, should there be an accident. As a result, the impact would spread over the whole area of the child’s back, neck and head, putting significantly less strain solely on the baby’s neck.

What age should kids start to sit forward-facing?

Legally, kids should only turn forward-facing once they weigh 9kg. At this stage, they will sometimes require a new car seat, depending on the model. However, many studies have recommended that children should stay rear-facing for longer than the legal requirement and, in some cases, up to four years old.

Will I need a base to fit the seat into my car?

When it comes to safety testing, car seats in the UK have to conform to one of two standards: ECE R129 is the newest European-wide regulation, known as iSize. This runs alongside the existing ECE R44 regulation, and parents can choose to use either seat type.

iSize uses your child’s height for fitting. For a car seat to be iSize compatible, it must be used with an Isofix base. Other car seats that fall under the ECE R44 regulation are split into groups based on weight, and don’t need a base.

What tips do you have for buying car seats at the various different stages?

Monitor the weight and height of your child regularly, to ensure you are using the correct car seat. Don’t rely on visual indicators only.

What’s the most important thing to look for in a child’s car seat?

Check that it meets ECE safety standards. A sticker is normally located on the car seat to indicate this. Also, make sure the car seat is compatible with your vehicle. Most are universal fitting, but it’s best to check before you purchase.

The verdict: Car seats

Our top pick for new babies is Nuna’s beautifully made pipa urbn – we loved the design and the fact it doesn’t require a separate base. Meanwhile, Maxi Cosi’s easy-swivel pearl 360 pro stands out for toddlers and should keep them comfy even during longer journeys. If you want just one seat to see you through early childhood, try BeSafe’s stretch B, with its adjustable headrest. It’s passed the rigorous Swedish Plus safety test, too.

Want more recommendations? Check out our guide to the best baby carriers

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