Choosing The Best Child Car Seat For Your Little One

When you are planning your budget for the arrival of your new baby, one of the most important items to include, apart from the pram or pushchair, is the safest and most secure child car seat you can afford.

Flickr credit: Jon Pinder 

The car accident statistics make grim reading. Each year around 25 children between 0-11 years are killed while travelling in cars with approximately 250 sustaining a serious injury and around 6,000 being slightly injured.

Even if you don’t have a car yourself, if you are planning to travel anywhere by car, the law says that children under 3 must be in a child car seat.

If you do have a car but you don’t have room for a third child seat in the back of your car, children aged three or under can use the front seat but they must be in a child car seat.

The only exception to this rule is if it’s in a licensed taxi or minicab and the rear seats are separated from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats. If you ignore the law you are liable to a fine of £500.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Cardiff although we have some of the traditional black ‘London’ cabs, most taxis are saloon cars where there is certainly no partition.

In fact, UK law currently says that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) tall, whichever comes sooner.

In Ireland and in some European countries such as Germany and France, this height limit is higher at 150 cm (4 ft 11 in).

As children grow, the type of child car seat they can use changes until, eventually, they progress to what is known as a child booster seat.

For the first time parent, buying a child car seat can be quite daunting.  Not only are there loads of brands to choose from, but the car seats are classified in groups:-

Group 0+ – weight 13 kg, age birth to 12/15 months
Group 0/1 – weight 18 kg, age birth to 4 years
Group 1 – weight 9 – 18 kg, age 9 months to 4 years
Group 1,2,3 – weight 9-36 kg, age 9 months to 12 years
Group 2/3 – weight 15-36 kg, age 3 years to 12 years

So, to choose the right seat for your little one, you have to consider not only their age but their size too.

Then there is the choice between rear facing seats, where the baby obviously faces the back of the car seat and forward facing seats for older children.

Safety experts say that rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under 4 years old and advise that young children should be kept in rear facing seats for as long as possible. Despite this, generally, according to The British Medical Journal, many babies are switched from a rear facing to a forward facing seat at 9 kg or around 8 to 9 months.

Then there is a wealth of other safety factors and design features to consider for example, recline positions, the ease of adjusting the straps on the safety harness, compatibility with adult seat belts, washable cushions and a booster cushion for newborns who may be too tiny for even the starter car seat.

There are also loads of accessories to go with your car seat, from waterproof covers to toys you can attach to keep your little one occupied when on the road.

You can also buy pram systems where the child car seat can be attached to the pram frame so that you can lift baby straight of the car and onto the pram wheels without having to transfer them over from the car seat to the pram – no fun in pouring rain and a gale I can tell you!

There is so much to consider that your best bet is to find a child car seat retailer who offers the widest choice and helps you compare the different makes and models at a glance, such as

Online 4 Baby is the UK’s cheapest online baby megastore and offers a wide range of discounted travel systems, prams, pushchairs, twins, car seats, baby cots, furniture and nursery equipment stockists of top brands including Graco, Cosatto, Baby Jogger, Mamas and Papas, Hauck at discounted prices.

In addition, the company has had over 255,000 positive reviews and is ranked the No. 1 top rated power seller in the UK for nursery products.

Whatever you choose, be sure that you are buying the best child car seat you can afford for your children and keep yourself appraised of the latest Government rules and regulations.

And don’t be afraid to ask for advice. The best child car seat retailers won’t hesitate to answer all your questions – and don’t worry, you’re sure to have quite a few.

I know we did!

A note on child backless booster seats – at present, children weighing as little as 15 kg (2 stone 5 lbs) can travel in backless booster seats but from the end of 2016 the rules about using these are changing. You can read about them here