Choosing the right car seat is essential for the safety of your baby. There are so many brands now available to you but not all are the right fit for your car or child. Britax have shared with us some top tips on how to get the right car for your child and car.
1. Is your car seat the right fit for your child and your car?
Car seats are grouped by the child’s weight. Age is an indicator, but for maximum safety you need to know how much your child weighs to choose the right seat. You also need to ensure that the seat you have chosen is approved for your vehicle. Take your car with you when buying a seat and ask a trained staff member to demonstrate the fitting procedure.
To ensure parents choose the right seat for their child, Britax has created an online ‘Fit Finder’, which has approved vehicle lists, step-by-step user guides and installation videos to help you make the correct choice for you and your child.
2. Check whether your car has ISOFIX
Britax developed ISOFIX back in 1997 in conjunction with VW. It is now an international standard for child seats in vehicles. Because ISOFIX connects child seats rigidly to the vehicle chassis rather than just using adult seat belts, it reduces installation errors and increases child safety enormously. Only 30% of child car seats are installed correctly when using an adult seat belt compared to 96% when using the ISOFIX system*.
ISOFIX anchorage points are the most secure way to install a car seat. However, if your car does not have ISOFIX, there are some great belted seat alternatives, which use your car’s seat belt to their best possible effects.
What is ISOFIX +?
ISOFIX + is a brand new category in the car seat market introduced by Britax in April earlier this year. ISOFIX + seats use the standard ISOFIX installation system with the addition of a top tether belt system that fixes to an anchoring point behind the rear passenger seat. The first ever seat to launch with the unrivalled ISOFIX + installation system is the Group 1 forward facing TRIFIX which works to bring the seat to a gentle stop in an accident reducing forward and rotational movement, better protecting your child’s head, neck and pelvis.
Every family and child has different needs when it comes to car seats. BUT the features to look out for to ensure the utmost safety include;
Five-point safety harness
When buying a seat for a child aged from birth to four years check if there is a five-point safety harness. This system fully restrains your child over the pelvic and shoulder areas keeping them firmly secured in every direction. In the event of a crash, the harness evenly distributes the impact forces over the five points of contact minimising injury.
Easy headrest and harness adjustment
Lets you alter headrest and harness height without having to re-thread the shoulder straps ensuring there are no errors when re-fitting the harness.
Deeply padded side wings
Does the seat offer side impact protection for full head containment and body protection? 1 in 4 accidents is a side collision*1. Furthermore, side collisions account for 20% of child car seat crash fatalities*2. It is important to note that side impact collisions are yet to be recognized by EU regulations as a standard safety measure for car seats, so if the seat has the ECE R44/04 certification it does not necessarily mean the seat offers side impact protection in the event of a crash.
4. What other features should I consider?
- Look for quick remove covers that are machine washable. Ideally look for a cover you put on and take off without re-fitting the harness to eliminate re-threading errors and save you valuable time.
- Look for multi-recline positions that allow you to adjust the seat without disturbing your child.
- Look for comfort for your child with energy absorbing shoulder pads, pelvis pads and great fabrics.
5. What does the law say?
Child seats are compulsory for children up to 1.35m(UK) or 1.5m(Ireland) tall – depending on where you are travelling in the EU. Child restraint systems with the ECE R44/04 certification comply with this law. Note: Side impact collisions are yet to be recognised by EU regulations as a standard safety measure for car seats.
*The German insurance Institute GDV, Group 1
*1 Reference. Loughbrough University, 21st Internationla Tech Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, 2009 Stuttgart.
*2 Reference. 2005 Britax Study.