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Last month, a new report by Good Egg Safety revealed that a shocking 34% of 8-11 year olds in the UK are failing to use booster seats on car journeys. The current law states that if your child is under 12 years old or less than 135cm in height, they must be in an appropriate car seat.
A booster seat will provide older children with protection, but parents are being strongly advised to invest in high-back booster seats for the extra protection children require in the event of an accident.
Below, Trusted Dealers outlines some top tips on child car seats and the current government regulations on the appropriate car restraints for your child.
Compatibility – Check that the car seat you’re considering buying is compatible with your car. Most modern cars are now fitted with ISOFIX mounts, which is the international standard for attachment. You must only use a child car seat if your car’s seat belt has a diagonal strap, unless the car seat is either specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt or fitted using ISOFIX anchor points.
Movement – if your car seat moves around and does not feel secure, it is probably not fitted into your car correctly. You should contact the manufacturer for further advice, or return the car seat to the shop you bought it from to be checked for faults. Some shops such as Mothercare will actually fit the car seat into your car at the time of purchasing. If you have any further doubts, replace the seat.
Make regular checks – regularly check the condition and attachment of your child’s car seat as some car seats will suffer from wear and tear. The manufacturer’s tag will have details of the expiration date of the seat.
Installation – always install the car restraint on the back seat of your car when possible. If the front of the car is the only option, if the car seat is rear-facing, make sure that the front passenger airbag is deactivated before installation.
Rear-facing car seats – are preferable for children up to 4 years old. Small children are more at risk of spinal cord injuries in front facing seats, so leave them in a rear facing seat for as long as necessary.
The harness – small children can wriggle out of harnessses so it’s important to make sure the straps of the harness are secure. Check the harness is the correct height and pulled comfortably around your child. You can check it is not too tight by placing two flat fingers between your child’s collarbone and the harness.
EU approved – Only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle.
Choosing child car seats – A child car seat can be chosen based on your child’s height or weight. Height based car seats must be rear facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child car use a forward-facing car seat when they are over 15 months old. Weight based car seats must be rear-facing until your child weighs more than 9kg. Below is a breakdown of which type of car seat can be used depending on the weight of your child.
|Child’s weight||Type of car seat|
|0kg to 13kg||Rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness|
|9kg to 18kg||Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield|
|15kg to 36kg||Forward-facing child seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seatbelt|
Visit the Child Car Seats website for more information on how to choose a car seat and travel safely with children in cars.