Child Car Seat Purchasing Tips

A child car seat is by far one of the most important items you’ll buy for your baby to keep them safe, so it’s crucial that you get the right one. So keep watching for everything you need before heading out to the shops. Children’s bodies are different from adults and far less force is needed to cause serious injury. That’s why getting the right child car seats to fit their growing body as it changes is so important. Child car seats are split into groups from newborn to three with each group designed to provide the right protection as your child grows. It’s so important that the law now says that you must use a seat for your child until they’re 12 years old or 53 inches tall. We’d go even further and recommend your child stays in the seat until they’re 59 inches tall. Before your baby is born you’ll need a rear-facing group zero plus child car seat and remember you won’t be able to leave the hospital without one. This kind of seat provides the best protection for babies and toddlers.

We recommend that you keep your child rearward facing until they’re at least 15 months old, reach the weight of 29 pounds, or the crown of their head is level with the top of the car seat. Babies’ heads are about a third of their body weight and their neck muscles are weak so if they’re forward facing, there’s a risk of the head being pulled by the force of the crash causing severe neck and spine injuries. Once they’ve grown too big, they’ll need a group one child car seat, which is for 19 – 40 pounds, and that’s around 9 months old to 4 years.

Once your child has outgrown a Group 1 seat, they’ll need a Group 2 or 2-3. This is for children weighing at least 33 pounds, which is around three years old. The recommended weight for each group overlaps, so hold off until your child reaches the top of the range before swapping. For a group one, two, or three child car seat, your child will also have outgrown it if his or her eyes on level with the top of the seat. Once your child’s old enough for a Group 2-3 seat it’s always good to get a high backed one rather than a backless one.

Our tests have proven that in a crash, a seat without side protection will leave your child’s head, neck and body at risk of hitting the side of the car causing serious injury. You can get child car seats that combine more than one group such as a 1,2,3 – However, our test have found that not all car seats protect your child at every single stage. I mean there is a big difference between a 15 pound baby and a 40 pound child.

Not all child car seats fit in all cars, so it’s vital you test it in the car you’re going to be using. You can be sure it fits properly. You should also make sure it will fit in any other cars you plan to use it in such as grandparents or baby sitters. Some manufacturers’ websites will list what cars their seats are expected to fit in, so it’s worth checking before you head to the shops. Check whether your car has ISOFIX mountings. ISOFIX is a standard system of fitting which is in most new family cars and it basically means that you can fit the child car seat without the use of a seat belt. Isofix seats have 2 or three points that can be fixed. There are two at the base and a third either as a strap to go over the back of the car seat or a drop down foot. We recommend looking for one with 3 points as it’s generally more secure if fitted correctly. If you get one with a drop down foot just check that you haven’t got underfloor storage as this will stop the brace from working.

Will you be transporting more than one child? If you already have child car seats make sure you take them along to the fitting so that you can check the new one will fit alongside provide them. Or if you can’t take them with you, at the very least mention it to the retailer.

How tall are you? Tall people in front seats can affect how much room there is for rearward facing child car seats, so keep this in mind while shopping. Never buy a child car seat secondhand or buy unofficial replacement parts. It may have been weakened by an accident or have wear and tear that could make it less safe child.

Even if you are using one from a friend or family member, it may have damage that you can’t see. We’ve tested hundreds of child car seats and found big differences between good ones and bad ones.

Are there any important points we missed? Let’s start a discussion in the comments…


This article, “How to Purchase the Best Child Car Seat“, is a derivative of “How to buy the best child car seat – Which? guide” by WhichWebsite, used under CC BY 3.0 US.
How to Purchase the Best Child Car Seat” is licensed under CC BY 3.0 US by Matthew Sayle d/b/a The Tenth Yard.
Changes Made: Video Translation to American English Text

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