Updated guidance on buying a car seat

Choosing a car seat can be confusing, even for us as professionals!

Our blog will help you find your way through the minefield of choosing the right car seat for your child and give you an update on some new terminology.


Changes in the Law

The law around booster seats is due to change in March 2017 and states that manufacturers will no longer be able to introduce backless booster seats for children less than 22kgs or shorter than 125cms. Don’t worry if you are using a booster at the moment, as you will not be breaking the law. The change in the law is to ensure that manufacturers do not produce any further new models of backless booster for this age group. This is due to the safest option being a high backed booster cushion, as this offers more protection from a sideways impact.

All children travelling in a car under the age of 12 or under 135cms, must use a car seat or booster of some description. After 12 years, they must use an adult seat belt.



What is Isofix?

Isofix is the internationally recognised method of anchoring a car seat into a car which is safer and easier, giving you the security that the car seat is fitted securely each time.


What is ‘I-size’?

You may have heard of ‘I-size’? This is also known as ‘ECE Regulation 129’. This has been around since 2013 and supports the current safety standard (R44.04) but does not replace it. Parents can buy car seats that conform to either standard for the next few years. Running both systems at the same time enables car seat manufacturers to catch up, whilst giving parents the benefit of the latest safety advances.

The law around I-size is still being developed, so further changes in the law are likely over the next few years as the I-size safety standards are being modified and strengthened.

I-size car seats fit into cars which have Isofix fixing points, but not all I-size seats will fit into all Isofix fixings so it is advised to check this with your car/car seat manufacturer.  In time, all cars will have Isofix fittings so that I-size car seats can be fitted.

I-size is based on height rather than weight as this is something that parents are more likely to know. I-size keeps children rear facing for longer which is safer and it offers better all-round protection as the seat will have also have undergone a side impact test.


Buying and choosing a car seat.

If your car seat is not I-size, your car seat should conform to ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03), be suitable for child’s weight and size and be properly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Click on the following link for advice on how to buy, choose and fit car seats.


Use this checklist to help you select the child seat that is most suitable for your child and your vehicle(s).

There are car seats that can be used from 0-12 years, and can be both rear and forward facing depending on the age of your child. However, it is important to check that the adult restraining seat belt is long enough.


Second-hand seats

As car seats can be expensive it may be tempting to buy one second-hand.  ROSPA recommend that you don’t buy a second-hand car seat for several reasons. The history of the seat may not be fully known and it may have had several owners. You may not be aware if it has been involved in an accident as any damage may be invisible. Instructions for fitting may be missing which compromises its safety as well as the fact that if it is older it may not conform to current safety standards.

If you must buy a second-hand seat, buy from a family member or friend but only if you are certain of its history, make sure that the instructions are available and that it conforms to current safety standards.

See www.childcarseats.org.uk for further advice.

See our website for further advice about car seat safety.

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