My child is nearly at the weight for their next seat, can they use it now?

Don’t rush them out of their current seat, as their bones are still developing and need the protection the seat offers.

I don’t need to worry as I only do short or occasional journeys.

It would be great if we could predict when, where and how a collision was going to occur, but we can’t. Always prioritise your choice by its suitability for your child and car before your budget.

What are the red and blue markings on the child seat for?

To fit the seat correctly using a car seatbelt follow the blue guides for a rearward facing seat, the red guides are for forward facing seats.

When do they no longer need a car seat?

The law in the UK states that a child needs to use a suitable restraint until they are 12 years of age or 135cm tall, based on whichever they reach first.

Are children allowed in the front seat?

Yes they are as long as they are using a suitable child seat, if needed. But the safest place is in the back.

Babies and the myth of the 2 hour rule.

Don’t keep your baby in their car seat for a long time without checking them, as they need regular breaks to get out and stretch.

All car seats fit all cars.

This is far from true, so you need to try it in your car before you buy.

Could I use a friend’s second hand car seat?

Even if you know the full history of the restraint and you’re confident it has never been in a collision or misused it’s not worth risking your child’s life.

Altering the restraint won’t matter.

Always make sure you are using the restraint as the manufacturer designed it. It’s vital to have a correctly restrained child, in a well fitted seat.

Why are some seats rearward facing?

A young child’s neck, head and spine are very fragile, rearward seats offer more protection and can help to reduce potential injuries. Keep your baby rearward facing for as long as possible.

How do seats with impact shields fit with the new legislation?

The issue regarding transporting children rearward facing until 15 month old is just one part of the new legislation and we will see new developments as its progresses. Currently there are no i-size seats which incorporate impact shields, but this doesn’t mean to say that we won’t see them in the near future.

A child can be secured by either a safety shield or a harness, as long as the design of the seat meets the requirements of i-Size including all the crash testing.

I wanted to make my new car seat for my baby a little prettier, can I put in a colourful liner? Or a cosy toes for winter?

Thick clothing, cosy toes and blankets can make the harness less effective and could prevent the seat from working correctly in a collision Be very careful making any adaptions to any child seat – only use those approved by your car seat manufacturer. It’s always worth checking with their customer services team as to what they have available and recommend.

Are high back boosters the safest choice for ages 6 upwards? I have heard that children this age lean forward and therefore don't benefit from side protection. In this case would a normal booster seat be safer?

High backed boosters offer upper body protection for the neck, spine and head and help position the seat belt correctly across the child’s chests and hips. In a collision, especially a side impact, a booster cushion wouldn’t offer this protection and therefore it is recommended that a child uses this type of seat until they reach at least the minimum legal requirement of 135cm in height.

Check that the vehicles head restraint isn’t holding down or pushing the high backed booster seat forward, causing the child to lean forward and not benefit from the protection it offers.

BeSafe say that their ERF seats are 5x safer. I know it relates to the load on the child's neck in the event of an accident. However, 5 x safer than what? 5 times safer than ANY forward facing seat, or 5 times safer than a harnessed seat? If this is true, why do seats with impact shields top the Which? Best Buy charts, and the first ERF seat is 11th in the chart, and only scores 4 stars for overall safety rear facing (not 5 stars.). What is the truth behind the marketing? Are ERF really safer? Are impact shields safer for the child as the Which results imply?

Extended rear facing (ERF) seats offer greater protection to the neck and spine, in a forward facing collision. However we can never predict what type of collision we could have, where it will happen, or which other vehicles are involved.

The Which? Best buys look at a wide range of child car seat issues, including ability to protect a child in a collision, ease of use for parents, simplicity of fitting/ instructions and the price. So when you want to simply consider the effectiveness in a collision it’s worth just looking at this aspect of the restraints results rather than the overall best buys.

I want to buy a seat for my Grandchild. When I go and get advice, how do I know the person I am talking with is qualified to answer my questions. Surely a subject as important as Car Seats requires people to be qualified. I just want to make sure I get the right information to keep my Grandchild safe.

Yes you are absolutely right to make sure that you get the best advise there is available in your area, I would recommend that you look to see if they have the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health qualification in Child Seat Safety Awareness. We have a list of qualified advisors across the UK and if you visit our web site www.childseatsafety.co.uk you can find someone who will be happy to help, don’t worry if there is no one local, you can always email us at info@childseatsafety.co.uk and our team will hopefully be able to find you someone nearby.

My other recommendation would be to do some homework before you go to purchase the seat, check out what would suit your needs, Take the cars along that you want to use the restraint in and find out your grandchild’s weight in kilos – even better take them with you if you can.

Also check out the Which? car seat retailer charter, this is a list of issues/ questions that the retailer should ask you, if they don’t ask you, it’s always advisable to tell them, so they have a very good picture of what you need to keep your precious cargo safe.

Always ask the retailer to fit the seat into your car(s) – as they’ll need to see it all in place to give you the correct advice. If you have any doubts about their advice or the fitting, don’t purchase the seat straight away, go away and do some further investigation into the restraint and your car.

 

I understand that the new legislation runs parallel with the current legislation and that there is no requirement to purchase a new car/ car seat so long as your current car and car seat complies with either piece of legislation. What I am uncertain of, however, is whether any new car seat I buy has to be rearward facing up to the age of 15 months or can I still purchase a forward facing seat for 9-10 months and upwards? My 2 year old faces forward in her seat but I will have to purchase a new seat in due course for my 16 week old baby. What should I be buying? My car has isofix points. Thank you.

You will still be able to purchase both standards of car seat from all retailers, so it’s completely your choice if you want to purchase a i-Size restraint or a R44.04.

i-Size seats are tested to a higher standard and included additional testing that wasn’t required in ECER44.04, so choosing these does have clear benefits. However you need to ensure that any car you use the restraint in is compatible, this will mean checking a vehicle compatibility list for the make and model of seat you are interested in, before you purchase. These lists come with each restraint, so just ask the retailer to check for you.

I was recently at a road safety conference in Dublin. In a survey the Irish Road Safety Authority found that 3 out of 4 child seats were incorrectly fitted and would therefore not meet required performance in the event of a collision. They have initiated "Check it fits" roadshows visiting supermarkets, etc. Are any similar initiatives planned in the UK?

Over the last two years, Child Seat Safety Ltd have carried out over 4,000 child seat checks through enforcement campaigns and community check events. Needless to say we are continuing through this year as well.

At these events we have found that 51% of children and or seats are incorrectly fitted. In 2013 we published our research report into our findings at these events and proposed a way forward to address the issues. For more information and a copy of the report see www.childseatsafety.co.uk

I'm having trouble with my ERF, Isofix, swivel seat. I am speaking to the company but it looks as though I'm going to have to have a different seat. I'm not going to be able to have rear-facing (she's 18 months) so my choice will be between forward facing static Isofix seat or forward-facing swivel non-Isofix. Having a swivel seat makes my life easier, and I feel I can pull the straps tighter, but I want the one which is safest for my child. If fitted correctly, do you think a non-Isofix seat can be as safe as Isofix?

Any car seat is only as good as the way it is fitted. As long as you have the seat fitted correctly the seatbelt will work just as well as the ISOFix points, holding the child restraint secure in a collision. But remember it’s just as important to ensure the child is seated safely and securely in the restraint.

If a restraint with a swivel feature is more convenient for you, it suits your child’s weight etc.  and you can find one that is compatible with your vehicle, then use that.

I'm confused with i-Size as a lot of websites say it's the new regulation but than others say it's just a part of a new regulation. Which is it?

You can currently purchase child restraints that conform to i-Size which is Regulation 129 and also ECE R44.04 – so they are two separate standards.

The i-size standard is being released in phases and we are yet to see Phases 2 and 3 and therefore that’s why it may seem it’s part of a new regulation. Once these phases are completed and agreed they will be included into the Regulation 129.