My child is nearly at the minimum weight / height 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 coloured markings on the child seat for?

Depending on which safety regulator you car seat conforms to you will see either red, blue or green markings on the  child seat. These are there to show you how to correctly fit the seatbelt around the child seat  or, in the case of older children; around the child and the child seat. Follow the blue guides for a rearward facing seat, red guides for forward facing seats and green guides can be used for either forward or rearward 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. However, it doesn’t mean you have to stop using the child seat! High backed booster seats are designed to last up to at least 150cm. so you can continue to use it and get that extra protection that it offers. 

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 for a child is in the back.

Babies and the myth of the 2 hour rule.

Car seats are for cars, they aren’t a feeding chair, carry cot or rocker.  So keep this time down to as little as possible for the first few months. Avoid long journeys but if you do need to make them, its recommended that a responsible adult sits in the rear with them to monitor their welfare.  After the first few months, don’t keep your child in their car seat for a long time, make sure they have regular breaks away from the seat to get out and stretch. The 2 hour rule comes from the Highway Code recomendation for Drivers, but remember children are not small adults.

All car seats fit all cars.

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

Even if your child seat states “Universal” on it, this doesn’t mean it fits into all vehicles, it means it is secured using a universal fixing system – in other words a seatbelt!

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. Just like cars, over time, Child car seats will suffer from wear and tear, so we shouldn’t expect a seat to be working as perfectly as the day it was bought. 

Altering the Child Seat won’t matter.

Always make sure you are using the child seat 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 child rearward facing for as long as possible.

What is i-Size?

All iSize seats have passed the latest safety regulation ECER129. But they also have the advantage that  they have specific features that can fit into a vehicle that also displays the iSize logo. This means that if we have an iSize seat and an iSize vehicle we know it will fit in that car.

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 booster seats the safer choice for ages 6 and up?

In a collision, especially a side impact, a booster cushion wouldn’t offer this protection and therefore it is recommended that a child use a high backed boosters as this offers upper body protection for the neck, spine and head and help position the seat belt correctly across the child’s chests and hips. However, using it too early could have a negative effect so hence the reason they are designed for children around 6 years of age and upwards.

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.

If your child likes to sleep in the car, look for a High Backed booster that also has a recline feature, this means they can still get the safety benefits of the seat and are less likely to tip forward and away from the seats protection.

Some car seat manufacturers say that their ERF seats are 5x safer.What does this mean?

Extended rear facing (ERF) seats  can accommodate children up to 6 and 7 years old  and they offer greater protection to the neck and spine, in a forward facing collision . Although, we can never predict what type of collision we could have, where it will happen, or which other vehicles are involved

However, 5 x safer than what? 5 times safer than ANY forward facing seat, or 5 times safer than a harnessed seat?  Different manufacturers will refer to different “statistics” so its confusing for consumers.  

Frontal impacts are commonly the most severe type of collision to be involved in, with the highest speeds and greatest forces, so in these types of collisions a rear facing seat would offer the best protection. However, you still want to ensure that a car seat has good side protection, this is because 25% of collisions in the UK are side impacts and your child is very close to the impact point, regardless of them being forward or rearward facing and cars don’t have crumple zones on the side of them unlike those you find on the front and rear of the car.

When I go and get advice, how do I know the person I am talking with is qualified to answer my questions. 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, we 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 on our find an advisor pages who  you can contact and they will be happy to help.

Make sure you 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, and height in cm– even better take them with you if you can.

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.

What does the car seat manufacturers fit finder list check for?

Lots of car seat manufacturers have Fit Finders, some also call them compatibility lists. These lists check if the car seat is compatible with your car and which vehicle seats to place the child seat on to.

All you have to do is know the make, model and year of the cars you are planning on using and you can then check if it appears on the compatibility list for the child seat.

Compatibility lists check features in your car such as a suitable seatbelt is present, the ISOFix is present, the ability to accommodate that size of child seat, top tethers etc. 

But please be aware it doesn’t do everything. So for example, it isn’t able to confirm the length of the seatbelt, the ability to fit more than one child seat, if the driver needs additional leg room and therefore reducing the space in the rear seats or that the seat can actually rotate when locked in position. And it doesn’t crash test that seat in the chosen seating position in that vehicle.

So we would always recommend that the compatibility list is the starting point and the physical fit is always recommended to ensure physical compatibility. This is where you should use the help of a retailer, who can do this for you.