Five Ways to Check Your Child’s Car Seat is Keeping Them Safe
We all know how important a car seat is for keeping children safe. In the UK, a car seat is a legal requirement for children until they are over 12 years old, or over 135 centimeters tall, whichever comes first.
It can be a bit of a minefield to choose the best seat and make sure it is fitted correctly. Here are five key car seat checks that you can do, to make sure your child is as safe as they can be when they’re out and about.
We have carefully researched the information in this article, but you should always refer to the Gov.uk website for up-to-date information on car seat law and safety. Please also be aware that car seat laws may differ by country when travelling abroad.
Correct stage for your child
Car seats are generally labelled in groups 0, 0+, 1, 2, and 3. You can find all the details about the type of car seat this refers to and the correct group for your child on the Gov.uk website.
If you are unsure which one to get, keep in mind that children of the same age can vary a lot in weight and size. Car seats are designed for weight and size, so this is usually more important to consider than age, particularly as children get older.
The car seat should also comply with all UK and EU crash test requirements. Approved height-based car seats will have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’. Approved weight-based car seats will have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’.
Ideally, car seats should be replaced every five to ten years, although this varies a lot depending on the model you buy.
It’s worth keeping in mind if you are passing down car seats between siblings, friends, or relatives.
Car seat designs are constantly being updated, so the newer they are, the safer they are likely to be. But they can be expensive, so it’s a balance between regular replacements and excessive costs.
If you have been in an accident then you should ideally replace your car seat as soon as possible, as it may have damage that can’t be seen. This may stop the car seat from working correctly.
The NHS recommends that parents don’t buy second-hand car seats, as there is no way of knowing for certain whether the seat has been in an accident.
Try to regularly check that your car seat is in good condition and replace it when needed. You’ll also be able to enjoy a crumb-free car seat too – if only briefly!
Research suggests that around two thirds of car seats are fitted incorrectly. You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions when fitting your car seat, as it may otherwise be too loose to be effective in an accident.
You can get the car seat fitted by the store when you buy it, but it’s worth double-checking that this is correct. You can find a guide to fitting car seats on the RoSPA website. It may also help to make sure that both you and your partner – and anyone else who may be using the car seat – know how to fit it correctly, in case it ever needs moving or adjusting.
It’s also important to check that the harness fits your child snugly and keep in mind that this can be different every time you get in the car, as it can be affected by the clothing they wear. According to RoSPA, If more than two fingers can fit between the child’s chest and the harness, it is too loose. In winter consider removing your child’s thick coat or bodysuit, to be sure the harness is tight enough.
Suitable for the car
It’s important to check whether the car seat you are buying is compatible with your car. You can find this information on RoSPA’s car seat compatibility guide, or on the product’s page when buying online. When buying a new car seat, it may be worth asking the retailer to let you try a few different car seats, to see which one fits best.
This may also be something to consider when you are shopping for a new car, to make sure that you will be able to find new car seats in the future without too much hassle.
Going without a car seat is a common cause for arguments. Perhaps your child visits your ex-partner, who doesn’t have a car seat available all of the time. Or maybe they stay with their grandparents for the night, who want to go out for the day with them.
But however brief the trip is – even if it’s just popping to the shops – a child must always use a car seat if they are not old enough or tall enough to go without one.
When you trust someone to care for your child you expect them to follow these safety guidelines. It can help to give them a car seat to use so you know that your child has access to one whenever they need it.
If your child is a regular visitor, you might consider investing in a second car seat to keep in the other person’s car at all times. Or, you might want to put it on your list of things to pack whenever your child is going away.
The CarGoSeat - The Car Seat That’s Also a Suitcase!
If that last one is a bit of a challenge, you’re not alone. There are so many things to keep track of as a parent, whether your child is away for the night or you’re all heading off on a family holiday. So how do you make sure there is always a suitable car seat available for your child, with as little hassle as possible?
The Good Toy Guide testers have found a great solution to your worries – the CarGoSeat! Suitable for children between 22-36kg and a height of 125-135cm, the CarGoSeat quickly turns from a booster seat into a lightweight wheeled suitcase with pull-along handle.
Whether they just want to take a few toys to gran’s, or pack for an overnight stay, they’ll be able to keep everything in one place. The 10 litre capacity, which is about the size of a small backpack, gives your child plenty of storage.
The plastic body and washable seat pad makes it easy to clean those inevitable spills. Although our testers suggested that the hard plastic would be a bit uncomfortable for longer journeys, it’s perfect for short trips. If you’re flying and want to store it in an overhead compartment though, this’ll keep your child’s snacks safe from getting squashed.
The CarGoSeat has been rigorously crash-tested and also comes with a 12 month warranty. When you’re done, you can even send it back to the company to recycle.
Find out what our child testers and child development experts thought, and pick up your own CarGoSeat (£39.99), at GoodToyGuide.com.
You can help keep your child as safe as possible in the event of a car accident by making sure they always have access to a good quality car seat. This should be suitable for their size and be fitted correctly. Consider taking a few moments tomorrow to check your child’s car seat, to give yourself that peace of mind.
Sponsored Article: This article may contain links to internal/external content related to our sponsor. All opinions are our own and all products mentioned have been approved by Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide through strict, independent testing processes.