Car Seat Buying Guide: What to Look for When Buying a Car Seat
Safety and comfort are always at the forefront of parents’ minds when buying items for their new baby, especially car seats. The right car seat is paramount to your child’s safety when travelling and could save their life in the event of a collision. Therefore, it’s worth spending a fair amount of time doing your research into car seats before going out to buy one.
We know that this is easier said than done; there are lots of rules, regulations and buzz words to wade through. Car seats may all look like they operate the same way, but every family’s needs will be different. Beautiful Bambino are here to explain how to choose the right one for your child.
Know the Law
There are strict guidelines surrounding car seats, and these change as your child grows. It’s imperative that parents familiarise themselves with these laws in order to keep their children safe.
UK law states that children under 12 years of age (or under 135cm tall) must have a car seat. Car seats must also comply with EU safety standards. You can check this by looking at the label and finding a capital E. Height-based car seats will also show “R129” and weight-based seats will show “ECE R44”.
Infants should be in rear-facing seats until they weigh 15kg or are 15 months of age - whichever comes first. This is because they need to be able to support their head before moving to face forward.
Identify Your Car Seat Group
Car seats often come in different “groups” based around weight categories. Knowing which group you’re looking for will help you identify the right car seat for your child.
- Group 0: 0-10kg (rear-facing, birth to 6-9 months)
- Group 0+: 0-13kg (rear-facing, birth to 12-15 months)
- Group 1: 9-18kg (around nine months to four years)
- Group 2: 15-25kg (about 4-9 years)
- Group 3: 22-36kg (about 6-11 years).
Moving to a Forward-Facing Car Seat
As we mentioned previously, car seats for babies that are under 15 months old or 15kg must be rear-facing. When your baby is ready, they’ll move into a Group 1 seat. These should come with a harness that goes over the shoulder and secures in the front. This harness is adjustable so it can grow along with your child.
Multi-Group Seats and Travel Systems
You can purchase a new car seat at each stage of your child’s development or you can invest in a group 1-3 car seat. This will grow with your child and last them from the ages of 9 months to 12 years.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about i-Size and Isofix-compatible car seats, so allow us to clear things up a little.
i-Size is a strict European safety standard that aims to simplify the process of finding a car seat; the idea is that eventually, all car seats will fit all cars. Wouldn’t that make things a whole lot easier!
These seats are based on height rather than weight and they provide protection from side impact collisions which, surprisingly, is not currently a legal requirement. i-Size seats are only available for children up to 105cm tall, or around 4 years of age.
Isofix, meanwhile, is a car seat safety system which uses anchor points to secure the seat in place. This is the safest way to attach a car seat and provides extra protection for your child. All i-Size car seats require Isofix. However you’ll need to check that your vehicle is also Isofix compatible before making a purchase.
Most modern family cars are Isofix-friendly but you need to be sure. Look for Isofix labels and/or fitting points between the base and back of your car seats. If you’re unsure, check your vehicle’s handbook and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer for extra peace of mind. Of course, we at Beautiful Bambino are always happy to help and answer any questions you have, too.
Other Features to Look For
- Deep side wings: Child safety experts advise that deep side wings offer extra protection in the instance of a side-on collision.
- Air ventilation system: This helps to keep your child cool and comfortable, even on hot summer days.
- Reclining headrest: This prevents your child’s head from tipping forward when they fall asleep.
- A 5-point harness: This involves two shoulder straps, two waist straps and a crotch buckle to keep your child in a safe position.
Say “No” to Second Hand
It can be tempting to look for a second-hand car seat. However, you have no way of knowing whether the seat has been damaged or tampered with. A car seat is only safe if you know 100% of its history, so buying a brand new one is always the best option for your child.
Buy with Confidence
At Beautiful Bambino, we only stock high-quality car seats that meet the strictest EU safety standards, so you can choose your car seat with confidence when you buy from us. Our car seats are not only safe, but also comfortable for your little one, and they come in a variety of stylish colours and patterns.
If you’re unsure about what the best choice is for you and your child, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re always happy to help you find the right car seat for your baby and, of course, to ensure that it will fit your car properly. We understand that you might feel anxious about choosing a car seat and we want to make this process as smooth as possible so that you can enjoy total peace of mind.