What is I-Size?
You are definitely not alone by not understanding the new EU regulation that is I-SIZE! There are lots of people that buy an i-size car seat but don't actually know what it means, so we are going to try and explain it to you… here goes…
Do I need to buy a new car seat?
No. The first thing you need to know is that i-size does not replace the current but older law, they simply run alongside each other. Until around 2018, manufacturers and shops are still allowed to sell non-i-size car seats and they are able to be used as long as they fit within the old legislation.
'i-size' is a new EU safety regulation for child car seats. It was introduced in July 2013 to make child car seats easier to fit, provide better protection from side impacts and keep children rearward-facing for longer. I would like to point out that i-size only applies to Isofix seats.
- i-size seats are based on the child's height rather than weight, it uses the child's height to determine if the seat fits the child, rather than their weight. So, it's important to check that your child's height is within the range of the seat. As a parent, you tend to know your child's height better than their weight, which should make it easier for you to judge if the seat is suitable for your child and also when they should move up into a larger seat.
- the i-size regulation has rearward-facing restraints that mean babies would stay rearward facing until they are at least 15 months old, as before this point their neck is not fully developed. At the moment, parents often move their baby to a forward-facing seat much too soon. So this bit of i-size is great in providing much more guidance as to when is the right time to move your baby to forward-facing.
- i-size includes a side impact test to ensure that the seats provide better protection from side-impact collisions. WHY? Lots of parents are moving their children from rear-facing car seats to forward-facing car seats too early. The danger of doing this is that in the event of an accident, a baby’s neck isn’t fully developed or strong enough to support a heavy head which can lead to spinal injury. Keeping baby rearward facing for longer is a much safer way to travel.
Many parents move their baby to a forward-facing car seat too early, typically at around 9 months (group 1 from 9kgs – 18kgs) or mistakenly believe that the child outgrows the seat when their feet stick out of the seat shell. This is because the current regulation uses a confusing weight-group classification that can be easily misunderstood to allow moving your baby to a forward-facing car seat at 9 months. This premature switch from rearward to forward-facing places the child in greater danger of head and neck injury because the baby’s neck is not yet developed enough to support their relatively heavy head.
Remember the 2-hour rule!
Whilst in a car seat, babies and children younger than 3 can often end up in a bit of a scrunched up position… especially if they fall asleep! This can compromise their breathing. It is therefore recommended that babies stay in them for no longer than 2 hours at a time. You should also remember this when out and about with a car seat on your pushchair chassis, as this rule would still apply… it doesn't just mean in the car.
At the moment the full height classifications are yet to be agreed. But it is likely that i-size will restrict forward-facing until the baby is 80cm (10cm more than under previous guidelines). Then once your toddler gets to 105cm they should be moved up into a Group 2/3 car seat.
i-size works in 3 phases and they are currently only at phase 1. Which covers restraints on children 40cm – 105cm. When the standards come into place for group 1/2/3 car seats the height measurements will be based on a range of 5 dimensions, including the measurements of your child's hip to shoulder, shoulder to shoulder and so on.