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The doís and don'ts of using car safety seats for children

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 19th December 2017 11:20am

baby in child car seat

The safety of your child is extremely important - especially when youíre in the car. To make sure your little one is secure while youíre out and about on the roads, itís essential that you put them in a suitable car safety seat. However, there are a lot of rules and regulations around using these accessories. To ensure youíre doing everything right, take a look at these doís and don'ts.

Do pay attention to what the law says

When it comes to driving, itís crucial that you abide by the law, whether itís wearing your seat belt while youíre behind the wheel or sticking to the speed limit. Itís also vital that you pay attention to what it says in regards to your childís safety and using a car seat. The laws states that children must use a child car seat until they are 12 years old or 1.35 metres tall. Kids over this age and height must use a seat belt.

The car safety seat model you choose must be approved. This means it must be tested to European standards - either the latest Regulation 129, which is often referred to as i-Size, or Regulation 44, which is sometimes shortened to R44.

As the driver, itís your responsibility to make sure your child is safe and secure for the duration of every car journey you make. If youíre found to be breaking this law, you could face a £100 fixed penalty notice.

Donít buy second-hand unless you know exactly what youíre getting

Thereís no denying that child car seats can be expensive to buy, and since itís likely your little one will grow out of it quickly, itís probably something youíre reluctant to splash out on. As a result, you may to tempted to buy a seat second-hand in an attempt to save some cash. However, this isnít always recommended. You may not know the full history of the seat, such as whether itís previously been damaged (for example if it has been in a car accident). If it has, it wonít provide the same level of protection as a new one would, putting your childís safety at risk every time they use it. So, when it comes to buying a car seat, itís highly recommended that you aim to purchase a brand new model.

In addition, you should be weary of buying from places where you donít know who the seller is, such as at car boot sales. If you do buy second hand, itís advised that you stick to buying from someone you know well, such a friend or a family member. This means youíll have a better chance of finding out the full history of the seat but make sure you inspect the seat carefully and look for anything that might be broken or missing.

Do use a model that is suitable for your childís weight and size

It might seem obvious, but itís essential that you go for a seat model that is suitable for your childís weight and size. Before you purchase a seat, check your little oneís measurements so you know exactly what youíre looking for. 

Car seats are divided into numbered groups depending on the weight and height of your child, so itís worth getting to grips with what these are before you buy. Group 0 is the first and it accounts for models suitable for newborns and infants up to nine months old. This category system carries through to group three, which includes seats suitable for children up to 11 years old. From baby seats, to high-back boosters, to combination models, there are a whole host of different designs for you to choose from.

Donít allow your child to undo the harness buckle

In an emergency, itís important that the buckle on your childís safety seat is easy to undo. Itís vital that the harness is accessible and doesnít require a large amount of force to release it. However, as result, many kids can become wise to this design and your little one may be partial to popping it open while theyíre in the car. While it might bring them entertainment during a journey, this is extremely dangerous and puts the safety of your child at risk. So, as a parent, itís up to you to do what you can to stop them from doing this.

There are a few things you can try to encourage your little one to stay put in their car seat. For example, you could make them believe that the car wonít start unless they are buckled in, and that the vehicle will come to a stop if itís undone. You could also try distracting them by giving them a book to read or toy to play with. You could also use a raised seat that gives your child more of a view out the window, creating more distraction from the buckle.

Do consider a seat that uses the ISOFIX attachment system

Since seat belts are designed for adults, itís no surprise that it can be difficult to properly fit a child safety seat in your car. In 1997, a new system called International Standards Organisation FIX (ISOFIX) was introduced to help tackle this issue. ISOFIX is a system which allows you to fit a child car seat into your car without needing to use a seat belt, providing you with a quick and easy way to install the restraint safely and securely.

ISOFIX is included in some cars in the form of attachment points within the vehicle, such as on the rear seats. It is also a feature included in the design of many child safety seats. ISOFIX car seats will often have latches which can be fitted onto the car anchor points with a push and click motion. 

However, ISOFIX has not been as easy to understand as it was intended to be. Not all cars are fitted with the same anchor points and some seats are not universal. So, when it comes to choosing a model, itís important that you check your car handbook to make sure your vehicle is compatible and pick your seat carefully.


To ensure youíve got the right seat and youíre using it correctly, it pays to read the instructions thoroughly and carry out extra research.


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