Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Guest Post: What you need to know about child car seats

Guide to child car seats

In the early 1960s a report revealed that seat belts could reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries by a staggering 60%, and a campaign began to make their use a legal requirement. Fifty years later and even the smallest baby must wear an appropriate restraint, according to age, weight and height.

Safety

When buying a child car seat, always check for a capital letter ‘E’ within a circle – this signifies that the seat conforms to EU safety standards.

Newborns

For a brand new baby, you’ll need a rear-facing cradle seat designed for infants that weigh less than 13kg. The unit will attach to the car’s seats by means of the existing seat belts, or to the ISOfix system if your car has it.

When fitting a baby cradle to the front seat of a vehicle, first adjust the passenger seat so that it is as far away as possible from the dashboard.  Always make sure that any airbags in that part of the car have been disabled.

Next step

When your child weighs between 9kg and 18kg, they will begin to outgrow their first baby seat, so you will need to get a bigger one. This time the unit can face frontwards or backwards but, just like the last seat, it will feature integral straps or an impact shield.

Child seat

A child car seat raises the infant to a safe height, so that the vehicle’s existing seat belt system can be used. The seat will have a back and wings to help hold a little one in place.

A unit like this is suitable for a child weighing between 15kg and 25kg. Some cars come with child seats fitted, but always look for the ‘E’ symbol – if a seat doesn’t have it then it shouldn’t be used.

Always be wary of buying second hand car seats unless you know for sure that they have not been involved in an accident. Child seats are not designed to be used after they have been in a collision and must be disposed of and replaced after a prang.

Booster

Some child car seats are suitable for use until your son or daughter is big enough to use a normal car seat belt. If not, when your child reaches 22kg in weight, they can use a booster cushion. 

Remember that car seat belts are designed for adults – children are differently proportioned and their bones are softer. The law requires that they continue to use a child car seat or booster cushion until they are 12 years old, weigh 36kg, or are over 135cm in height.

Children grow at different rates, so if your son or daughter is over 36kg but still under 135cm tall, they must continue to use the booster cushion until they have grown in height.

Using the correct child car seat helps to keep little ones safe. Look after your whole family by always making sure that you have adequate car insurance cover.


Author Bio:
Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s money matters blog.  In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.