Frequently asked questions - child car seats

Information about using and fitting car seats.

I've been given a child seat. Can I use it safely?

You can use a second-hand car seat that you have been given but you must know the full history of the seat and be confident that:

  • The seat has not be involved in an accident
  • The seat has been stored correctly and is still current
  • The seat fits the car they are planning to use it in and is appropriate for the child
  • They know how to fit the seat and have the instructions
  • The harness has not been washed

How can I tell if my car seat is fitted correctly?

It’s not as easy as you might think! As a general rule of thumb, the seat should be rigid in the car. If there is a carrying handle, make sure it is in the right position as per the instructions on the seat itself.

What are the best car seats available?

The one that fits your car the best. Because the current R44.04 regulations are so broad, there are many seats on the market that fit into the economy range of seats. These tend to be lighter but also more difficult to fit safely. The better-known brands tend to be the best quality seats.

When should I go forward facing?

Legally, you can move to forward facing when your child has outgrown their Group 0+ seat, either by weight (13kgs) or height (head reaching above back of seat). Or you can take the current advice from the British Medical Journal that recommends rear facing until at least 2 years old.

Are rear facing car seats safer? 

There is a marginal increase in safety when you compare the Group 0+ seat (rear facing) to the Group 1 seat, which is forward facing. However, forward-facing seats can be more expensive and sometimes more difficult to fit. They can also impact on the other users of the vehicle because of the seat size and positioning. They generally reduce space in the front passenger seat and can reduce the driver’s field of vision.

Can I take the back off my high back booster seat?

It is best not to, as children on booster cushions get the most serious injuries in a side impact collision. Keeping the back on provides SIP (Side Impact Protection) and helps prevent injury by directing the seatbelt across the child’s chest rather than their neck.

What is the most common problem on child car seats?

It tends to be loose harnesses or loose seatbelts. The harness must be tightened every time you put the child in the seat. There should be room for only two flat fingers between the harness and the child. It is almost impossible to make the harness too tight. If the seat is held in place by the seatbelt then the belt should be pulled tight and the seat should not move around. 

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