How to Choose a Safe Car Seat for your Child

Friday, 24 February 2012

At the top of the long list of equipment needed for a new baby is a reliable car seat. Most parents remember the anxiety of their first car journey with a newborn. The responsibility of protecting a child in a fast-moving vehicle can seem daunting, so the first step is to find a baby seat you know is safe and complies with the law.

As your child grows, it’s just as important to make sure they are sitting comfortably and safely, whether it’s on the school run or a family day out.

Safety standards
Cost, comfort and colour might all be factors when it comes to buying a car seat, but it’s essential to put safety first.

There are strict safety standards for all child seats and restraints sold in the UK – from baby seats to booster cushions for older children. Double check that any seat you buy conforms to these official guidelines.

Which type of car seat?
If you’re buying a child seat for the first time, the choice can seem confusing. It is essential to know the weight of your child when choosing which type of seat to buy.

Babies up to around 15 months or 13kg, require rearward facing seats, as they provide protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine. They can be put in the front or rear of the car, but parents are advised to opt for the rear. Never put a child seat in the front passenger seat if there is an activated airbag.

Forward facing child seats are designed for children aged up to about four years, or weighing 18kg. These have an integral harness, which helps reduce the risk of injury if there is a crash.

When your child has outgrown a forward facing seat – usually at four to six years, or 15kg to 25kg – they can move on to a booster seat and, later, a booster cushion. These seats don’t have an integral harness – the child is held in place by an adult seat belt which goes around the child and the seat. The seat belt needs to be correctly adjusted, so that it is as tight as comfortably possible, with the lap belt going over the pelvic region and the diagonal strap resting on the shoulder, not the neck.

Accidents and insurance
Experts insist that any child car seat that has been involved in a car accident should be replaced, even if there is no outward sign of damage.

Some car insurance policies will cover the cost of replacements – make sure you find adequate insurance for all your family’s needs. 

This is a guest post by Sainsbury's Money Matters Blog

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