Child car seats – what you need to know

This is a guest post from Sainsbury’s money matters team

Using the correct child car seat will help keep your child safe. But children go through a range of car seats during the first 12 years of their life, so which one should you choose and when? Here are some guidelines to help you make the right decision.

The Law:

The law groups children by age, height and weight. Children over 12 years old or 135cm tall can use the adult seat belt. Younger or shorter children must use a weight-appropriate child’s car seat.

Group 0 and Group 0+

Children weighing less than 13kg must be carried in a rear-facing baby seat, ideally in the rear of the car. If you have to use the front passenger seat, the airbag MUST be de-activated. These seats come with their own harness.

Group 1

Children weighing between 9 and 18kg can be carried in a forward or rearward-facing baby seat. Again, any frontal airbag MUST be deactivated if your child is rear-facing. Forward facing seats should be located as far back from the airbag as possible. The rear-seat is a better option. These seats come with their own harness.

Photo  credit:  Torbakhopper

Group II

Children weighing between 15 and 25kg can be placed in a child car seat, or booster seat. These may have backs or side wings. The seat is held in place by the adult seat belt.

Group III

Children weighing more than 22kg can use a booster seat to raise them up so they can use the adult seat belt.

Car seats for children with disabilities

Car seats are compulsory, unless a doctor decides otherwise on medical grounds. Look for specially designed options to suit your child’s needs.

Buying advice:

In the UK, every child car seat sold must conform to the United Nations ECE Regulation R44.04. If a car seat doesn’t conform to this standard, don’t buy it.

It’s important that your car seats are fitted correctly, so make sure clear instructions are included with any purchase, and ask for a demonstration from the shop assistant if necessary.

If you are buying secondhand, it’s important to be sure of the seat’s full history. Any child car seat that has been in an accident is considered unsafe. Remember, not all damage can be seen by the naked eye.

So if you are involved in an accident with your child car seats in the car, you should replace them immediately. Check your car insurance cover to see if you can claim for the cost of this. Also bear in mind that any courtesy car made available to you will have to be large enough and suitable for the kind of car seats you need to use.

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