Top tips on buying the best child car seat

At comparison site, mustard.co.uk, you can find cheap car insurance quotes in just a few minutes. Not only that, their handy guides and articles can help answer a number of car related questions, enabling you to make informed decisions. Here, they share their top tips for buying the best car seat for your child.

Choose your car seat by height or weight

You can buy either height-based car seats (known as ‘i-Size’) or weight-based seats but they must meet European standards which will be shown by an ‘E’ in a circle on its label.

Height-based seats should also meet the R129 standard and weight-based seats must conform to the ECE R44 standard.

Weight-based seats are divided into four categories:

  • Group 0 for babies between 0kg-10kg (up to 9 months)
  • Group 0+ for babies and infants between 0kg-13kg (up to 15 months)
  • Group 1 for babies, infants and toddlers between 9kg-18kg (up to 4 years)
  • Group 2 for children between 15kg-25kg (up to 6 years)
  • Group 3 for children between 22kg-36kg (up to 11 years)

Your child can stop using a car seat when they turn 12 or when they reach 135cm in height (whichever is first). After that, they must use an adult seat belt.

Avoid second hand car seats

If possible, you should avoid buying a second hand car seat, unless you know for a fact that it hasn’t been involved in an accident. Even minor accidents can leave the seat weakened which can leave it more vulnerable to further damage. 

Consider ease and range of use

There’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to car seats so think about how often you’ll be using it and what’s likely to be practical for you.

For example, some group 0 and 0+ seats can be used with a pushchair frame so that you can unclip the seat from the car and reattach it to a buggy. The benefit is that you only need to move the seat and your baby won’t be disturbed (but remember they shouldn’t be left to nap in a car seat for long periods of time).

You can also buy car seats with a swivel base so that you can turn the seat towards you. The advantage is that you avoid putting your baby or toddler in the seat from an awkward side angle which can make life considerably easier, especially if they’re fussing.

Some car seat systems are also designed to adapt to your child’s changing needs. These combination car seats cover more than one group and can be adjusted in various ways as your child grows up.

Check your car’s compatibility

Some newer cars will come with Isofix fittings. This system is the easiest way to secure your child’s car seat. The fittings are usually tucked between the back seats so aren’t always immediately obvious.

It doesn’t matter if your car doesn’t have Isofix fittings as most weight-based seats can be attached using the adult seat belt as a harness. Just make sure it’s fitted properly and is secure. However, bear in mind that i-Size seats are only available for cars with Isofix fittings.

Consider overall value rather than just the price tag

Car seats can vary considerably in price. Models start from around £50 and can exceed over £300.

The more expensive models tend to be combination seats so while the initial price tag is high, it means you’re not having to buy a different seat at each stage of your child’s life. Non-essential features like swivel bases can also add a little more to the price tag so if this isn’t important to you, you could save some cash.

One of the best ways to gauge value for money is to read what other parents are saying. With that in mind, it’s well worth having a look at parent forums and reviews so you can see what people are really saying.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Stores that sell car seats usually have a member of staff that can give you advice on what’s most suitable, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. In most cases, they’ll also fit the car seat for you.

If you’ve got existing car seats and you need one to fit alongside it, it’s also worth asking to check that it fits before you buy it.

For more information about the rules around car seats, head to mustard.co.uk and take a look at their handy guide which tells you what you need to know. Don’t forget, you can also compare car insurance in just a few minutes or speak to an expert on 0330 022 8791.

Huynh Nguyen

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