safety first:
a guide to buying a comfy car seat

From wiggly babies to noisy little monsters, children of all ages find it hard to sit still on car journeys. We know that, even though we can't do much about the choruses of "are we there yet?" we can help you find a comfy car seat for your little one. This way they will be less likely to fidget and fuss en route, and will also be safely strapped in.

Our large range of baby and toddler car seats are there to help keep your family secure throughout their early years. Here’s our guide to the most important things to think about when buying your car seat.

know the rules (law) - what age can a child use a booster seat?

In the UK, all children need a car seat from birth until 12 years old (or until they are 135cm tall, whichever they reach first)[1]. The car seat needs to meet EU standards (shown by the E symbol on the label), this means your car seat conforms to ECE R44 03 & ECE R44 04 and since 2015 ECE R129 for i-Size seats[2]. It's also extremely important to make sure your child's seat is the right category seat for their age and size.

Wait, there's more... Changes to the car seat regulations came into effect on 9th February 2017, whereby backless booster seats will be only suitable for older children[3]. The updated rules mean that backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm. This will only apply to brand new products launched from 9th February 2017 onwards.

 

To find out more, take a look at the simple and straightforward government guidelines [4].

What Does ISOFIX and i-Size Mean?

ISOFIX is an internationally standardised car seat fitting system. All new vehicles feature the system which allows you to quickly and easily install an ISOFIX car seat into your car. Simply "plug in" the ISOFIX connectors on the base of your seat into the ISOFIX anchor points in the car[5]. This is the safest method to install your seat in the car as the seat is held securely in place and it also ensures the car seat is installed correctly.

i-Size: Introduced as a new legislation for car seats in 2013, i-Size seats aim to offer improved protection for younger children[6]. i-Size seats are based on a child's height (not weight) and allows them to travel in the recommended rear-facing position for longer up to at least 15 months old - some seats allow children to continue travelling rear-facing until 4 years. The i-Size seats do not replace the weight based car seats they just offer you an alternative choice when picking your perfect seat.


Get Fitted

 

UK car seats are usually classified by weight (and occasionally by height through the EU i-Size safety standard). Checking your little one's weight and height just before you hit the shops will ensure that the seat will both fit them safely and keep them secure.

 

Check Out Your Wheels

 

Not all seats fit all cars, so make sure your seat of choice is compatible with your vehicle.

 

Why Mothercare?

 

Mothercare car seats are rigorously tested. They undergo a front collision test at 50km/h, a rear impact test at 30km/h and a rollover test, to ensure your little one is protected in the instance of a collision.


With mothercare’s free safe fit service, you can book an appointment with one of our friendly, trained advisors who can help you choose the right car seat and show you how to fit it correctly. To help you navigate through this journey click here to book.

Picking Your Category

As mentioned above, car seats are divided into categories depending on your little one's weight, age or height. Here is a short guide to these groupings to get you clued-up before you shop.

 

Baby Car Seats (Group 0+)

Age/Weight: From Birth to 12 Months/13kg

Best for: moving between car and foot. These are the perfect seats if you travel by car and then continue your journey by foot. Most models can be attached to a compatible pushchair to form a travel system, and you can also use the seat to carry your baby in - this is ideal if they have fallen asleep on the journey as there is no need to disturb them.


Key Benefits:


  • Designed for newborns and younger babies and always used in a rearward facing position. It is recommended that babies travel rear-facing until at 15 months old
  • These seats are lightweight and have a carry handle which is useful for transporting your sleeping baby from the car
  • Most brands of baby car seats are compatible with pushchairs to create a travel system
  • Many models are compatible with an ISOFIX base to ensure a safe and correct fit on every journey
 

You can browse mothercare's range of baby car seats here >>

 

Combination Car Seats (Group 0+/1)

Age and Weight: From Birth to 18kg (Approx.4 Years)

Best for: versatility. These seats will last your little one from birth to approx. 4 years old. Your baby travels in the seat rear-facing and can then move to a forward facing position from 9kg (approx. 9 months) if preferred.


Key Benefits:


  • Many models offer extended rearward facing travel up to 4 years – the safest way for younger children to travel
  • Reclining seat allows newborns to travel in a more lie-flat position
  • Unlike a baby car seat, the combination car seat remains in your vehicle - these are a great choice if you don’t plan to use your car seat on your pushchair to form a travel system, and the seat will last your child all the way through their toddler years
  • Most seats are installed using ISOFIX, the safest and most secure way to fit your car seat
 

You can browse mothercare's range of combination car seats here >>

Forward-Facing Car Seats (Group 1)

Age and Weight: From 9kg to 18kg (Approx. 9 Months to 4 Years)

Best for: the next stage up when your little one has outgrown their baby car seat


Key Benefits:


  • Most forward-facing seats can be either upright (the best position for playing eye-spy and looking out of the window) or reclined for on-the-move snoozing
  • Many seats are installed using ISOFIX, the most safest and secure method of fitting your car seat in your vehicle
  • Most car seats in group 1 are forward facing although some are available that also offer the option of extended rear-facing travel until approx. 4 years old (this is the safest way for young children to travel)
 

You can browse mothercare's range of forward facing car seats here >>

Highback Booster Seats with Integral Harness (Group 1-2-3)

Age and Weight: From 9kg to 36kg (Approx. 9 Months to 12 Years)

Best for: longevity. These seats covering all three car seat stages will last your child from 9 months until they no longer need to use a car seat.


Key Benefits:


  • The high back and sides gives extra protection for your child’s chest and head
  • Younger children are kept safe and secure using the harness which can then be removed for older children (from 15kg) who are secured in the seat using the adult seatbelt[8].
  • Feature a height-adjustable head rest to keep your child comfortably supported as they grow and ensures the seatbelt (when used from 15kg) is at the correct height to keep them safely seated
  • Most models can be installed in the car using ISOFIX for a safe and secure fit
 

You can browse mothercare's range of highback booster seats with harnesses here >>

Highback Booster Seats Without Harness (group 2-3)

Age and Weight: From 15kg to 36kg (Approx. 4 Years to 12 Years)

best for: older children who need a boost to ensure the adult seatbelt is correctly positioned to keep them safe.


Key Benefits:


  • Models without a harness are designed so children are secured using the adult seatbelt
  • Most feature an adjustable headrest, and some can also adjust in width or have adjustable legrest to ensure growing children are kept comfortable
  • They tend to be lightweight and easy to fit, so are ideal for transferring between cars
  • Some models can be installed using ISOFIX for an extra safe and secure fit
  • Features such as armrests and cupholders add an extra touch of comfort
 

You can browse mothercare's range of highback booster seats here >>

Backless Booster Seats (group 3)

Age and Weight: 22kg to 36kg (Approx. 4 Years to 12 Years)

Best for: providing a handy standby seat for older children when taking a taxi or a lifts with friends when your child’s usual seat is not available


Changes to the car seat regulations come into effect on 1st March 2017. Backless booster seats will be only suitable for older children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm. This will only apply to brand new products launched from 9th February 2017 onwards and not existing products.


Key Benefits:


  • Convenient to store
  • Easy to carry around
  • Child is secured using adult seat belt
  • Useful back up option
 

For more information on backless booster seats, click here >>

i-Size Seats

Age and Height: Birth to 105cm (Approx. 4 Years)

Best for: keeping your child rearward facing for longer.


Key Benefits:


  • Baby travels rear-facing until at least 15 months. Seat is based on a child’s height and not their weight allowing them to travel rear-facing which is the safest way to travel for younger children
  • Offer improved protection to the head and neck area from higher forces in the event of either a side of front impact. Studies have shown that babies who are travelling rear-facing are safer in the event of a frontal impact
  • Installed using ISOFIX to ensure a safe and secure fit
  • Some i-Size car seats also let children travel rear-facing for even longer, up until approx.. 4 years old with the option of moving to a forward facing position for older children if they prefer
  • i-Size seats do not replace the current weight based car seat but offer another option to give you more choice when choosing the perfect seat for your baby
 

You can browse mothercare's range of i-size seats here >>

Baby Car Seats (Group 0+)

Age/Weight: From Birth to 12 Months/13kg

Best for: moving between car and foot. These are the perfect seats if you travel by car and then continue your journey by foot. Most models can be attached to a compatible pushchair to form a travel system, and you can also use the seat to carry your baby in - this is ideal if they have fallen asleep on the journey as there is no need to disturb them.


Key Benefits:


  • Designed for newborns and younger babies and always used in a rearward facing position. Babies must travel rear-facing until at least 9 months old although it is recommended they travel rear facing until they reach at least 12-15 months old [7] 
  • These seats are lightweight and have a carry handle which is useful for transporting your sleeping baby from the car
  • Most brands of baby car seats are compatible with pushchairs to create a travel system
  • Many models are compatible with an ISOFIX base to ensure a safe and correct fit on every journey
 

You can browse mothercare's range of baby car seats here >>

Before You Drive Off

It’s worth making sure that you know how to fit the car seat properly before you drive off. At mothercare, we offer a free fit service, and our trained advisers will take you through everything you need to know about fitting and adjusting your car seat. You’ll be able to pass on these tips in turn to grandparents, family friends and babysitters.

If you are expecting for the first time, make sure you practise how to use your car seat and ensure you are confident installing it in your car. There is nothing worse or more stressful than leaving hospital with your new arrival for their first journey out in the big wide world only to find you don’t know what to do with their car seat.

 

Now that one of your most important baby safety features is in place, you can think about what other car accessories you need – sunshades, a mirror (so you can keep an eye on your baby) and a baby car seat cover are just some of the handy accessories we stock. Happy travelling with your little family, and don't forget to book a car seat fitting appointment with us before you hit the road.

 

References

[1]. Child Car Seats- Explained, RoSPA, June 2017

[2]. Child Car Seats, Types of Seat, RoSPA [Accessed April 2019]

[3]. Car Seat Seats, Booster Cushions, RoSPA [Accessed April 2019]

[4]. UK Government, Child car seats: the law [Accessed April 2019]

[5]. Lisa Galliers, How to fit a baby or child car seat, Which [Accessed April 2019]

[6]. Child Car Seats, i-size Seats, RoSPA [Accessed April 2019]

[7]. Lisa Gailliers, Car seat weight groups, Which [Accessed April 2019]

[8]. Child Car Seats, Booster Seats, RoSPA [Accessed April 2019]