Choosing Your Baby’s First Car Seat

When it comes to having a child, there are so many things to think about. But choosing the right car seat from the beginning will make life much easier before you bring your little one home

It’s important for parents to take their time when choosing a car seat and ensure that they understand all the key safety features, including how to correctly fit the car seat into their car before purchase.

According to a recent study carried out by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, 95 percent of new parents make at least one error when installing their car seat but this one mistake could cause serious injury to your little one if you were in an accident.

A car seat must be used from birth to 12 years (135 centimetres) therefore it’s important to choose the right car seat in line with your baby’s height and weight, not just age, to ensure maximum safety and comfort for your child.

The biggest issue when installing a car seat is misuse. However, nowadays car seats have a number of built-in safety features to ensure maximum protection for children.

Most modern cars will be fitted with ISOFIX which provides additional safety and stability along with the car seat belt. You simply click in the ISOFIX connectors on the base of your seat into the ISOFIX anchor points in the car. If a car doesn’t have an ISOFIX system, the car seat can be secured with the car seat belt. We recommend reading the instruction manual, watching videos, and speaking to staff in stores to ensure you’re confident in how to fit your car seat before you purchase one.

Car seat rules and regulations

All manufacturers of car seats have to pass several crash tests. The most recent safety regulation to come into force is i-Size—a new European car safety standard which makes travel safer. The i-Size regulation states that children aged 15 months or younger must travel in a rear-facing car seat as this is regarded as the safest way to travel.

i-Size will not replace the current R44 legislation as it operates in parallel with it. In doing so, i-Size offers more side impact protection, over and above R44 (which currently does not include side-impact tests).

A rear-facing child seat reduces the risk of injury in a head-on collision by more than 80 percent compared to a conventional forward facing seat. Leading consumer organisations recommend that children remain in rear-facing child seats even beyond group 0+, preferably up to approximately four years or 105 centimetres in an i-Size seat.

How long should a baby be in a car seat?

When a baby is young, being in a semi-upright position for a considerable length of time may place strain on a baby’s developing spine. Studies carried out by the Lullaby Trust revealed that when newborn or premature babies were sat in a car seat for 30 minutes, their heart and breathing rate increased, and their blood oxygen levels were lower compared with lying flat in a cot.  It is recommended that a baby spends no more than 30 minutes in a car seat in the first four weeks. It’s also crucial that they have regular breaks from the car seat, are not left in the car seat for more than two hours, and not left in the car seat if they are asleep. Look for a seat that has the facility to lie flat on a stroller to make things easier for you.

The right seat for your car

In the UK, all children need to use a car seat from birth until 12 years old (or until they are 135 centimetres tall). The car seat you buy needs to meet EU standards, and your child needs to be in the correct category seat for their age. You should especially check that your vehicle model has ISOFIX anchorage points, and the length of the vehicle seat belt, as this may vary, even during the same production year of manufacture. Ensure you try the car seat in your car before you buy. 

At CYBEX, car seats are broken down into age groups and their website allows you to check if your selected car seat is compatible with your car make and model. CYBEX car seats have been tested to the highest safety standards, which not only surpass the EU laws set out in R44, and the newer that sits alongside R129, in terms of safety, but they are also independently tested by German consumer organisation, ADAC and Stiftung Warentest, and UK organisation, Which?

 The award winning Cloud Q which turns into a carry cot outside of the car allowing for an ergonomic lie-flat position.

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