Updated government guidelines released in 2017 state that children must use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall—whichever comes first. There are numerous things to keep in mind when choosing and buying a car seat for your child to travel in, including fit, size and weight.
In the UK, car seats may only be used if your car has diagonal straps, unless the car seat is designed specifically for lap seatbelts or is to be fitted with Isofix connectors. Most modern cars will have Isofix connectors built in; these are intended to make fitting a car seat easy.
Most experts recommend fitting a car seat in the back of a car. If you decide to place a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat, you must deactivate any airbags. If left active, the airbag could cause severe damage to the infant in the case of an accident.
Height-based car seat
The EU introduced a safety regulation in 2013 for ‘i-Size’ car seats. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure that car seats can be more easily fitted into a car and to better enhance child protection in case of an accident. i-Size seats refer to height-based seats; they must be rear-facing until your child reaches 15 months. Remember that only EU-approved height-based i-Size car seats can currently be used in the UK. These will have the letter ‘E’ placed in a circle and ‘R129’ printed on the label.
Weight-based car seat
The type of weight-based car seat you will need for your child and the way they must be restrained in it varies depending on their weight. As with height-based seats, only EU-approved weight-based seats may be used in Britain. Check that the label has an ‘E’ placed in a circle and ‘ECE R44’ printed on it. See the government’s guidelines on weight-based car seats listed below.