Car Seats: What Do I Need to Know?

A little girl is strapped into a Radius car seat in the back of a car.

Car seats are an important essential for life with a baby, they get you from A to Z and all those in between places. If you’ve never bought a car seat before, it can be a little tricky knowing where to start. So let us help! We’ve pulled together all the information you might need to find the right car seat for baby and you.

A baby sits in a Mercury car seat travel system attached to a pushchair chassis.

Choosing a Car Seat | Understanding the basics

Before we get into the detail – and there is a lot of detail – let’s cover those burning questions you might have. Remember, this is probably all new, in which case there are no wrong questions. Unless it’s ‘Can the car seat go on the roof rack?’.

Why is a car seat important?

A car seat is one of the most important purchases you can make for your baby – as it will allow you to safely transport them in a car. Hospitals require you to have a car seat to bring your baby home once they’re born.

Which car seat fits my car?

Most car seat manufacturers provide a list of compatible cars, so you can be sure whether it will fit yours. Most cars are compatible, but if you own a smaller car, such as a mini or Fiat 500, then it’s worth checking to make sure it fits. If you can view car seats in person and try them out in your car, you’re much more likely to find one that feels like the right size.

How long do car seats last?

This depends on individual car seats. Some are designed to last a specific period, such as the first 12 months or so of baby’s life. While other models are designed to take a child through several stages of their development. Look out for car seat groups, as that provides an indication of when a car seat is suitable for child.

How do I know what car seat is suitable for my child’s age?

As we mentioned above, car seat groups will give you an idea of which car seat you will need depending on bubba’s age. However, it’s important to remember that age is not a factor in upgrading a car seat, it’s more important to monitor your child’s height and weight. Most car seats come with a recommended height and weight range.

Check out our guide to car seat groups.

An older child sits in a Radius car seat in the back of a car, looking out the window.

Choosing a Car Seat | i-Size and ISOFIX

Now you’re starting to feel like a car seat pro, let’s go into a little more detail and look at i-Size and ISOFIX and what those two terms mean.

What is i-Size?

Introduced in 2013, i-size is a type-approval category sitting within the latest R129 UN Regulation, which governs car seat safety standard. The i-size classification means that the car seat is compatible with i-size positions in vehicles and has been developed to deliver enhanced safety and security. Although no date has been released, it is envisaged that the R129 will replace the R44 standard at some point in the future. The i-size is often referred to in the name of the product but is also identifiable by an orange R129 label.

What are the key features of i-size?

The key features are:

  • Greater impact protection - i-size car seats are tested more rigorously to include side-impact testing, in addition to the existing front and rear tests. Increased sensitivity in the crash test dummies has led to greater protection in the event of a collision.
  • Reduced chance of incorrect installation: it’s said up to 70% of car seats installed using the vehicle’s seat belt are not fitted correctly. i-size seats are fitted using Isofix anchor points, which greatly reduces the risk of incorrect installation.
  • Young babies stay safer for longer: Young babies do not have sufficient muscle strength to protect their neck in the event of a collision, so to prevent injuries keep them rear-facing for as long as possible; i-size car seats make this mandatory to 15 months old.
  • Designed for the individual: As the size of babies can greatly differ, the i-size seats are classified by the child’s height rather than weight, ensuring they’re rear-facing until at least 15 months old.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is the international standard related to attaching children’s car safety seats to a vehicle, though it has other names in America and Canada.

What is an ISOFIX car seat?

An ISOFIX car seat is a safety seat that includes anchor points that attach directly to the car chassis to secure the seat. This is instead of securing the seat with a standard car seat belt. The anchor points clip to brackets between the seat cushions.

Sometimes seats include these anchors, and sometimes car seats can be inserted onto a car seat base that is secured to the car with ISOFIX anchors. This is referred to as an ISOFIX base.

How do I know if my car can accept ISOFIX car seats?

Most modern cars are ISOFIX ready but it’s always important to check with the manufacturer or consult your manual. Some models even come with clearly labelled anchor points, so you know where to connect them.

If your car is an older model, then there is a good chance it won’t be ISOFIX ready but you can still use traditional seal belt-fitted car seats.

Why should I purchase an ISOFIX car seat?

It is recommended that you use ISOFIX car seats, as they are seen as more secure than traditional belt-fit car seats as the anchor points reduce the chance of human error. Most ISOFIX car seats and bases come with visual indicators to show you when they have been correctly fitted.

While belt-fit car seats are completely safe, it is important to make sure you follow the installation guidelines closely to minimise the risk to your child.

Summary

Now, hopefully you feel armed with all the answers you need to find the right car seat. You may have even narrowed down your options. Don’t forget to make sure the car seats are compatible with your car. If you want to know more about our range of car seats, why not speak to a member of our Customer Service team. They’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have and help you find that perfect car seat.