There’s no two ways about it, car seats can be confusing. With the introduction of a new child car seat safety regulation, there are even more options for new parents to consider. Here we’ll answer some of your questions about all things iSize:
What are the current car seat standards?
At the moment, the law around child car seats (ECE R44/04) states that:
- Seats must be tested to ensure that they offer adequate protection in the event of a front or rear impact.
- Seats may be fixed into the vehicle using ISOFIX fittings, the vehicle’s seat belt or a combination of both.
- Seats are classified by the weight of the child. Babies may move to a forward-facing Group 1 car seat when they reach 9kg in weight (approximately 9-12 months).
What is iSize?
iSize is the new European-wide regulation for car seats, which currently runs alongside the existing R44/04 standard. It forms part of the ECE R129 regulation which came into force in July 2013 and is planned to replace R44 at some point in the future. Car seat manufacturers are beginning to introduce more iSize compliant seats to the market in preparation for the change.
iSize car seats are different from R44-compliant seats:
- Seats are tested to ensure they offer protection in the event of a side impact, in addition to offering protection from front and rear impacts.
- Seats are classified by the child’s height rather than weight. Babies must remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 15 months old.
- Seats are fixed into the vehicle using ISOFIX fittings only.
Why have these changes been made?
The new regulations are designed to provide additional protection in the following ways:
- Greater impact protection: currently, car seat manufacturers are not obliged to test for side impact protection in their products. Although many already do, making this a new legal requirement ensures that new car seats are tested using more sensitive crash test dummies, and that seats offer greater protection in the event of a collision.
- Reduced chance of incorrect installation: it has been shown that up to 70% of car seats installed using the vehicle’s seat belt are not correctly fitted; a very worrying statistic. iSize seats can only be fitted using ISOFIX anchor points, which greatly reduces the risk of seats being installed incorrectly.
- Young babies stay safer for longer: under the current R44 regulations, many parents choose to move their baby to a forward-facing Group 1 seat at around 9-12 months, when they appear to have outgrown their rear-facing Group 0 seat. There can be a huge difference in the size of babies at this age, and so making the seats categorised by height ensures that babies are kept in a rear-facing seat for longer. Young babies do not have sufficient muscle strength to protect their neck in the event of a collision, so it is important that they are rear-facing for as long as possible to prevent injuries in the event of a crash.
Are iSize car seats suitable for all cars?
iSize seats are fitted using ISOFIX fitting, but not all vehicles with ISOFIX can be fitted with an iSize seat safely. To be sure, you’ll need to check that your specific car make and model is suitable to use your chosen seat.
What if my car doesn’t have ISOFIX?
If your car was manufactured after 2011, it should have ISOFIX fittings as standard. For vehicles older than that, it may be possible to have a conversion kit installed so that you are able to use ISOFIX and iSize car seats.
Do I need to buy a new iSize car seat now?
No. At the moment, the two laws are running alongside each other, so you can still use current car seats, and manufacturers can still sell non-iSize car seats, as long as they meet the standards required by R44 regulation. While iSize seats are designed to offer additional safety for babies and young children, R44 compliant seats are still legal and safe to use.
At Ickle Bubba, our new Mercury iSize car seat is a great choice for parents who want to give their child maximum protection in the car. Find out more about it here.