Child Car Seats

Buying Child Car Seats Checklist

When choosing a new child seat, it is essential to ensure that it fits in your car (or cars if you use it in more than one) and is suitable for your child's weight and height.

See Types of Child Seats for further advice and Links for advice about specific seats.

Use this checklist to help you select the child seat that is most suitable for your child and your vehicle(s).

My ChildSuitable Restraint
Baby weighing up to 10 kg (22 lbs) roughly from birth to 6 - 9 months Group 0
Rearward-facing baby seat
Baby weighing up to 13kg (29 lbs) roughly from birth to 12-15 months Group 0+
Rearward-facing baby seat
Baby up to at least 15 months old i-size (once UK law has been amended)
Rearward-facing
Baby or toddler weighing up to 18 kg (40 lbs) roughly from birth to 4 years Group 0+ & 1
Rearward and Forward facing
Combination seat
Baby or child weighing up to 25 kg (55 lbs) roughly birth to 6 years Groups 0+, 1 & 2
Rearward and Forward facing Combination seat
Toddler weighing from 9 kg to 18 kg (20 - 40 lbs) roughly from 9 months to 4 years Group 1
Forward-facing Child Seat
Toddler or child from 9 kg to 36 kg (20 - 79 lbs) roughly from 9 months to 12 years Group 1, 2 & 3
Forward-facing Combination Seat
Child weighing 15 kg - 25 kg (33 - 55 lbs) roughly 4 to 6 years Group 2
Forward-facing Booster Seat
Child weighing 15 kg - 36 kg (33 - 79 lbs) roughly 4 to 11 years Groups 2 & 3
Forward-facing Booster Seat
Children weighing 22 kg - 36 kg (48 - 79 lbs) roughly from 6 - 11 years Group 3
Booster Cushion
Is the child car seat suitable for my child? Yes No

Is the child car seat suitable for my car(s)?

It is essential to check that the child seat you purchase will fit in your car and that it will fit in all the seat positions you intend to use it. The manufacturer and retailer should advise you.

Child seats fitted with seat belts

The shape of car seats, the length of seat belts and the position of seat belt anchor points differ between cars. So, not all child seats fit all cars.

Isofix child seats

Not all Isofix seats are approved for use in all Isofix cars, so check with the child seat manufacturer or retailer or the car manufacturer, to find out if your Isofix child seat is approved for your vehicle. Many have a list on their website that shows which seats are approved for which cars.

i-size child seats

i-size seats will fit any i-size car. They will also fit Isofix cars, but not all of them, so check with the child seat manufacturer or retailer or the car manufacturer, to find out if your i-size child seat is approved for your vehicle. Many have a list on their website that shows which seats are approved for which cars.

Has UK law has been amended to allow i-size seats to be used? Yes No
Does the child seat fit on the front passenger seat? Yes No
Does the child seat fit on the rear side seats? Yes No
Does the child seat fit on the rear middle seat? Yes No
If it is an Isofix seat, is it approved for my car? Yes No
If it is an i-size seat, is it approved for my car? Yes No

Does the retailer have trained staff?

Try to find a retailer who has staff trained in fitting child car seats, and who will let you try the seat in your car first and will show you how to fit it. If this is not possible, make sure you can return the seat, if it is not suitable.

Does the retailer have staff trained in child seat fitting? Yes No
Will the retailer help me fit the seat? Yes No
Will the retailer let me try the seat before I buy it? Yes No
Will the retailer let me return seat if it is not suitable? Yes No
Does the retailer provide good advice? Yes No

Does the seat meet the latest safety Standard?

Check that the seat you are buying meets ECE R44.04 (look for the E mark) or the new i-size regulation.

Does the seat conform to R44.04? Yes No
Is the seat an i-size seat? Yes No

Airbags

Does my car have a front passenger airbags?

If your car has an active front passenger airbag, you must not use a rearward-facing seat in the front. So make sure, the seat will fit in the rear of your car.

Only put a forward-facing child seat in the front, if there is no other choice. If you must do so, push the car seat as far back as possible, fit child seat securely and make sure the child is securely held by the seat belt or child seat harness.

Side airbags usually deploy downwards to provide protection to the head and are not as powerful as the front ones. They should not pose a risk to a child in a child seat in the rear, but provide added protection for the child in its seat.

Does my car have a front passenger airbag? Yes No
If so, will the rearward-facing seat fit in rear of my car? Yes No
Does my car have side airbags? Yes No

Are the instructions easy to understand and follow?

Many people find fitting child seats difficult. The most important thing is to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some instruction booklets are clearly written and well illustrated. Others are difficult to understand and use. Ask to see the instruction booklet before you buy.

Are the instructions easy to read and follow? Yes No

Isofix

Isofix child car seats fit into Isofix connectors in the car, and in many cases they also have a support leg or top tether. They are easier to fit than seats that use the car's seat belts, and provide a more secure fitment. However, not all Isofix seats fit all Isofix cars, so check with the child seat manufacturer or retailer or the car manufacturer, to find out if the Isofix child seat is approved for your vehicle. Many have a list on their website that shows which seats are approved for which cars.

If the Isofix child seat uses a support leg, make sure it will not rest on an underfloor storage compartment in your car. The compartment lid could collapse in an impact. If the seat uses a top tether, make sure your car has a top tether fitting point.

Does my car have Isofix points? Yes No
Has the Isofix child seat been approved for my car? Yes No
Does my car have under-floor storage compartments? Yes No
Is there a top tether anchor point in my car? Yes No

i-size

'i-size' is a new EU safety regulation for child car seats (ECE R129). It only applies to Isofix seats. UK legislation is currently being amended to allow i-size seats to be used in the UK. i-size will then run side by side with the existing R44.04 standard for the next few years, and parents will be able to buy and use child car seats that meet R44.04, or i-size seats.

i-size child car seats will fit in cars that have Isofix fitting points, but you still need to check if the seat is approved for your car. Contact your car manufacturer and/or the child seat manufacturer; many have a list on their website that shows which seats are approved for which cars.

i-size seats will fit any i-size approved vehicle. However, there are few such cars currently available in the UK. Their numbers will increase over the coming years.

Is my car i-size ready? Yes No
Has the i-size child seat been approved for my specific car model? Yes No

 

Second-hand Child Restraints

The best advice is do not buy a second-hand child seat.

You cannot be certain of its history. It may have been involved in an accident and the damage may not be visible. Very often the instructions are missing from second-hand seats which makes it more difficult to be sure that you are fitting and using it correctly.

Second-hand seats are also likely to be older, to have suffered more wear and tear and may not be designed to current safety standards.

It is far better to buy a new child seat. Prices range dramatically, and it is not necessary to buy the most expensive one. Ask your local Road Safety Department (part of your Council) whether they know of any child seat discount schemes.

If you must use a second-hand seat, only accept one from a family member or friend (don't buy one from a second-hand shop, through the classified ads or online). Only accept one from a family member or friend if you are absolutely certain that you know its history, it comes with the original instructions and it is not too old.

Before you agree to accept the seat:

  • Examine it carefully for damage (but remember, not all damage to child seats is visible to the naked eye).
  • Make sure the manufacturer's instructions are available.
  • Check the manufacturer's advice about how old the seat should be before it needs to be replaced.
  • Make sure the seat is suitable for your child's weight and height.
  • Try the seat in your car - if you cannot get it to fit securely, do not buy it.
  • Check that the seat meets the United Nations standard Regulation 44.04 - look for the 'E' mark, or an i-size seat (once UK law has been amended).