Car Seats are confusing! There is no denying that so this blog is aiming to bring some clarity to it all. This is not a blog about isize, R129, Swedish Plus Test as it's exactly all of that that causes confusion. This blog is merely to do with what seats you need at what stage and in what order without over complicating it with standards etc. At Daisy Tree we offer car seats from Maxi Cosi, Britax, Cybex, Besafe, Axkid, Peg Perego, Cosatto and Avionaut.
Over the years of 0-12 Years you will either need 2, 3 or 4 different seats. You can make this choice depending on the route you choose to go down but always consult a Car Seat Specialist. I am an IOSH Accredited Child Sat Safety Advisor and can help you make informed choices along the way.
Why you should always consult a Car Seat Specialist at every stage.
The aim is to get the right seat for your child in your car. You are unique, as is your child, as is the way your seats are set up in your car. No 2 people will be alike and what works for someone you know may not necessarily work for you because your child is different to theirs, you are different to them and the position you have your front seats will be different. Always consult a Car Seat Specialist as we can ensure you have all the facts, we can discuss the pros and cons of the different options, ease the confusion and save you time and money. Do not troll 3 times around the internet as there is so much misinformation out there which will only cause further confusion.
Where do I Start?
If you are expecting your first baby - congratulations! The first question you need to ask yourself is "Do I want an Infant carrier that I can pop on to the pram"? There's no wrong or right answer. It's a question of choice. Answer that question first and that will lead you to the seats that are available to you and determine the route you will go down.
Infant Carrier Route- Option 1,2.3 below
If you choose to have an Infant Carrier check that the Infant Carrier gives you a 45 degree recline in your car. If it doesn't then your best option is to choose an Infant Carrier that has a lie flat option or a base that is adjustable. Either way you will ensure that those airways stay nice and open and the baby is not too upright. This seat will last to approximately 15 months and will always be rear facing. Never let your baby spend too long in an Infant Carrier. 30 mins max for the first few weeks and then build it up to a maximum of 2 hours once they are older. Always use a rear facing mirror so that you can see your baby and if the journey is longer than 30 minutes on the way home from the hospital ensure that someone sits next to your baby. I had this very special honour with my Grandchild.
Non Infant Carrier Route- Option 4 below
This will be in the form of a seat such as the Avionaut Sky https://daisytreebabyboutique.co.uk/collections/car-seats-travel-systems/products/avionaut-sky or the Axkid ONE 2+https://daisytreebabyboutique.co.uk/collections/car-seats-travel-systems/products/axkid-one-2
Both of these options are suitable from Birth and will last up to approximately 5-7 Years. This is the most cost effective route for the 0-12 Years Car Seat journey. The only difference here is that you will leave the seat in the car and not have the option to pop it on to the pram. People often have these in their second car so that they the choice of an Infant Carrier plus an Extended Rear Facing Seat which will last up to age 5/7 years.
Your baby is now about 15 months old and is currently on the Infant carrier route. You know how much your baby weighs, how tall he or she is and your red book from the health visitor will tell you the percentile. 50th is average. When you see a recommended maximum age for a car seat, that is for a child on the 50th percentile. If your child is on the 50th percentile and below he/she will in all probability fit the seat until the recommended maximum age which for an 18kg/105cm seat is approximately 4 years. The lower the percentile the longer he/she will fit the seat. My son was on the 25th percentile and fitted until 6 years old in his 18kg seat.
If they are over the 50th percentile the further over they are the less time they will have in the seat. For example a child on the 95th percentile may outgrow an 18kg/105cm seat by the age of 2.5/3 years. This can be a problem and is the biggest reason as to why children are put into High Back Boosters too early. The very earliest is 4 years. 5 Years would be better. The reasoning behind this is simply skeletal strength and not weight or height. Their bones have not fused enough to give them the strength to cope in an accident. No matter how much they weigh or how tall they are they are still only the age that they are. Their skeleton is still only the age that it is.
What Choices do I have at this Stage?
The good thing about this stage is that you are armed with facts. You know your child's percentile. Remember you are still rear facing at this stage. You have an option of :-
18kg /105cm- approx up to 4 Years (can also be a swivel)
25kg/125cm - approx up to 5-7 Years.
36kg/125cm - approx up to 5-7 Years
If your child is on the high end of the percentile a 25kg option is a good route. If your child is at the low end of the percentile an 18kg seat can a good route. If you really want a 360 swivel seat then that's also fine as long as you are aware that if your child is high on the percentile you will need to buy an additional seat before they are ready for a High Back Booster.
If you chose the In Car Route- Option 4 instead of the Infant Carrier Route- Options 1,2,3 then your child will still be in this seat as it is a 25kg/125cm option.
Rear Facing Versus Forward Facing in a Harness Seat
Basically in a nutshell it's all about the forces on the neck. The Department of Transport pulled some stats together for me and in 2019 77.2% of accidents were frontal impacts. Put simply if you are in a car rearwards facing the force of the impact will be spread over a larger surface area, your back and into the seat your child is sitting on. If you are forwards facing then the shoulder straps will hold your child in place and their neck will take the force of the impact. All the time your child is wearing a harness they are safer rear facing. When they are 4 at the very minimum. 5 would be better their skeletal bones are starting to fuse together and harden which means they have more strength for their body to be able to survive a crash. Below this age their bones are still too soft no matter how tall they are or how much they weigh, this is all about age. Remember to rear face as long as possible ideally to age 5.
One of the most frequent questions is "Where do they put their legs"? They will cross them or pop them either side of the seat or put them on the back of the seat. Children are very bendy and their legs are not an issue. Another question is "How can they see"? They will look out of the window in exactly the same way and in many cases they can see for longer, as once you have driven past something interesting they can still see it out of the back window rather than once it's past it's past.
There are occasions that parents choose to forwards face and I can help with that. Whilst I would always encourage rear facing I know there are situations where this is not ideal. Please come and see me, there are options that make this as safe as it can be.
High Back Boosters
Your child will now be anything from 4 to 7 years of age and they have maxed out their current seat. Always pop along to see me as no end of time parents think their child has grown out of their current seat and the reality is that they have a few more months left in it. Use this time. Don't ever be in a hurry for the next seat up. I am always delighted to send someone away knowing that their child will be safer because they came and had a conversation with me. It's my job. I am there to advise first and foremost and if my advice is to stay in the current seat then that's a successful day.
When they are ready for a High Back Booster again this is essential to try in your car and try your child in the seat too. The aim is for your child to remain in this seat until 12 Years or 135cm (law) or 150cm (best practice) so it's really important that they find it comfortable. Also think about colour and pattern. Whilst they might love a seat with unicorns or dinos on it at the age of 4 or 5 they may be less enamoured once they are older.! Choose a basic plain colour.
Some seats have a 4th contact point. This is especially useful for a child who is the correct age but very slight. It helps to keep the lap belt over the hips and stops it riding up over the stomach. Similarly a child who is tempted to fiddle with their lap belt would be better with the 4th contact point. It's amazing how different children fit High Back Boosters in a completely different way. They, like all seats need to be tried.
I've tried to simplify this as much as possible but I just have so much to say! I hope it's helped. Take away points are:-
- If you are local please contact me for advice. Please pop in during opening times or book an appointment. .https://daisytreebabyboutique.co.uk/pages/in-store-appointment
- If you are not local find your nearest IOSH Accredited Child Seat Safety Advisor https://childseatsafety.co.uk/
- Rear face for as long as possible
- Max out each seat.
- Never put a pramsuit, thick jumper, coat or hoody on a baby, toddler or child in the car.seat Use a blanket to keep them warm, and for a baby a cellular blanket to avoid overheating.
- Always choose a car seat a different colour to your cars seat. It's more noticeable should there be an incident
- Don't worry you are doing a great job. It's not your job to know everything about car seat safety. iI's mine, so use me as a sounding board, pop in or message me to ask questions. I'd be delighted to help.