As you might have heard, this week is Child Safety Week. We know that buying a car seat can be a bit daunting, so we had a chat with Damon, the resident car seat expert from Joie. He’s answered some of the top questions we get asked about car seats, to help you get up to speed on safety. Don’t worry if you think you’ve missed out – there’s still a chance to win a Cosatto child seat, and our stores will be providing  free car seat checks until the end of the week!

Joie Stages Gr 0+Q:      How can I tell when a car seat is too small for my child?

A:       Have a look at the orange label on the seat to find out the maximum weight that your child can be before they have to move on. If you have an i-Size seat, you’ll also need to look at the height (or ‘length’) of your child. If they are either too heavy or too big, it’s time to move on to a bigger seat.

Q:      What is ISOFIX?

A:       ISOFIX is the name for an internationally recognised way of attaching child car seats. ISOFIX reduces fitting errors by making seats really easy to attach to the vehicle. That way, you can be sure that your child’s car seat is properly secured every time.

Joie Stages Gr2Q:      What do the “Groups” mean?

A:       The groups are weight categories that show the weight of the child that the car seats can carry. For example, Group 0+ is from Birth to 13kgs, Group 1 is 9kgs to 18kgs, group 2 15 to 25kgs, Group 3 22kgs to 36kgs. If you’d like to know more, have a look at our advice article.

Q:      What age does a child need to be to use forwards facing car seats?

A:       Under the current regulations (based on weight), children under 9kgs (which is about 9 months old) need to face rearwards. However, this is very young. The longer a child travels facing rearwards, the safer the child will be. That’s why under the new i-Size regulation the minimum age will be 15 months.

Q:      What is i-Size and what does it mean for my current seat?

A:       i-Size seats are “Enhanced ISOFIX child restraints”. These are already available and are made using stricter testing criteria. The use of seats that are currently available (made to the older R44.04 standard) will continue for many years. Running both old and new regulations side by side lets parents get the latest safety advances, but still gives a reasonable amount of time for all car seat manufacturers to catch up. Even when the testing approval of seats to the old R44.04 standard stops in 2018 and only those produced to the new i-Size standard (R129) will be allowed to be sold, it will be legal to use an older R44.04 seat will until around 2028.

Q:      Can I put a child seat in the middle of the rear seat?

A:       That depends on the vehicle. Statistically, the centre seat is the furthest point from a potential impact, so it could be safest. However, many centre seating positions are too narrow for a child restraint to be safely used with seat belts and very few car have ISOFIX fixings in the middle seat.

Joie Stages Gr1Q:      Are second hand seats safe?

A:       Unless the seat is obtained from someone you trust with your childs life then the answer can only be NO. Even if the seat looks ok, that doesn’t guarantee the seat hasn’t been involved in an accident already, dropped, or stored in poor conditions. All of these things can drastically alter the performance. The other factor to consider is the age of the seat. Plastics degrade over time, so have a useable period of maximum strength.

Q:      How much does it cost to have my seat fitted?

A:       Halfords offer a free fitting service for any child seat bought at their stores. They follow a detailed 17 point fitting check and will ensure you are comfortable in fitting the seat yourself, after helping to find the best seat for your child and vehicle.

We’ve had a great response from you on social media, and everyone has really gotten behind keeping kids safe. If you’d like to read the results of our Q&A with Britax UK, head over to the Facebook page. To have a look at our range of child seats, click here.

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