When you have a baby, their safety immediately becomes of the utmost importance. You find that you do not want to let them out of your sight and that you do everything you can to ensure that they do not come to any harm. Whilst you can do a whole host of different things yourself when in doors, you have to rely on certain pieces of equipment when you're outdoors, most notably when you're travelling in a car.
Car seats are a mandatory piece of equipment for any car user and it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that any child in the car, up to the age of 12 (or 135cm), is restrained properly. For any baby, the safest way to ensure that they do not come to any harm when in the car should the car be involved in an accident is to use a baby car seat in a car that has ISOFIX anchorage points. A system that became mandatory in February 2006, all cars must be created with the ISOFIX anchorage points so that baby car seats can be fitted safely and securely in a way that is more suitable than using the traditional seatbelt method. The problem that many parents face is that with such a large amount of car seats available, it can be confusing understanding which one they need for their baby. Taking a look through the following information, you should be able to find out which baby car seat you need for your baby or child, depending on their age or weight.
1. Rear facing – for newborn babies through to 15 months (or 29 pounds in weight), rear facing baby seats are the safest for babies as they provide the most protection for their head, neck and spine.
Although suitable for use in the front of the car, they are recommended to be used in the rear and should never be used in the front seat where there is an air bag.
2. Forward facing – for use with children that weigh between 20 and 40 pounds (an age range which is generally associated with children between 9 months and four years of age), the same rule applies here that whilst they can be used in the front of the car, it is generally safer for them to be used in the rear.
It's also worthwhile looking for a forward facing car seat that has a harness included, as this will provide extra protection by securing and supporting the baby further.
3 and 4. Booster seats – the reason that points three and four are included together is that booster seats were once made in two groups, one to fit children weighing between 33 and 55 pounds (around four to six years old) and then another for children between 48 and 79 pounds (generally between six and 11 years old).
The rules have changed in recent years, however and now one booster seat is created to cover both groups, with many working in a way that operates as a full car seat for use up until the child reaches 55 pounds, at which point the back section can be removed and the car seat turns into a booster cushion. What's worth keeping in mind about every car seat here is that if your child appears to be too big for it – ie, their head is above the top of the seat – it's time to move them to the next type of seat.
Remember, the law states that your baby needs to be restrained properly in a securely and safe way and does not actually say what car seat they should have, as every child is different. Keep this information in mind and simply put it into practice depending on your own child's age, height and weight and you should be able to ensure that they are as safe as possible when travelling in a car.