Child Car Seats

Child Car Seats FACT SHEET


Did You Know?

  • Child car seats that were manufactured before 1995 are no longer legal for use.
  • Not all car seats fit all cars – be sure you are buying a compatible seat before handing over your money!
  • You should choose a child’s car seat based upon their weight or height and not their age.


How To Buy Safely

  • Check that the seat is suitable for your car. The shape of the seat, the length of the seat belts and the position of belt anchorage points will vary. The manufacturer and the retailer can advise on this.
  • Choose a retailer which is knowledgeable and will demonstrate how to fit the seat. Avoid buying by mail order or over the internet unless you are certain it will fit your car properly.
  • Consider what your priorities are. Is it that the product must be easy to use, or is it more important for it to be a seat that can grow with your child?
  • Only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle. Check that the seat meets the latest safety standard. Look for ECE R44:04 or R129 which should be marked on the seat.
  • If you are purchasing a second hand/used product, ask questions about its history. Who was it used for, their age, the age of the product and most importantly – look for the safety marks listed above and ask if it has ever been in the car in an accident. This could have caused hidden damage that may render the child car seat ineffective. Having a copy of the instructions are important too for fixing the seat to the car.
  • If you are buying online check the sellers rating or reviews and their location. Goods sold online may well be cheaper but beware of inferior or even fake products. The picture and description may say it’s a brand you recognise, but what is delivered could be something different. Make sure the goods you receive match what was advertised online – if they don’t, contact the website and seller. Sites like eBay have teams dedicated to resolving cases where the sent item doesn’t match what was advertised. The most important thing is to make sure your purchase doesn’t put your child at risk!

How To Set Up Safely

  • Remember to deactivate front airbags before you fit a rear-facing baby seat in the front of your car. To do this, consult your car’s driver manual.
  • Police and car seat expert checks have found the majority of car seats are fitted incorrectly, check the instructions. If you don’t have instructions these can probably be found on the internet.

How To Use Safely

  • Child car seats must be securely fitted.
  • Child car seats must be rear facing until your child weighs more than 9kg but we recommend you use a rear facing seat for as long as possible.
  • Adjust the seat harness – it should be quite tight, so that only 2 fingers can fit between the child’s chest and harness. Remember to test the fitting regularly, as your child will have extra clothing in winter and less in summer and is growing all the time. It is advisable to check the fit before you begin a journey in the car.
  • Most modern car seats now come with a 5-point harness as well, which is much safer for the child.

Anything else you should know

The law regarding the sale of backless booster seats changed in March 2017.  Under new EU wide regulations, manufacturers are not allowed to introduce new backless booster seats (booster cushions) for children weighing less than 22kg or shorter than 125cm.

These seats are unsuitable for small children and offer limited protection in the event of a collision because the child is not held securely by the adult seatbelt across their body. New models of backless booster cushions must be clearly labelled as only suitable for children over 125cm in height and 22kg in weight. The new rules don’t affect existing models of seats or cushions and it doesn’t mean that they are illegal so parents who already own and use backless boosters will still be permitted to use them. However, a recent study has indicated that 66% of parents with children under the age of 12 do not know the current laws about child car seats and these changes may encourage parents to consider checking how their child travels.

Industry safety tests  also disturbingly indicate that 8 out of 10 parents install child car seats incorrectly, when using a seat belt while 94% of parents use ISOFIX correctly.

There are two standards for choosing a child car seat – the newer i-Size standard, which is based on height, and the older ECE R 44/04 standard, which is based on weight. The new law still requires all children younger than 12, or under 135cm tall (which ever is first) to be carried in size appropriate restraints. Children over the age of 12, or more than 135cm tall, must wear an adult seatbelt. Those drivers not following the law can face a £30 penalty charge or a fine of up to £300.