In the modern world, children travel by car almost as often as adults, but at the same time they are more defenseless and vulnerable during transportation. A child’s fragile body reacts much more sensitively to speed maneuvers and sudden braking, not to mention emergency situations and road accidents. Therefore, a priority for all parents is to ensure the safety of their children on the road. Currently, the most effective way to protect children in various dangerous situations on the road is to use a baby car seat.
How reliable are the car seats? How to choose and install it correctly? Read on to find this and more.
More About Baby Car Seats
A baby car seat is a special device designed to safely transport children in cars. It is designed for children from birth and until they reach a height of 150 cm or a weight of 36 kg. Modern market is full of different models of car seats, with all sorts of settings, adjustments and transformations. But often when you face the choice of a car seat for your baby, the most important thing to remember is that the priority task of the chair is to ensure safety.
Using a baby car seat can reduce mortality among infants in an accident by 70%. And among kids aged 1 to 4 years – by 54%.
Having a car seat when transporting a child up to 12 years old in the front seat and up to 7 years old in the back seat is not just an obligatory point of the traffic rules, but, first of all, the safety of a small passenger. That’s why, it is very important to be careful while choosing a baby car seat.
When choosing a car seat we recommend paying attention to the results of crash tests. Crash car seat tests can provide complete information about the child’s safety in the car seat in various emergency situations. The degree of comfort of the child in the chair, ease of installation, environmental friendliness of the materials used, etc. are also assessed.
Baby Car Seat Groups
The main parameter of a baby car seat you should pay attention to when buying is its group. Each group is focused on a certain age and weight of the child. So, before you choose a car seat and buy it, you need to weigh your baby, and not just take into account the age, because every child develops individually. There are generally accepted classifications of car seats, in accordance with which they can be divided into 5 main groups.
Group 0 car seats are designed for the youngest children from a newborn to six months and weighing up to 10 kilograms. These chairs are a small cradle, where the child is lying. The cradle is installed in the back or front seat against the direction of travel. This method of installation is necessary in order not to burden the fragile children’s spine, and to avoid injuries during braking. This chair is usually equipped with a soft lining under the back, as well as handles for easy carrying.
Group 1 car seats allow you to transport babies from 9 months to 4 years old. Such a chair looks like a standard baby car seat and is installed in the direction of the car movement. The car seat is usually equipped with a three- or five-point inner seat belts and a backrest adjustment system (sitting or lying). Such a chair can be used for several years, until a child reaches a weight of about 18 kg.
Group 2 car seats are designed for children aged 3 – 7 years. They are also installed in the direction of car movement. The seats of this group are often equipped with a backrest height adjustment system so that it can be adjusted to the height of the child. Or in general the back can be removed. Thus the seat turns into a model of group 3.
The car seats of group 3, the so-called “boosters”, are designed for children from 6 to 12 years old. These chairs are a seat without a backrest, which raises the child to a height sufficient for him to use regular car seat belts. But it should be noted that such chairs do not fully meet all the safety requirements for transporting children, as they lack side protection.
The car seat for children can correspond at once to two or three groups, such models are called universal. Manufacturers most often unite car seats of the following groups:
Group 0 + / 1 (0-18 kg) – for children from 6 months to about 4 years. During the first one and a half year of life of the baby, car seat is set against the course of movement, and then – in the direction of travel.
Group 2/3 (15-36 kg) – for children in the age range from 3 to 12 years.
Group 1/2/3 (9-36 kg)- is the most universal group, designed for children from 9 months to 12 years.
Universal car seats are convenient because they can be used for a long period of time. This option will be much cheaper than buying seats for every age period. But it should be noted that specialized chairs more accurately correspond to the specifics of each age, and therefore will be safer and more comfortable than universal chairs – “transformers”. In any case, if you are going to regularly moving with a child in the car, you will not go with one seat for the entire period of growing up. As a rule, 2-3 chairs of different groups are required.
Baby Car Seat Fixation
Isofix fixation is considered one of the safest and most reliable. It is included in the basic equipment of most models of modern cars, but still many old models are not equipped with this system. Thus, before buying a baby car seat with Isofix fixation, you should make sure that your car model is also equipped with the same fixation.
A standard three-point seat belt can secure car seats of all groups. Structurally, belts are provided for all car models, this is determined by safety standards. However, often the fastening system with standard belts is inconvenient due to the complexity of the fixation scheme.
For greater safety and reliability, some manufacturers of car seats can equip them with additional fasteners, such as floor support or anchor. The anchor or anchor belt is the third fixation point in the Isofix system, which further stabilizes the position of the baby car seat.
Baby Car Seat Belts
Now, when we have talked about fixation, it is worth discussing the ways of keeping the child in the seat of the car seat itself. The car seats of the groups 0, 0+, and 1 have internal straps to secure the child. Such belts can be three-or five-point. The more attachment points at a belt, the greater security of the child on the road it provides.
Car seats of groups 2, 2/3 and 3 usually do not have internal seat belts. The child is fastened together with the car seat with a regular belt of the car or aircraft. Such fastenings have two- and three-point.
Possibilities of Adjustment of a Children’s Car Seat
Adjustment options allow you to adjust the car seat for maximum comfort of the baby, to fit the height and size of the child, and simply choose the optimal position for a comfortable ride. So, most of the car seats allow you to adjust the backrest and headrest tilt, the width and height of the backrest, the height of the inner belts and their tension, the height of the head restraint, etc.
Tips for Choosing Car Seats
- Models that have passed all safety tests in Europe are marked with abbreviations ECE R44 / 03 or ECE R44 / 04 (European Safety Standard). So, when purchasing a baby car seat, pay attention to the presence of such icons.
- Despite the fact that the car seats are designed for all models of cars, before buying a baby seat you should still “try it on” the car. For example, it may not be enough length of the seat belt for attachment or the chair may not fit the profile of the seats.
- Before purchasing a baby car seat, you need to let the child sit in it: the baby should feel comfortable. It is also very important.
- It is better to install the car seat on the central rear seat. During various tests, this place proved to be the safest.
- It is not enough just to buy a car seat, it is important to install it right. Follow the instructions and fasten it properly on the child’s seat. The belts should be secured tightly enough and not pulled away from the child’s body more than a couple of centimeters.