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Choosing your baby's first car seat

Why is it important to choose the right car seat from the start?

“It’s so important for parents to take their time when choosing a car seat, and ensure that they understand all the key safety features, including how to correctly fit the car seat into their car before purchase. 

According to a recent study carried out by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, 95% of new parents make at least one error when installing their car seat but this one mistake could cause serious injury to your little one if you were in an accident. 

A car seat must be used from birth to 12 years (135 cm) therefore it’s important to choose the right car seat in line with your baby’s height and weight, not just age, to ensure maximum safety and comfort for your child. 

Shop around, do your research, ask questions, and ensure the car seat you choose is compatible with your car. Yes, it can be overwhelming but make sure you’re confident in your purchase.”

What Car Seat laws and regulations are in place?

“All manufacturers of car seats have to pass several crash tests. Our car seats have been tested to the highest safety standards, which not only surpass the EU laws set out in R44, and the newer legislation that sits alongside R129, in terms of safety, but they are also independently tested by German consumer organisation, ADAC and Stiftung Warentest, and UK organisation, Which?

The most recent safety regulation to come into force is i-Size – a new European car safety standard which makes travel safer. The i-Size regulation states that children aged 15 months or younger must travel in a rear-facing car seat as this is regarded as the safest way to travel.  

i-Size will not replace the current R44 legislation as it operates in parallel with it. In doing so, i-Size offers more side-impact protection, over and above R44 (which currently does not include side-impact tests).

Many premium brands, including Cybex, have been conducting side-impact tests for years as this is an important aspect of car seat safety.”

A rear-facing child seat reduces the risk of injury in a head-on collision by more than 80%, when compared to a conventional forward-facing seat. Leading consumer organisations recommend that children remain in rear-facing child seats even beyond group 0+, preferably up to approximately 4 years or 105cms in an i-Size seat.”

How long should a baby be in a car seat?

“When a baby is young, being in a semi-upright position for a considerable length of time may place strain on a baby’s developing spine.

Studies carried out by the Lullaby Trust revealed that when newborn or premature babies were sat in a car seat for 30 minutes, their heart and breathing rate increased, and their blood oxygen levels were lower compared with lying flat in a cot. It is recommended that a baby spends no more than 30 minutes in a car seat, especially in the first four weeks. 

It’s also crucial that they have regular breaks from the car seat, are not left in the car seat for more than two hours, and not left in the car seat if they are asleep. "

How do you know if you have fitted your car seat correctly? 

“The biggest issue when installing a car seat is misuse. However, nowadays car seats have a number of built-in safety features to ensure maximum protection for children.  

Most modern cars will be fitted with ISOFIX which provides additional safety and stability along with the car seat belt. You simply click in the ISOFIX connectors on the base of your seat into the ISOFIX anchor points in the car.

If a car doesn’t have an ISOFIX system, the car seat can be secured with the car seat belt. We recommend reading the instruction manual, watching videos, and speaking to staff in stores to ensure you’re confident in how to fit your car seat before you purchase one.”

Which car seat is right for your car?  

“In the UK, all children need to use a car seat from birth until 12 years old (or until they are 135cm tall). The car seat you buy needs to meet EU standards, and your child needs to be in the correct category seat for their age. 

You should especially check that your vehicle model has ISOFIX anchorage points, and the length of the vehicle seat belt, as this may vary, even during the same production year of manufacture. Ensure you try the car seat in your car before you buy. 

Here at Cybex, our car seats are broken down into age groups and our website allows you to check if your selected car seat is compatible with your car make and model.”

A guide to trying out car seats

1. Children’s harnesses must be easy to adjust, so that they can be tightened or loosened depending on what the child is wearing. We recommend carrying out the two-finger test so if you can fit more than two fingers underneath the harness at the child’s shoulder bone, the harness needs to be tightened. Avoid carrying out this test whilst your child has a thick coat on, as it will not ensure the correct harness tension to protect your child. 

2. The car seat should offer children who tend to sleep in the car, maximum side support and a comfortable sleeping position. Our car seats recline and feature an adjustable headrest to offer maximum comfort and safety. 

3. Remember to keep rearward facing for as long as possible. The priority is to ensure that your child’s head is not over the top of the seat. Once positioned correctly, make sure they have enough leg room.

4. Rear-facing child safety car seats must not be positioned on the front passenger seat of cars with an activated front airbag. In this instance, the infant car seat must be installed on the rear seat. However, the safest position in a car is the middle or behind the passenger seat. 

5. We do not recommend that people buy or use second-hand car seats, as they may have been involved in an accident, which could make them unsafe to use. Always, purchase from a reputable retailer who can support with aftersales service.

Where can we find out more?
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