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Buyer's guide to children car seats

A child’s car seat is quite an expensive purchase and one that you will probably need to buy three times – Firstly, the baby seat, then a child seat when they can sit up by themselves and finally a booster seat/cushion that enables them to sit safely using a normal seatbelt. There are few things that are as important as ensuring your child's safety, and choosing the right child car seat is essential if they're to be as well protected as possible during car journeys. However, with such a wide range of car seats available on the market it can be easy to be confused as to what's suitable for your child's age and what the important factors are in ensuring their child is as safe as they can be.

Type of Child RestraintWeight RangeApprox. Age Range
Rear-facing baby seatup to 10 kgbirth to 6 - 9 months
Combination seat0-18 kg
birth - 4 years
Forward-facing child seat9-18 kg
9 months - 4 years
Booster Seat15-30 kg
4 - 10 years
Booster Cushion22-36 kg
6 - 11 years

Rear-facing Baby Seats

These seats can be used in the front of the car however it is much safer to place them in the back; ensure that you NEVER place this seat in the front where there is an airbag, as this can cause death or serious injury.

Forward-facing child seat

These seats are for those that have grown out of Rears seats. The harnesses on these seats should have harnesses with a large surface area, which will ensure that the risk of cutting injuries are reduced in the event of a crash.

Compatibility with your pram

Most children fall asleep while they are in the car. If your car seat will clip onto your pram then you can leave your child in the seat then you leave the car. Most major brands are compatible with various prams, for example, the Maxi-Cosi seat will clip onto a Bugaboo pram. The other alternative is to buy a set where the pram and the seat come in one package.

Booster seats and booster cushions

These seats are used with the seatbelt of your car. The main purpose of these seats is to stop your child sliding under (submarining) the seatbelt in the event of a crash.

The benefit of a booster seat over a booster cushion cradle your child more and offer better protection in a crash by keeping the child in a position when the seatbelt works the best.

There are some booster seats on the market that can be altered from a booster seat to a booster cushion; this means that you won't need to buy an additional item when you're child has grown out of their booster seat.

For either of these items you should ensure that the belt is always fitted as tight as possible, with the lap belt crossing the pelvis rather than over their tummy.

Our Tips

If you know anyone who has had a child it is very probable that they have a child’s seat in their attic. While designs have changed over the years, a seat from say 5 years, in good condition and from a good brand will save you a purchase. Child seats only get used for a few years so can be used for multiple children.

If you do buy a seat stick with major brands, they are extensively tested and even though they cost more money you can sell then second hand as your child grows out of it (or will last long enough to be used again if you have another child).

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