How to choose the right child seat
Weigh up your children
As we alluded to in the intro there, the starting point is to know the basics about your kids. So stick them on the scales, measure them, and ask their grandparents to remind you of the dates they were born.
Armed with that information you can check the standard car seat categories to find out which seat is required. They are:
Weight range: up to 10kg (22lbs)
Age range: birth to 9 months
Weight range: up to 13kg (29lbs)
Age range: birth to 15 months
Weight range: up to 18kg (40lbs)
Age Range: birth to 4 years
Weight range: 9-18kg (20-40lbs)
Age range: 9 months to 4 years
Weight range: 15-36kg (33-79lbs // 2st 5lbs-5st 9lbs)
Age range: 3-12 years
Weight range: 22-36kg (49-79lbs // 3st 7lbs-5st 9lbs)
Age range: 6-12 years
Get the right seat at the right time
Age ranges are approximate – it’s the height and weight that really matter. You’ll also notice that the weight ranges of the seat groups cross over, but it’s always safer to keep a child in the lower group for as long as possible. A child in a seat that's too big isn't ideal.
It’s also possible to buy ‘1/2/3 group’ seats, which cover the entire spectrum, adjustable to convert from a baby seat into a booster, as well as the ‘i-Size’ setup that covers from birth to around four years old. The same safety and fitment rules apply to those.
Weigh up your car
Once you’ve established what sort of seat you need, you need to establish whether it’s suitable for your car – for safety and practicality reasons. If the seat doesn't fit properly, safety can be compromised by issues like ‘buckle crunch’ – when the plastic belt buckle is compressed against the plastic base of the seat.
All major seat manufacturers will be able to give you a list of the cars that their seats are suitable for, so check out their websites for more information.
You’d also be surprised how much space a child seat can take up, and it may be that a child seat behind you forces you to move your own seat forward into an uncomfortable position, which can affect the way you drive – also a safety concern.
To ISOFIX or not to ISOFIX?
ISOFIX is the standard anchor system for latching child seats into car seats, creating a rigid, secure link between the two. It’s not a legal requirement to have an ISOFIX seat, but since February 2013 all car manufacturers have been legally obliged to make it a standard feature. Note, however, that cars designed and launched before this date will not necessarily have it, even if the car itself is brand new.
We always recommend ISOFIX at HonestJohn.co.uk because it’s easier to fit the seat that way than using the adult seatbelt, but more importantly, it’s more secure. In essence, if you can buy ISOFIX, do so.
Buy a seat you’re comfortable with
Once you’ve established that the seat is right for your child and your car, make sure it’s right for you – if you can barely lift it, or guiding it through the door is like playing Operation, it’s probably not for you.
More importantly, you need to know that you’re entirely comfortable fitting it – especially if it’ll be in and out of your car a lot. ISOFIX is easier to fit than a belt-based seat, but it’s still possible to get it wrong.
The solution, then, is to have a few suitable seat options then make an appointment with the retailer for a demonstration – try a few out with an expert and pick one you’re comfortable fitting yourself.