Child Car Seats: What You Need to Know

When it comes to going on a road trip with a child in tow, things can get pretty complicated very quickly. Ask any parent who has been on an extended trip with their little one, and you'll discover that the amount of "stuff" that you have to bring with you is quite frankly astonishing.

First you need to think about the amount of time you're away for, and ensuring that you bring enough supplies to keep your child happy for that time: food, nappies etc. Then there's the small matter of where he or she is going to sleep, changes of clothes and a pushchair/pram to think about.

When thinking about all these components, that famous line from Jaws may very well come to mind. "We're going to need a bigger boat".

However perhaps the most important part of this preparation, is ensuring your child is safely secured when on the move in your car.

Child car seats can come in many shapes and sizes, unfortunately it seems that many parents are unsure about the correct type of seat they need to buy for their child.

A survey carried out by the RAC, of more than 1,000 UK parents with children aged under 10, revealed 84% were not aware of the legal height a child had to be to ride in a vehicle without a car seat, and 79.1% were unable to answer correctly how many different car seat groups there were.

It's a stark statistic, not helped by the fact that new EU regulations surrounding child car seats came in effect last year, meaning that a number of backless booster seats are no longer considered fit for purpose for younger children.

The RAC commented on the findings:

"Laws concerning child seats were updated in March last year and now several booster cushion style car seats are considered unsuitable. It's essential for the safety of children that parents understand what these guidelines are and choose the correct seat for their children to travel in.

"Children up to the age of 12 must travel with a car seat, unless they are 135cm tall. Fitting an incorrect seat for your child could result in a maximum fine of £500.

"We created a new calculator to ensure parents don't get caught out by these relatively new rules and give their children the best protection they can whilst travelling in their vehicle."

So what are the new rules concerning car seats that you need to know?

What seat should my child use?

There are two ways which you can decide to choose your child's car seat. This is based on either their height or weight.

• Height-based child seats are called i-Size seats.
• Weight-based child seats offer a range of options: 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.

You can use the RAC's child seat calculator to find out what type of seat is best for your child. You can take a look at the calculator here -

Top tips

To make sure your child is as safe and secure as possible, here are a few rules to stick to!

• Children must use a rear-facing seat until the they are 15 months old.
• Never fit a rear-facing child seat in the front if there is an active airbag on the passenger side of the car.
• When your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and it'll now be safe to mount their car seat facing forward.
• Children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm can use a backless booster seat.
• Children of 12 years old or taller than 135cm do not need to use a child seat, but have to legally, before then.
• Child seats must be fitted either using ISOFIX mountings or a diagonal seat belt strap.
• For smaller children, a high-back booster seat is recommended.

Follow these rules and consult the car seat calculator and your child will be as safe and secure as can be!

Of course, once they are secure, there's the small matter of the journey! As well as asking about child seat knowledge, the RAC also asked parents what the most annoying thing about travelling with a child is.

The answer?

Temper tantrums! Over a third of those surveyed (35.6%) said temper tantrums were the most annoying thing about travelling with a child.

The good news is it looks like children make us safer drivers as well! 43.9% of drivers said they drove slower since becoming a parent.

After the packing, the fitting of the car seat and the temper tantrums, will the trip be worth it? Of course it will, after all nothing that's not hard is ever worth doing!

What Do You Think?

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