Choosing a car seat for your child is a tough choice for parents. Why ? Because the choice of security is paramount. Because the information on this topic often lacks precision.
The choice of car seat is often at the heart of parenting discussions. We all lived this great moment of loneliness, in childcare stores, not knowing which product to turn to. Here are some tips for choosing a car seat for your kid.
What are the standards for car seats?
There are two standards for car seats: the ECE R44 standard and the R129 (i-size) standard. What exactly are they saying and what are the differences between them?
The ECE R44 standard
The ECE R44 standard was launched in May 2006, and comes in the form of an orange certification label. Several mentions are obligatory on this one:
- the word "universal", indicating that the child car seat can be used in all vehicles;
- the weight of the child for which the seat is approved;
- the country in which the registered office has been registered, an E (for the European approval mark), followed by a number (for example 1 for Germany, 2 for France, 3 for Italy, 11 for the United Kingdom, etc.);
- the approval number; the first two digits indicate the version of ECE R44; for optimum safety, it is preferable that they be 04 or 03, which refers to the most recent requirements.
The standard R129 (i-size)
New standard for car seat, this standard was launched on July 9, 2013. It aims to facilitate the choice of baby car seat, while optimizing the safety of the child. It has several objectives:
- impose back-to-road transport in the baby car seat for at least 15 months;
- increase the requirements in the event of a side collision, manufacturers having their child car seat tested with a new dynamic test, during which the car door is depressed;
- to generalize the Isofix system, for a better installation of the baby car seat and a reduction of the risks of bad attachment of the child;
- simplify the choice of child car seat with a new size classification for the toddler.
It is recognizable by a specific logo representing the car seat in back-to-road position and held with a strap, and an orange homologation label on which is specified "i-Size", which mentions: the label, the size of the car the child, the country in which the seat was certified and the test number (this is the longest number, which must start with 129).
The differences between the two standards
For the moment, the two standards coexist, but eventually the first is destined to disappear in favor of the i-size standard. The most recent standard has been taken with the aim of clarifying and simplifying the legislative recommendations for baby car seat and strengthening child safety.
It gives a clearer classification, by size of the child, and no longer by weight; it generalizes the Isofix attachment system, so that children are better attached by car, a guarantee of their safety.
It also encourages parents to put their child back on the road for at least 15 months; it is based on more advanced safety tests.
What's an Isofix car seat?
A baby car seat Isofix is provided with two hooks at the back of the seat, which are anchored on the two points of the vehicle between the backrest and the seat, which are mandatory on all new vehicles since February 2011.
A third attachment point prevents the car seat from rotating or tilting forward in the event of an impact. This is a breakthrough in road safety, to eliminate the risk of improper installation of the seat; when the seat clips are attached to the vehicle rings, the clip is secure.
Isofix universal or semi-universal fixation
The differences between the two systems
The system is universal when a restraint strap is present on the baby car seat. Also called "top tether", it is compatible with all vehicles equipped with Isofix. It attaches the seatback to the car, passes over the seat to attach to a floor clip.
The system is semi-universal when it is necessary to check the compatibility of this one with your own car. The seat is stabilized with a strut, which is adjusted in height and bears on the floor of the vehicle.
Which one to choose ?
It is better to turn to a universal system. Indeed, the semi-universal system is not suitable for all cars, especially those that have a storage space under the feet or have no space at all, the leg can not be positioned there. This will also avoid the inconvenience when you must install the child car seat in a car other than your own.
Different groups of car seats
Regulation R44-04 classifies car seats into five groups, according to the weight of the child, and theoretical ages:
- Group 0: from birth to 10 kg, about 18 months;
- Group 0+: from birth to 13 kg, ie 2 and a half to 3 years;
- Group 1: from 9 to 18 kg, ie 1 year to 5-6 years;
- Group 2: from 15 to 25 kg, ie 4 to 9 years;
- Group 3: from 22 to 36 kg, that is 7-8 years to 12 years
Some seats cumulate the different groups, covering several weight ranges:
- Group 0/1 and 0 + / 1: up to 18 kilos;
- Group 1/2/3: from 9 to 36 kg;
- Group 2/3: from 15 to 36 kg (and also models with isofix)
Car seat selection criteria
The type of fixture and the ease of installation
As far as fixing is concerned, it is advisable to opt for an Isofix system, made mandatory by the European standard i-size. It allows to attach the seat directly and quickly to the chassis of the car, thanks to metal fasteners.
This avoids the use of the seat belt, while ensuring optimal protection for the child. This system also makes the installation of the seat very easy: it is enough to clip the two Isofix forceps of the car seat to the hooks of the vehicle, and the turn is played. The risks of error are thus greatly reduced and the child's safety reinforced.
Age, weight and height of the child
It is essential to choose a seat from a group corresponding to the weight or size of the child according to the standard. This requires referring to the different rankings shared above.
Compliance with safety standards
The car seats are subject to strict certification, which guarantees their compliance with certain safety requirements. But these references are not the only ones to take into account.
Indeed, brands are multiplying innovations in the field, offering for example child car seat models with enhanced protection against side impacts, shields or energy absorption systems.
In this respect you can usefully consult the various crash tests, for example those of the ADAC, which performs dynamic tests.
The comfort of the baby car seat
Safety is not the only criterion to consider: you must also think about the comfort of your child! It is important, for peaceful journeys, that your kid is comfortable in the car seat. In this respect, attention must be paid to the different positions of the seat inclination, making it easier for the child to fall asleep, reducing cushions, wall padding, the quality of textiles or the adjustment system of the support. head. It is also advisable to opt for a removable cover, which can be washed regularly.
Some seats have a design that makes them easier to install compared to others. This is particularly the case of swivel chairs, which prevent you from having to contort yourself to sit your child. Others also have guide straps or color markers to properly position the belt without jeopardizing the safety of the child.
Even if safety is priceless, it is always better to compare the price of car seats, from one brand to another in the first place but also from one brand to another. Of course, we must make sure to compete with similar products, which meet the same requirements of safety and comfort.
Buying a used car seat is a bad idea
It is strongly discouraged to buy a used child car seat. Indeed, it is possible that the restraint system has seen its effectiveness decrease, either in use or even following a shock. In addition, it may no longer be up to current standards.
Even if a used car seat looks correct, it is impossible to detect any damage to the naked eye, or to trace its history to the only observation. In addition, operating instructions and installation labels may be missing.
What kind of baby car seat to choose for a newborn or premature baby?
It is important to purchase your car seat before the birth of the child. Indeed, you will need the seat to carry baby home safely after giving birth in a maternity.
But if the child is premature or very small, it is often difficult to find a suitable seat. It will be necessary to opt for a nacelle of the group 0 or a hull seat of the group 0+. The nacelle is more suitable, the child lying there and better installed while the hull may seem disproportionate, even with a reducer. The basket also respects the biological rhythm of the child and its mobility, forcing the lying position on the back, ideal for sleep.
Facing the road or not?
The question frequently asked: should you put your child facing or back to the road? The answer is obvious when you know that traveling back to the road is five times safer for your child.
Why install a car seat back to the road?
Children have particularly heavy heads, while their back and the vertebrae of their neck are still underdeveloped. This is why the most common but most serious injuries in young children are head trauma. However, by installing the toddler back to the road, his head, his neck and his spine enjoy excellent protection. The pressure on their neck is five times lower.
When facing the road, in case of shock, the child will see his head thrown strongly forward and then down, before starting violently backwards. Shoulders, neck and head, particularly fragile, are likely to be severely traumatized.
When facing back to the road, in case of shock, the child will be propelled to the bottom of the chair and not forward; the energy of the frontal collision is spread evenly over the entire car seat and therefore the sensitive areas of the body will be well protected.
When to position the baby car seat facing the road?
Since July 9, 2013, the i-Size standard requires back-to-road installation up to 15 months, instead of 9 months. This does not prevent you from continuing well beyond this age.
When to change the car seat?
Each car seat is adapted to the size and weight of the child, to ensure both its safety and comfort. It is therefore important to change seats at the right time, not too early or too late.
It is necessary to move to the upper group when the top of the baby's head reaches or even exceeds the top of the hull (the head must at all times remain in the protected area of the hull); then when the child's shoulders exceed the highest position of the harness.
In addition, never exceed the maximum weight for the seat. On the other hand, if the child's feet come out of the car seat, it does not matter. You can stop using a car seat when the child is at least 150 centimeters tall, according to the law.
But it is advisable to wait until twelve years old to switch to the only seat belt; in fact, his pelvis will be completely ossified, which will allow him to perfectly maintain the belt without risk of internal lesions in case of shock.
The best baby car seats
Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
Founded in the 1930s, Britax Römer is a German company specializing in the manufacture of car seats. Placing innovation at the heart of its business, it offers an increasingly diversified range, without leaving aside the security to which it pays increased attention.
Patented technologies guarantee high resistance to lateral and frontal impact. Britax car seats are designed for simple and enjoyable everyday use. Swiveling like the DUALFIX, a baby car seat of the group 0 + / 1, or evolutive like the EVOLVA 1-2-3 SL SICT, they combine elegance comfort and features.
Chicco MyFit harness and booster
For more than 30 years, the Chicco brand has been famous for the quality of its products and its wide variety of baby accessories. Its car seats show a great know-how, as with the latest in its range, the Seat up 012 homologated in group 0 + -1-2, according to the ECE R44 / 04 standard, which can be used from birth to 25 kilos. Evolutionary, it follows the growth of the child.
It is also universal, compatible with all vehicles whether Isofix or not. This child car seat is equipped with a Top Tether installation.
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible
Since 1955 and its "Swingomatic" swing, Graco has been developing baby products, known for their convenience and meeting the highest demands. Safety, innovation and style are the hallmarks of the brand, resulting in car seats in various colors, easy to use, meeting the most stringent safety standards.