How to Choose a Car Seat: Travelling With a Baby in a Land Rover
In short, it depends on local laws, how big your child is, how fast they’re growing, and whether your car has ISOFIX or a similar car seat-friendly design.
But we’ll explain all of that later.
If you’re looking for a child seat, wherever you are in the world, chances are you’re going to encounter perplexing product names and jargon. A quick scroll of car seats on one website reveals names such as Scenera, Trax Jogger and Evenflo Embrace. Also, while you might have heard of ISOFIX, did you know it can also be called UCSSS, LATCH, or LUAS?
The huge range of child seats doesn’t make finding one any easier. Neither does the fact that laws vary by country or state. However, you can scroll down to find a quick and easy guide that covers the basics of baby seats.
On your quest for a reliable car seat, you’ll hear terms like ‘i-Size’ and Groups 0 to 2, particularly if you’re in Europe or the USA.
Group 0, 0+, 1 and 2 are an older design of car seats, still in use today. They are based on a child’s age and weight:
- 0 and 0+ for babies up to 13kg
- 1 for toddlers up to 18kg
- 2 for young children up to 36kg
‘i-Size’ refers to an EU safety regulation introduced in 2013 – it’s a newer range of car seats based on the child’s height.
They have been developed from more stringent crash testing, which includes side-impact tests along with frontal and rear tests. These seats provide greater protection, particularly from head and neck injuries, as they keep babies rear-facing until at least 15 months old.
What is ISOFIX?
ISOFIX (known as LATCH in the USA) is an internationally standardised system for fitting child seats into cars. The idea is that cars across the world will have same attachment points, allowing the seats to be easily locked into place.
This is to replace the usual practice of having to loop the seat belt through a baby car seat, which is more complicated and easier to get wrong.
‘i-Size’ child seats are designed to be compatible with ISOFIX – ideally, all ‘i-Size’ child seats should fit in all ISOFIX cars. Unfortunately, this is not the case yet; ISOFIX can still vary depending on the car’s age and where it’s from.
If you’re confused about your car’s ISOFIX or how to strap a baby in a car seat, you can book a fitting service from your retailer. In short, try before you buy. If that’s not available, it might be worth checking whether there are local councils or charities that offer free child seat fittings.
One commonly searched question is: can a baby car seat face forward?
Medical experts say infants should travel in a rear-facing car seat, as crash tests show it reduces the risk of serious injury to the head, neck and spine.
Parents often ask: how long must a child have a rear-facing seat? Experts recommend parents to keep them for as long as possible, or at least until the child has outgrown the seat and can support their head unaided.
It’s understandable why parents would prefer a front-facing car seat. Children can have motion sickness and methods to alleviate this, like staring ahead at a fixed point, don’t work well with a rear-facing position. Motion sickness, caused by the eye sending the brain different signals than the inner ear as to the body’s location, is often made worse when vision is limited.
Rear-facing car seats also limit a parent’s ability to keep an eye on their child from the front seat. After all, the last thing you want if you’ve carefully strapped your child in is to find they’ve managed to undo it while you were concentrating on the road.
To sum it up: the best car seat you can choose is a new model from a trusted retailer, that comes with proof that it adheres to local safety laws and medical guidelines.
There may be a lot on offer, but hopefully this guide will make finding one that fits your child and car (and will stand the test of time) less stressful and confusing.