There are many questions we will want to ask when the time comes to purchase a child car seat. Many parents have a lot of doubts and choosing the right CRS and subsequently purchasing one can be tedious and complicated to do.
Visiting a professional at a specialized store who can advise us accordingly will be a great help to ensure we make the best decision possible. Buying the seat in person is crucial in terms of being able to understand which seat will best suit our child, up until what point it can be used, on what seats it should be installed and also whether or not it is a trustworthy, approved and high-quality seat.
We will be taking a look at some of the most important questions we should be asking a retailer when the time comes to purchase a child seat.
What is the i-Size system?
This is of vital importance. We need to understand the new legislation and its differences with the former law, in order to be able to make an informed and appropriate decision. We have discussed the i-Size regulation at length in these articles and how vehicles have adapted to the standard.
Do I need to replace my seat if it is not i-Size?
For the time being, the two standards (R44/04 and R-129 or i-Size) are both in force. Anyone can buy a child seat certified in accordance with either of the two standards, although there will come a time when it will no longer be possible to use seats covered by the R44/04 standard. Until it is stipulated otherwise, retailers can continue to sell these child seats to consumers.
What should I take into account when purchasing a child restraint system?
Firstly, we need to check that it is indeed an approved seat. Secondly, we need to ensure that it meets certain minimum quality and safety criteria. Thirdly, it should be suitable for the child's physical characteristics and compatible with the car in which it is going to be installed. Here we deal with all the aspects we should be bearing in mind when purchasing a child car seat for the first time.
How should children be seated in the car?
Children should be seated in an approved CRS which is suitable for their physical characteristics. They should also be well-secured in the seat with snug-fitting harnesses or a properly positioned seat belt. The law states that child car seats must be fitted on the rear seats of the car unless one of the following exceptions applies:
- If the vehicle does not have any rear seats.
- If all the rear seats are already occupied by other children in their respective child restraints.
- If a child restraint system cannot be installed on the rear seats.
Can I put a child on the front seat if a third child car seat does not fit on the rear seat?
According to the current regulations, if child restraint systems cannot be installed on the rear seats, or if these are occupied by other minors in their respective restraint systems, the answer is yes.
Can a child travel by car using a seat belt?
Only when the child has the appropriate characteristics. With regard to the legislation, once the child has reached 135cm tall they can use the seat belt as their only restraint device, although we recommend waiting until they reach 150cm tall, to avoid neck injuries. During this time, it is advisable to use a booster seat with a backrest and side protection.
Is it a good idea for children to travel in a rear-facing child seat or can they travel in a forward-facing child seat?
Rear-facing child car seats offer better protection for the head, neck and spine, which are some of the most vulnerable parts of the body, particularly when it comes to young children. In fact, 80% of serious injuries can be avoided in the case of a collision.
Up until what age should children be traveling in a rear-facing seat?
Regarding what we have mentioned earlier, they should be placed in a rear-facing child car seat for as long as possible, whenever possible, and until they are at least 4 years old.
We should note that child car seats approved under the i-Size standard require that children travel in a rear-facing position until they are 15 months old and that Groups 0 and 0+ also have rear-facing seats.
The market is increasingly offering more specific child restraint systems so that parents can transport their children in rear-facing seats. Generally speaking, we will come across these types of seats for children up to 25 kg and 120 cm tall.
Does putting my child in a rear-facing position damage their legs?
This is one of the most common questions to crop up regarding seating children in a rear-facing position. The answer is no, there is no reason for it to hurt their legs. Depending on the child's height, they can travel more or less comfortably, but the added safety that rear-facing seats provide makes up for any discomfort the child may have.
How do we install a child restraint system and how do we secure the child in it?
The retailer should be well-trained in how to perfectly explain all of the points to be followed. We must of course always follow the manufacturer's instructions. The retailer should be able to demonstrate how to install the child car seat, if it has isofix anchorages they should know how to anchor them; and if the seat is secured with a seat belt, they should point out the slots through which the belt should pass and how to do it. The retailer should also demonstrate how to place the harnesses and the support leg or top tether if the seat is equipped with these anti-tip devices. Take a look at the general guidelines here.