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How can we tell if a child has outgrown the child car seat's harness?

Do you regularly check that your child has not exceeded the weight or height indicated for the child seat?


Do you check that your child's clothes fit them from one year to the next? Do you check whether your child's feet have gone up a size in case you need to buy them new shoes? Do you check to see if your child is still within the size range for their child restraint system?

If we regularly check the size and weight of our children in order to see what size clothes they should be wearing, why do we not do the same to ensure they are traveling with a child car seat suitable for their size and/or weight? It is certainly something we are not doing regularly and only seem to do so when we encounter difficulties fastening the child seat harness and we notice that the child's head extends above the back of the headrest. These all undoubtedly lead us to realise that the child is not using the appropriate child car seat but it is better to check this before such an event occurs.

This is something we should be doing much more often, given that, as many of us already know, a child can grow in a matter of weeks and months. In the first year of life an infant usually grows extremely rapidly and in the following 2 or 3 years a child can grow up to a centimeter a month. From 4 years old growth slows down and then from 12 years old they will grow much more rapidly again. Generally, during puberty, girls have a growth spurt at 12 years old and boys at 14 years old. 20% of their total growth occurs at this stage.

There is of course no unique growth pattern for all children and not all of them weigh the same or grow at the same time. That is why it is so crucial to regularly check your child's height and weight. We should not forget that a child restraint system is vital for ensuring the child's safety in the car. A car is a form of transport we use on a regular basis and that is why we must not disregard the importance of the restraint system.

Check that the child is still using a suitable seat

In accordance with the particualar child restraint system approval we are using, we should be checking either the child's height or weight.

  • If the child car seat is approved under the R44/04 standard, we should take the child's weight into account and check that they are within the child seat's parameters.
  • If the child car seat is approved under the R-129 (i-Size) standard, we need to check the child's height and ensure that it does not exceed the manufacturer's stipulations.

In 'Children's Road Safety' we have a specific section on finding the seat you need.

We also feature a graphic displaying information on how to get the appropriate CRS:

Find the child seat that best suits your child's requirements
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