Do you want to buy someone a child restraint system for Christmas and you are not sure what you should be looking out for in order to get the most suitable seat? Purchasing a chlid restraint system can be a difficult task if you don't take these 10 factors into account.
- Not just any seat will do: Every child has their own particular conditions and a child restraint system should be suitable for their particular needs. Firstly, and most importantly, we need to know the child's height and weight. Once we have this information we can have a better idea of the type of seat we need. Here we help you choose a seat according to weight, height and age (this last point can only be an approximate guide).
- We must of course choose an approved seat. There are currently two types of approval in Spain: R-44/04 (these child seats are divided into groups according to the child's weight) and R-129 (these child seats are chosen according to the child's height). We should be aware that child car seats approved under R-1129 are slowly replacing those approved under R-44/04 and, moreover, restraint systems approved under i-Size have undergone more safety tests such as side impact testing.
- Another important factor we should take into account is how the child car seat will be secured. Does the car in which we will be transporting the child have ISOFIX anchorages? Find all the information you need on ISOFIX anchorages here, which are available in the vast majority of new vehicles, especially on the rear seats (which is precisely where the seat should be installed, by law).
- We should also ensure that the child car seat can be installed in the car as other factors may come into play: for example, i-Size child seats are usually somewhat larger and the vehicle should be adapted to this legislation. Furthermore, the vehicle in question should be able to fit the support leg or the Top Tether if the CRS has one. Find all the information you need on anti-rotation systems here and how vehicles have been adapted to i-Size. The child seat manufacturer themselves usually indicates in which vehicles the child restraint system can be installed. This information is normally available on the manufacturer's website for each particular CRS model.
- Does thechild travel facing the rear? This is another point to consider. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend that the child travels in this position until they are 4 years old as it offers greater protection for the neck and head, especially in the event of a head-on collision.
- If the child is older but still cannot use the seat belt, they may need a booster seat with a backrest. Current legislation in Spain only requires children 135cm tall or less to use a child car seat. Nevertheless it is usually only once the child reaches 150cm tall that the seat belt will fit properly. Until then, it is advisable to use a booster with a backrest, as it secures the child in the seat better than one without it, particularly in terms of side impact, as well as serving as a helpful guide to correctly positioning the seat belt.
- Does the child have special needs? If the child has some type of disability or specific problem, he or she may need a child restraint system adapted to his or her needs. In this section we offer advice on how children with different special needs should travel by car and an infographic on different types of child car seats.
- Special care must be taken when using second hand child car seats, since we do not know how they have been used or if they have been in a car accident, which is likely to have affected the internal structure of the CRS and its ability to work properly. Furthermore, child car seats generally have a shelf life of 6 years.
- It is advisable to purchase a child restraint system from a specialist retailer where they can clear up any doubts we might have, advise us on which CRS will be best for our needs and possibly even show us how to install it.
- Ideally we would be able to try out the child car seat in our own car and have the child sit in the seat. Comfort is also a factor to take into account since the child will be spending a considerable amount of time in the CRS.