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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Have you ever asked whether child seats can become out of date? Or when it should changed? Do you know which seat should be used at any given time?
Here you will find answers to all your uncertainties so that the safest way for your child to travel.

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A baby is a very young human being who can barely speak let alone walk. The baby stage is considered to go from 0 to 15 months, approximately. 

Fundamentally, these are very young children who cannot hold their posture for very long, who cannot walk unaided, and have not yet learned to speak (in the majority of cases). They are extremely vulnerable children and we need to protect them the most because of their delicate condition. Moreover, we should take into account how fragile they are and the fact that their heads are much larger in proportion to their bodies. For this reason, protecting their most vulnerable areas is crucially important and this is why they should travel in a rear-facing seat.

If we take a look at the i-Size approval standard (ECE R129), it guarantees that all rear-facing seats can be used until the child is a minimum of 15 months old. By doing so it encourages the use of rear-facing child seats, which is a much safer position  for children when traveling than a rear-facing seat.

In Spain, children must travel in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 15 months old, and it is advisable for them to do so until they are 4 years old (both R44-04 approved seats, Groups 0 and 0+, and R-129 approved seats are rear-facing up to approximately this age). The main reasons for this safety recommendation are because children under four years old can suffer far more serious head and neck injuries since they do not have fully developed muscles.

Placing a baby in a forward-facing car seat is putting them at serious risk  of injury in a crash. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a good rear-facing seat and to keep the child in it for as long as possible.

Ideally, children should be traveling in an approved child restraint system suitable for their height and weight on buses. However, it is currently quite difficult to do so given that the majority of these buses have two-point seat belts, which makes it much harder or even prevents you from being able to install a child car seat. At the moment, the majority of child restraint systems are installed with three-point seat belts or the Isofix system since they secure the seat in place better and offer greater protection.

If a bus has two-point seat belts the child can directly fasten the seat belt, since these types of belts can be used for both adults and young children, as they secure the passenger below the waist, over the pelvis. However, we should bear in mind that a two-point seat belt offers less protection, especially for children under 6 years old.

If the seat-belt is a three-point belt the child must travel in a child restraint system since the seat belt would not otherwise be properly securing the child and this could be detrimental to the child and could even cause injury if it were not properly adjusted. For example, the diagonal strap can press against the child's neck if it does not stay in the proper position. 

Learn how a seat belt should be fastened here and why buses are not currently designed with young children in mind.

i-Size child restraint systems allow your child to travel in a rear-facing position until they are a minimum of 15 months old. Nevertheless, this does not mean that from then on they should be in a forward-facing position. Quite the contrary, the safest way for children to travel in a vehicle is in a rear-facing child restraint system, especially until they have reached 4 years old. Although it is advisable for them to continue doing so for as long as possible. 

We should bear in mind that this position provides children with greater head and neck protection in the event of a crash. In the event of a collision, a child under the age of four in a front-facing seat is much more likely to suffer injuries to these two delicate areas than in a rear-facing seat. In fact, putting children in rear-facing seats reduces the risk of serious injuries by 80% compared with a 50% reduction for those traveling in a forward-facing position, according to the WHO.

In this article we cover why children should travel in a rear-facing position for as long as possible and whenever possible.

You can make your child more comfortable in their child restraint system and stop them from sweating excessively by following these recommendations, especially in the summer.

-Block out as much light as possible. Tinted windows, in-built blinds...

-Put a cover designed for the summer on the child car seat.

-A light-colored child seat absorbs less heat than darker colored ones. 

-Use sunshades to reduce the heat, especially when the car is parked.

-Before placing the child in their seat, it is a good idea to air out and cool the car down first.

-Maintain a pleasant temperature inside the vehicle and make sure the air vents are not directly blowing on the child.

-Planning trips for early in the mornings, or around evening time means you will be traveling at cooler times of the day.

-Take refreshments (not too cold) in the back of the car and ensure the child drinks regularly.

-Put the child in light and breathable clothing.

Not all children have the same needs. These needs will change as the child continues to grow. Newborn babies and very young children have very little neck, spine and muscle strength. They start gaining strength as they grow. 

Therefore, a child car seat designed for babies cannot be the same as one for a 4-year-old child. This is why there are specific child restraint systems for babies on the market, such as those in Group 0 and 0+ and i-Size child seats up to a certain height, often 85 cm. Take a look at the different types of child restraint systems available and how they change as the child grows.

In fact, these child car seats are rear-facing seats in the case of babies (compulsory up to a minimum of 15 months old according to the i-Size regulation, although at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend they travel in a rear-facing position for as long as possible and until they are at least 4 years old). They also come with reducer cushions and are usually smaller seats which can recline further.

Newborn babies should be traveling in a child restraint system whenever they are traveling in a vehicle. This CRS should be an approved seat that has been specifically designed for newborn babies. Not just any child car seat will do. 

These would be the child car seats in Group 0 (from 0 to 9 kg), i.e. bassinets and carrycots adapted for newborn babies; child car seats in Group 0+, from 0 to 13 kg, also known as ‘maxi-cosi’; and i-Size child restraint systems, for babies from 40 to 85cm and up to approximately 15/18 months old. Take a look at our guide to choosing the right seat.

These types of child seats tend to be slighter smaller and are rear-facing. In the case of i-Size seats they allow the child to travel in a rear-facing position for up to a minimum of 15 months old, although at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using rear-facing child car seats for as long as possible and until the child is at least 4 years old, providing that the child's physical characteristics allow for it. 

This type of child car seat can be anchored with the Isofix system  or the seat belt. They may also come with a Support leg or Top Tether to prevent tipping and may have reducer cushions in order to offer better ergonomics and secure the newborn child in place. Many of these cushions also have an ergonomic head rest which helps to regulate their temperature.  In most cases, these cushions are only used for the first few months of the infant's life as once they have grown they will be big enough to sit snugly in the CRS. Manufacturers usually indicate when the best time for this will be. Normally they will need these cushions for the first 3-6 months, at which point the baby's neck starts becoming stronger. 

Lastly, the seat should not be inclined too far back or too far forward. The best position is a midway position. 

No, not all child restraint systems are approved for use in all countries. In order for a child restraint system to go on sale the manufacturer must demonstrate that the child car seat can pass a series of tests in order to guarantee minimum safety levels. All such tests have been agreed upon. Learn about the importance of approvals.


Before using a child car seat it is important to be familiar with the relevant legislation. For example, in the European Union child seats approved by the R44-04 and the R-129 standards (i-Size) can be used. Both standards are currently in force, although eventually only R-129 will remain. Both pieces of legislation were drafted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.


However, in the United States child car seats must be approved under FMVSS 213. Furthermore, in Latin America there are countries that have accepted both standards or have only adapted to one of them. This is why it is so important to check this out beforehand. 


We should be aware that a child car seat from the USA, for example, which has been approved according to this country's legislation, is not legally valid in another country, such as Spain, where the approval legislation required is different. Moreover, the anchorage systems vary from one country to another (ISOFIX, LATCH, CANFIX and UAS).

Unfortunately it is not usually possible to place three child car seats on the rear seats in the majority of vehicles. However, certain minivans do allow for this possibility if the rear seats are larger and well-spaced. In fact, depending on the minivan's size, sometimes up to 4 or 5 children can travel in child car seats. 

If the vehicle does not allow for the option of putting three child car seats on the rear seats and you are traveling with three children that need child restraint systems, two of the children will have to travel on the rear seats and the other child must go on the front passenger seat.

Whether it is because of the size of the car or because the middle seat does not allow for this possibility, putting one of the children on the front passenger seat is usually the only available alternative, in which case we should not forget to disable the front passenger airbag when they are traveling in a rear-facing position.

When checking whether or not three child car seats can be placed on the rear seats, we recommend consulting the vehicle's technical specifications. We should also take into account whether the middle rear seat has Isofix anchorages (the middle seats often do not come equipped with these anchors. If the child car seat can only be secured with this system it cannot therefore be placed on this seat) or if it is installed with a seat belt.

Three child car seats can be placed on the rear seats at the same time if the installation system allows for it, if the seats are of an adequate size and if none of the child car seats is encroaching on another seat. This is usually easier when using booster seats.

In this article we provide recommendations on how to travel with children in the case of large families and this infographic covers all the different options. 

 

Children must use a child restraint system suitable for their weight and/or height until their seat belt can be properly fastened (this is usually the case when they are 150 cm tall). When traveling, we may come across countries with stricter or more lax rules, or with tighter or more lenient legislation when it comes to traveling with small children in the car. If we are driving in a country where there is no clear legislation or it is far too lenient, safety should always come first and we recommend that children travel in a suitable child car seat even if it is not obligatory to do so.

In ‘Children's Road Safety’ we have a specific section on child restraint system legislation in different countries, including within the European Union (where there is a certain degree of uniformity), Latin America and the United States. 

We have also prepared infographics where we explain this legislation:

-European Union

-United States

-Latin America

In any event, we recommend checking the current legislation of a country before you travel there, in order to be fully apprised of all the rules in terms of child restraints as well as knowing what the legislation dictates regarding driving on the roads, knowing what is prohibited and what are your obligations and duties.

All pets must be protected and secured when traveling in a vehicle. Small dogs can travel with a harness with two points of attachment or in a small dog carrier placed between the seat and the backrest of the front passenger.  

However, in the case of larger dogs, trips can become a bit more complicated. We must first be aware of how important it is for the dog to be restrained in the vehicle. Nothing and no one should be unsecured inside the vehicle as they could be thrown forward forcefully in the event of sudden braking or an accident. 

If the dog is very large, the best option is for the animal to travel in a dog carrier in the trunk in a crosswise position with a dog guard divider separating the animal from the passenger cabin. We also recommend anchoring down the dog carrier. 

Another alternative is to use a trailer specifically designed to transport large pets

Any objects, people or animals that are not secured inside the vehicle can break loose and crash into you in a car accident. This is why it is so important to ensure that everything inside the car is properly secured in the safest way possible, even though the legislation does not expressly refer to this (although it does in the specific case of Spain).

For example, article 18 of the Spanish Road Traffic Regulations establishes that the driver of a vehicle is required to ensure their own free movement, to have the necessary field of vision and to pay constant attention to their driving. They must ensure their own safety as well as that of the other passengers of the vehicle and other road users. This is why you need to be seated properly and ensure that all other passengers do the same. You should also make sure that any loose items or animals have been properly placed in the vehicle so as not to be an obstacle to the driver.

When securing your pet in place you should check that the anchors will not break in the event of a sudden braking or accident. 

In this regard, we recommend the article entitled ‘How should your pet travel by car?'.

We should have one rule very clear in our minds: children can only wear a seat belt when it properly fits their body, and when no sensitive part of their body is put in danger, such as their neck. Until this point, they should use a children restraint system suitable for their height and weight. 

We should not be in any rush. Although the regulations of the country might be more restrictive, the child car seat should always be used whenever necessary. For example, in Spain a child must travel in a CRS until they reach 135 cm tall. However, at European level the height of 150 cm is a more widespread cut-off point. 

We should know the difference between observing the legislation and making a reasonable use of restraint devices, since we are doing so for the safety of our young children. 150 cm is the height at which the seat belt, in fact designed for adults, correctly secures the child's body. We know that this is the case when:

  • The upper part of the seat belt goes over the middle of the sternum and collar bone, without resting too close to the neck.
  • The lower or pelvic strap of the seat belt goes over the hip bones, not over the child's stomach area.

There is currently no law requiring child car seat manufacturers to indicate a use-by date for their child restraint system. Its label does however indicate the date of manufacture and the approval  standard it has been approved under, along with other aspects. Take a look at some examples of labels here.

Although there is no legislation establishing up until when we can continue to use a child car seat, certain approval standards are no longer in force. For example, in Europe the R44-04 and R-129 standards are currently in force. We have compiled everything related to the legislation here, as well as to EU legislation.

Furthermore, manufacturers generally recommend replacing a child car seat after 6 years of use. We should be aware of all the factors that affect a CRS over time. It all depends on what kind of use we have made of the child restraint system and whether we have taken good care of it or not.

There is no specific legislation preventing the use of boosters without a backrest. This type of child restraint system is designed in order to be able to adjust the car's 3-point seat belt to the child's. They can start to use a booster once they weigh 15 kg, i.e. when they have outgrown Group 2 (at approximately 4 years old, but this is only a guideline). However, at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend that your child uses a restraint system with a backrest and side protection for as long as possible and certainly while they continue to require a child restraint system (as a minimum up to 135 cm tall, although it is best to keep them in the seat until they are 150 cm tall), as it is safer for the child.

The latest changes brought in have been in terms of approval standards, meaning they affect car manufacturers, who cannot approve boosters without a back rest for Group 2 (children from 15 to 25 kg in weight). This means you will only come across boosters without backrests approved by the R44-04 standard in Group 3. 

In addition, booster seats without a backrest cannot be approved under the R-129 standard. 

We should take into account that boosters with a backrest help to better position the seat belt and offer increased protection for the child, especially in side impacts. For this reason, it is a good idea to use booster seats with backrests whenever possible and particularly for children under 125 cm tall. 

In this infographic we discuss the benefits of booster seats with backrests and the latest changes to approval standards (only affecting manufacturers).

We should be aware that a child restraint system must be suitable for the child's height and weight. Every child car seat is specifically designed for particular moments in the child's life and it is not a good idea to change the child to a different restraint system too early, especially when it comes to babies, given that they are especially designed for the youngest among us with systems such as reducers and recliners.

We can of course replace a child car seat for one in a higher groupif the child exceeds the manufacturer's technical specifications (weight and/or height). 

Firstly, we need to check if the child has grown out of the CRS. To find out, we should check that the child can be properly seated in the child car seat. It is very important that the child's head does not overhang the headrest or backrest.

We should also check that the child is still within the manufacturer's parameters: weight (if the seat is approved by standard R44-04) or height (if it is approved by standard R-129). If the child exceeds the manufacturer's established ranges we will need to replace the CRS. We should take into account that if the child's height or weight exceeds the manufacturer's limits the seat will not be able to guarantee the child's optimal safety although it is always better to put the child in a seat than not to use one at all. This is particularly relevant for children who may weigh more than 36 kg but still need to travel in a CRS.

If you do indeed need to change the seat, we recommend choosing an approved seat that allows the child to travel in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, especially up to 4 years old and providing that the child's physical characteristics allow for it.  

Here we offer four tips on how to choose the best child seat possible and advice on how to renew the child seat and choose the most appropriate one for your child's needs.

Moreover, in this article we take a look at the different child car seats on the market, according to weight, height and approximate age (this last factor is not a decisive one).

Finally, we want to insist on the importance of not moving too quickly to seat belt use. Children can wear a seat belt once the belt fits their body snugly (This is how a child should be wearing a seat belt both in and out of a child car seat). Up until this moment, the child should be using a booster cushion, preferably with a backrest. We should not be in any rush to take them out of it because using a booster cushion is a guarantee that the seat belt correctly fits their body.

Legislation does not currently prohibit the use of boosters without backrests. The changes brought in have been with regard to the approval of seats, and thus they only affect the manufacturers. 

Therefore we can continue to use booster seats without backrests. Although we should take into account that boosters with a backrest offer greater protection for the child since it reduces the risk of head trauma in a side impact by a factor of six in comparison with a booster without a backrest. These kinds of seats therefore provide greater side protection as the child remains in their seat in a crash and does not directly hit the sides of the vehicle. In addition, they have in-built belt guides to show you how to route the seat belt properly. We provide you with all the information you need in this infographic.

With regard to the changes that have been brought in, if you want to purchase a CRS under the R-129 or i-Size legislation (the latest standard to enter into force and which is slowly substituting R44-04), all of them will have a backrest. With regard to R44-04, new boosters without a backrest can be approved as group 3 for children from 22 to 36 kg and a minimum height of 125 cm. We go over all the changes here.

Single cabin vehicles only have seats in the front part of the vehicle. Therefore, children with child restraint systems can only travel on these front seats. This is one of the exceptions contemplated in current legislation, which establishes the following:

In vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, underage passengers who are 135 cm tall or less must sit on  the rear seats using a suitable child restraint system for their size and weight.

There are only three exceptions to this rule:

  • If the vehicle has no rear seats.
  • If all the rear seats are being used by other children in their respective child restraint systems.
  • If child restraint systems cannot be fitted on the said seats.

Therefore, children must sit on the passenger seat. The child car seat must of course be properly installed. If we are dealing with a rear-facing child car seat the airbag must be disabled (take a look at how to disable the front passenger airbag and under what circumstances here). If the airbag cannot be disabled the child must not be put in their child restraint system on this seat.

However, whenever possible, we recommend that the child travels in a vehicle which has rear seats so that he or she can be placed in the rear of the vehicle and on the center seat.

These kinds of seats are known as multi-group seats. These are child restraint systems (CRS) that have been safety-approved for children in various weight and age ranges. Therefore, we will find seats on sale from groups 0+, 1 and 2; SRI from groups 1, 2 and 3 and even child car seats encompassing all the stages of the child's development (Groups 0, 1, 2 and 3), i.e. the same CRS is designed for newborn babies and for young children up to 36 kilos. The child can use this same child seat from birth until they reach 135 cm tall (this is the height at which the child may legally travel in the vehicle without using a CRS).

We should point out that we are only referring to approved and therefore safe child car seats. Nevertheless, it is certainly the case that a child does not always have the same needs and therefore the child seat should change according to the child's requirements. For example, a newborn baby needs a reclining child restraint system for both their health and well-being, given that the baby spends the vast majority of its time sleeping and their weight should fall on their back and not their hips. As the child continues to grow, the child car seat should be less and less reclined until they reach the booster seat with a backrest stage, where they should be sitting up.

Tests carried out by PESRI (programing de Evaluación de Sistemas de Retención Infantil) (Child Restraint System Evaluation Program), show that “multi-group child seats can compromise the child's safety and a CRS designed for a single large group tends to perform better in terms of safety ”.

This depends on the child's age.  Newborn babies and young babies in general who are traveling in a carrycot, commonly known as a ‘maxi cosi’, should not be sitting in them for more than an hour and a half. You should be making a stop in the journey at this point so that the baby can change position and stretch. 

By doing so, we are trying to prevent the child from having bradycardia or difficulties with breathing. In addition, this position is also associated with apnea and oxygen desaturation. The child tends to be in a 'C' shape, which is not a good position for a baby to be in. Nevertheless, compared to a bassinet, a carrycot or maxi cosi is much safer in the event of a crash.Therefore, it is advisable to stop every hour and a half so that the child is not traveling in the same position for an extended period of time.

The Pediatrics journal published a study in 2001 of 100 babies, 50 of whom were born premature at 36 weeks, who were monitored for 60 minutes in child car seats. Their blood oxygen level after 60 minutes went down from an average of 97% to 94% (normal values range from 96% to 100%), and even dropped to 90% in some cases. In addition, 12% of the preterm infants suffered from apnea or bradycardia.

If we are traveling with older children it is advisable to take a break every 2 hours or whenever necessary. This applies to the driver and other passengers too, since they also need to stretch and get out of the car for a bit. We should be aware that babies often travel with their legs bent, especially when they are in a rear-facing position (it is not dangerous) or with their legs dangling out when they are on a booster seat, for example. 

Take a look at the correct position for children in a child car seat here. 

Children must always travel by car in a child restraint system suitable for their height or weight. Nevertheless, it is advisable to limit this use to the car and for children to have the correct posture when seated in a CRS, with their shoulders pressed against the backrest. We should be taking regular breaks, especially when they are babies or newborn babies and these seats should not be used for letting babies sleep in them. Once you have arrived at your destination, you should take them out of the seat and put them in something more appropriate such as a crib or a stroller.

All three children must travel in an individual child restraint system suitable for their height and weight and which is duly approved. 

Current regulations in Spain establish that in a 9-seater vehicle including the driver, underage passengers who are 135 cm tall or less must sit on the rear seats using a suitable child restraint system for their size and weight. The child may travel on the front seat in the following three cases only:

  • If the vehicle has no rear seats
  • If all the rear seats are being used by other children in their respective child restraint systems
  • If child restraint systems cannot be fitted on the said seats.

Take a look at the legislation in other countries


Although legislation establishes the maximum height at 135 cm, at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using a CRS until they are 150 cm tall, as set out in the European Directive, and until the seat belt properly fits the child.

If the vehicle is spacious and the rear seats are clearly separated, it may be possible to fit the three child restraint systems on them. It is important that the child seats do not encroach on each other and that they can be properly installed, as indicated by the manufacturers of each seat. It is usually easier once the child is using a booster seat (at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using booster seats with backrests as they offer better protection, especially at the sides).

If three child seats cannot be installed on the rear seats, we would then find ourselves within one of the exceptions mentioned earlier and therefore we may place one of the children on the front passenger seat in their CRS. Note that the rear seats should be occupied by children in their child car seats.

In this case we must disable the front passenger airbag, especially in the case of a rear-facing seat. If for any reason the front airbag cannot be disabled, you must not place a child in a rear-facing child car seat in this seat. 

This infographic offers a number of recommendations to help large families travel safely.

We should not make the mistake of taking our child out of their child restraint system too soon.

Once our child is using a child car seat in the top group, or, in other words, a booster seat with or without a backrest (at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using booster seats with backrests), the following question might come up: When is a child old enough to stop using it?

In principle, as established by the legislation, "in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, underage passenger who are less than or equal to 135 cm tall must travel on the rear seats using an approved child restraint system suitable for their size and weight”, meaning that until they reach this height it is compulsory for them to use a child car seat. Weight is not a determining factor here.

However, European Directive 2003/20/EC establishes that all children less than 150 cm tall should travel in a child restraint device suitable for their weight. This height is mentioned since after this point the seat belt, which is designed for adults, can properly secure the child's body. We should bear in mind that not all countries establish this maximum height in their legislation. One such example is Spain.

Therefore, although the legislation states that once a child reaches 135 cm in height they are no longer required by law to use a child car seat, they should continue to do so until they are 150 cm tall and certainly until the seat belt fits them properly. 

This is how a seat belt should be fastened when traveling:

  • The upper part or shoulder belt should go over the middle part of the chest bone and collarbone. It should not be too close to the neck.
  • The lower band or lap belt needs to go across the pelvic bone and not over the stomach.
  • The top of the head and the headrest should be at the same height.

One of the main concerns of parents when continuing to use a rear-facing seat is that the child might be uncomfortable. Other reasons mainly have to do with thinking the child might get dizzy; or they might believe they could injure their legs in a crash; or because is is thought that these rear-facing seats are less safe in a rear-end collision.

All these beliefs are completely false. A child is not going to get carsick merely because they are traveling in a rear-facing position because they have done so since birth. They are used to traveling in this position and therefore it is very unlikely that this would cause them to get dizzy in the car. By contrast, the food they are eating or having a stuffy environment inside the vehicle are more likely culprits.

To clear up any doubts concerning this belief that rear-facing seats are less safe in a rear-end collision, we recommend you take a look at our specific article on this topic. And, lastly, it is completely normal for a child to travel with their legs bent when they are in a rear-facing seat. This does not mean that the child is less safe in the seat or that their legs could be easily broken. A rear-facing child seat is the safest restraint system available for children and they should travel in one until they are at least four years old, given the protection it provides for the neck, head and internal organs in the event of a crash. It is not harmful for the child to travel with their legs bent.

Children under 135 cm tall must travel in an approved child restraint system suitable for their height and/or weight on the vehicle's rear seats (they may only travel on the front seat if the car does not have rear seats, if the rear seats are occupied by other children in child car seat or if child restraint systems cannot be fitted on the rear seats). 

Furthermore, they should travel in a rear-facing position for as long as possible. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend doing so until the child is at least 4 years old.

Mirrors secured to the headrests enable the front passengers to see the child at all times and check what they are doing.  

Manufacturers are very aware of how useful they are and market such mirrors to the public. They can of course be used, but certain safety rules should be followed:

  • The mirror must be properly secured to the headrest. If we have to suddenly brake or we hit something the mirror should not come loose. 
  • There should be an appropriate distance between the child and the mirror.
  • The child car seat must be properly installed. Take a look at our recommendations here.
  • The child should also be well secured in a CRS in order to prevent them from smashing into the mirror if we have to apply the brakes sharply. 
  • The mirror should be approved and manufactured with materials that will not cause serious injury. They should be shatterproof and unbreakable in a crash situatio

Children have a tendency to imitate everything they see, especially anything done by an adult. For this reason, and in order to ensure the utmost safety for all passengers, we have drawn up a list of behaviors or conduct that should be avoided when driving with children.

-Failing to fasten your seat belt. All passengers must fasten their seat belts to set a good example for young children. We cannot insist that they sit in a child car seat if the adults themselves are not modeling responsible behavior.

-Smoking while driving. Apart from affecting all the passengers' health, it also prevents the driver from reacting quickly enough in an unforeseen situation. The driver must grip the steering wheel firmly but not tightly with both hands.

-An aggressive attitude at the wheel. This sets a terrible example for children and increases the stress of driving which can in turn compromise the safety of all the passengers.

-Not observing the rules of the road such as speeding, not maintaining an adequate safety distance, jumping the lights and ignoring road signs.. If you want to raise responsible pedestrians and drivers this example should be instilled in them from an early age. 

-Not paying attention to vulnerable users while driving. They need to know about and witness how we respect vulnerable users such as pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. 

-Answering your cell phone call while driving. This is a bad example for a child and is also reckless behavior.

If the van only has front seats then one of the exceptions to the regulation will apply, meaning that we can put the child restraint system on the front passenger seat. 

In this sense, Royal Decree 667/2015, of 17 July, which entered into force on 1 October 2015, states that in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver's seat, child passengers who are 135 cm tall or less must travel on the rear seats using an approved child restraint system suitable for their height and weight. There are only three exceptions to this rule, when they can travel in the front seat: 

  • 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 child restraint systems cannot be installed in the said seats.

Given the fact that the vehicle in question does not have rear seats, we can install the child seat on the front seat. However, we need to bear in mind that if the vehicle has a front airbag we can only use rear-facing seats if the airbag has been disabled.

The fact is that the passenger airbag is particularly dangerous for children, especially when they are in a rear-facing seat. The main function of the airbag is to protect the passenger from hitting the car windscreen or dashboard.  It emerges at a speed of 200 km/h and can be particularly dangerous when the passenger in the front seat is a child. However, airbags cannot be disabled in all vehicles. If it cannot be disabled we do not recommend traveling with the child in the front seat. 

In Spain, according to legislation, there are currently only three circumstances in which a child can travel on the front passenger seat in their restraint device. 

In this sense, Royal Decree 667/2015, of 17 July, which entered into force on 1 October 2015, states that in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver's seat, child passengers who are 135 cm tall or less must travel on the rear seats using an approved child restraint system suitable for their height and weight.

This legislation only establishes three exceptions in which children can travel on the front seat:

  • 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 child restraint systems cannot be installed in the said seats.

In addition, it is very important to disable the front passenger airbag. In fact, we can only use rear-facing child restraint systems on this seat if the airbag has been disabled.

The safest way for the child to travel is on the rear seats. According to the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) and referring to a study carried out in the USA of 5,751 children under 15 years old traveling in vehicles involved in serious traffic accidents, traveling in the back seat had a protective effect and made the difference between serious injury and death.

Moreover, the study “Rear seat safer: seating position, restraint use and injuries in children in traffic crashes in Victoria, Australia”  indicates that the risk of death to children under the age of four traveling in a car that crashes doubles if they travel in the front seat and increases by four times if they are under one year old.

Child restraint systems with ISOFIX come equipped with a third anchor point know as a Top Tether. This anchor is a type of belt which secures the car seat to the back part of the rear seat backrest, or to the trunk of the car, depending on the model of car we have. 

If the CRS does not have a Top Tether, then it will come with a support leg which is stretched out in order to be anchored to the car floor. With this support leg we can position many ISOFIX child car seats in a rear-facing position, which is the safest position for young children.

In both cases, the goal of the third anchor point or support leg, as the case may be, is to keep the seat as stable as possible in a collision, thus avoiding forward rotation of the seat which is dangerous for the child.

Therefore, if the restraint system is of the ISOFIX variety (or follows the i-Size standard which, as we know, comes with ISOFIX anchors) we must use the Top Tether or Support leg in order to guarantee the occupant's utmost safety.

Is it safe for a child to be distracted by a tablet or mobile phone in a car? On some occasions it is not enough for the child to be traveling in a suitable child restraint system, something which is fundamental in any case. The child's safety can be compromised by having loose objects inside the vehicle. 

Did you know that any loose object inside the vehicle can fly out and hit any of the occupants and increase its weight by up to forty times at a speed of only 50 km/h? If we are talking about a 560 g tablet, its weight could go up to 23 kg in a sudden braking at 50 km/h and up to 75 kg if braking occurs at 90 km/h, which would be the equivalent of a St. Bernard dog directly crashing into one of the passengers. For this reason, a tablet can become a truly dangerous object when traveling in a vehicle. 

This is not something which only occurs with tablets but can also happen with toys, games consoles or mobile phones. Although they may seem lightweight, their weight multiplies significantly in a crash. 

Lastly, we should note that these objects should be properly secured. The back part of the headrest or front part (in the case of children in rear-facing child seats) is not the best place since the child's head could end up hitting them if the child seat is not well-secured or does not react properly. 

Children should travel safely from the very first moment, meaning as soon as they leave the hospital and from the first time they are put in a vehicle.  For this reason, child restraint systems have been specifically designed for the weight and height of newborn babies. These are known as ‘maxi-cosi’ or baby carriers and are child seats from 0 to 13 kg of weight (Grupo 0/0+) or from 40 to 85 cm or even up to 105 cm (i-Size). It is not a good idea to use bassinets when taking babies by car as they offer less protection. 

When choosing the best restraint system for your baby, you should of course bear in mind that the seat is suitable for the child in question. Next up, you need to choose the CRS based on the kind of securing in your vehicle, i.e., if the child car seat needs ISOFIX anchorages or a three-point seat belt

The child restraint should be an approved model. The EuropeanECE R44/04 and R129 (i-Size) standards are currently in force. This means that the child seat model has undergone certain safety tests before being put on sale.

It is also very important for the CRS to berear-facing. Remember that according to the latest approval standard, children must be in a rear-facing position until they are a minimum of 15 months old. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend that children should continue to sit in rear-facing child seats as long as possible, and at least until the age of four. 

Furthermore, you should be able to adjust how much the child seat reclines.  The baby should not be seated in an upright position. A slightly reclined position halfway between lying flat and sitting up is the most recommendable. In addition, seats specifically designed for babies will come with a reducer cushion to ensure your newborn baby fits snugly in the seat.

It is also important to point out that the child car should should be placed on the rear seats, save for three exceptions: the only exceptions are if the vehicle does not have rear seats, if the rear seats are already occupied by other children in child seats or if child seats cannot be placed on them. If you are putting the rear-facing child car seat on the front passenger seat, the airbag must be disabled. 

At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend placing the child car seat on the middle rear seat, as it is further away from the doors. However, if the child car seat has ISOFIX points and the anchors are only on the side seats, it is advisable to position the child restraint system in the seat behind the passenger seat in order for better access and so you can see the child more easily. The ISOFIX system is designed to avoid errors in installation.

As the child grows, the child seat should be changed: Find your child car seat

Elevators or boosters without backrests have not been banned and can continue to be used. If you wish to, you can put three boosters on the rear seats providing they fit properly and can be well-secured. 

However, they clearly offer less protection than boosters with backrests given that they reduce the risk of head injury in a side impact by a factor of six in comparison with a booster without a backrest. They also offer better side protection in general, given that the child will remain in their seat in a collision and will not come into direct contact with the side of the vehicle. They also usually include guides for where to thread the seat belt, making it less likely to make a mistake and therefore leading to improved safety.

In fact, the latest changes arising in approval standards are making the case for boosters with backrests. As such, a booster without a backrest cannot be approved for Group 2 (from 15 to 25 kg) and only boosters without a backrest in Group 3 (from 22 to 36 kg) can be approved. Therefore, it is recommended that children up to 125 cm tall should should use boosters with backrests, although at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using them until the child reaches 150 cm tall and once the seat belt fits them correctly (using a child car seat is currently compulsory for children until they reach 135 cm tall). Boosters without backrests cannot be approved under the R-129 safety standard either. 

This infographic covers all the changes made in this regard.

Today, the majority of child restraint systems are installed with three-point seat belts or with the ISOFIX system thanks to the better securing and protection they provide. However, you should be following the specifications provided by the manufacturer for your specific child car seat in order to see if this option is possible.

In terms of boosters, it might seem like a two-point seat belt can properly secure the CRS. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that we are dealing with a plain and simple booster seat, whose main function is precisely to ensure that the three-point seat belt is properly adjusted to the child. 

The safest option for children is to put them in an approved child restraint system suitable for their weight and height. If they are ready to use a booster, it is advisable to get a booster with a backrest which is secured with a three-point seat belt so it can hold the child securely in place. 

A three-point seat belt prevents the child's upper body from crashing into the part of the vehicle directly in front of them, such as the front passenger seat. It also holds the child in place better and prevents injury to the upper part of the body. 

A child restraint system cannot be used indefinitely. It is important to know that with the passing of time, and the use made of the child seat, the materials can deteriorate and therefore not work properly. 

The summer heat, how it is handled, the passing of time, its usage, strong braking and speeding can all have an effect on child restraint systems and weaken them, especially certain materials. 

The majority of manufacturers recommend changing the child car seat every 6 years or 10 years after its manufacture, although it may need to be replaced earlier if any of its components appear to have deteriorated or if it has been involved in a road traffic accident or collision. 

We should recall that the child car seat may have internal structural damage, invisible to the naked eye, and they may not be able to ensure the child's safety as a consequence. It must of course be replaced if we can discern even the slightest signs of external damage such as worn out harnesses, clasps or rusty flaps. A damaged buckle or flap or a worn out harness can end up opening itself or breaking during an accident. If we have a collision we must also check with the manufacturer and replace the seat immediately if we notice any cracks or any type of change to its shape.

It is important to clearly distinguish between the purchase date and the manufacturing date. The date of purchase can only be found on the receipt or the purchase bill. However, the date of manufacture is stated on the CRS sticker on the seat itself. (R44-04 and R-129)

We can also look at the approval legislation. R44-04 and R-129 are the current standards in force. If the child car seat is approved under a prior standard, it will definitely be too old to be able to continue using it. 

This of course depends on the condition of the seat, how much it has been used and when it was manufactured. If it is over 6 years old it is best to get rid of it. This is also the case if it is in poor condition, if it has any damage to it or if it has been involved in a road accident.

If this is not the case and the child car seat is in good condition, it can be used again. In this case, the best option is for the seat's manufacturers to check it thoroughly

It is important for the seat to be checked, as it may have internal damage not visible to the naked eye which could affect its proper functioning. Even the mere passing of time can affect the components of the seat and can affect it in the same way that overuse or inappropriate use might. We should also consider whether the seat was involved in an accident or in a situation where very strong braking was required.

We need to upgrade a child restraint system or child car seat for bigger children when the one they are using is too small for them, as a result of their weight (R44-04) or height (R-129).

Using booster seats is usually for children over four years old, ie. children who weigh 15 to 36 kg or are over 100 cm tall. They are usually used until the child is 135cm (compulsory limit for use of child car seats in Spain) or 150 cm (the height at which the EU recommends you can start using a seat belt and which Fundación MAPFRE also recommends). 

However, it is best to opt for booster seats with a backrest, especially for Group 2 (from 15 to 25 kg). In fact, the latest changes to approvals encourage the use of boosters with backrests in all types of CRS of the R-129 standard and for Group 2 of the R44 standard, especially up to 125 cm. 

These types of systems use the seat belt to secure the child. The seat, in this case, lifts up the child so that the seat belt can be correctly adjusted to their body shape.

This will depend on the type of pet and how both the child and the pet travel. Firstly, we should underscore the importance of children 135 cm tall or less traveling with an approved child restraint system suitable for their size and weight. Of course, they should be on the rear seats, and the child car seat should be properly installed and the child should be well secured. 

Once this is dealt with, if the pet is medium-sized or small, it can travel on the rear seat with the child, but should be properly secured. Dogs can wear a certified seat belt secured to their harness or travel in a transportation box. It is important for the transportation box to be tied down. It is best to put it on the floor behind one of the front seats. It is not advisable to fasten it with a seat belt since they do not usually secure this type of system very well. Bear in mind that if your pet is not well secured it could fall out in an accident or strong braking and could crash into one of the passengers and cause them serious injuries.

For larger pets, it is best to have a separator between the passenger cabin by means of a screen and a well secured transportation box.

Find out more information on how pets should travel by car

According to the Traffic Rules, in vehicles with more than nine seats, including the driver, the passengers must have their seat belts fastened or use approved child restraint systems. Likewise, passengers three years old or above should use approved child restraint systems which have been properly adapted for their height and weight. When these systems are not available, or the child is big enough, the seat belts must be used, provided that they are suitable for the child's height and weight.

This means that when we are traveling by bus with children, the vehicle should be equipped with three-point belts (which is relatively unusual) in order to be able to use our child car seat. If the bus is equipped with two-point belts we should find a solution which allows us to secure our usual car seat, such as folding harnesses, which can effectively secure the seat.

However, the best thing we can do is to check whether the seat we wish to put in the bus seat can be secured with a seat belt and get in contact with the company to confirm if our CRS is compatible with the bus seat. If we have a choice, we should travel with companies that have child seats available for young children.

There is a legislative gap when it comes to three year olds, therefore there are no obligations in this regard. However, for their safety it is best to try to use a good, approved restraint system suitable for your child's size and weight.

Firstly, we should remember that both methods of transport are safe and that it all depends on the condition in which we make these journeys and the safety measures that each particular vehicle can offer.

It cannot go unmentioned that buses are one of the safest forms of transport. In fact, buses are statistically safer than a car. However, in order for a school bus to be ideal, it must fulfill a series of specific characteristics, and above all should have seat belts and allow for , child restraint systems to be installed. In this graphic we offer advice on safe school transport: These journeys should always be made under the supervision of a qualified monitor who is ensuring the childrens' safety, who assists children with disabilities and is able to get the children into their seats, helps them with backpacks and belongings, and guides them on and off the bus safely.

Regarding going by car, this is obviously a place which is much more under a parent's control. The safety of very young children depends on us and we are in charge of ensuring they follow the rules. One of the main advantages is the possibility of the child traveling with their own approved child car seat suitable for their height and/or weight. This should be properly installed and correctly secured and we must always take as much time as needed to complete this task. 

The decision should be made on the basis of the criteria mentioned above and there should not be a substantial difference between the two options. It will all depend on whether the safety criteria established is being followed. 

Between the ages of 9 and 12, and depending on the particular case, children have the independence and sufficient ability to walk by themselves to school, provided that they have received appropriate road safety education, and know the dangers and best options to take for the route to school. In the case of going to school, it will all depend on how near or far from home the school is, if there is also public transport available, and a number of other factors.

It is a difficult and personal decision, as well as being the parents' entire responsibility. The most fundamental point is that if we see that the child is ready, we can trust them but we should also take the necessary precautions. This belief that they will do things right is important for strengthening their sense of independence, in the same way as going about daily tasks such as getting washed and dressed, tidying their room or getting their own breakfast. 

Age is an important factor, but above all it will depend on the child's maturity and how they handle themselves in the street. It is better if the child shows willingness to walk to school alone rather than it being imposed on them. It is important to show the child the safest route to school which is not necessarily the quickest route, and to teach them the advantages of pedestrian zones in terms of their safety.

The best way to give the child their independence and to go with them to school too is to let them try walking along without holding your hand, or let them walk with their friends a little way ahead while we lag behind so we can watch them but give them their space. This will help build their confidence and make them more aware of the route. Whenever possible, we recommend that they walk to school with a group of friends, rather than on their own.

A final recommendation with regard to strangers: they should completely ignore, and not trust strangers, regardless of how nice or friendly they might be to them. We should make them understand, without frightening them, that there are certain adults who try to deceive children by saying nice things, giving them presents, or with excuses such as saying they know their parents and they have a message for them. They have to learn to say no, to get away from them quickly and, if necessary, run away and get help.

The two-point belt is the one which is most used on buses. This seat belt is suitable for both children and adults since it fastens under the waist and over the pelvis, meaning that height is not even a relevant factor here. However, this is not particularly safe for children under 6 years old and it offers far less protection than a three-point belt.

The safest option would be buses equipped with three-point belts. In this case, children should be using some kind of child seat since these types of belts are designed for adults and the upper part does not fit well with a child's height. This is why children need boosters, preferably with backrests, so that the seat belt does not cause injury and is well secured. The shoulder belt can press against the neck.

Remember that whenever a bus has a seat belt, it should be used, both by children and adults, within and outside the city. The ideal option would be for children to travel with a suitable child seat on buses. 

Nevertheless, due to the characteristics of the bus seats, it is quite unlikely that your child car seat can be used on these seats, since they need to have three-point belts. 

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Steering wheel, seats, gear stick… When you park a car on the street during the summer months, every part of the car reaches high temperatures, even to the point of being burning hot. The same thing happens with the child restraint system left installed in the car. 

Remember that if the child car seat is in direct sunlight, some of its components can reach dangerously high temperatures and could even burn a child's exposed skin in the summer. For example, the headrest temperature can exceed 60 degrees centigrade, while the seat itself can easily get hotter than 50 degrees. Furthermore, the metal buckles of the harnesses can absorb heat much more quickly which is why it is very important to check how hot they are before putting the child into the seat.

One of the main pieces of advice to follow to prevent the child seat getting scorched by the sun is to park the vehicle in an underground or covered car par or else in a shaded area. Direct sunlight should be avoided whenever possible. If you park in the street, it is possible to fit sun shades, both on the side windows and the windscreen to ensure that the least possible heat gets in. It is also advisable to open up the car a few minutes before getting into it and to put the air-conditioning or climate control on to adjust the temperature of the interior.

Also recommended is the use of seat covers specifically made for the summer and even to cover up the seat while the car is parked. There are currently specially manufactured seat covers available on the market (sun shade covers and anti-UVA covers). 

It is advisable to ensure that children are wearing comfortable and breathable clothing when they are traveling in a child restraint system and that they are not only wearing their swimsuit. It is just as bad an idea for the child to be wearing too much clothing as it is for them to wear too little, since their skin could rub against the seat, especially if the child restraint system has to act in any circumstances. 

Moreover, in an accident or when braking sharply, the only contact between the seat belt or the harness will be the child's own skin, which could cause burns. The same thing happens to adults when they have a seat belt on and are not wearing a shirt of any kind. 

In the same vein, you should also not put the child in the child seat if he or she is wet. Apart from damaging the child restraint system itself, it could even affect how it works. It is a good idea to wait until the child is dry and to put them in suitable clothing before sitting them in the CRS.

That is why it is extremely important to clean the child car seat after a trip to the beach, in order to remove sand, moisture, or anything else that could stop the CRS from functioning properly and safely. 

There is a trend for using booster seats with backrests, as can be seen in the latest changes in terms of approval standards

We should take into account that a booster seat without a backrest reduces the risk of damage to the head in the event of a side impact by six times, in comparison with a booster without a backrest. It offers greater side protection, as during an impact the child is kept in the seat at all times, thus avoiding the child's direct impact against the side of the vehicle. 

We should also take into account that the routing for the seat belt is in the correct position therefore we are less likely to make a mistake. 

We recommend this infographic on booster seats and changes to approval standards.

Whenever we travel in any vehicle, the children must be properly protected. In this case, there should not be any difference between our own car and the hire car. However, it is often difficult to transport a child restraint system from one place to another. 

Many car rental companies are fully aware of this and offer child restraint systems with the car rental itself. If you are planning to take up this option, you should consider a number of factors.

  • That the child car seat that you are going to use is suitable for the child's weight and/or height.
  • That the child car seat can be properly installed in the rental car. For example, if the CRS we intend to use has isofix anchorages, the car must be equipped with them. 
  • That the company will help us to install the child car seat and will provide us with an installation manual to help clear up any doubts we might have.
  • Of course, the CRS must be clean and have all its components and parts.
  • The child car seat should not be too old. Bear in mind that manufacturers indicate that a CRS usually becomes ineffective after 6 years of use, given that the seat will suffer from wear and tear over time.
  • It is crucial that you check that the seat is indeed in good condition and that it has not been involved in an accident. We should be aware that this kind of damage can often be internal and may not be visible to the naked eye. You should therefore bring up this point when renting the car. 

In our article ‘¿What safety features do Spanish car rental companies offer young children?’ we cover the fact that a lot of companies have strict quality control in this regard and they inspect all of their child car seats. 

No, child restraint system systems with ISOFIX can only be installed in cars that have anchorages. For this reason, first we should check in the vehicle's manual that the vehicle has anchorages or checking directly if it has them on the rear seats. It is usually indicated by the logo or with the name ISOFIX. 
Moreover, child car seat manufacturer's usually offer a list of cars in which their child car seat can be installed. 
There are currently child car seats on the market that allow for both options and can be installed with ISOFIX (having first purchased the base) or with the seat belt.  However, it is the child seat manufacturer themselves who should determine whether or not the CRS allows for this option in their manual. 

Firstly, child restraint systems should be installed on the rear seats, as established by current legislation. In this sense, Royal Decree 667/2015, of 17 July, which enteredinto force on 1 October 2015, states that in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver's seat, child passengers who are 135 cm tall or less must travel on the rear seats using an approved child restraint system suitable for their height and weight.

There are only three exceptions in which a child with a child car seat can sit in the front passenger seat:

  • 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 child restraint systems cannot be installed in the said seats.

As well as the legislative requirement, there is also the scientific evidence. There are numerous studies demonstrating that children are much safer on the vehicle's rear seats. The Department of Traffic (DGT) mentions a study carried out in the United States with 5,571 children under 15 years old who were passengers of vehicles that had been involved in a serious traffic accident. The study revealed that being seated on a rear seat had a protective effect in terms of serious injuries or death.

Moreover, the study “Rear seat safer: seating position, restraint use and injuries in children in traffic crashes in Victoria, Australia”  indicates that the risk of death to children under the age of four traveling in a car involved in a car crash doubles if they travel in the front seat and by four times if they are under one year old. In addition, a study carried out by CIREN (Crash Injury Research Engineering Network) indicated that the risk of injury is higher in the front seats, as well as the severity of the injuries. 

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This will depend on the type of bus. While buses transporting passengers that are part of the public transport system in cities are not required to be equipped with seat belts, all other buses transporting passengers must be equipped with them. Specifically, those which were registered from 2007 onwards. If the vehicle is older, it does not have to have seat belts. 

The European Commission passed three Directives making it compulsory to install seat belts in all vehicles. These directives have been transposed into the Spanish legal system. For this reason, since 2007 it has been obligatory for all buses registered to have this safety system on board (Royal Decree 445/2006). 

However, they should not merely have seat belts. Passengers are also required to use them, as established in Royal Decree 965/2006, the driver and passengers (caregivers and children over three years old) should fasten their seat belts during the entire journey. However, a recent study carried out by Fundación MAPFRE shows that only 2 out of 10 passengers fastens their seat belt.

Article 117 of this Royal Decree sets forth that seat belts and other approved restraint systems must be used, they should be properly fastened, both on city and intercity roads, by the driver as well as passengers over three years old where the seats are equipped with seat belts or other approved restraint systems in those vehicles used to transport people which have more than nine seats, including the driver. 

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-INFOGRAPHIC: Advice on safe transportation by school bus

-Are buses designed with children in mind?

We should be aware that child restraint systems have an expiry date. Child car seat manufacturers do not recommend using a CRS which is over 6 years old. Moreover, we should consider any possible damage the seat may have undergone during its prior usage. 

Over time and with the daily use of the seat, the CRS components do deteriorate. The seat can deteriorate over time and, therefore, be less effective. Therefore, even if you change the seat cover, the main safety components of the CRS have still been affected and it will not offer the same protection when required to do so. 

We have listed a number of precautions to take when using a second-hand child car seat.

In order to install a child restraint system properly you must always follow the manufacturer's instructions. We remind you that the child's safety depends on the seat being correctly installed and secured.

Child car seats secured with a seat belt should ensure that the belt goes through each and every one of the points and slots indicated in the installation manual.The seat belt should be taut and not be folded over or hanging loosely. 

However, if the CRS is installed with the ISOFIX system, there is less risk of installing it incorrectly. Despite this, you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions. You should pay special attention to the installation of the ISOFIX base, the support leg or the top tether, as applicable. In the vast majority of cases you will know that you have correctly installed the CRS because they usually have indicator lights that turn green when the CRS is properly anchored. We recommend reading this infographic on the ISOFIX system.

-Check that your child car seat is properly installed with this infographic.

After suffering a road traffic accident, the seat belts and child restraint systems should be checked, along with other important components of the vehicle such as the airbags. It is very important to check over the systems that have acted in an accident as they may have been damaged or have lost some of their ability to work properly. One such system would be the ISOFIX anchorages, particularly if they were securing a child restraint system at the time of the accident. 

Even though they do not necessarily appear to be damaged, both the child car seat and the anchorages can indeed be compromised although it is not necessarily discernible to the naked eye. Although these anchorages are designed to react in extreme situations and to withstand considerable weight, we should bear in mind that an object's weight increases exponentially with speed and deceleration. For example, a child weighing 12 kg and traveling at a speed of 60 km/h can weigh up to 672 kg at the moment of impact. 

ISOFIX anchorages are welded onto the chassis and are designed to hold the child seat and the child in place in an accident. Nevertheless, as a result of the forces exerted on them it is a good idea to check them over if they have been in an accident. This means we can be sure that they are completely effective and can react properly again if needed.

Manufacturers recommend checking the child car seat if it has been in a crash at speeds of over 10-20 km/h and it is a good idea to take the vehicle to the manufacturer to have the anchorages checked over.  

Undoubtedly the safest option for children is that they travel in approved rear-facing child restraint systems for as long as possible and up to 4 years old as a minimum. 

There are currently a large number of child car seats that offer this option and are also designed for children weighing up to 25kg. The complete list can be found in our article covering the Plus test stamp and the importance of taking it into account.

-What is the Plus Test?

If a child restraint system (CRS) has the Plus Test stamp, this means that it has successfully passed a series of very demanding Swedish tests. These tests focus on checking the stress that the passenger's (i.e. the child's) neck would have to withstand in the event of a head-on collision.

It should be noted that manufacturers submit their products for this testing voluntarily and the test does not replace but rather is in addition to the European R44/04 and ECE R 129 standards.

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Why should we use rear-facing child car seats and up until what age?

In this case we would be talking about the well-known 'maxi-cosi' restraint systems which, generally speaking, can be installed in a stroller, either directly or with a few adjustments. 

Firstly, we should bear in mind that child restraint systems are designed specifically for cars and to protect the child when needed. 'Maxi-cosi' seats can indeed be put in strollers but it is best not to do so for more than an hour and a half, since it is not the most suitable position for a small child, especially if they are babies. 

In the same way that bassinets do not offer the best protection in a car accident, the maxi-cosi does not provide the best ergonomics and comfort for the child in a stroller. A CRS is designed to be used in a car and bassinets are specifically for newborn babies in strollers. 

We will recall that one of the main recommendations for parents when taking their babies in a 'maxi-cosi' is to take the child out of the seat every hour and a half or two hours so that they can stretch. This is because this position increases the risk of apnea, oxygen desaturation and bradycardia. Ensuring a good reclining position is a key factor. However, the maxi-cosi seat is much safer than a bassinet in terms of children's road safety. 

We recommend thesearticles: ‘Is it advisable for babies to sleep in their child seat?’ and ‘My child is asleep. What's the best position in their seat?

We do not recommend using devices which have not been approved and recommended by the manufacturer. 

A child restraint system works exactly as it is designed to work by the manufacturer and has been approved according to a series of specific characteristics. Any adjustments to the seat may stop it from working properly. Moreover, it is important to differentiate between securing and protecting the child. It is not safe for the head to be fully upright and held in place, since this prevents the natural forward motion of the child's neck and head in the event of a sudden braking or crash. In addition, there is always the possibility that this device could cut into the child's neck and cause serious injuries, or could even fatally wound the child. 

Therefore, in order to prevent injury to the head and neck, it is vital that we place the car seat correctly and secure the child properly. The headrest should be positioned at a suitable height and the child restraint system should be reclined as advised by the manufacturer. 

The backrest should be at an angle of between 30 and 45º to the vertical. The child car seat should not be too vertical or too reclined. In fact, new born babies or babies usually travel lying flat, and as they grow they can be seated in an increasingly upright position. It is important to consult the child seat's instruction manual in order to travel with the seat correctly reclined.

We should also take into account that traveling with the child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible (up to 4 years old is recommendable) prevents head, neck and spinal injuries and is therefore one of the best ways to protect these areas of the body. 

Generally speaking, depending on the type of child car seat we are dealing with, either the child's weight or height is what counts. We will need to distinguish between the two in terms of the regulation governing the seat's approval. Child restraint systems approved under the R44/04 standard are based on weight while those approved by R-129 (i-Size) are based on height. 

Firstly, we should be aware that the legislation is governed by height when determining at what point the child can stop using a child car seat and can move to using a seat belt. In Spain this is when they reach 135cm in height. However, it is advisable to continue using a child car seat until they are 150cm tall, and the point of reference would be to ensure that the seat belt is properly adjusted to the child's physical characteristics. See how the seat belt should fit here.

Height is certainly a much more accurate indicator for determining how the child is developing and the type of seat they are going to need as they continue growing. When weight is the determining factor, there is a risk of switching to a higher CRS group unnecessarily. We might then fall into the trap of putting our child in a child car seat which is unsuitable for their development, their physical structure or muscle strength. 

There is no point in taking age as an indicator as there can be quite a disparity between children of the same age. Every child grows at a different rate. The height difference between children of the same age is every more marked in children of different nationalities.

However, both measurement methods are currently valid and it will all depend on the child car seat's particular approval standards. 

We absolutely should. It is one of the factors we should pay close attention to when choosing a suitable child restraint system. Not all child car seats can be installed in every vehicle, and not all child car seats can be adequately installed in all cars. The reasons for this can be due to such things as the backrest, how they recline, the lack of ISOFIX anchorages, the fact that the seat has a support leg and the car floor is not sturdy enough to support it, or that the CRS has Top Tether.

For this reason, numerous child restraint systems offer a list of models of compatible cars. This is often the case with i-Size child car seats, since they are larger and need bigger seats and ISOFIX anchorages, among other reasons. 

This all depends on the type of child restraint system. There are currently seats on the market that can be placed in either direction. The manufacturer may indicate that the child can travel in a rear-facing position up to a certain height and weight at which point the CRS can be positioned to face forward, although, as mentioned, this all depends on the type of seat. To be absolutely sure it is best to check the manufacturer's manual. 

In any case, it is advisable to get the child used to facing the rear since this is the safest position for them. 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. 

It is worth insisting and making the child understand that it is the safest position. Young children are seated in a rear-facing position from a very young age and now with the R-129 standard they must do so until they are 15 months old if they are using a child seat that has been approved by this legislation, therefore it should not be too difficult to get them used to this position. 

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The safest seat is the middle seat, as it is furthest from the doors and therefore offers extra protection in the event of a side impact. It also makes it easier for the driver or front seat passenger to get to the child and there are no seats to collide into. 

However, given that the child car seat may be incorrectly placed in this seat, as it does not usually have ISOFIX anchorages, it is best to position the seat on one of the seats that does have this anchorage system available. This will help to avoid incorrectly installing the seat. In terms of the side seats, it is advisable to choose the seat behind the front passenger seat, as the child can be more easily seen and accessed by the driver from there. 

You should also choose one of the side seats if the middle rear seat only has a two-point seat belt and you are going to be using a booster seat or cushion as they should be placed on one of the side seats with three-point belts.

It is not illegal to make use of a used child restraint system. However, it is certainly the case that a series of precautions should be taken:

  • The CRS should not have been involved in a road traffic accident. If it has, it should be thoroughly examined as it may have internal damage which is not visible to the naked eye. In such instances we recommend you do not use the second-hand seat.
  • It should have the corresponding labels, as well as its manufacturer's manual to ensure that you do not make any mistakes when installing it and in order to check that the seat is indeed an approved seat. 
  • The CRS must of course have all its parts in perfect working order. It must not be missing any parts, since all of them have a particular role to play. It must also have no signs of wear and tear.
  • As already mentioned, the child car seat must be approved by one of the pieces of legislation currently in force: R44/04 or R-129. 
  • You must check that the child seat has not been taken off the market due to product recall or because of known defects. 
  • You must also check that the child seat can be used in the car in question and that it is suitable for the weight and height of the young child. Remember that not every child seat will be suitable for your child and you may need a specific CRS as the child grows. 
  • It is also not a good idea to use a CRS for more than 6 years. Many manufacturers consider that once six years have passed the seat has aged considerably and a number of its parts may have weakened or been broken and therefore will not offer adequate protection for our children. 

A rear-facing child restraint system is also safe in the event of a rear impact. 

On the one hand, we should take into account that child car seats with the ECE R44/04 or R-129 approval have passed a rear-impact crash test. In the case of R-129 they have also passed a side impact crash test. Both approval standards are currently in force. Therefore, all child car seats that are currently approved have passed this minimum safety requirement. 

We know that rear-facing child car seats are very safe in terms of head-on collisions. However, they are also safe for all other impacts. It is important to know the difference between a head-on collision and a rear impact. 

In the case of rear impacts, both vehicles are traveling in the same direction, which is not the case in a head-on collision. In this first case, the vehicle that has been crashed into continues to travel forward while simultaneously reducing the impact forces acting on it. These kinds of collisions are not as high impact. 

Furthermore, in many instances, the vehicle might be stationary. What counts in this situation is the vehicle's resistence and how much it is damaged. The car would also be shunted forward, meaning that the force will travel in the same direction as the car's acceleration. 

In a rear-facing CRS, the head, the most vulnerable part of the body, is positioned in the centre of the vehicle, at a considerable distance from the point of impact. At the time of impact, the head (with its normal weight) tends to move but the forces are offset by the slight forward motion of the car.Thefore, the child's head moves less than in head-on collisions if the child is seated in the direction of travel. 

It should not be forgotten that, in many cases a side impact is often accompanied by a subsequent head-on collision with another vehicle, barrier or tree. In both cases, the child would be better protected by a rear-facing CRS. 

No. Before placing a child in a child seat we should remove their overcoat given that if we leave their coat on the child will seem better secured than they actually are. The harness must be properly fastened. In fact, we should only be able to introduce two fingers in the space between the harness and the child's body. 

If the child is seated in the seat with their overcoat on, although we do the same checks, the securing will not be the same. The child's body could slide inside the overcoat and, moreover, the coat's bulkiness means that the harness is actually too loose and we could mistakenly think that the harness fits more tightly than it does. 

A restraint system with a support leg cannot be installed in all cars. The car floor should be able to withstand the pressure that the leg could exert on its reduced surface area. Therefore it is extremely important to first find out if the child car seat and the car are compatible. 

The support leg is an anti-rotation system used with seats in Group 0+ and I, for both rear-facing and forward-facing seats.  It is an adjustable-length metal leg which protrudes from the lower part of the seat's base and keeps the seat fixed at a distance from the floor, preventing the seat from tipping forward. The floor should be strong enough to support the leg and its weight. 

Child restraint system manufacturers offer a list of car models in which this system is compatible and can be used completely safely. 

Not all vehicles are equipped with ISOFIX anchor points. As a general rule, all new saloon cars currently on the market must have at least two seats equipped with two lower ISOFIX anchors and one ISOFIX top tether. They are usually found on the rear seats and the two side seats. However, if the car is over 10 years old it may not have these anchor points. It is important to verify this by consulting the manufacturer's manual. 

ISOFIX anchors are welded to the chassis of the vehicle, meaning they are included in the factory, and therefore they are not a separate piece or accessory that can be added later. Bear in mind that these anchors must fulfil a series of technical requirements, all of which are assessed, including their positioning. Furthermore, they should be duly approved. 

We know that it is extremely important to travel in an approved child restraint system suitable for the child's size and weight. However, in many cases, making sure that children are also properly buckled up in their seats is not taken into consideration. It is not enough to merely anchor the seat with ISOFIX anchors or to put their seat belt on. It is important for the child to be well secured. 

Particularly during winter, if the child is wearing bulky clothing, or on short trips, we might be tempted to simply place the child in the child seat without properly buckling them up. By failing to secure them properly in the seat we are making a very serious mistake since the child could fly out of the seat if there is any sharp braking or a road traffic accident. 

The harness or belt hold the child in place in the child car seat when necessary. We recommend our article entitled ‘This is why a tightly-fitting harness is a safe harness’ and the different ways to secure the child.

A rear-facing child restraint system is also safe in the event of a rear impact. 

On the one hand, we should take into account that child car seats with the ECE R44/04 or R-129 approval have passed a rear-impact crash test. In the case of R-129 they have also passed a side impact crash test. Both approval standards are currently in force. Therefore, all child car seats that are currently approved have passed this minimum safety requirement.

We know that rear-facing child car seats are very safe in terms of head-on collisions. However, they are also safe for all other impacts. It is important to know the difference between a head-on collision and a rear impact. 

In the case of rear impacts, both vehicles are traveling in the same direction, which is not the case in a head-on collision. In this first case, the vehicle that has been crashed into continues to travel forward while simultaneously reducing the impact forces acting on it. These kinds of collisions are not as high impact. 

Furthermore, in many instances, the vehicle might be stationary. What counts in this situation is the vehicle's resistence and how much it is damaged. The car would also be shunted forward, meaning that the force will travel in the same direction as the car's acceleration. 

In a rear-facing CRS, the head, the most vulnerable part of the body, is positioned in the centre of the vehicle, at a considerable distance from the point of impact. At the time of impact, the head (with its normal weight) tends to move but the forces are offset by the slight forward motion of the car.Thefore, the child's head moves less than in head-on collisions if the child is seated in the direction of travel. 

It should not be forgotten that, in many cases a side impact is often accompanied by a subsequent head-on collision with another vehicle, barrier or tree. In both cases, the child would be better protected by a rear-facing CRS. 

There are currently two approval standards in use. Specifically,  R44/04 and R-129. Both standards can continue to be used. Nevertheless, R-129 is slowly replacing 44/04. Until then, child restraint systems approved under both pieces of legislation can be sold and used.

We ought to clarify that we are referring to R44/04, given that the two versions of this standard, ECE R44/01 and R44/02, were banned in the summer of 2008. In Spain, child car seats approved under R44/03 are also no longer allowed to go on sale. 

ECE R44 dates back to 1982 and has had a number of amendments made to its tests and requirements.This is how we have arrived at the latest version, R44/04.

In order for a child restraint system to be sold in Europe it has to pass the approval tests of one of the two approval standards currently in force. This demonstrates that the product is safe and meets minimum security requirements.

On the other hand, we should also take the age of the chair into account, since they do not last forever. In fact, some child seat manufacturers advise against using seats after 5 or 6 years of use. 

Yes, that may be dangerous, but don't be alarmed. The seatbelt should withstand high tension when there is heavy braking, or even worse, when an accident occurs (such as a crash that causes the airbags to inflate).

Their function is to hold you back so that you are not ejected from the vehicle and don't hit certain parts inside the car, with the help of the airbag. If the seatbelt is damaged, scuffed, cut or frayed, it may not be able to withstand high tension and may break.

If the damage is minor it is not a cause for concern, but if the damage is more substantial then it is. Our advice is to consult a specialist or your usual trusted mechanic to ask them about it. If your seatbelt is damaged it can be replaced: it is not a complicated task, it doesn't take very long and is not expensive. Remember that it is worthwhile for the safety of yourself and your children.

Vehicles currently boast the latest technical and technological advances designed to protect passengers, particularly minors. 

Among such technological advances, many new vehicles have rear obstacle sensors and a rear camera. Both systems alert us to the fact that there is an object or person behind the vehicle. These systems exist to try to prevent running over someone when we are distracted or making careless mistakes. 

We would also highlight the obstacle/passenger detection system and the AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking)

If the driver of the vehicle does not apply the brakes when there is a passenger or obstacle, the system automatically stops the car. In addition, the system turns on the hazard lights, closes the windows if they are open and tightens the seat belts. 

Another extremely useful system is the unbuckled seat belt alert. The vehicle alerts us to the fact that one of the passengers has not fastened their seatbelt. There are also  advanced frontal airbags, which can detect the type of accident and the size of the passenger, and side airbags. 

Another very important device installed in cars are the ISOFIX anchorages, which help to ensure that child restraint systems are correctly installed, as well as the automatic door and window locking system, whether it be after you have been driving for a few kilometers or have just got in the car. This prevents children from opening the doors and rear windows. Furthermore, many rear windows can only be wound halfway down thereby preventing children from leaning out of them. 

Almost every vehicle on the market today has a device for opening the trunk from inside the car. This is particularly useful if anyone is trapped inside it after an accident.

We recommend you read the article: Safety features of vehicles that help protect children

It is not mandatory to have a first aid kit in your car. In any case, if you wish to have one, it does not need to be very big or contain everything. In the first instance, the most important thing to have in case of a serious accident is material to stop bleeding in time, before professional help arrives.

Therefore, a car first aid kit should contain gauze, compresses to stop bleeding and bandages. In addition to these items, it is a good idea to have scissors, surgical tape and latex gloves (all of which should be sterile to prevent infections).

For small, everyday injuries, such as a small cut or scratch, it is a good idea to have adhesive bandages in various sizes and some disinfectant (hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, iodine, etc.)

If in doubt about making your own first aid kit, you could consult a pharmacy or even a center that specializes in car supplies, where they often have ready-made first aid kits.

Yes, it is acceptable, but, as with everything, in moderation and as appropriate. Extremes are usually not good. A very high or low temperature is not comfortable or healthy.

Bear in mind, for example, that in summer the temperature inside a parked car can reach 40 or 50 degrees Celsius, which is dangerous for a baby, who can rapidly suffer from heatstroke or dehydration.

Therefore air conditioning is clearly very useful for maintaining an appropriate temperature. Think about using climate control at a medium or reasonable temperature. The heating need not be much higher than 18 to 21 degrees Celsius during winter, and 24 to 25 degrees Celsius is sufficient in summer, meaning it is not advisable to lower the temperature below 20 degrees Celsius.

What you may and should do is prevent car air inlets from blasting cold air directly onto the baby, to prevent colds.

As a general rule, never leave a child alone in a car, and especially not with the doors and windows closed.

It's a question of logic and safety. Parents are responsible for the safety and well-being of their child at all times. Anything could happen when they are not there and they will not be able to do anything about it.

Aside from this matter, the inside of a car is dangerous for a child left alone and locked in because ventilation is very limited (as climate control is turned off) In addition to this, small children are unable to open the window to get fresh air, and in many cars this is not even possible after locking the car.

Another problem is that children can quickly become dehydrated, and the inside of a car, especially in summer, can reach very high temperatures. If a child does not have water to drink, and if they are little they most likely aren't able to drink on their own even then, the risk is greater.

Our advice is to take your child with you when you get out and leave the car.

Usually you can, but always read the manufacturers instructions for your particular seat. Look for the label sewn into the inside of the seat cover, similar to that you find on clothes, which will display symbols as to how it can be washed.

Most seats have covers which can be removed and then washed in cold water with a mild detergent (so it doesn’t lose colour). Check the instruction book to find out how to take it off; it will be fastened with elastic, Velcro, press-studs or something similar.

The most important factors in determining when to change the seat are age and above all the height of the child. Check to see that the child can still get into the seat comfortably or whether it is becoming too small. Check the height of the child: the head should never be above the height of the seatback and the headrest. If the headrest can be regulated, you can move it up until it reaches the maximum.

Weight should be referred to with respect to the resistance of the seat (That is to say that if the child is too heavy for it, the structure of the seat would not be able to withstand the force of an accident and would break)

Remember that children up to two years of age should be seated backward facing, and it advisable up to four years of age whenever possible as they are much better protected in a head on collision.

You needn’t worry. There are a lot of different types of child seats that are suitable for all ages and that are designed to be fixed using the car seatbelt. There are also ISOFIX seats that can also be fixed using the seatbelt.

In reality there is hardly any difference in the safety offered by a seat that is fixed using the ISOFIX system and one that is fixed using the seatbelt, so long as it is properly installed. Read carefully the instructions for the installation of the seat and make sure that the seatbelt is situated in the correct position and above all, after locking the buckle make sure that it is tightened as much as possible making sure that the seat is firmly in place (this is important).

Just like any other undesireable behavior, the solution to it is education. You need patience and you have to be firm (which is not the same as getting annoyed), when explaining to a child that they must wear their harness if they want to be safe in the car. Explain in a clear concise manner why they must be properly restrained to help the child understand why they must use it.

You can bolster this habit by demonstrating that you also put on a seatbelt and lock it, or by showing them that the other children in the car wear their harness and don’t try to unlock it (remember that children imitate what they see).

With a little perseverance a child will get used to it. You must try to be consistent, as must all the members of the family. As soon as you get into the car, the harness must be fastened, if it becomes sometimes yes and sometimes no, (or say whenever they are with you they use it but when with their grandparents they don’t), a child will not be able to understand which will make it difficult for them to develop the habit of always wearing it properly fastened.

It is an anchoring system, which compliments the isofix system. The two hooks of the isofix system in the base of the seat are fixed to the car seat but this doesn’t stop the seat being able to tip up when braking hard or when slowing down quickly.

For this reason it should be equipped with a third anchoring point. Forward facing seats usually use a Top Tether. This is a strap or a belt similar to a seatbelt with a snap-hook to fix it to the anchor in the rear of the car seat. It should be properly fixed and tightened.

Depending on the car, this anchor, which is in essence a ring, is normally situated in the back of the rear car seat, although sometimes it can be found in the tray which covers the luggage compartment, in the ceiling or on the floor of the trunk.

In principal one system is no better than the other, the design of the seat is more important (for example the width straps on the harness). Testing tends to demonstrate that when facing forward, the force that a child’s neck is subjected to is slightly less when using a seat with a shield than those with a harness.

You should always remember that what is best is for the child to be backward facing for as long as possible as this is the position in which least force is applied to a child’s neck (in the region of a quarter).

The biggest change is in the approval procedure. Before they carried out a frontal impact and rear end crash test, with the new regulations a lateral crash test must also be performed. An important change is that babies up to 15 months of age are obliged travel backward facing and before this was only a recommendation.

There are also changes when it comes to choosing a seat for your child: while before there were various groups according the a child’s weight, these have been changed so that you simply have to take the child’s height into account when choosing a seat. This make choosing seat as simple as choosing something to wear.

The main criteria should be both the age and height of the child. Age because you should wait as long as possible before using a forward facing child restraining system. The new European i-Size regulations stipulate that up to at least 15 months, a baby or child should travel backward facing although it is better up two years and even better up to 4 years of age.

Their height is important since the seat must be suitable for the child’s height. The child’s head must never be above the seat back or the headrest of the seat because the child would not then be adequately protected and could suffer injury to the neck during an accident.

Their weight also matters, although it is of secondary importance. It concerns the strength of the seat. If the child weighs more than the limit for the seat (36kg), it may not provide enough protection in an accident.

No, so don’t worry.

Taking into account that in reality, as a result of various studies, laboratory tests and crash tests, it has been demonstrated that travelling in a backward facing direction is much safer for children, particularly small babies.

This is why the new i-Size regulations for child restraining systems make it obligatory for at least the first 15 months.

When repeatedly or suddenly braking hard, the head, the neck and the back are completely supported by the seat back, reducing the strain on them and so reducing the danger of injury (for example to the neck or the spine).

When children are small they don’t normally have a problem with space. As they grow, they can still travel backward facing with their legs bent. They won’t be uncomfortable. If you think about it, children spend hours every day playing either crouched down or with their legs crossed. It is not a problem.

In principal, it is neither better nor worse. It is simply that they use two different systems to anchor the seat to the vehicle. As long as a seat is properly installed it will be safe due to its design, construction and manufacture.

The normal system is where the seat is secured using the vehicle’s seatbelt that fits into slots and is fastened using the buckle.

The isofix system is newer and uses anchors integrated in the lower part of the car seat back. Not all cars have these, although they are becoming much more common in new cars.

The advantage of the isofix system is that it is much more difficult to install the child seat incorrectly, which was a common problem and one that negates the safety aspect that the restraining system is designed to provide.

Whichever seat you have, it is important that you carefully read the installation instructions, and are quite sure about how to install and secure it so that it is perfectly anchored. The seat often has an extra fixing or an extra support that stops it from tipping up when braking hard: don’t forget to use it.

As an exemption, The General Traffic Regulations in Spain, do not oblige children under 12 years of age or under 1.35 m in height, to use a child restraining system when in an urban area.

Remember that a child can never travel in the front passenger seat. Although is it not an obligation you can always take your own seat and ask the driver to install it on the rear seat of the taxi. They cannot object to this or charge anything extra.

Outside of urban areas, on a main road or a motorway, the child is obliged to use an approved child seat.

Unfortunately the answer is no.

Although manufacturers of child restraining systems attempt to produce products that are as versatile and adaptable as possible, with extensions or removable padding so that the seat will serve for a few years, they still haven’t been able to produced a seat that can be used from 0 up to 12 years of age.

You must remember that the in principal, child restraining systems are designed to be adapted to the age and size of a child, so that they can be secured and protected properly. As a the child continues to grow, so must the seat, so there is no option other than to change it.

Child seats vary in price and the truth is that it an appreciable cost that cannot be avoided, especially if you have a few children and you have to buy each of them new seats as they grow. You have to think of it not as an expense but as a necessity for the safety of your children.

Yes, since they are often made from plastic materials, which in time and with exposure to sunlight, can lose their physical properties and become brittle.
Some manufacturers of child seats recommend that you do not use them for more than 4 to 6 years. If in any doubt, check the owner’s manual.

Basically you should take two factors into account: the weight and height of the child.
The main consideration is weight: child seats are classified by groups, which are determined by the weight of the child able to use them. A child should never use one if they are heavier than the maximum weight stipulated on the seat: the possibility of it breaking in an accident is much higher.
You must also take height into account: the back of the seat must comfortably and securely support the head of the child. If the crown (the top of the head) is higher than the top edge of the seat, then it is time to change the seat for a bigger one from a higher group.
Age is a less important consideration than the height as the weight of children of the same age can vary a lot. Always remember that until a child has reached one year of age and weighs at least 9kg, it is necessary for them to travel backward facing.
The following table shows the approximate relationship between weight and the age of a child:

GROUP WEIGHT APPROXIMATE AGE
Group 0 Up to 10 kg Up to approximately 9 months
Group 0+ Up to 13 kg Up to approximately 15 months
Group I From 9 to 18 kg From approximately 8 months to 3 or 4 years old
Group II From 15 to 25 kg From approximately 3 to 7 years old
Group III From 22 to 36 kg From approximately 6 to 12 years old
The following table gives an approximate indication of when you should change a child seat: 

Type of seat (group) It is too small when:

Backward facing baby seats

(group 0 or 0+)

When reaching the maximum weight as indicated on the seat label or when the top of the head is at less than 2 centimeters from the top edge of the seat.

Child seat with a 5-point harness and facing forward 

(group I)

On reaching the maximum weight allowed as indicated on the certification sticker or the arms are higher than the strap slots in the back of the seat or the head is above the seat backrest and the vehicle has no headrests.

Booster seat with backrest 

(group II or III)

On reaching the maximum weight as indicated on the certification sticker or the child’s head is above the back of the booster seat and vehicle has no headrests.

If the baby is travelling in a baby seat from group 0 or 0+ and it becomes too small before the baby reaches one year old then you must buy a convertible seat from group 0 and I; This type of seat is bigger and allows you to continue to carry the baby backward facing, which is imperative until the baby reaches at least twelve months and weighs more than 9kg, it is generally much safer, being recommended for as long as possible (always remember that you must never exceed the weight limit indicated by the manufacturer).

Although many child seats can be installed in any vehicle there are exceptions. 
According to the regulations, the child seats that can be installed in any vehicle are those that stipulate on the certification sticker, “universal”.
Some child seats are “semi-universal”, that is to say they are certified for certain models of vehicle. These seats will indicate in the instruction manual, a list of the vehicles in which they be used.
In the case of ISOFIX, for them to be “universal” they must include a third anchor point (link to dictionary) or straps or belts that fix them to the back of the vehicle. The ISOFIX seats that have a third anchor point that rests on the floor of the vehicle are “semi-universal”. The third anchor point helps to substantially reduce forward rotation or the forward pitch of the seat in a frontal collision.

Attention! A child seat, even if it is “universal”, can still be incompatible with certain specific models of vehicle. This could happen, if say the child seat is quite big and the rear seat of the vehicle is very small; or the seat is shaped, making it impossible to get a firm and stable fix of the child seat to the seat of the vehicle. We would advise that you try the seat in your vehicle before purchasing it.

That which suits the weight and height of the child and has gained a favorable appraisal in independent comparisons of crash tests and ease of use carried out by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Associations. If it is easy to use, then it will be used on every trip no matter how short.

Facing backwards is the safest position, because the back takes the full force. When facing forward, the impact is absorbed by the few small areas of the body which are it in contact with the seatbelt or harness.
For babies and small children the neck is one of the most fragile parts of the body (which is why we have to support a baby’s head when holding it in our arms), this makes travelling backward facing, if the seat allows, much safer when braking or in an accident.
A sensible tip: check the instruction manual for the child seat or ask the manufacturer if in any doubt about how you should install a seat with regard to the size of the child.
It is notable that the child seats that score the highest in independent comparisons carried out by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer associations are those in which the child is facing backwards.
You can find more information and other important points at our website: Studies and comparisons.
In 2011, the MAPFRE FOUNDATION carried out an exhaustive International review of evidence and recommendations in relation to the position of child seats (installed facing forward or backwards), The principal conclusions were:

  • Backward facing seats are much safer than those facing forwards.
  • Children should travel facing backwards whenever possible. This avoids certain injuries that can only be sustained when travelling forwards that cannot occur when facing backwards.
  • As a baby grows and their baby seat becomes too small it must be changed for a larger one that still allows the child to continue using a seat that faces backwards.
  • Children must continue facing backwards, following the Nordic practice, which has been demonstrated to be the most effective in real accidents, up to 3 or 4 years of age.

The middle of the back seat, since it is further away from any impact zone but only if the seat can be correctly installed in that position.
An exception to this rule is when the driver is alone and the child is in a backward facing seat: in this case, and only if the airbag has been deactivated, installing the seat in the front passenger seat allows the driver direct eye contact with the child. This can often be calming for the child and helps to avoid any momentary lack of concentration, such as when the driver turns to look at the back seat.
Another exception is the general rule that once a child is tall enough to use the adult seatbelts but the middle seat in the back has only a 2-point seatbelt: in this situation it is better for the child to occupy one of the side seats with a 3-point seatbelt, the protection it offers is much better than that of a two point seatbelt.
If the middle of the rear seat does not have a headrest and the child is tall enough to need one, it is much safer for them to travel using a side seat with a headrest.
Of the side back seats, the right hand seat is safer than the left, since it allows the child to leave and enter the vehicle from the sidewalk furthest away from the traffic and secondly it allows the driver a better view of a child sitting on the opposite side of the vehicle than if they were sitting directly behind. When using a forward facing seat a child can be seen best using a rearview mirror when sitting in the middle of the back seat.
Our advice: if you have a child seat equipped with the ISOFIX system, it is generally recommended to install the seat in a car on a seat which is fitted with the same system to take full advantage of the benefits offered by the ISOFIX system, such as easy installation, less risk of incorrect installation, greater safety generally in an accident.

This is very dangerous.
In a study carried out in 2009 by the Automobile Clubs, RACE and RACC and by various European Consumer Associations, it was shown that during a frontal impact at only 64km/hr., the weight of a backpack was multiplied by 40, a 5kg backpack becomes a 200kg weight which can crush the spinal column of a child and cause thoracic injuries, broken ribs and internal injuries.
In a side impact, the wearing of a backpack can cause major injuries. As the child would be sitting forward due to the backpack, there is no protection from the lateral supports, which would otherwise protect the child in a side impact. Both the thorax and the head could smash against the door trims of the vehicle with an increased chance of causing a serious injury.
Very important: never allow children to sit in their child seat while wearing a backpack.

They are very dangerous.
In an accident, the weight of the occupant or any object in the interior of the vehicle is multiplied by 20, sometimes even by 40. A baby that weighs 10 kilograms can assume a weight of between 200 to 300 kilograms: a simple show of affection such as carrying a baby in your arms can become a fatal act, as it would be impossible to hold the baby during an accident.
In a similar way, a toy that weighs only one kilogram can be thrown at a child with a force equivalent to 20 or 40 kilograms, causing very serious injury.
Remember: a child should never carry toys that are heavy or rigid, inside a car, only light soft toys.
Naturally, luggage should be stowed so that it is impossible for it to be thrown into the interior of the car. In vehicles that didn’t have adequate separation between the trunk and the cabin of the vehicle there have been cases of pushchairs having been thrown forward into the car, causing serious head injuries to children that were correctly restrained in their child seats at the time.

In older children, according to the Swedish carmaker, Volvo, it is not dangerous or uncomfortable for them to sleep with their head to one side.
We would remind you that it could be dangerous for a baby if the head falls forward (chin to breastbone), causing a respiratory obstruction. Should this happen, always follow the manufacturers instructions to adjust the inclination of the baby seat.
Remember: if you wish to avoid the head and neck from falling too far to one side then the best advice is to adjust the width of the headrest on the child or the booster seat, assuming it has a backrest and headrest.

In Spain, according to the current legislation, children should use a child seat until they reach a height of 135cm.
Booster seats from group III are usually designed and approved for use by children up to 150cm in height, so long as they don’t weigh over 36kg, so don’t be in a rush to stop using the seat as soon as they reach 135cm.
The most important thing for child safety is to ensure that children use a child seat up until an adult seatbelt can be properly adjusted. A wrongly adjusted adult seatbelt can cause serious injury to a child even at moderate speeds.
The correct adjustment of the seatbelt can be achieved when the shoulder strap passes between the collarbone and the breastbone and the lower strap supports the hipbones.
If the seatbelt passes over the neck or very close to it, or across the stomach rather than the hipbones, it is incorrectly adjusted and can be very dangerous.
The child’s head should be protected by the vehicle’s headrest: If the headrest is too high or the seat doesn’t have one, it would be better to use a booster seat equipped with one.
Another important point is that if while sitting directly on the seat of the car the back of a child’s knees do not reach the edge of the seat then the knees cannot bend comfortably. When the knees are not bent the child tends to slide down the seat and could slip out from under the seatbelt or harness, something known as submarining, as shown in the following illustration: if this happens it is quite clear that the child needs to use a booster seat.
Your child can use an adult seatbelt only if they can fulfill ALL of the following conditions: 

  • The child’s back is fully supported against the vehicle seat back.
  • With the back fully supported against the seatback, the legs comfortably bend and the calves supported by the edge of the seat.
  • The child is able to maintain this position during the whole journey without slipping or sliding downwards.
  • The shoulder strap of the seatbelt (upper strap) crosses over the breastbone between the shoulder and the neck but never too close to the neck.
  • The lap belt (or lower strap) is under the abdomen and supported by the upper bones of the hips.
  • The car seat is equipped with a headrest to protect the neck in case of rear-end collision.

The lateral airbags don’t present any danger to a child so long as they are correctly seated.
Since the lateral airbags are designed to protect an adult, the protection offered to a child may be less. For example in the case of curtain airbags, these can be too high for children making it possible for a child’s head to bang against the car door in a side impact. On the other hand the other main type of lateral airbag employed to protect the chest of an adult passenger can be too hard for the fragile chest of a child.
The conclusion reached from all of this previous information is that the protection of children in a vehicle side impact, must start with their child seat and for this reason, the seat they will be using, or you are about to purchase, should have gained a favorable rating in the independent comparisons made by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Associations. To gain this high rating the seat must include side protectors and a good size headrest. Normally, booster cushions don’t include this type of lateral protection, which is why they are not recommended; however a booster cushion, in general terms, is much safer than allowing a child to use a seatbelt too early.
As we have pointed out, lateral airbags are less effective for children than for adults. For this reason we must insist that airbags can only be considered as complimentary protection to that offered by a good child seat, equipped with the correct size of padded side “wings”.
You must also ensure that in the area between a lateral airbag and where the child is sitting there are no objects such as clothes or toys, as these could become a danger.
When an airbag can be dangerous is when a child’s head is too close to the opening from where the airbag fires. This could happen, for example if a child falls asleep on their booster seat with their inclined towards the door or when travelling unrestrained or lying on the back seat.
Lateral airbags are less effective for children than for adults. For this reason they should only be considered as complimentary to the protection offered by a good child seat, equipped with the correct size lateral “wings”
Lateral airbags are less effective for children than for adults. For this reason we must insist that airbags can only be considered as complimentary protection to that offered by a good child seat, equipped with the correct size of padded side “wings”.
A CHILD’S HEAD SHOULD NEVER BE TOO CLOSE TO A LATERAL AIRBAG.

Both of these are restraining systems included in the approval regulations for child safety seats. Both systems offer an important starting point in the protection of babies. 

BEWARE; you must remember to take into account that NOT ALL carrycots are approved for use in an automobile.
When using carrycots or baskets the baby is lying down, which is the most natural and appropriate position for very small babies or newborns but in some of these seats, the baby is only supported by the seatbelt placed over the tummy meaning that in a side impact it is not held in place. There are, however different models of baskets and carrycots available that are fitted with a harness in the form of a “Y” (with two shoulder straps and another between the legs), that provide much better protection in a side-on collision. When choosing a carrycot or basket look for one that has obtained a high score in an independent comparison, carried out periodically by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Associations.
In a head-on collision, "backward facing" is much safer than lying down.
Finally, a car cot or carrycot may be the best option as it is not advisable to allow babies to be semi-upright for long periods: such as with premature babies with respiratory problems.

Some booster seats can be used with or without the backrest. In other words, with some restraining systems it is possible to remove the back to covert a booster seat into a booster cushion. With no backrest to provide lateral protection, the child’s head or chest can be violently thrown against the car door in a lateral collision, at an intersection for example. For this reason and in the light of the results of independent comparisons by Automobile Clubs and Consumer Groups, is not recommended to remove the backrest or use a booster cushion without a backrest.
It is imperative that you consult the instruction manual for the child seat to find out whether, for a child of determinate weight, the backrest should in fact be removed or can remain in use (some seats have been approved for a certain weight without a backrest, which would make it unsafe to use it).
The lateral or side airbags, on the other hand, offer much less protection to a child than a seat with a backrest and good lateral protection.
Any of the mentioned systems of child restraint, either with or without a backrest, must gain the corresponding standards approval, that is to say they have passed the safety testing required by law. Some restraining systems used without the backrest can only be used for older children, so attention must be paid to the weight group when considering use or non-use of the backrest.

NO, they are not. The independent tests for child seats that are usually carried out by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Associations give a different safety rating for child safety in the automobile to those of the EuroNCAP rating for new vehicles, (European New Car Assessment Program). In this program, which examines different aspects of vehicle safety (including child safety), it is the manufacturer of the vehicle that decides where a child seat should be installed in a particular car. Therefore this program only offers an assessment of the combination of a particular child seat in a particular vehicle, whereas the periodic assessments by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Groups gives a general assessment of the safety of child seats when installed in a wide range of vehicles. When it comes to choosing a child seat, the information offered by European Automobile Clubs and Consumer Associations is much more useful: in Spain, The Royal Automobile Club of Spain (RACE), The Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia and the Organization of Euroconsumers (OCU)
In short, the EuroNCAP program is useful for choosing a safe vehicle and automobile and consumer group’s assessments are best for choosing the safest child seat.

Submarining happens when a child slides down the seat and under the harness or seatbelt and the pelvic strap ends up over a soft part of the child’s body of with the consequent risk of injury.
The submarining effect usually occurs due to incorrect adjustment of a seatbelt. (When a child should really be using a booster seat but is actually sitting on the vehicle seat using an adult seatbelt) or the harness or seatbelt is too loose.
To avoid the possibility of submarining, it is important, as has been pointed out, to ensure that straps and belts are as tightly fastened as possible (on long journeys it can be difficult for a child to sit upright with their back against the seat back for long periods, which is why frequent stops are advised to break the journey).

In principal every country requires child seats to have undergone a series of tests to approve them for use, these may differ in each country. In the United States the approval standard (the tests on the seat required before it is approved for sale) is different from the approval standard in Europe.
This means that a “European” seat that has been approved for use according to European regulations cannot be sold in the United States, since it doesn’t conform to the regulatory standard of the United States (except when it has also been approved by US regulations). The same is true when using a child seat: to use it legally in the United States it must have been passed according to their regulations. Otherwise you may risk being fined for a traffic violation.
It is evident that using a child seat is always much safer than not using one. For this reason and from the point of view of the safety of your children, parents that travel internationally (for example between Spain and the US) should always use their own child seat until they are able to acquire one that conforms to the standards set by the country they are travelling to.
The previous situation does not apply within Europe, as the European approval standard set by ECE R44 is valid within the whole of the European Union.

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