Car seats are very important so as not to put children at risk when traveling. Safety is essential for this, but in our test, there are some baby product reviews and models that have been rejected. Find out what they are and read our advice to choose the right one.
By law, car seats must be used until the child’s height exceeds 150 cm and are divided according to weight (if approved according to ECE-R44) or height (if approved I-Size or ECE-R129). Making a correct purchase is essential since it is a matter of safety: in our test, in fact, there are some models rejected, but any seat approved and used in the correct way ensures protection that is much better than just using the car seat belt or worse than not using any restraint system.
A seat for all ages
The only decisive criterion to know if our child must travel in a car seat is the height, you switch from the seat to the only belts of the car when the child reaches the height of 150 cm. Group 3 seats and risers are used from 22 to 36 kg, but can also be used after the child has not reached 150 cm, in fact the risers are used to correctly pass the belts at the right height. If, because of the height, you no longer need the seat for your child, always check that the belts are at the right height, that the belt is not removed and that it does not slip.
Traveling safely with two child seats
A safe journey can be guaranteed with only two child seats:
- after the first for babies (group 0 and 0+ up to 9 or 13 kg), you can choose a “multi-group” model (group 1/2/3) that covers a very wide weight range (from 9 to 36 kg). But don’t be in a hurry: wait for the baby to reach the right weight (after 10 kg).
- After a first I-size seat from 40-45 cm (birth) to 105 cm (about 4 years), switch to a group 2/3 seat (the child must weigh at least 15 kg); note that not all I-size seats cover the same range, there are those that only reach 75 or 83 cm (so about 12 -18 months) and those that start from 61 cm (ie about 3/6 months).
Ideally, you should switch to the second seat as late as possible so that your child can travel as long as possible against the direction of travel. Because of their morphology, children should stay in rearward-facing seats for as long as possible because their heads are heavy so that in the event of an accident the neck is very stressed. By law, the child must travel in an approved seat, the Group 1 forward-facing seat can be used from 9 kg (approx. 9 months). But it is better to wait, the ECE R44 group 0+ approved seats allow the transport of children up to 13 kg (approximately up to 2 years), while the I-size seats instead must allow the child to travel against the direction of travel at least up to 15 months, we have in our comparator products that allow the transport against the direction of travel up to 105 cm (about 4 years).
Growing up together
Do not be tempted by the low cost of booster cushions (boosters – Group 3 can be used from 22 kg so not before about 6/7 years) for when the child is older: they do not provide the right protection in case of side impact. The same applies to group 2/3 seats used without backrests and headrests. Our advice is to follow the growth of the child, choosing a model dedicated to its weight range. Above all, the seat must be homologated: check that there is the homologation label on the back or on the base of the structure (it is orange with the words ECE R44-03, ECE R44-04, ECE-R129). The homologation standards are increasingly stringent, from 2017 in fact the new homologated products must have a backrest up to 125 cm, some seats homologated before this year already met these requirements. But is it always compulsory for children under 125 cm in height to travel with a seat with a backrest? No, but it’s safer. ECE R44 Group 3 approved products without backrests can still be sold and used.
What is the best choice?
There is no ideal solution for everyone: the seat should be purchased and evaluated together with the car and the child. In some cases, safety belts are too short to secure the seat properly. Some children who tend to take off their seatbelts may prefer their lap cushions, others may not tolerate them.
Seats with isofix hooks provide greater stability and better protection in the event of both frontal and lateral impacts. In addition, the risk of incorrect installation of the seat is minimized. Once the seat is attached to the car structure, the child must be secured with the appropriate safety belts in the seat (group 0+ and group 1) or in the car. In our tests we always check the results using the Isofix system or (if possible) fitting the seat with the adult belts (both tests are reported in the test). This is especially true for group 0+ and group 1 child seats, where the child is restrained by the integrated seat belts. Group 2/3 products with Isofix have the advantage of tying the restraint system even when it is empty, but the job of holding the child is done by the car belts.
What are the valid approvals? When should I change it?
The ECE-R44/3, ECE-R44/4, ECE-R129 I-size approved child seats are all valid. Since April 2008, all car seats manufactured before 1995 and approved according to ECE R44/01 and 44/02 have become obsolete and both use and sale are prohibited. In general, it would be preferable to replace a car seat after an accident, but also a product that is 10 years old (some manufacturers indicate an “expiration date”, ie an indication of when it would be better to replace the product). The materials of the seat subjected to sudden changes in temperature (cold in winter, hot in summer) could be damaged and in the long run, lead to a deterioration of the protection offered.
Why has a new I-size approval regulation been introduced?
As of 2013, child car seats can be approved according to the ECE R44-4 or according to the requirements of the I-size regulation ECE-R129, which supplements and does not replace the previous one. Here is the main news:
- reduce improper use;
- transport facing backward until the child is at least 15 months old;
- classification according to the child’s height, not weight;
- better protection against lateral impacts;
- better car-seat compatibility (finally universal system).
How much do they cost
It sounds like a big expense, but it is a product that guarantees the safety of your children during all journeys by car, a truly irreplaceable product. With our Best Purchases, you can have a good quality seat that accompanies your child up to 150 cm high at a cost of about 3 euros per month, less than 10 cents per day.