Car seat – how to choose a child seat?

A well-chosen car seat is a matter of our child’s safety. When transporting a child in a car, we want to minimize the risk of any threats. Read what you need to know before you choose a child car seat. Let’s remember that traveling with a toddler will be much more pleasant when we don’t have to worry about the child’s safety.

The legal obligation of every driver is to transport a child in a car seat . But the car seat alone is not enough: it must be properly selected and correctly installed in order for it to fulfill its task effectively. Choosing the right car seat is difficult, however, there are models that meet the minimum requirements in the car seat crash tests , but there are also those that pass them on a high five, and it is also worth knowing.

The next step to make your child’s car safe is to install the car seat in the car. However, it turns out that we also have a problem with it. According to research carried out by the PBS DGA research agency commissioned by KRBRD, only 62 percent. children are correctly transported in car seats. – Parents often do not know how to mount a car seat so that it fulfills its task of increasing safety – says Dr. Andrzej Markowski, a psychologist from the Association of Transport Psychologists. We have prepared a guide from which you will learn, among others, how to transport a child in a car, how to mount a car seat and what types of baby carriers and car seats are. For your convenience, we have divided it into two parts. In the first you will find information on what criteria you need to consider when planning your purchase, and what to look for.

Car seat weight groups

Adjust the seat not only to the weight, but also to the age of the child. The weight of the child is the basic criterion for choosing the seat – on many models, however, there is auxiliary information about the age that can be carried in the seat . Car seats for children are divided into five main weight groups:

  • 1st group 0 for babies weighing less than 10 kg
  • 2nd group 0+ for babies – weighing less than 13 kg
  • 3rd group for babies – weighing from 9 to 18 kg
  • 4th group for children weighing from 15 to 25 kg
  • 5. group III for children weighing 22 to 36 kg.

But the choice is much larger – you can buy car seat models 0-10 kg, 0-13 kg, 0-18 kg, 0-25 kg, 9-18 kg, 9-25 kg, 9-36 kg, 15-25 kg , 15-36 kg, 22-36 kg . Therefore, before buying a car seat, you need to know how much weight your baby currently weighs, especially if you are buying another car seat. When buying a baby car seat, it is worth knowing that only car seats allowed from birth are suitable for it (the appropriate information is always in the description of the model). They should have so-called reduction insert, which is a kind of small mattress with side covers, which additionally protects against the head swinging sideways.

What is ECE approval?

The seat must have ECE approval, i.e. the European safety certificate, marked with the ECE R44 symbol. It means that the product complies with the technical requirements that are in force in Europe and are legally defined. Approval allows a given seat model for sale, but it is worth knowing that the regulations only require that the minimum technical requirements are met.

Car crash crash test results

They are carried out by independent consumer organizations, e.g. ADAC, ANWB or OEAMTC. In so-called Crash tests assess the safety level of a given model. A car seat that meets the highest standards gets five stars, the weakest one. If the seat fared well in crash tests, it is almost certain that the manufacturer will boast about it, if it fared poorly – such information will certainly not be included in the description of the model. Tests are carried out every year and a model that performed poorly in one test may have much better results in the next one because the manufacturer has improved its quality.  If both models selected by you were rated the same, choose the one that can be mounted more stable.

Choose a seat for your car!

Not every car seat model can be stably mounted in every car, meanwhile it is one of the most important elements ensuring child’s safety. It is best to attach a few models to the car with the seller to check if the car seat belts holding the car seat are properly tensioned and which of the models is attached more rigidly. Sometimes, car seat belts are too short. In this situation, it is worth checking whether the seat manufacturer allows a different mounting method (e.g. alternative route).

Additional systems improving the safety of the seat

Almost every manufacturer has its own patents. Some, instead of traditional belts, install ones that are crosswise or do not fasten belts at all, only the rail – both systems reduce the pressure on the child’s body during sudden braking. There are systems thanks to which the car seat, after mounting the headrest, automatically adjusts the degree of inclination of the seat and the length of the straps to the size of the small passenger. Belt tensioners installed in some car seats are helpful, thanks to which the car belt can be properly tensioned, improving the car seat stability. It is also worth paying attention to the side protection systems – manufacturers use different solutions here, some widen and strengthen the sides, others also install additional protections in the headrests. The downside is

How to choose a car seat: if you have the option, choose a car seat with Isofix system

The Isofix system allows you to quickly and securely install a child seat in the car without using car seat belts. It consists of rigid handles, mounted permanently in the car between the backrest and the seat (or on a special base, which is bought together with the car seat) and the catches located on the car seat. The seat is secured by snapping the handles. The system is quite expensive, often exceeding the value of the seat twice, but allows you to mount it in a much more stable way than using car seat belts. When investing in it, be sure to consider the results of crash tests, because Isofix improves safety only when used with a high-quality car seat.

Where to install the car seat, i.e. a safe place for the car seat

The safest part is the center of the rear seat (equipped with safety belts or Isofix attachment). It is far from the door and provides the best protection in the event of a side impact. However, if it does not have straps or the Isofix system, it will be better to place behind the passenger seat, from which it will be safer to remove the seat if you stop on a busy street. But beware – it may happen that due to the difference in the profile of the sofa, the seat can be mounted securely only in the front seat. In this case, please remember that this can only be done if the passenger airbag is not there or it is disconnected. During a collision it opens at a speed of 300 km / h, which specialists compare to the force with which a professional baseball player hits the ball with a stick. If she hit the back of the car seat.

Installing a baby carrier in a car

An infant in a car seat can only be transported rearward-facing, rigidly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During a frontal collision, the head of the person who sits front is thrown forward with enormous force – the baby’s neck will not withstand such a load. The seat must not move sideways, forward or backward. When fastening it with straps, be sure to read the instructions.

The child in the seat must always wear the seat belts

Most experts advise you to stretch the straps as much as possible, because thanks to the collision of the babies it stably lies in the seat, and the centrifugal force will not throw it outside. Thanks to this, it has a chance to come out unscathed even in the case of rollover. The height at which the straps are located can be adjusted and detailed instructions are provided in the operating instructions. Do not remove the pads from the straps – they prevent the straps from sliding off the baby’s shoulders. Seat back passengers are also required to wear a seat belt. People fastened with seat belts will not overwhelm the seat with the weight of their body in the event of a collision.

When to change a child seat to a larger one?

An infant using a 0-13 kg car seat may touch the backrest of a car seat with his feet, if the head does not protrude above the top edge, weighs no more than 13 kg, and the seat belts can be fastened, he should use the rear-facing car seat without difficulty. The first child seat needs to be replaced with a larger one when the child’s weight exceeds the limit values for a given model, the head protrudes over the edge or the straps cannot be fastened.

Never take your child out of the seat while driving!

Even if the baby is crying a lot, you need to feed or change. In this situation, you have to stop on the side of the road and only then unbutton. If your toddler opens the belt buckle himself, you need to stop the car as soon as possible, fasten it again, and then let the child understand that it did wrong. The infant will not understand the words, so the seriousness of the situation is best conveyed using facial expressions and a serious tone of voice. A child should not be praised when it unfastens the seat belts by itself, because then it will be fun and the situation will repeat itself.

Good to know

Is it worth buying used car seats?

I strongly advise against buying second-hand car seats. As an expert, I would never have offered such a car seat to the customer. Buying a used car seat is not certain that it did not participate in any case, and that there are no damages that are not always visible. Externally, it looks attractive, while the inside of the shell, buckles, clamps can have microcracks, which in the event of an accident can lead to tragedy. In addition, models from a few years ago do not guarantee an adequate level of safety, because the technology is moving forward and today’s car seats are constructed in a completely different way. Finally, the plastic used to manufacture the seats ages, e.g. under the influence of UV radiation, which can have a negative impact on the durability of the structure and the level of safety of the seat.


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