Its Time To Make The Switch
Whether its a car accident, expiration date, or simply your child growing faster than you can keep up, switching to new car seats is part of the parenting journey. It can sometimes be hard to tell when to switch, though.
Hopefully, we were able to equip you with the information you need to sort out this little milestone. Exciting but scary, we know. Now take that confidence and be prepared when the time comes to switch seats.
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What Are The Rules And Regulations For Toddler Car Seats
The rules and regulations around child car seats are regularly updated, meaning its important to check youre up to date before making a purchase. Here are the rules and regulations you should be aware of as of March 2021:
- i-Size seats should be rear facing until your toddler is 15 months old
- Weight-based seats should be rear facing until your toddler weighs 9kg
- Group seats 0 and 0+ should be rear-facing, Group seats 1, 2 and 3 can be rear- or forward-facing
- You must use an EU-approved car seat. These are identified with a label and capital E
- Only use a diagonal seat belt with a child car seat unless the car seat is designed specifically for use with a lap belt or is fitted using Isofix anchor points
- Deactivate the passenger airbag before fitting a rear-facing car seat in the front seat
- Do not use side-facing seats
- Child car seats are required by law until your child is 12 years old or 135cm, whichever comes first
If you want to read more on child seat rules and regulations, weve put together a useful car seat guide.
To help you navigate the world of car seats, weve rounded up some of the best toddler car seats on the market, based on reviews and our own expert opinion, below.
When To Upgrade From An Infant Car Seat To Forward
Once your infant child has hit the weight or height limit for the rear-facing mode of their car seat which can range anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds you should switch them to forward-facing harness fit.
Now that your child is forward-facing you should ensure that you are installing the car seat with the top tether. If installing with the latch system review your car seat and vehicle owners manuals for latch system usage weight limits.
Features like belt lock-off and snug lock technology make installing with the seat belt simple. When forward-facing the AAP recommends that children use the five-point harness until they reach the harness height or weight limit.
For most convertible all-in-one and harness booster car seats the forward-facing harness limit is 65 pounds some can go higher.
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Booster Seat Safety Tips
The following are some important booster seat safety tips to help keep your child safe:
Make sure to follow booster seat safety tips to help keep your child safe.
Choosing A Baby Car Seat
It’s recommended to buy a baby car seat before your baby is born if possible. It’s important to buy a seat that fits your car and is suitable for a newborn.
If you have your baby in hospital or a birth centre, you will need the car seat to drive your newborn home safely. It’s a good idea to practise fitting the seat before your baby is born.
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Are There Any Other Safety Tips
- Many seat manufacturers have online video tutorials that can help.
- Some local community resources offer car seat clinics. There may be someone who has been trained to help with installation or check that you have installed the car seat correctly.
- If you use an infant carrier outside of a vehicle:
- Always keep your child buckled.
- Do not put the seat on a raised surface because it may fall.
- Always take your baby out of the car seat when you arrive. A car seat is not a safe place to sleep.
The Different Fitting Standards
Just to make things that little bit more confusing, there are currently two regulations running along side each other which different car seats abide by. There is the group system and the i-Size system.
Lets look a little closer at the two regulations
The Group system regulation is categorised into groups depending on the weight of your child. This is how the categories are determined and act as the guide to when your child should move up to the next stage car seat. Each group has an upper weight limit, when your baby reaches this limit it is time to move them up to the next stage.
There are also age guides in each group, however we advise to only use these as a guide and focus more on the weight of your child. The size of your child is more important than his age. This is because some babies grow faster and gain weight more quickly than others of the same age. Girls and boys also grow at different rates.
The group categories are
Group 0+ – birth to 13kg
Group 1 9-18kg
Group 2 15-25kg
Group 3 22-36kg
Until recently, this was the only system for car seats in the UK and many seats are still sold under the group system. But, with the recent introduction of the i-Size regulations there are now two regulations running along side each other.
The I-Size categories are
First stage birth to 75cm
First & Second Stage birth to 105cm
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Is My Car Seat Or Booster Seat Safe To Use
- Check that your seat is approved for use in Canada. Look for the National Safety Mark on your car seat or booster seat:
- Read the labels and instructions to make sure that your child is within the age, weight, and height limits for the seat.
- Most manufacturers recommend that you replace a car seat that has been in a car crash, even a minor one. Contact your manufacturer if you are unsure.
- If you do not know the history of the seat, it may no longer be safe to use. Make sure you have all the parts, including the instruction manual.
- All car seats expire. Plastic and metal parts wear out over time. Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure when your seat expires.
- Check Transport Canadas website to see if your seat has been recalled.
- Register your childs seat with the manufacturer. They will contact you if there is a recall.
How To Keep A Toddler In A Car Seat
Keeping a toddler in their car seat can be a tricky business for some parents. If youve got a mini escape artist on your hands wed recommend checking the harness height , and ensuring the harness is tightened every time before setting off. If that doesnt deter your toddler, you might want to consider purchasing a child seat with an anti-escape system, such as the Cosatto Judo .
You can also purchase the anti-escape system separately though it has mixed reviews.
- 5-point Plus Anti-Escape System, £44.47 from Amazon buy here
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When To Upgrade For Belt
Once children outgrow the height or weight limit for the forward-facing harness mode they can transition to a belt-positioning booster which boosts your childs seated height to ensure a proper fit with the vehicles seat belt.
Belt-positioning booster car seats are available in two styles high back and backless. High back boosters are ideal for children who need the support of a headrest an additional help with the shoulder about placement.
A properly fitted belt-positioning booster seat should have the shoulder belt in the middle of the shoulder. Not too close to the neck but not hanging off of the childs shoulder.
The lap belt should sit low on the thighs, not the abdomen. The vehicle seat belt should lie flat against the body without any twists.
If using a buckle speedster or if your high-back booster requires it be sure that there is head support from a vehicle head restraint behind the childs head to at least the top of the childs ears.
Nuna Myti Group 1/2/3
- Nuna MYTI Group 1/2/3 Car Seat, £275 from Mamas and Papas buy here
The Nuna MYTI is apparently the go-to child seat for celebrities, and allegedly counts Beyoncé and The Kardashians among its fans. However, its not just A-listers that this car seat has impressed we tested it out in 2019 and awarded it five stars.
At £275, this seat is one of the most expensive in this roundup but considering it should see your child from around 15 months to 12 years old , it could be a worthwhile investment. Weve tested it with a toddler and a seven-year-old girl, and theyve both found it perfectly comfortable.
It attaches to Isofix points and has an additional top anchor clip, which can be secured to a fixing behind the rear seats on compatible cars. Theres a five-point harness for children from 76cm to 105cm, and then your vehicles seat belt can be used until your child no longer requires a car seat.
As you can tell from the guidance by height rather than weight, its i-Size compliant, has nine adjustable headrest and shoulder positions, and is made from thick energy-absorbing foam with a sturdy plastic and steel frame.
Its a heavy but solid product which we found to be of superb quality and, as an added bonus, it was quick and easy to install.
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Simple Change: Invest In Seat Covers
If fitting completely new seats sounds a little drastic or expensive, you could always opt for seat covers instead. Seat covers give you the look and feel of new seats without the effort and expense, and there are plenty of tailored options available to give your car a new look. For the most premium look, feel and finish, pay to have your car seats covered and reupholstered in leather.
Types Of Booster Seats
- Combination seat: A high-back booster seat with five-point harness is called a combination seat. The five-point harness can be used for children who weigh 40 pounds or more. The harness can then be removed and the seat becomes a belt-positioning booster that works with the vehicles lap and shoulder belt. Some of these seats can safely accommodate children up to 100 pounds. Be sure to check your safety seat instruction manual or the car seat label for exact weight and height limits.
- High-back and backless belt-positioning booster seat: A booster seat that uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts to restrain the child.
- A high-back belt-positioning booster seat is useful if your vehicle does not have head rests or has low seat backs. If you use a high-back booster, you might need to remove the vehicle’s head rest if it pushes the booster seat forward. Check your owner’s manual for instructions.
- A backless belt-positioning booster seat can be used if your vehicle has head rests or high seat backs.
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The Car Seat Has Been Recalled
Recalled seats have defects that have been determined to be unsafe, so if your seat is affected by a recall, stop using it right away and follow the manufacturers instructions for repairing or replacing the seat. You can find the latest recalls at NHTSA.gov/recalls, or sign up for recall alerts on your phone.
When Should You Upgrade Your Childs Car Seat
Your child is supposed to keep growing every week and month. That is why, when you buy a car seat, make sure you get something a little bigger than your child. He or she will be surpassing the car seat pretty soon, trust me.
When you notice that happening, that is the time to upgrade your childs car seat. You will notice the seat being too small for the baby, too tight, or just plain uncomfortable for him or her.
The label should clearly indicate the maximum height and weight limit. As the baby grows up gradually, you may have to change from a rear-facing to a bigger rear-facing convertible car seat.
Then, once your child reaches the ultimate limit of the rear-facing seat, upgrade to a forward-facing car seat with a harness. When the child has outgrown that, move to a booster car seat.
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The Car Seat Has Been In A Crash
Whether or not you need to replace a car seat after a crash depends on the severity of the crash. In a minor crash, you generally dont need to replace the car seat.
But how do you know if your crash was minor or major? Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a specific list of what a minor accident looks like. If the vehicle and passengers are not hurt or damaged, there is a good chance you can still use the car seat.
When Should You Make The Switch
While infant car seats have weight limits ranging from 22 to 35 pounds, nearly every baby is too tall before reaching the weight limit, especially for the seats with 30+ pound limits. Too tall is when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat. It would be best if you familiarized yourself with your car seat’s height and weight requirements to ensure your child is riding safely.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transitioning your baby from the infant seat to a rear-facing convertible seat, once they meet the minimum height or weight requirement for their infant seat. If a child is over the weight limit but still within the height limit, it is not safe to use the seat . Once your child reaches one limit, they are too big.
While the max height for most infant seats is when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat, crash testing from Consumer Reports indicates that it may be best to transition to the rear-facing convertible seat earlier, before your child’s head is within an inch of the top.
CR’s crash tests with a 12-month-old dummy showed that the risk of head injury is much greater in an infant seat than a rear-facing convertible seatas the dummy hit its head on the back of the front seat in more than half of the crashes in infant seats, but in only 4% of the crashes when in a convertible seat.
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Tips To Upgrade Your Car Seat:
The tips which you should follow while upgrading your car seat include:
1. Choose one according to your current age of your child:
If the child is close to one year of age, you have to choose one suitable for children up to 2 to 3 years of age. In that case, you will not have to change it anytime soon.
2. Check for car compatibility before making the decision:
You have to ensure that the car seat is compatible with your car. Only then can you go ahead and choose it. You will be surprised how many car seats are not compatible with certain car models. Instead of assuming that it is compatible, it is a much better idea to check for the compatibility and decide.
3. Materials in use:
When youre buying a new car seat, it is essential to look at the car seats materials. Ideally, they should be comfortable for your child and completely soft as well. When that is the case, it becomes easier for you to provide proper comfort and safety to your child.
4. Safety mechanism:
The car seat should come along with a safety harness, and also, it should come along with shock-absorbing foam. The coverage which it should provide should be excellent as well.
When upgrading your car seat, you have to look out for this factor as well.
With these car tips, it will become easier for you to upgrade your car seat.
Now, you are aware of the situations in which you should upgrade your car seat. Not only that, but you are also aware of the tips which you should follow while upgrading the same.
What To Expect When Buying A Car Seat
Before you impulsively buy a car seat, do some research. Check your cars manual and see whether the car seat can be attached using the latch or belt.
If your choice is a latch, identify yourself with the latching system of your vehicle. Also, measure the back seat to get familiar with how much space there is for the car seat.
Car seats can either have a narrow or wider base. Make sure the car seats fit at the back of your car.
A convertible car seat is the best investment, as it can grow with your child. These are known for safety and can last till toddlerhood!
Sometimes, a seat and a stroller are sold together at a good discount. Dont miss that chance!
Furthermore, check if the car seat on your mind is approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association . This is important because the safety standards are constantly improving and you need to keep up with it.
Moreover, the most crucial features to look out for in a car seat are the 5-point harness , a latch, and side-impact foams and pads. Other secondary features include an anti-rebound bar and a bigger canopy.
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