Worldwide, car accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, and there are a multitude of legal obligations with regard to children in the car. The range of options on the market can get pretty confusing, so read on and we’ll help you get it right.
The different types of child restraint systems
Capsule – 0 to 6 months
A baby / infant capsule is rear-facing with an integrated harness, which is the legal requirement for babies under six months of age. The capsules can be used for babies up to about six months old or slightly older if they still fit into the seat. Unlike other types of car seats, the capsules can be easily taken in and out of the car and used as a baby carrier or attached to a pram to minimize inconvenience to your baby.
Car seat facing the road – 6 months to 4 years
A forward-facing (or forward-facing) restraint has its own built-in six-point harness for your child. This should be used until your child is at least four years old, but can be used longer. It is safer for children to stay in a harness as long as they can get into it.
Convertible car seats – 0 to 8 years old
While one option is to start your baby in a capsule and switch to a forward-facing seat and then a booster seat, some may prefer to use a convertible car seat that can change modes for allow longer periods of use. The main advantage of convertible car seats is that some allow young children to face backwards longer. They can also be more profitable depending on the model you choose.
Options for convertible car seats include:
- For baby from 0 to 4 years Suitable for newborns, these car seats can be converted from back to front when your child grows. Some models allow children to be rear-facing for 12 months, while others offer up to 2.5 years of age, which is often preferred due to the increased safety of the rear-facing position. .
- 6 months to 8 years These forward-facing seats can be used as soon as your baby is no longer legally required to face the rear. They differ from a single-mode forward-facing seat because after four years they can be converted from a forward-facing harness seat to a booster seat used with an adult seat belt.
- 0 to 8 years old These seats allow your child to face backwards for 12 months and to move from back to front. Some even convert back into a booster seat by having a removable harness. These models can serve as the only car seat you buy for the life of your child, but it is important to consider whether the seat will continue to suit your lifestyle throughout the period (they can be quite large) as well than the effect of wear and tear over an eight-year period.
Booster seat – 4 years to 8-10 years old
A booster seat is also forward-facing, but is generally thinner than a forward-facing car seat and is used with an adult seat belt rather than a built-in harness. It is designed for children between the ages of four and about eight and some simply sit in the adult seat, while others may also have an additional tether. Modern versions have a high back and sides to provide side impact protection and support for sleeping children. We strongly recommend not using a booster cushion (without back or side protection), however, it is not illegal to use a product that conforms to American standards at the time of manufacture.
Is it worth buying a capsule?
If you have a new arrival en route, you may be wondering if you should buy a capsule (which can only be used for about six months) or go straight to a convertible car seat which can be used from 0 to Four years. While both options are equally safe, there are certain pros and cons to consider.
- A capsule can be easily removed from the car and transported.
- A capsule compatible with your stroller can replace a bassinet accessory. These all-in-one travel systems allow you to remove the capsule and put it on your stroller without having to disturb your baby, especially if they have just fallen asleep. (Caution: Babies should never be left asleep in an unattended car seat, and never for long periods; they are not designed for this. Babies have suffocated due to lack of air circulation due to the fact that they are not flat.)
- Once your baby has passed the capsule, all you need to do is buy a convertible forward-facing car seat from 6 months to 8 years of age.
- Most capsules can only be used for about six months (depending on the size of your baby).
- The cost of a capsule can be similar to that of a convertible car seat that can be used from birth to four years of age.
If you want to use a capsule but are concerned about your budget, a number of companies offer one, three or six month rentals with prices ranging from about $ 100 to $ 200 for six months, or roughly the half the purchase price of yours. Make sure the company performs a security check on the capsule before renting it out.
Will my car seat fit in my car?
It should, but the smaller the car, the tighter the fit and the harder it will be to get your child in and out. Space becomes more problematic when trying to fit three car seats into the car: with the length of the rear seat, you will need to take into account the anchor points, the door armrests and the angle of the window. Some car seat manufacturers sell “narrow” car seats, but finding the right combinations can be difficult. Going to the store with your car to try on the seats can be your best bet.
Things to consider when buying a child car restraint
In addition to safety, look at:
- Weight: Pick it up and see how easy it is to get around.
- Shoulder markers near the straps To show when it’s time to go up in size.
- The cup holders are nice to have, but more useful for older children than for babies.
- Cleaning the kids will be a mess. Do the covers and other parts come off easily?
- Compatibility If you buy a capsule, check if it is compatible with your stroller; it may be necessary to purchase adapters.
- Rear facing Generally backward facing is safer for younger babies, so you may prefer to choose best convertible car seat for small cars that can face backwards longer (up to 2.5 years) .
Remember to check your car
- Room: Is there room to enter and exit once the seat is installed? If you plan to expand your family, is there enough space to have more than one detention? Most stores allow you to take the car seat in your car to check its fit before buying.
- Seat belts: Is yours long enough to fit through the seat?
- Anchor points: Does your car have enough anchor points if you have more than one seat or capsule?
- ISOFIX: Make sure your car is compatible if you choose an ISOFIX car seat.
Do not buy a used car seat or used capsule
Unless you know the full history of the car seat, we say buy a new one. Even if a second-hand seat looks correct, it can be damaged.
If you decide to use the second hand, choose a seat that:
- less than ten years old (look for the manufacturing date sticker)
- has a sticker with the SAI Global logo, certified according to AS / NZS 1754
- comes with an instruction manual
- It has a smooth and functional loop
- has no frayed or broken straps / harnesses
- has no cracks or tension marks on the plastic seat shell
- was not damaged in an accident
When is it safe for my child to use an adult seat belt?
Legally, children must be properly restrained, and if a child aged seven or older is too small to fit comfortably in an adult seat belt, then it is safer to stay in a booster. Experts recommend that a child pass the “five step test” in order to wear an adult seat belt, usually when the child is 145 cm tall:
- Can your child sit with their back against the seatback?
- Are their knees bent comfortably on the front edge of the seat cushion?
- In this position, is the shoulder belt in the middle of the shoulders?
- Is the lap belt low and resting on the top of their thighs?
- Can they stay in this position for the entire trip?