One of the most difficult decisions of baby or child shopping is deciding which car seat to buy. Because when choosing a car seat, you will come across many features. Buying a car seat without knowing what it means means leaving it to chance. After reading this guide, which we have prepared based on very basic criteria, you will be able to go shopping for car seats with confidence.
Legally, you must use a car seat if your child weighs less than 36 kg or 150 cm. If your child is over 135 cm, you can also use a booster instead of a car seat.
What are the questions you should ask when choosing a car seat and what are the definitions you should know? Let’s start in order:
1. Which group should it be?
The group of the car seat indicates what weight babies/children can use that car seat, ie the usage weight range. Basically, there are 5 car seat groups.
|car seat group||Usage kg range||Average age range|
|Group 0||0-10 kg||Birth-6/9 months|
|Group 0+||0-13 kg||Birth-2/15 months|
|Group 1||9-18 kg||6/9 months-4 years|
|Group 2||15-22 kg||4-6 years|
|Group 3||22-36 kg||6-1/12 years|
However, a car seat does not have to be suitable for a single usage kg range. For example, Group 0+1 is a car seat, it appeals to both Group 0+ and Group 1. So, let’s take a look at the car seat group options available on the market, which are included in more than one group (called multi-group or extended group):
|Extended car seat group||Usage kg range||Average age range|
|Group 0 + 1||0-18 kg||birth-4 years|
|Group 0 + 1-2||0-22 kg||birth-6 years|
|Group 0 + 1-2-3||0-36 kg||Birth-11/12 years|
|Group 1-2-3||9-36 kg||6/9 months-11/12 years|
|Group 2-3||15-36 kg||4-11/12 years|
- If you haven’t purchased a cradle for your baby before, then the first car seat you can use after birth can be either a cradle or a Group 0 or Group 0 + a car seat. We recommend that you first purchase one of the cradles designed to ergonomically support your baby’s tiny body.
- If you’ve decided to buy a baby cradle, consider your options:
- If you have purchased a cradle before, you can use it when your baby is in the 0-13 kg range. You should buy a new car seat when your baby weighs more than 13 kg. Here you can choose Group 1, Group 1-2 or Group 1-2-3 when choosing this new car seat. The choice is up to you. If you want, you can choose Group 1 and then switch to a larger car seat. If you want, you can choose Group 1-2 and use it for a longer time, then you can switch to a larger car seat. Or you can choose Group 1-2-3 and use the same car seat until the child is 11/12 years old.
2. To which standard should it be produced?
Although we will probably talk about car seat models produced with the latest technologies and new standards after a while, there are two standards that you should know at least for now: One is ECE R 44/04 and the other is I-Size (UN R 129). The car seat you buy must be produced in accordance with one of these two standards.
ECE R 44
- It shows compliance with the basic safety requirements in the European Union safety standard ECE R44. 04 says it is the latest version.
- If you see the ECE R44/03 approval label on the car seat you are considering purchasing, it is still acceptable, even if it is not the latest version. The 02 or 01 is no longer legal anyway, so it shouldn’t be sold or used.
- It is part of the European Union’s new car seat safety regulation and UN R 129 safety requirements, which came into force in July 2013.
- I-size is valid for infant and child car seats up to 4 years old.
- This arrangement; It provides advanced head and neck protection, requires the car seat to be attached up to a minimum of 15 months (up to a child’s height of 105 cm) against the direction of travel and Isofix.
- The biggest difference of I-size is the group distinction we mentioned above, not according to weight; make it according to paint.
3. Which direction should it face?
Although studies show that it is safer for the child to sit in the opposite direction of travel, the child’s weight, height, and safety standard of the car seat will make the decision here. We mean:
- If the car seat is Group 0, Group 0+ or a multi-group car seat including them (such as Group 0+1), it must be connected to the car in the opposite direction of travel (rear facing).
- If the car seat is an I-size car seat, it should be fastened in the opposite direction of travel (rear facing) until the child is 105 cm.
- All other car seats are used in the direction of travel.
4. Should the safety belt be 3-point or 5-point?
This depends on the car seat group.
- 5-point seat belts are used in Group 0, Group 0+, Group 1 car seats, and 3-point seat belts are used in Group 2 and Group 3.
- If the car seat is in a multi-group, for example, if the car seat is in the Group 0+1-2-3 category, 5-point seat belts are used during Group 0+1 use. It is then converted into a 3-point seat belt.
5. How should it be connected to the car?
Car seats can be attached to the car in four basic ways:
1- Connecting with Isofix
Isofix is the easiest and most reliable way to attach the car seat to the car. In the Isofix connection, the 2 Isofix bars on the back of the car seat are placed on the Isofix hooks in the car. The car seat is only fixed when the fasteners are correctly placed on the hook. Most of the car seats with isofix already have colored indicators next to the Isofix bars. When the red color turns green, it shows you that you have made the isofix connection correctly.
The essence of the word; It’s impossible to get this link wrong. Making the connection correctly ensures that Isofix security is complete. If you do not know whether your car has an isofix connection, let us remind you. Most of the cars produced after 2006 have Isofix. Isofix is mandatory for all cars produced after 2013. If the car was manufactured before 2013, we recommend that you check it out.
2- Connecting with Top Tether
Top Tether fixes the car seat to the car with the help of the hook at the top. This limits the rotational movement of the car seat in the vehicle.
3- Fastening with a seat belt
The car seat is fastened with the car’s own seat belt. This is actually an easy method, although it does take some time to connect. However, research has revealed that most seat belt attachments are misapplied by parents. In other words, if you are going to fasten the car seat using a seat belt, pay attention to the correct fastening.
4- Connecting with the base
The base is directly connected to the car. The car seat is placed on the base. The base can be attached to the car seat with Isofix or with the seat belt.
Isofix is the safest of these types of attachment. Net.
6. Which results should have been obtained from which testing institutions?
First, let’s take a look at what car seat safety testing is: Independent testing organizations periodically test many car brands and models for safety. They give a score between very good and bad for the car seat, which is also evaluated as a result of safety tests.
The most prestigious test organizations you will come across when choosing a car seat; ADAC, Stiftung Warentest, ÖAMTC, TCS, Plus Test and Autobild. Of course, it is very important that the car seat you choose is rated “very good” or “good” from these test institutions.
7. What kind of technology should have been used against side impacts?
With the development of technology, we hear new terms that will increase the safety of the car seat every day. Most of these new terms are related to side impact protection.
Side Impact Protection System used to increase safety in side impacts; It is not a standardized system like Isofix or I-size. The protection technology used by each brand is different. E.g; Koala Side Protection System- SPS, Joie Guard Surround Safety-GSS, Cybex Linear Side Protection System-LSPS, BeSafe Side Impact Protection uses SIP+ technology. But of course the purpose is the same. In the event of an accident, the impact energy coming to the sides of the car seat is absorbed by the car seat and this energy does not reach the child.
8. Apart from these, what should be paid attention to?
In fact, we have basically summarized what you need to pay attention to. However, if the following questions come to mind, let’s answer them as well:
Does the weight matter?
If you don’t need to remove the car seat from the car frequently, its weight doesn’t matter much. But if it will be used continuously in more than one car, then you may prefer it not to be too heavy.
How many sleeping positions should it have?
Basically, we can say that 3 sleeping positions are sufficient. These; upright sitting, resting and sleeping positions. However, some brands can offer products with recline up to 5-6 positions.
How should the fabric feature be?
Of course, our first criterion is that the fabric is washable. Many brands already do this. Most car seat fabrics can be washed at 30°C. However, there is something more important that the fabric can be easily removed from the car seat and easily put back on. If possible, prefer models that remove the fabric without removing the seat belts. In addition, sweatproof and fireproof fabrics can also be preferred in terms of providing both comfort and safety.
Is the use of the seat belt buckle important?
Yes of course! The seat belt buckle should be very smooth and easy to use. We recommend that you pay close attention to this.