Choosing the right car seat

31499 Dr Fysh - Dec 01, 2015

As surely everyone knows, it is a legal requirement that babies and young children are strapped into a special seat when travelling by car. That includes the journey from the hospital to your home after the birth so it is worth getting the seat fitted well before your due date.

There are a huge number of makes and models of seat available and it can seem a bit daunting when you’re wondering which one to buy. It’s worth remembering that not every car seat is suitable for every make of car so make sure you try it out before you commit to buying. A badly fitting seat can be dangerous.

Make sure the seat you go for is suitable for your child’s height and weight and will accommodate your child’s growth for the foreseeable future.

Buying a second hand car seat may save you a significant amount of money but is not recommended, especially if you don’t know the person you are buying from. If the seat has been involved in an accident or been dropped it may be significantly less able to withstand a collision. It may also have parts and instructions missing.

Always make sure you follow the manufacturer’s fitting instructions carefully or get an expert to fit the seat for you.

Don’t put your baby in the front seat if the vehicle has an airbag. This is not only illegal, it is very dangerous. If possible all under 5s should be in the back of the car.

The ISOFIX attachment system is a relatively new development and means you can simply click a car seat into place using two anchor points built into the car. Both the vehicle and the child seat need to have the ISOFIX system built in. Older cars (and many seats) do not have ISOFIX mounts, in which case the ‘old fashioned’ system of securing via the seat belts still works.

Babies should always have rear-facing car seats but the use of rear-facing for older children is on the increase too. In some Scandinavian countries children remain facing the back until they are four years old. Rear-facing seats have been shown to be safer in head-on collisions.

Never leave your baby or toddler alone in the car. It can get very hot in summer. Make a habit of checking to make sure the car is empty when you lock it and walk away just to ensure you haven’t left anything – or anyone - -inside. It may sound ridiculous but with the stress and tiredness that comes with being a new parent there have been numerous incidents of people forgetting to lift their baby out of the car, especially if the baby is asleep.

If you would like more information on car seats for your child the road safety officer at your local council can give you detailed advice.


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About Dr Fysh

Dr Fysh

Dr Fysh is one of the country’s leading consultant paediatricians, currently a consultant at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians. Having experienced first-hand the suffering caused by serious medical conditions to babies and young children and the emotional and financial strain that this can place on parents on a daily basis. He joined the board of directors as Chief Medical Officer and has been instrumental in the building of the NurtureFirst product. 

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