Baby Car Seats Buyer's Guide
Baby car seats keep your precious little bundle safe and protected in the car. However, the massive variety on offer can sometimes be a bit confusing for new parents - read our baby car seat buyer's guide to help you make your decision.
Remember, your baby should be placed in a child seat from their very first trip, so you should do your research and buy one well before your due date. This way you'll be prepared for when the big day arrives!
WHAT IS A BABY CAR SEAT?
Let's start with the basics. A baby car seat is a seat that's specially designed to keep babies and young toddlers safe when riding in the car. They're secured using a seatbelt or a base, and will help to protect your child from serious injury or death in the event of an accident.
They're sometimes called infant car seats or infant carriers, as they usually have a handle, making it easier to get it in and out of the car. They fall into the following car seat categories, which have been developed by manufacturers and car seat experts:
|Group 0||Suitable from birth up to 10kg in weight (around 9 months)|
|Group 0+||Suitable from birth up to 13kg in weight (around 12-15 months)|
|Group 0+ and 1||Can be faced both forwards and rearwards, suitable from birth up to 18kg in weight (around 4 years)|
You should always use the most appropriate car seat for your child's age and weight, otherwise it won't fully protect them.
BEFORE BUYING A BABY CAR SEAT
The first and most important thing to consider before buying a baby car seat is safety. It's vital to check that the seat will fit securely into your car.
The manufacturer's website usually contains this information, but for extra help you can pop into your local Halfords, where a member of the store team will be more than happy to advise you.
Remember, if your child will be travelling in more than one car (for example, with the grandparents) then the seat must be suitable for that too. Otherwise you may have to buy more than one car seat.
REAR FACING CAR SEATS
Babies should always travel in a rear facing car seat until they weigh at least 9kg and can sit up unaided. This is because rear-facing seats provide more support and protection for an infant's head, neck and spine.
Rear facing baby car seats can be used the front or back of the car. However, they must not be used in the front seat if your vehicle has an airbag fitted, as this could injure your baby if it goes off. Children are always safer in the back of the car as they'll be further from the windscreen.
Recently, experts have advised parents to keep their children in rear facing car seats for as long as possible. A good solution for this is to buy a combination (Group 0+ and 1) car seat, as this can be faced both rearwards and forwards.
This allows you to keep your child facing rearwards until their head reaches above the top of the seat, then convert it to face forwards - and can save you buying another seat until they're around 4 years old.
ADDITIONAL BABY CAR SEAT FACTORS
Once you're satisfied that a seat is appropriate for your car and the weight of your child, you can look at other aspects like colour, comfort, and ease of use.
A good tip is to buy a suitable base for the seat, which can make it a lot easier to get it in and out of the car. Some bases use ISOFIX (an international fitting standard) while others don't - in either case, the seat simply clicks onto the base in one go.
It's also worth considering buying your baby car seat as part of a travel system, which comes with a pushchair that the seat clicks straight onto. See our travel systems buyer's guide for more information on these handy packages.
BABY CAR SEATS FITTED FOR FREE AT HALFORDS
When you buy any car seat from Halfords, fitters at your local store can install it into your car completely free of charge. They can also show you how to do it properly yourself.
Our fitting training is fully accredited by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, so you can drive away with total peace of mind. Order today from Halfords.com.