Features and benefits of multi-stage car seats

It’s a legal requirement in the UK for all children to travel in an appropriate child car seat. Traditionally, this meant having to upgrade your car seat every few years as your child outgrew their old one.

Now, there are a range of multi-stage seats available that span multiple stages of your child’s development, with some lasting from birth through to 12 years old (when your child no longer legally needs a seat).

But what exactly are multi-stage seats, and why should you consider using one? Here’s everything you need to know.

What are multi-stage car seats?

Multi-stage seats grow with your child and can be used throughout multiple stages of your child’s development.

There are two sizing systems used for car seats: R44 and i-Size. R44 is a weight-based system that categorises its sizes into groups that cover a certain weight. For example, group one seats are for children weighing 9-18kg (see table below). i-Size seats use a height-based system and each of these sizes has an equivalent size in the weight-based system.

In the past, car seats were designed for a specific age, group or height, meaning you’d need to keep upgrading the seat as your child grew. Multi-stage seats provide a convenient alternative as they span multiple groups and sizes – and any seat that covers more than one group is a multi-stage seat.

R44 weight-based sizing system

G0                 birth to 6/9 months
G0+                 birth to 12/15 months
G1                 9 months to 4 years
G0+1                 birth to 4 years
G0+/1/2                 birth to 6 years
G0/1/2/3                 birth to 12 years
G123                 9 months to 12 years
G23                 4 to 12 years
G3                 6 to 12 years

i-Size height-based sizing system

  • 0-85cm (approximately G0+ in weight-based system) – rear-facing baby carrier or baby seat using a harness
  • 0-105cm (approximately G0/1/2) – rear-facing baby seat until your child is at least 76cm, then forward facing
  • 100-135cm (UK)/150cm (ROI) (approximately G2/3) – forward-facing child seat

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What are all-stage car seats?

Some multi-stage seats span every group (0+/1/2/3).

These all-stage seats can be used from birth all the way through to 12 years old when your child no longer needs a seat. They will adapt as your child grows, adjusting from a rearward-facing position when your child’s an infant to a forward-facing seat once they’ve grown.

A great example, the Cosatto All in All i-Rotate Group 0+/1/2/3 ISOFIX Car Seat can not only be used as both a rearward-facing and forward-facing car seat, but also has an adjustable headrest and multi-position shoulders to keep your child safe and comfortable as they grow.

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Benefits of multi-stage car seats?

There are lots of benefits to multi-stage car seats, and here’s a few reasons why you might want to consider one:

  • No need to regularly replace your seat –multi-stage seats take away the hassle of having to buy a new seat at every stage of your child’s development. Instead, the seat will span multiple years or, in the case of all-stage seats, won’t need replacing at all as it will last from birth through to approx. 12 years old.
  • Value for money – as you won’t need to replace your seat as often or at all, you’re getting better value for money too!
  • Finding the right seat for your car – when choosing a car seat, it’s not just about finding one that’s the right size for your child, you also need to make sure any seat is compatible with your car. With an all-stage seat, you’ll only need to worry about this once.
  • Grow with your child – as multi-stage seats are highly adaptable, you can regularly adjust the seat to ensure your child always travels in comfort.

Features of multi-stage car seats?

Modern car seats are packed with more safety technology than ever before, helping keep your little one safe and comfortable while travelling. Here’s a few features you might want to look out for when choosing a seat:

  • Side-impact protection technology – many seats now have some form of enhanced side-impact protection that will better protect your child in a side-impact collision.
  • Impact shields – impact shields act like an air bag, helping distribute the forces of a collision over a wider surface area. Doing so reduces the stresses on a child’s neck, head and shoulders in a collision.
  • Adjustable headrests – most multi-stage seats have adjustable headrests, and these can be important for safety and comfort.
  • ISOFIX – many modern cars are manufactured with ISOFIX systems. These are anchor points that ISOFIX-compatible car seats secure to instead of using the seat belt.

Here at Halfords, we have a range of all-stage and multi-stage car seats from top brands including CYBEX, Joie and Graco. You can find the full range here.

For more car seat advice, head over to our Car Seat Buyer's Guide.

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