What is the R129 child car seat safety standard?

When it comes to child travel, every parent wants peace of mind that they’re choosing the best car seat for their little one. If you’re currently looking for a new car seat for your baby or child, we understand that making sense of the rules and regulations can be confusing.

ECE R129 is the latest EU/UK safety standard for child car seats but what exactly does this entail? We spoke to child car seat experts, Joie to find out more about the R129 regulation and how this differs from other car seat safety standards.

What is the R129 regulation?

ECE R129 was first introduced during 2013 running alongside the existing ECE R44 standard . While R44 car seats can still currently be purchased, from the 1st September 2023, R129 will replace R44 entirely as the only approved EU car seat testing standard. (ECE R44 can continue to be sold in England, wales & Scotland beyond the EU 1st September 2024 sales stop date).

The simplest way to understand the ECE R129 regulation is that it focuses on the child’s height rather than their weight alone. It’s often a challenge for parents to know when they should upgrade their child’s car seat. Therefore, height can more accurately allow parents to measure if an existing car seat is the best fit for their little one rather than weight. Car seats still have a maximum occupant weight capacity, and this is equally important to monitor as well as using the primary indicator of the child’s height when using an R129 car seat.

It's recommended that children travel rearward facing up to a minimum of 15 months & at least 75cm in height as research shows that this gives them time to develop and ensure their neck is strong enough to support their head. Measuring by height can also more easily allow parents to assess when it’s time for their child to face forward.

R129 car seats also undergo further testing than other car seat standards including side impact testing and Q dummy crash tests which include 32 sensors.

What is the difference between R129 and i-Size?

While R129 car seats and i-Size car seats undergo similar safety testing, they are not the same thing. The easiest way to think of it is that i-Size is an enhancement of R129. I-Size focuses on ensuring that car seats fit safely into vehicles using ISOFIX anchor points. Therefore, while all i-Size car seats must comply with R129 standards, not all R129 car seats may be i-Size compatible. Many i-size car seats have ‘i’ at the beginning of the product name or you can look out for the i-Size logo.

What is the difference between R129 and R44?

The key differences between the R129 and R44 standards are as follows:

  • ECE R129 focuses on the child’s height in cm, while the ECE R44 focuses on a child’s weight in kg
  • R129 is not categorised into groups, while R44 is categorised into groups 0+,1,2,3
  • Children must be rear facing to a minimum of 15 months of age and be at least 75cm in height, while a child can be forward facing from 9KG with R44
  • R129 has additional side impact testing, while R44 is only rear and front tested
  • R129 conducts Q dummy crash tests with 32 sensors, while R44 conducts P dummy crash tests with 4 sensors

What also makes R129 unique is that the standard is divided into four categories, covering different child sizes, seat installation and how the child is secured within the child restraint system (CRS):

car seat guide

Can I still buy R44 car seats?

R44 car seats can currently still be purchased and are still subject to extensive testing despite being gradually phased out. Joie confirms that these are still reliable car seats and are safe to use. From 1st September 2023, EU authorities will no longer accept approvals for R44 car seats and from 1st September 2024, they will no longer be sold by retailers, marketplaces and e-commerce in the EU/UK. This means that businesses within the EU will have one year to sell any remaining R44 car seats they have in stock. (R44 can continue to be sold in England, wales & Scotland beyond the EU 1st September 2024 sales stop date).

It's important to understand that consumers can still use an R44 car seat that has been purchased after 1st September 2023.

What types of R129 car seats can I buy?

Joie stock a wide range of child car seats that are ECE R129 compliant and will continue to launch new R129 car seats over the coming years. ECE R44 car seats will continue to be available until they are eventually phased out.

With R129 car seats no longer using group numbers, Joie have categorised their car seats using the following:

  • Baby car seat (up to approx. 12 months)
  • Toddler car seat (up to approx. 4 years)
  • Child car seats (up to approx. 12 years with internal harness and seat belt)
  • Belted booster seat (approx. 3-12 years with seat belt)
  • Spinning car seat (all spinning car seats)

Check out our full range of Joie R129 car seats and have the peace of mind that your child is travelling both safely and comfortably.

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