Car seat: which one to choose?
If there is an essential element to have when expecting a baby or when you are already the parent of a small child, it is the car seat. But which car seat to choose? Do you know all the criteria for choosing the most efficient and comfortable model for the Your baby and everything at the best price? When it comes to road safety, you never know too much, so here's everything you need to know before buying a car seat.
Car seat: what does the law say?
Since car seats are designed for adults, they are not fully adapted to the safety of children. The law therefore requires the necessary facilities to adequately protect children traveling by car. Before reaching a height of 1.50 m, a child is not old enough to use a seat belt safely. And before the age of 10, his pelvis is not yet mature enough to withstand the shock that could generate. contact with the belt.
Isofix system or others: what is the best fixing for the car seat?
The safest car seats according to crash tests
Children under the age of 10 must be seated in the back, with exceptions (rear seat not available or not usable, or installation in a street car seat with airbag deactivated). If you are transporting a child under the age of 10 without having first installed it in the device adapted to its size, you are subject to a fine of 80 to 323 euros.
Depending on the weight of the child, different seat models can be used:
- before 10 kg: cot or pet carrier
- 9 to 18 kg: front or rear road car seat
- from 15 kg: child seat
However, it is not necessary to purchase a new model every time the child grows up. Some car seats are extendable and can fit your child over the years.
Does the car seat depend on my child's size?
Each child is different and grows at their own pace, so age is not a reliable indicator of a suitable seat for them. To know which size to choose for your child, seats are divided into different categories, according to the R44 standard. There are 5 groups of car seats, classified from 0 to 3:
- group 0: from birth, for children under 10 kg and up to 9 months
- group 0+: always from birth, but can accommodate a child of 13 kg and a maximum of 15 months
- group 1: for children weighing between 9 kg and 18 kg
- group 2: for children weighing between 15 kg and 25 kg
- group 3: for children from 25 to 36 kg
To avoid having to invest in a new car seat as soon as the child grows, there are evolutionary car seats: these collect the characteristics of different groups and adapt to the growth of the child. A car seat can belong to group 1/2/3 and accompany the child for almost 10 years (obviously without ever being damaged).
For example, this CYBEX evolving car seat is an interesting choice: the group 1/2/3, will accompany your child from the age of 9 months to around 12. For around 200 euros on Amazon, it is available in version with or without isofix and in different colors.
© CYBEX / Amazon
If adapting the size of the car seat to that of your child is obviously essential for their safety, this is not the only element to consider when making your choice: ensure the level of comfort that will benefit you. your child once put in his place. Indeed, long car journeys can quickly become very difficult to live with (for children and therefore for you) when you feel uncomfortable. So choose seats made of memory foam, wide and padded shoulder straps and a very wide headrest (obviously to be taken into consideration depending on the type of car seat). Also make sure that your baby has enough room for his legs.
Safety features not to be overlooked
Before choosing a car seat, you must first know the safety regulations in force. Let's start with the R129 standard (also called i-Size): The latest on car seats, founded in 2013. It coexists with the R44 standard, which is still valid. The seat must therefore comply with the R44 / 01 and R44 / 02 standards or to the R129 regulation.
What are the characteristics of the i-Size standard?
- requirement for lateral and frontal crash tests on the neck and head
- rear or side installation on the road for at least 15 months
- presence of the isofix system
- car seat categorization based on child size rather than weight (we will no longer rely on groups to choose a car seat)
But the best seat is nothing if it is not well fixed! Make sure that the car seat is always firmly fixed before placing the child. For this, there are different systems: isofix fixation, strut, top tether fixing system. Many types of attachment that vary according to the car seats but also of cars: it is really important that your vehicle is compatible with the fastening system available for the car seat you choose, or you risk not being able to use it.
Is the seat securely fastened? Check your child now too! If you have preferred a car seat with a harness or shield, be careful to remove your baby's coat before installing it so that you can better check that the protective elements are correctly positioned and tightened.
How much does a good car seat cost?
If you find child seats without backrests (belonging to group 3) for around twenty euros, the price ranges from 80 to 500 euros for an evolving and quality car seat. Yes, there can be large price differences depending on the models, so take the time to compare all the items before making your choice!
However, even if the purchase of a new car seat weighs heavily on the parents' budget, it is absolutely not to be avoided. We also advise against buying a used car seat! You will never know for sure what happened to the seat before buying it. ... He could very well have suffered accidents, even minor ones, which would have damaged (often invisibly) and compromised his safety. Don't forget the germs you could expose your child to.
Plus, when you buy a new car seat, you'll benefit from a one or two year manufacturer's warranty depending on the brand. Some are even guaranteed for life! This is the case of the Bébé Confort Rodifix Airprotect car seat, for children from 15 to 36 kg (eg group 2/3), which will be replaced free of charge in the event of an accident. This model has been awarded 4 stars by independent European safety testing organizations.
How to mount the car seat?
There are two ways of mounting a car seat: using the seat belt or using the isofix mounting system, for vehicles that have it.
The first step is to read and understand the instructions for use, then carefully rely on them to install the seat.
© Getty Images
Mounting with safety belt
The car seats are equipped with indicators to know where to pass the seat belt: they are blue for the rear seats facing the car and red for the car seats facing the road. Fit the belt in each position provided and do not attempt to wrap the belt further: the instructions provided have been designed to ensure maximum safety, not following them could be dangerous.
Attention: if you position the car seat on the street of the front seat, it is essential to deactivate the airbag beforehand.
Mounting with isofix
The isofix system is designed to facilitate the installation of the car seat, therefore it is relatively simple to set up. The car seat is equipped with two metal clips to attach to the two metal hooks between the seat and the back of compatible vehicles. It is therefore sufficient to check that the seat is well fixed to these anchor points by checking the visual and acoustic indicators. Check it before each trip. The new isofix systems can be supplemented by a third anchorage point: a strut or a top strap. The post must rest well on the floor of the car, while the top strap must be tightened.