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Different types of Car Seats

The array of car seats, boosters, travel systems and accessories out there is mind-boggling, and with 4 out of 5 car seats in the UK being fitted incorrectly, it is important that you know the right information. Here we guide you through the maze to help you choose the right car seat, ensuring maximum protection for your child when travelling in the car.

Types of car seats:

From birth:

  • Group 0+ or Infant Baby Carriers

From birth up to 13kg (approximately 12months), depending on the size of your baby.

Use your group 0+ car seat for as long as you can is it is about the safest seat your baby will sit in. It is not a race to get to the next car seat group. Too many children end up in Group 1 car seats before it is safe for them to do so. Infant car seats always rear face in the car (by law in the UK), and the baby is strapped in with an integral, adjustable safety harness. This is often a 5 point harness and used to be a 3 point harness on older seats. A five point harness tends to perform better if you suffer a side impact. The carrier is secured to the car seat with the car's adult seat belt or the use of a seat belt routed base or ISOFIX base. It is illegal to use a rear facing child car seat (infant carrier) in the front of a vehicle that is protected by a frontal airbag. Whilst it is possible to manually or electronically deflate the airbag, it is still not advisable to fit a child car seat. No matter how small, there is always a risk of it going off. If the airbag does inflate, it is likely to crush both the seat and the child, and can therefore be highly dangerous and life threatening. Most dealers will not deactivate airbags, and if they do this may invalidate your car insurance cover.

Infant carriers are now also available from some manufacturers as part of a travel system. (See the travel system section below) These are compatible with a pushchair/chassis combination, enabling you to take your sleeping baby from the car and into a pushchair. However, newborn babies should not be left to sleep in their car seat for more than two hours, especially if they cannot lie flat. (For more information, see our section on lie-flat car seats)

Rearward facing car seats provide greater protection for your baby's head, neck and spine than forward facing seats, so it is best to keep them in it for as long as possible. If adults could travel rearward then it would be better for us too! Only change to a forward facing car seat when they have exceeded the maximum weight for the seat, or the crown of their head has reached the top.

Some modern car seats have a full recline mechanism that allows your baby to sleep lying flat whilst on the move. This is ideal for long journeys, especially for newborns. However they are not always the easiest seats to fit.

Safety: Remember it its illegal to put a baby or young child in a rear facing car seat on the front seat of a car where an airbag is fitted; if the bag inflates the pressure may crush the seat and child. Your car dealer may be able to deactivate it if necessary, but check with your insurers first, as this may affect your cover.

Click here to view our range of car seats that are suitable from birth Britax Baby Safe Sleeper Lie Flat Car Seat

  • Carrycot with Fixing Kit

From birth up to 10kg (approximately 6 months)

This is a pram carrycot which has an integral harness designed to restrain the baby in the car. It is sold with a special fixing kit to secure it on the back seat of the car. Carrycots are useful for very young babies, allowing them to lie flat in the car and remain undisturbed as the carrycot is lifted from the car to the pram chassis or taken indoors.

The carrycot is anchored by adult seat belts from both sides, and therefore can only be used in the rear of the car. This can be a problem when there are other passengers, as carrycots take up a lot of the space on the back seat. A carrycot is not suitable for use in the car once the baby is beginning to sit up (at about six months, and weighing at least 9kg), and so you will also still need a car seat quite quickly. As agreed by the majority of experts, whilst carrycots comply with the current safety standards, they do not offer the same level of protection as rear facing infant car seats, as they are not designed to withstand impact forces.

Click here to view our range of carrycots

  • Two-way or Combination Car Seat (Combined Group 0, 0+, 1)

From birth up to 18kg (approximately 4 years)

This allows the baby to face rearward from birth to 13kg, and then face forwards up to the weight of 18kg. A two-way car seat is a cost-effective and versatile option, accommodating newborn babies up to the age of four years. The child is secured by an integral 5-point safety harness, and the seat is secured by the car seat belt. Whilst a two-way car seat is more versatile in the car, and longer lasting than the infant carrier, it is not designed to be taken in and out of the car all of the time, and is not suitable for use as a baby carrier.

Some models have adjustable seat reclining positions when forward facing, which aids the comfort and the safety of your child. As the two-way car seat is bigger than a standard infant carrier, most are equipped with extra protection, such as a head-hugger, which ensures newborns fit snugly in the seat, and provides extra support for the head and neck. Jane Racing Car Seat - Ebory

Safety: Please note that it is illegal to use a rear facing child car seat in the front of a vehicle protected by a frontal airbag, unless it has been manually or electronically de-activated, in which case you will need to check whether your car insurance is still valid.

Click here to view our range of two-way car seats

  • Travel System

A travel system comprises of a type of pushchair that is usually compatible with both a rear facing car seat and a carrycot. The car seat and carrycot can both 'click' in and out of the pushchair, helpfully allowing you to move your sleeping baby without waking him up. Buying a travel system is perhaps a more economical way of purchasing both a pushchair and separate car seat.

However, you will still need to purchase another car seat when your baby reaches 13kgs. It is important not to keep your baby in a car seat for long periods at a time. Increasing amounts of research stress the importance of lying flat for young babies, so that they are able to breathe, move and stretch efficiently to ensure proper spinal development. (For more information, see our section on lie-flat car seats). It is also essential to make sure that the car seat in the travel system fits your car safely and securely, if it does not then you will need to buy a pushchair and separate car seat instead.

A travel system includes a range of units, such as those listed below, which you buy depending on what you need at the time:

  • A collapsible chassis with fixed shopping tray or basket
  • A reclining pushchair or carrycot that locks onto the chassis
  • A first-stage infant carrier car seat with a carry handle that locks onto the chassis. The seat may also be used at home as a low baby seat with reclining or rocking options. However, remember it is important not to keep your baby in an infant carrier or car seat for a prolonged period in time, especially if the baby cannot lie flat in the seat
  • The car seat is usually suitable from birth to around 13kg, depending on the make. The pushchair is suitable from birth to around 3+ years
  • As the items are usually sold separately it helps to spread the cost over time.
  • The most important consideration is whether the car seat fits safely in your car. If you are not happy with the fit, do not buy it, however much you like the idea of the system Jane Slalom Pro Matrix Cup Travel System


Click here to view our range of travel systems


Back to car seats: the definitive guide homepage

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Buying Your Car Seat

Fitting Your Car Seat

This section includes information on the different types of car seat, explaining which seat is the right size for your child, what to look for, useful accessories and important things to remember before you buy. The car seat safety guide, sections on child car seats and the law, and car seats on test, provide the vital safety information that you need when buying your car seat. This section also includes information on fitting your seat, with a step-by-step guide to installing your car seat, a list of common problems and information on where to get help.

With most car seats in the UK being fitted incorrectly, it is crucial that you have access to the right information when selecting and fitting your child's seat. Our trained staff are all experienced car seat fitters and we have used their collective knowledge to put together this information. The golden rule is that it is absolutely essential that you get the fit checked if you are in any doubt at all.. Some manufacturers have car compatibility fitting guides on their websites, however it should be remembered that these are just guides and are not definitive lists. Not all car seats will fit all cars, and no car or car seat manufacturer can guarantee a secure and safe fit. All cars are different, even two of the same make and model can have different length seat belts!

It is therefore essential to ensure your car seat is fitted correctly, in order to secure your child's safety whilst travelling in the car. The showroom is based just outside of Wallingford and we are always happy to check the fitting of your car seat.

Three important points to remember about car seats are:

  • Always buy a car seat to suit your child's weight rather than height.
  • Not all car seats fit all cars; check the model you have chosen will fit your car. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
  • Always buy a car seat because it has safety features that improve fit and protection, not because it has attractive fabric choices or good value accessories.

Useful Links

Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Isofix Car Seat Maxi Cosi Pearl Isofix Car Seat Recaro Monza Seatfix Car Seat