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What to Look For in car seats

The most important thing to look for in a car seat is a safe and secure fit. Attractive fabric choices or good value accessories are absolutely useless if your car seat fails to provide the essential protection that your child needs when travelling in the car.

Once you are completely certain that a car seat fits your car safely and securely, here are some other key safety features to look for:

  • 5-point safety harness which fits snugly - baby and younger children's car seats come with an integral, adjustable safety harness. It needs to fit very snugly over the shoulders to meet the buckle coming up between the legs.
  • One-pull harness - the easier all straps on a car seat are to adjust, the more likely you are to fit it correctly. Many harnesses are now designed to adjust by quickly and easily pulling one single adjuster strap until the harness is a snug fit.
  • Tamper-proof buckle - this is coloured red to make it easy to spot and release in an emergency by an adult, but designed to be difficult for young fingers to undo. If your baby shows interest in touching the buckle be firm and say no from the start.
  • Padding - all baby and child car seats should be well padded for both comfort and added protection. The shell should be sturdy (though it may be lightweight) and contoured.
  • Strap covers - some car seats have padded sleeves around the harness straps and a padded cushion under the buckle for extra comfort; if not already fitted, these are available as individual items from accessory companies.
  • Weight - if you are going to be using it with different cars or carrying your baby in it, a lighter model may be best.
  • Seat covers - many car seat covers are removable for machine washing; most manufacturers also supply spares.
  • Choice of positions - forward facing seats (from 9kg up) may have the option to recline or lie flat, which is a bonus if you want your baby to sleep on longer trips.
  • Instructions - some car seat instructions are excellent, but most are complex; have a look at the instructions in the shop before buying and ask the retailer to explain anything that isn't clear.
  • Installation - most car seats need an adult lap and diagonal belt to secure them, although some forward facing car seats can be secured with just the lap belt in the middle of the back seat, which is the safest place and useful if you have two or more older children. Some manufacturers sell fixing kits for child car seats that cannot be fitted using a car's existing belts - the big advantage of these is that you can fix the seat in the middle of the back seat. If you need to buy a fixing kit, choose one made by the manufacturer of your car seat, if available. If your car has ISOFIX points you will not need to use the seatbelts to secure it. However, some ISOFIX seats can still be installed using the car seat belts, which could be useful if you are using the car seat in more than one car.

Besafe Izi Go Car Seat Plus Isofix baseKiddy Guardian Fix Pro Car SeatRecaro Young Sport car Seat


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Back to car seats: the definitive guide homepage



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