20/09/2009 05:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

The Truth About Child Car Seats

There's no excuse to compromise on safety when you're driving with children, especially now that Asda have launched a safety seat which retails at only £25. The company says the Graco Junior Maxi car seat, which is available in stores and online from here, is the best value available on the market.

The car seat has been fully safety tested to strict EU standards and comes with an integrated headrest to always ensure correct position of the seat belt. It has a height adjustable back rest, adjustable armrests, a removable and machine washable cover and cup holders on each side. Plus it can be converted into a booster seat and will last for at least 4 years.

Most parents know by now that it's illegal to transport children in a car without adequate safety seats. But beyond that, what else do we know?

Here's an expert guide to the truth about children's car seats from Liat Hughes Joshi, co-author of What to Buy For Your Baby: Choosing the Equipment Right for You:

Liat says:

  • It's weight not age that should determine when you move your child up to the next stage car seat.
  • It's usually safer to keep them in the earlier stage seat for as long as possible - so switch them just before they reach the maximum safe weight for their existing car seat, rather than when they reach the minimum weight for the next stage. This is particularly important with Group 0+ baby seats which are rear-facing as this position is safer than facing forward for younger babies.
  • The middle of the rear seat is generally considered the safest position in the car for a child car seat.
  • It's illegal for a baby to travel in the front passenger seat with an active airbag - it's really dangerous. In some newer cars you can switch the airbag off temporarily but even so, your child will still be safer in the back.
  • Steer clear of child seats which only use the adult seat belt rather than a harness for under 4's - they're not as safe.
  • Buying a secondhand car seat isn't recommended - if a car seat has been in an accident, even a minor one, it could compromise its safety (this is why some insurance companies will replace your child's car seat after an accident - so it's not just a view put out there by car seat manufacturers looking to improve sales!)
  • Not all child seats fit correctly in all cars - check with the retailer or manufacturer before buying. Some manufacturers have compatibility lists on their websites.

Liat feels that the Asda seat could be a good buy:

"This is from a well-respected manufacturer and the price is certainly very competitive. The fact that it's a proper child seat with a back rather than just a booster cushion is an advantage because it has guides to ensure the diagonal belt is positioned correctly over a child's shoulder and will provide some protection at the sides.

However, it doesn't look like it would offer as much side impact protection as some of the more expensive Group 2/3 seats on the market - these tend to have considerably deeper side 'wings' so overall, I'd say this is more suited to occasional use, e.g. in the grandparents' car, than everyday.

A group 2/3 car seat will be in use from when your child is four until they're about 11, so it's worth investing in the best car seat you can afford to."

What to Buy for Your Baby: Choosing the Equipment That's Right for You by Liat Hughes Joshi and Caroline Cosgrove is available here from Amazon