Car Seat Safety: Everything Parents Need To Know

What is i-Size?

Car seat safety is a big concern for parents; trying to make a well-informed decision with such a wealth of information and different factors to consider.

So we have rounded up some of the most frequently asked questions regarding child car-seat safety, so you can have peace of mind when travelling with your little ones.

What Is The Law On Car Seats (UK)?

UK law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat.

“This applies until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (whichever they reach first)."”

The Department of Transport says if a child is in your car under 14-years-old, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure they are either in a car seat or have a seatbelt on (once they reach 12).

So even if you are traveling with someone else’s children, it is your responsibility and not that of the parent to make sure they are buckled up.

What Car Seat Do I Need?

It is confusing trying to pick the correct car seat, there are different recommendations based on your child’s weight and age.


Law requires that babies must be rear facing in the car, this keeps their head, neck and spine aligned and offers maximum protection.

It is important to remember: never fit a rear-facing car seat on the front seat where there is an active airbag.

When Do They Grow Out Of This?

There are two types of seats for newborns, either infant or combination.

Good Eat Safety says most infant seats have a limit of 13kg, so they either outgrow it at this weight or when the top of their head is level with the top of the seat. Their legs can hang over the edge without affecting safety.

Combination seats are outgrown at 18kg or when the child’s eyes are level with the top of the seat (they last much longer than infant seats).


According to the UK government website, your child has to be rear-facing until they are 15-months-old. Your child can use a forward-facing seat after this time, but you are permitted to keep using rear-facing if you prefer to do so.

When Do They Grow Out Of This?

Your child will need to be in a seat with a five-point harness (rather than a child booster seat) until they are 18kg.


Current laws state that children weighing as little as 15kg can travel in a backless booster seat (a booster allows the adult seatbelt to properly fit your child).

However new laws, to be actioned in December 2016, state that backless booster seats are now only approved for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg.

Lisa Galliers, Which? Child car seat expert, said: “A decent high-backed booster seat provides better protection in a front crash, as they’re designed to guide the adult seat-belt across the child’s body properly.”

When Do They Grow Out Of This?

Your child needs to be in an appropriate car seat until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years old (whichever they reach first).

Then they need to be wearing a seatbelt at all times.

Sally Anscombe via Getty Images

What Is i-Size?

You might have heard the phrase “i-Size” being used in conversations about car seat safety.

i-Size is a new European car seat safety standard that was introduced in July 2013, as part of updates to regulations that had been in place since the 1980s and is being phased in over the course of five years.

The new standards require that children are rear-facing until they are 15 months old (previously this was much younger) and focuses on height as a better measurement than weight for your child car seat.

My Child Is Disabled, Are The Rules Different?

The UK government website says that same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions, but they can use a disabled person’s seat belt or a child restraint designed for their needs.

A doctor can issue an exemption certificate if a child is unable to use a restraint or seat belt because of their condition.

Can I Buy Any Car Seat?

Only EU-approved child car seats (marked with a capital ‘E’ in a circle) can be used in the UK.

Good Egg Safety exclusively told The Huffington Post UK: “It is very important for parents to understand that child car seats do not fit in all cars.”

So it is important to consult the specific model of seat you are choosing (see the manual) to see if you’re picking the right style for your vehicle.

How Do I Fit A Car Seat?

Most reputable shops will have someone who is able to help you fix the car seat in your car, and show you how to remove it, so always ask for help when you make your purchase.

If you are fitting it yourself at home it is important to read the manual for your individual model and car.

Remember: you must also not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats or on the passenger seat with an active airbag.

Anything Else To Remember?

It isn’t just about getting the correct seat and fitting it properly, but making sure your child is strapped in correctly too.

This sounds obvious, but many parents don’t know about the dangers of your child wearing thick clothes while strapped in.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), told HuffPost UK Parents: “Thick clothing can prevent a child car seat harness fitting the child properly.”

“Parents should check this on every journey; if more than two fingers can fit between the child’s chest and the harness, it is too loose.”

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