Which car seat is right for me?
Car seats are a ‘minefield’!! At Little Peas, we believe that nothing beats talking face-to-face with a fully trained car seat expert in order to establish which car seat is right for you and your little one. We are available 7 days a week to help with your car seat queries, to help you understand the regulations or even just to check if your seat is correctly fitted. We care more that your child is safe in their car seat than about making a sale – you will find testimony to this in our reviews – we regularly advise ‘sticking’ with the car seat you’re using for longer and making the most use out of it.
We do know though, that sometimes it’s not possible to come into see us – we hope that our online guide will help you to narrow down your choice or style of seat. At Little Peas, we have access to an unrivalled selection of Extended Rear Facing (ERF) car seats.
We currently work with Axkid, BeSafe, Cybex, Diono, GB (Good Baby), Joie, Maxicosi, Nuna as well as other manufacturers like BabyStyle, Silver Cross and Uppababy, who also manufacture a variety of car seats. We are also in advanced discussions with Britax and except to be on-board together in the near future.
Categories of car seats
There were traditionally three categories of car seat groups, although this is always evolving and there are now many combination seats that span, or cross-over the various categories. As a rough guide, the main car seat categories are as follows:
- Group 0+
- Group 1
- Group 2/3
We will hopefully simplify the jargon to explain some of the cross over options, the laws, changes and some myths.
This is also known as an infant carrier.
It’s typically the car seat you would carry the baby home from the hospital in from birth and/or attach to your prams chassis to make it a travel system. You’ll use this type of seat for normally around a year, depending on your childs size, height and weight. The infant carrier will always be in a rear-facing position. Most infant carriers have the option to either seatbelt into position or to use an isofix base to secure them in your vehicle. (Not all vehicles have an isofix option, but most modern – 2007 onwards do).
The Group 1 seat is the seat that you would use for your child when they’re around the age of 1-4 years old.
It sits a bit more upright than the infant carrier, and normally has the ability to recline for comfort. Some seats in this category will forward face only, some will rearward face only and some will do both.
Most group 1 car seats will accommodate a child up to around 18kg, although some will be as much as 19kg. There are a variety of seats that will either seatbelt into position, or isofix – some will also make use of the isofix base that your group 0+ seat (infant carrier) used.
The purchase of your group 1 seat is possibly the most complex seat to select, as you’ll need to decide upon a variety of options –
- Do you want to rear face for longer?
- Do you want a seat that swivels/rotates?
- Or, would you like a seat that isn’t just a group 1, but could also be a combination seat?
We are seeing the biggest change in buyer behaviour in this category, as more and more people opt to rear-face their child through the group 1 phase and often beyond. (Extended Rear Facing)
Extended Rear Facing
ERF is continuing to rear face your little one in a seat beyond the capacity of an infant carrier. This may be a group 1 seat, a combination seat, or a specialist car seat. ERF seats provide the safest position for your child to travel in. The safety in these seats is attained because; the most serious crash you could be in typically, is one where the car is impacted at the front. In an ERF seat, the child essentially travels backwards into the seat – often this movement is minimal, and the trauma is spread across the back and neck, rather than being predominantly focussed into the neck, as is the case in a forward facing seat. For this reason, scientific studies have proven that rear-facing is five times safer than forward facing. It’s not the law that you have to rear face for longer at this point in time – it’s just the safest way to travel.
This is typically a forward facing only seat and combines the categories that of group 1 onwards, to the end of the time that you need a car seat.
The group 1 part would normally be a forward facing harnessed seat to approximately 18kg. At that point, you would remove or conceal the harness and use the seat as a group 2/3 car seat, where the cars own seatbelt holds the child in place until the child outgrows the seat – normally 36kg.
Often referred to as a High Back Booster, this is typically the last car seat you’ll need and normally used from the age of around 4/5 through to up to around 12 years old.
These may be fixed to the car with isofix, or just held in place by the child in the seat. The child will be restrained by the cars own seatbelt in a High Back Booster, so must be mature enough to sit in position with the belt over their shoulder. These are typically not recommended for children under 4, and we’d recommend not removing the back (to just make it a booster cushion) as this removes the protective element around the head and torso.