5 Things to Consider When Buying a Car Seat

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Car seats. We know our little ones need one, but with so many options, how do we know we are choosing the right one? With so many options at so many different price points, it’s no wonder that a third of children are not in appropriate car seats, and as many as 74% are not in the safest restraints.

With car accidents being the number one killer of children, being forewarned is being forearmed.

There are some things you need to take into consideration when purchasing a car seat.

1.  What group size are you looking for?

There are four main group sizes: Group 0/0+, 1, 2, and 3.  Which group you need depends on the age, size and weight of your child.  A lot of car seats have slight variation, so always check the small print, and always adhere to the limits.

2.  How does the seat secure?

Cars manufactured after 2004 come with Isofix as standard.  This is a connector system which improves both the ease and the safety of the installation.  Some cars pre-2004 also have Isofix but its very important to check.  (In America, this is also called the Latch system.  You can find more information about this on Cars.com.)  Others use the car’s seatbelt.  These are safe, but are generally more cumbersome and have a much larger margin for human error.

Also, do you know how to adjust the fittings properly?  This may seem a silly thing to consider, but the positioning of the straps, in particular, is important to the safety of the seat, and this may need a few adjustments over time.  It is therefore essential that you fully understand the requirements of your seat for your child.

3.  Will the seat fit?

Not every car seat is suitable for every car, so it’s important that you buy from a retailer that will test this out in advance to ensure that it will install safely and correctly.

4.  How long will it last?

Some car seats cover more than one group, so will last you longer.  We use the Joie every stage which is a group 0-3 meaning we should never need to purchase another car seat if we don’t have an accident.  It is also extended rear facing – a safety feature that is not heavily promoted in the UK.    Car seats are a legal requirement in the UK until 12, so even if you buy one per group size, that’s four car seats you need to purchase in your child’s life.

5.  What is the safety rating for the car seat?

Research, research, research.  Not all car seats are created equal, and paying more does not necessarily mean that the seat is safer.  Check out reviews of the seats from various places, and ask lots of questions.  Always make sure that your chosen car seat is safe – after all, that is why you are buying one.


I hope that this guide has given you some things to consider when looking into your car seat purchase.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a brilliant starting point for considering your child’s safety when out and about.


This was a collaborative post with Cars.com.


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