Car Seat Safety Regulations
Just to make this world of car seats that little bit more confusing, there are currently two different regulations running alongside each other. In a nutshell, there is the group system which is categorised on weight, and then there is the i-Size system, which is done by height.
We know, not the easiest thing to get your head around. So let's take a closer look.
This regulation is also known as the R129 standard, but commonly referred to as i-Size. It uses the length of your child to help classify which car seat your little one should use. This guideline is a newer regulation and is meant to gradually be replacing the weight-based R44 standard explained below. Due to it's increased safety testing, better compatibility and extended rear facing features, we do tend to recommend you buy an i-Size car seat. Car seats that are manufactured with this standard will use the term i-Size.
We do advise to choose an i-Size car seat for their first and second stage car seats so your child can rear face for as long as possible, which studies show is the safest way to travel. Plus, i-Size car seats are fixed using an ISOFIX base for improved safety. Remember you must ensure you car is ISOFIX compatible before purchasing an i-Size car seat.
From birth to 75cm
These car seats tend to be of the infant carrier category we looked at earlier.
Approx. Birth -12 months
First + Second Stage
From birth to 105cm
These car seats are from birth to 105cm meaning they can last until your child is around 4 years old and keep them rear facing this whole time, which is the safest way to travel.
Approx. Birth - 4 years
The weight-based group standard is also known as R44, we know really catchy! Too keep it simple we will stick with calling it the weight-based group standard. Whatever you choose to call it, it's important to know what it actually means. This standard categorises car seats into groups according to your child's weight. Each group has an upper weight limit, when your baby reaches this limit it is time to move them up to the next stage.
When you are shopping around you may notice that some car seats fall into more than one of these categories. That's because many car seats can be adapted as your child grows to meet their changing safety needs.
These car seats will all be rear-facing, which is the safest way for your child to travel. They tend to fall into the infant carrier category.
Approx. Birth-12 months
These car seats are still from newborn but offer longer longevity of use and often adjust as your child grows.
Approx. Birth-4 years
Your child can use either rear or forward-facing seats with a harness or safety shield. Babies can move to a forward-facing car seat when they reach 9kg, however, it’s safer to keep them rear-facing until they reach the top weight for group 0+ car seats (13kg or around 15 months old).
Approx. 9 months-4 years
These car seats cover multiple stages thanks to their adaptable design. They convert and adapt with your child.
Approx. 9 months-12 years
A booster seat designed for older children with adjustable height, width and leg rest options.
Approx. 4 years-12 years
Whichever regulation you decide to purchase your car seat under, it is important to not rush to move onto the next group or stage of car seat. Make sure they reach the maximum limit detailed in each group or on the side of the seat before deciding to move them on. It's best and safer to make the most of each stage or group of car seat to make sure your child has reached the right development stage, remember a snug fit is good!
It is a legal requirement to rear face babies in R129 (i-Size) child seats until they are at least 15 months old. This is because this is the safest way for children to travel. Although you can turn them forward-facing in R44 (weight-based standard) seats a little earlier, child safety experts do not recommend it. For this reason we recommend that you try to keep your child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, ideally up to the age of four.
If you do decide to go for an i-Size car seat with an ISOFIX base, do make sure your car is compatible first. You can usually find all of this in the vehicles manual, or contact the manufacturer if you are struggling to find the information.
All information is correct as of April 2020