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What Should You Look For When Buying A Child Car Seat: The Age Or The Weight Of The Child?
Children’s car seats are offered in large numbers in the relevant stores. The seats are usually classified according to weight and age. However, depending on their stature and disposition, some children weigh only a little, while others are already heavier. The child’s car seat should be tailored precisely to this. This means that the purchase should not be based on the age of the child, but on its actual body weight.
Manufacturers distinguish between five standard groups:
- Size class 0: up to 10 kilos. Age: 0-9 months
- Sizeclass 0+: up to 13 kilos. Age: 0-2 years
- Size class 1: 9-18 kilos. Age: 8 months to approx. 5 years
- Sizeclass 2: 15-25 kilos. Age: 3.5 to 7 years
- Sizeclass 3: 22-36 kilos. Age: 4 to 12 years
In addition to the standard groups, there are other distinguishing features that are based on the respective requirements of the buyer: seats with adjustable seating or reclining positions are recommended, for example, if the child is to sleep comfortably in the car on longer journeys.
Seats that “grow” with the child by removing individual parts and upgrading them with headrests and backrests are cost-saving. But they are somewhat expensive. Parents should ask themselves before buying whether they really want to use the same seat for 10 years.
Some seats are only suitable for fastening with a three-point belt.
Fastening the seat to the center seat in the back seat is therefore definitely out of the question.
The belt must be long enough to hold the seat securely in place.
During installation, care should be taken to ensure that the seat holds correctly and does not wobble back and forth on an upholstery bulge.
Systems such as the Opelfix or Isofix seat from Audi/VW are designed differently.
Here, a linkage is firmly connected to the car body, into which the seat is simply clicked. The inconvenience of fastening the seat belt is eliminated.
However, these seats only fit certain types of vehicles, which must also be equipped with an appropriate mount.
Most child seats last at least ten years. So siblings can continue to use the older child’s seat.
The Test Seat
The child should find comfortable support, not be able to slide back and forth, but also not feel constricted. The straps must always be pulled tight, otherwise the seat will not offer any real safety. The child’s clothing also plays a role: thick winter clothes have a different volume than thin summer T-shirts.
So the harness length should also be able to be adjusted to suit the clothing in question.
The Safest Place For Children
The safest place is at the back in the middle, because the crumple zone to the sides is greatest here. However, you can only fit a child seat there that can be buckled with a lap belt.
If this is not possible with your child car seat, place the child on the right rear seat side. There, the driver can not only see them better, but also let them out comfortably and safely on the sidewalk side.
It’s more difficult with older children who are merely sitting on a seat riser and are secured with the three-point seat belt. Particularly problematic: they fall asleep and their head slides to the side as a result. The risk of injury in the event of a collision is then particularly high.
Special back and head restraints are now available that significantly improve lateral support and belt guidance. This is a worthwhile purchase and one that can be expressly recommended.
Can Children Be Prevented From Unbuckling On Their Own?
Newer seats have a release resistor that prevents small children in particular from unbuckling on their own and crawling around the car while driving.
However, you should get your child used to staying in the car seat for every ride from the beginning. Then it will take the seat and seat belt for granted.
So-called “reboard systems” are seats that are installed against the direction of travel. This means that the child is facing backward while the car is moving. Reboard systems are the safest car seats for children up to two years of age. This is because at this age the child’s head is still disproportionately heavy in relation to the body, and in the event of an accident (frontal impact) the spine would be subjected to extreme stress. The risk of injury is then particularly high.
In addition to the rear seat, reboard systems can also be installed on the front passenger seat. But beware of cars with a front passenger airbag: this would put the baby in great danger in the event of an accident. In that case, the airbag will throw the child against the backrest with great force. For this reason, it is prohibited by law to drive with these systems and activated airbag.
Nevertheless, if you do not want to do without reboard systems in the front, you must switch off the airbag. For older children, reboard systems are only recommended with reservations. This is because their legs are already too long for this car seat and the seat belts are too short.