Advice for child car seat safety

For the key facts on keeping your children safe, read our child car seat safety tips…

1. Know the law

It's a legal requirement that all children under 12 years old or 135cms tall have the correct child car seat. Apart from the safety risks of not having the right seat, you could also be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

2. Don't use a rear-facing seat if there's an airbag

Most modern cars have airbags to protect adult passengers, but airbags can be fatal to children in safety seats. Never use a rear-facing child seat in a seat with an active airbag. If possible, place the child safety seat in the back of the car.

3. Do your research before you buy

Do some research before you buy your child's car seat and think about how you'll use it. If you'll be taking the seat out of the car regularly look for a lightweight one. Most importantly make sure it fits your car and your child. Ideally try before you buy as many retailers will not accept returns.

4. Avoid buying a second-hand car seat

Second-hand car seats are not recommended unless you're certain of their history. The child seat may have been weakened in an accident, might not meet the current UN ECE 44.03 safety standards, or could be incomplete or missing fitting instructions.

5. Choose the right size for your child

Car seats are grouped according to the weight of your child.Group 0 and 0+ car seats are for birth up to 13kg and Group I car seats are for children who weigh 9-18kg. Use a group II or III booster seat for children between 15-36kg.

6. Use a rear-facing seat for babies

Your baby's first car seat will be rear-facing which is safer and provides the best protection. It's best to use this seat for as long as possible and only change to a new car seat when your baby reaches the maximum weight or their head is higher than the top of the seat.

7. Don't forget to buckle up

Don't forget to adjust and fasten the harness each time your child gets in it to their car seat. Clip the buckle closed and tighten the straps to ensure a snug fit.

8. Look for IsoFix mounting points

If you have a relatively new car it may be fitted with IsoFix mounting points. This allows a compatible car seat to be easily and securely mounted without having to use a seat belt to secure it.

9. Fit the child seat correctly

Before going on a journey with your new car seat check you know how to fit it correctly. Test that it's fitted securely and that the seatbelt is taut. Keep the instructions in the car and take a few minutes extra each time you go anywhere in your car to check that your child's safety seat is securely fitted.

10. Don't get distracted

Focus on the road ahead and try not to get distracted by what your children are up to. Fit a baby view mirror so you can keep them in your sight without your eyes leaving the road.