Child seat groups – overview of applicable EU standards
Sooner or later, almost every family is faced with the choice of the right child seat for their offspring. Standard groups are intended to provide guidance in choosing the right seat. Currently, the European test standards ECE R44-04 and ECE R129 (i-size) are valid in parallel in Germany. This causes confusion and uncertainty among many parents. We explain the standards and their meaning here: `comparison of testing standards for child seats ECE 44 and i-size’. The different regulations lead to the fact that there are two different classifications for child seats.
Child seat groups according to ECE R44-04
Most child seats currently sold in germany have been approved according to the european safety standard ECE R44-04. According to this standard, child seats are divided into groups according to the weight of the child.
- Group 0+: from birth to 13 kg
- Group 19-18 kg
- Group 215-25 kg
- Group 3: 22- 36 kg
Manufacturers such as cybex also offer cross-group seats. So the mixed groups 0+/1, 0+/1/2, 1/2/3 and 2/3 have been established. Group 0+/1 are reboarder seats in which children from 0-18kg find place. These are the seats in which your child will ride the longest in a rear-facing position. Group 1/2/3 seats are seats that follow the infant carrier and can be used until the end of the car seat period. They are usually equipped with a catch body which is later omitted. Group 2/3 can be used from 15kg until the end of the car seat period.
- Group 0+/1 : from birth to 18 kg
- Group 0+/1/2 : from birth up to 25 kg
Group 0/0+ – the baby seat
Child seats in this group are also called baby seats and are suitable from birth onwards. Baby seats may only be used against the direction of travel and are only allowed on the passenger seat when the passenger airbag is switched off.
Children up to 9 kg must always be transported against the direction of travel without exception. Since it is advisable to do this as long as possible, we advise to use a seat of group 0+ (up to 13kg).
All baby seats in our store correspond to group 0+:
Group 1 – the child seat
In group 1 you will find what is classically understood by the term child seat. They are approved from 9 to 18 kg, which roughly corresponds to an age of 9 months to four years. As already mentioned, we recommend you to transport your child as long as possible in the infant carrier and therefore backwards. The neck muscles of babies are still very weak. This means that they are much less able to absorb the forces of a frontal impact and serious injuries can occur. Your child is secured in group 1 seats either with a harness belt or with a safety harness.
Group 2 and group 3 – the following seats
Follow-on seats are booster seats with and without backrest in which the child is secured with the 3-point belt of the vehicle. To move into this group your child must weigh at least 15kg, which is approximately 3.5/4 years old. In our opinion, pure booster seats without backrests offer only insufficient protection and we strongly advise against their use. A backrest provides adequate side impact protection and above all the necessary protection for the child’s head. This fact leads to the fact that there are hardly any pure booster seats left on the market.
Overview of all child seats according to R44-04 in our store
Child seats according to ECE R129 (i-size)
According to the new i-size standard, child seats are classified according to body size. This classification is made by the manufacturer and is indicated on the child seat. During the approval process, it is checked whether the seat offers sufficient protection in the entire specified size range. This means that in the future there will be no division into rigid child seat groups but for a size range determined by the manufacturer.
So far, however, the following divisions have been established on the market:
- From birth to 75cm (infant carriers)
- From birth up to 105cm (reboarder or swivel seats)
- From 60cm to 105cm
- from 100cm to 150cm
The introduction of the i-size standard takes place in 3 phases, 2 of which have already come into force.
- Stage 1: child car seats from birth to 105cm.
- Phase 2: booster seats for children from 100 to 150cm
I-size phase 1
Rear-facing up to 15 months: the past has shown that parents often switch too early from the infant carrier to the next child seat. It has been proven that the neck muscles of children in the first 15 months are not sufficiently developed to adequately support the relatively large and heavy head in a frontal impact. This can cause serious neck and head injuries in the event of an accident. The i-size standard requires that children be restrained until they are 15 years old. The child has to be transported backwards during the first months of life.
Isofix requirement: even before the introduction of the i-size regulation, the increased safety of using ISOFIX systems was known. ISOFIX anchors connect the seat or the base to which the seat is attached to the body of the car. It also prevents mis-installation such as a belt that is not tightened enough. For i-size child seats up to 105cm is an ISOFIX obligation.
I-size phase 2
Fixed backrest: under phase 2 i-size regulations, infant car seat booster seats must have a fixed non-removable backrest. this is indispensable for sufficient protection for head and body, especially in case of a side crash.
No weight restriction: unlike phase 1 seats, phase 2 seats do not have a maximum weight restriction for use despite the isofix arms. The reason for this is that in the event of a collision, the vehicle seat belt absorbs the forces and the isofix attachment provides additional stability.