Juhu! Go on vacation by car! Or just in the next supermarket. For toddlers, driving in a car is still a real adventure at first. So that your little ones reach their destination safely and nothing happens, child seats are a must. But the selection is large and questions such as: Which child seat is the safest for my child? How can I recognize a safe child car seat? And how to fix it in the car?
Parents who stand before buying a child seat or baby seat have to consider a few things. It is not only important to find a safe, age-appropriate child seat, it also has to be properly attached and ultimately also to the child.
Child seat requirement: child seats are actually necessary?
In Germany, the legal situation is clear: children are only allowed to travel in the car with a suitable restraint system. The child seat requirement applies to children up to 12 years or less than 150 cm. If this is not complied with, a control can result in a fine of up to € 70 plus one point in Flensburg. It is the driver’s duty to transport children only in suitable child seats.
Note: Child seats are also mandatory in taxis and buses. Therefore, clarify beforehand whether suitable child seats are available or bring your own.
According to the law, the minimum requirement for child seats is ECE-NORM R44 / 04. That means, that the product has successfully passed a statutory test and a child seat crash test. This test sticker is either attached to the seat as an orange sticker or stamped directly into it. Child seats with the older test sticker of the ECE 44/03 standard are still considered sufficient by the legislator, but are no longer up to date with regard to the current regulations for child seats and should therefore be avoided.
Too often, child safety is neglected in everyday life. On my blog you will find everything you need to know about the topic.
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What regulations are there??
The latest child seat regulation is the test standard i-Size (ECE-R129), which prescribes even more safety criteria for child seats. This standard applies in parallel to ECE-NORM R44 / 04. The safety advantage of child seats with ECE-R129 norm is that they also set safety standards for accidents with side impact. Child seats with this standard can only be attached with an Isofix attachment. Isofix has been standard in all new cars since 2013. In contrast to the ECE-NORM R44 / 04, the seating groups are divided according to the size of the child and no longer according to weight.
Important: The ECE test standards only certify that the approved child seats meet a minimum requirement. What security and handling, there are significant quality differences between the child car seats. It is best to get an overview with current product tests.
Classification of child seats according to ECE R 44/04
With this standard, child seats are divided into weight classes. Depending on how heavy your little ones are, a certain child seat group can be considered. There are currently 5 groups on the market:
- »Group 0/0 + (baby car seats): For toddlers from 0-13 kg or up to 15 months
- »Group 0/1: Infants from 0-18 kg or up to 3 years
- »Group 1: Infants between 9-18 kg or from 9 months to 3 years
- »Group 1/2/3: Children between 9-36 kg or from 9 months to 12 years
- »Group 2/3: Children between 15-36 kg or from 3 to 12 years
Note: Even if the ECE sticker has a maximum weight of 36 kg, these child seats can also be used by children over 36 kg. This limitation came about because the heaviest child test dummy weighs 36 kg during these safety tests.
Classification of child seats according to ECE R 129 (i-Size)
The new standard ECE R 129, introduced since 2013, which currently applies in addition to the ECE-NORM R44 / 04, divides the child seats into 6 classes. A distinction is made according to the size of the child:
- Class Q 0: For babies from birth to 60 cm
- Class Q 1: For toddlers between 60-75 cm
- Class Q 1.5: For toddlers between 75-87 cm
- Class Q 3: For toddlers between 87-105 cm
- Class Q 6: for children between 105-125 cm
- Class Q 10: for children from 125 cm
Note: The spine in babies is not yet sufficiently stable. Therefore they should never be longer than 30 min. sit in the baby seat so as not to damage the spine.
According to the i-Size regulation, all child seats for children up to 15 months must be fitted against the direction of travel. Even after that, it is recommended to put the children in one Reboarder to be set, which is also mounted against the direction of travel. This protects your little one’s cervical spine in the event of an impact, since the impact force is distributed over the entire spine, instead of just straining the neck muscles. It is only from about 4 years that the neck muscles have developed to such an extent that they can also cope with greater loads such as an impact.
Note: Don’t put your little one in the next larger child seat too soon. As a rule of thumb, only switch from the baby seat to a child seat if the head protrudes beyond the edge of the baby seat. A change is necessary for child seats if the shoulders protrude more than 2 cm above the top opening of the shoulder straps when the headrest is in the highest position. It is important that the back of the head is always well protected by the head cushion of the child seat.
Attachment of the different child seat types
The safest place for a child seat is that middle place in the back seat. Nevertheless, it may sometimes be that the seat belt is not sufficient for fastening or that there is no Isofix device. Then the right rear seat is a safe alternative.
Baby car seats the Group 0/0 + and 0/1 are always mounted against the direction of travel. They are secured either on an Isofix base or using a three-point belt. The Isofix system is a rigid connection between the vehicle body and the child seat. Isofix is the abbreviation for International Standard Organization for Fixation. Some cars are equipped with this device ex works, others can be retrofitted. It should also be borne in mind that not all Isofix child seats fit into all Isofix devices. There are differences depending on the car model. Also, some Isofix child seats cannot be attached with the seat belt variant, which makes use in cars without Isofix impossible. However, the advantage of this system is that it is easy to use, which prevents incorrect installation of the child seat.
For child seats the Group 1 there are a variety of fastening systems on the market. For example, fastenings using a five-point belt, which is also called a harness system due to its appearance, are popular. There are also models with an impact shield / impact table or also securing using the vehicle’s three-point belt or with Isofix attachment. While in group 1 most child seats are still attached against the direction of travel, in groups 1/2/3 and 2/3 all child seats are attached with the three-point belt of the car in the direction of travel.
Important: If a baby car seat is mounted on the front of the front passenger seat, the airbag must always be switched off, as this can cause life-threatening injuries to the baby in an accident.
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