Home 9 BABY & TODDLER 9 Am I Using The Correct Car Seat?
Nuna Pipa Urban Car Seat

Am I Using The Correct Car Seat?

April 14, 2023

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s leading road safety charity, is on a mission to provide car seat advice to ensure that you are using the correct car seat for your child.

The UK law states that all children must use a suitable restraint in the car until the age of 12 or 135cm tall. This all helps to keep your children safe on every journey whichever comes first. All car seats sold in the UK must undergo a certain level of testing to be legally sold. These are referred to as R44.04 and R129 (i-size). R44 was introduced in the 1980’s and was there to ensure all car seats met the same standards. There were amendments to this regulation over the years. The most recent being in 2005 although very little was changed from the original. 

Car seats are subjected to frontal impact at 31mph and rear impact at 18mph. All seats are sold based on the child’s weight alone. This means forward facing is possible for a child weighing a minimum of 9kg. In some cases can be as young as 6 months old.

Seats are split into groups

The groups indicate different stages of use with approximate ages. Often children are moved up to the next stage too early. Many parents and carers may find it a little daunting when looking at car seats. Choosing the right seat from the wide variety and then fitting the car seat correctly can feel like a lot of pressure.

What is R129?

The introduction of R129 in 2013 was set out to raise the standards of child seats by improving the protection of the head and neck. This was introduced by adding a side impact test at 15mph and basing the usage of the seat predominantly on the child’s age and height. This makes it mandatory to rear face until a minimum of 15 months old to ensure the child is further developed. It’s useful to know that many brands will test over and above the minimum standard. This ensures their seats will still perform well in more ‘real life’ situations.

What do you need to know when using a carseat?

All drivers are required to use a rear facing harnessed seat from birth. This will often be an infant carrier which are popular due to their compact size. They offer a snug support and tailored positioning for our smallest babies and will last up to around 15 months old, depending on height and weight. It’s recommended that all carers follow the safe practise of not keeping young babies under 6 weeks old in a car seat for more than 30 minutes without a short break and older babies 2 hours.

After this stage you would then generally move onto a larger toddler seat. These all have a 5-point harness which can allow them to stay harnessed up to 25kg and at least 4 years old. Many of these seats have features such as adjustable recline and legroom with some offering a rotating function making it convenient when placing your child in their car seat.

What are the requirements for a child 4 years

After this stage, based on your child’s age, weight, height and maturity, you can move onto a high back booster secured by the vehicle seat belt. These can have different safety features. Their main purpose is to raise the child up so the seat belt fits correctly over the chest and pelvis. They also provide head and body protection and are suitable until a max height of 150cm, so should be used for as long as possible.   

Many brands offer ‘fit lists’ on their websites to know what’s approved. Many retailers also offer a test fit service to assess the different options in practise. This service is also useful if you need to fit multiple seats in, you don’t always need a large car to do this, but it does depend on certain factors.

To keep your child as safe as possible when travelling in the car, you should use the best option available to you and only changing it when they’re physically outgrown. This is safer than upgrading based on the minimum requirements of the next stage. Equally, it’s important to know the limits of your current seat to ensure you don’t exceed the weight or height limit. Doing so will make the seat unsafe to use and may affect the crash performance. Additionally, by keeping your child rear facing until a minimum of 4 years old will significantly reduce their risk of serious injury. 

Local retailers should be able to assist with any queries as well as online videos. Check social media forums and live chats from experts. Also check information from the brands themselves to ensure you make your child’s safety in the car your number one priority.

Useful tips for all parents and carers
  • Be aware of the weight and/or height limits of the seat you’re using. Any age indicated on the product description is very much a guide and will vary with each child
  • Consult your child’s growth centile to help guide you when buying a new seat. Ensure it will last for as long as you need it to
  • Research the different brands available and utilise independent testing results such as ADAC
  • Read the manual before using the seat to make sure you have followed the correct installation process
  • Ensure the harness is at the correct height. It should be level or slightly below the child’s shoulders when rear facing. Level or slightly above shoulders if forward facing. If this is incorrect, it could make it easier for the child to wriggle out
  • Check harness tension. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness once it’s tightened fully
  • Avoid padded or bulky layers as these will prevent the harness fitting snugly. Bulky hoods can also cause the head to be pushed forward so it is not fully protected. Padded and slippery jackets should also be avoided. The harness may not grip the fabric. All these can contribute to overheating too
  • Avoid having loose objects in the car. This includes heavy toys, cups and bottles and tablets. They can become a projectile in a collision, risking serious injury.
  • Don’t be tempted to move the next stage too early. Each stage is designed to offer optimum protection for the child’s size and development. Use it until they reach the limits of the seat.



  1. Why are Extended Rear Facing Car Seats Important? - […] parents want to ensure their children are in the correct car seat, but more and more parents are actively…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read Next

Related Posts

Pushchair Hub Advert
Podcast advert
Shop Glow Dreaming Now

Latest News