One of the questions that I get asked the most by new parents is how will they get baby home from hospital? This will be baby's first journey home, so understandably it can be a bit scary for new mums and dads! And the legal scenario concerning transporting your children by car beyond that first journey has grown more complex since September 2006. The law states that any child under the age of 12 years, or 135cm in height, has to be in an appropriate car seat – but what's appropriate?
We stock a wide range of car seats to cover all ages, from birth up to a child weighing 36kg, and we'll be happy to advise you. Our in-depth training is constantly updated to keep up with changing laws and products, so that you can be sure we're giving you current advice about travelling safely with your baby at all times.
It's becoming increasingly popular for parents to have a car seat that's compatible with their pram so they have a complete travel system.
For convenience, the Silver Cross Ventura Plus infant carrier is lightweight and easy to take from car to home, in a short taxi journey, or into restaurants and other public places. It's suitable from birth to approximately 13kg, and is rear-facing as babies should travel in that position from birth. It comes with a head support, hood and detachable padded apron, great for those cold winter months, and it clicks easily on to the Silver Cross Sleepover Elegance , Linear chassis and 3D Classic chassis without the need of any additional attachments, turning them into travel systems.
Maxi-Cosi car seats are also very popular not just because of their high quality products, but because their stage 0+ seats are compatible with a large range of different prams including selected iCandy, Nuna, Uppababy, Bugaboo, Quinny, Mountain Buggy, Phil & Teds, Silver Cross, Baby Jogger, and Babyzen models, giving you plenty of choice and flexibility.
It's important to remember that it's against the law to have a rear-facing seat on the front passenger seat with an active airbag. Generally, the best position for a car seat is the left hand side of the car on the back seat. This helps when taking baby out as you'll be next to the pavement.
If you're concerned about not being able to see baby whilst you're driving, then you can use a baby view mirror. When this is positioned on the car's windscreen, you'll be able to see them (and they can see you!).
To offer the child maximum protection in an accident the seat must be appropriate for the child's age and weight. For stage 0+, a baby has only outgrown this stage when they reach 13kg, or their head is level with the top of the seat. Sometimes parents think that as soon as baby's feet touch the seat that their carrier is placed on, it's time to go forward facing - this isn't the case.
Sometimes I find that when there's a younger sibling needing to move into the stage 1 seat, parents will opt to put the older child straight onto a stage 2/3 seat – which they may not be ready for. There's a seat that will cover all bases, which is the Britax Evolva 123 with its integral harness, used until the child reaches 15kg, when both the child and the seat are held in the car with the adult seatbelt.
A common mistake I've seen is the routing of the seat belt. On stage 0+ infant carriers (rear- facing seats), the route is highlighted in blue, and there will always be a picture on the side of the seat showing the correct fitting. Make sure you have the handle in the correct position. From stage 1 upwards, the route is highlighted in red.
When buying your car seat
- Remember that it's illegal to have a rear-facing seat on the front passenger seat with an active airbag
- Check our buying guide
- Check the manufacturer's website, such as Britax (opens in a new window) or Maxi-Cosi (opens in new window). These have fitting lists available where you can check the seat you'd like to use has been crash-tested in a vehicle the same make and model as yours. The websites also have detailed videos on how to fit their seats
- Check that the fittings in your car meet the Isofix standard for the seat/base that you intend to fit
- Resist the temptation to buy a second hand seat. Apart from the fact that the fitting instructions or parts may be missing, they may not reach the current safety standard UN ECE E4403. You may not be able to spot a hairline fracture or any damage to the seat, and the same rules apply to car seats as motorbike helmets - if they've been involved in an impact they need to be replaced
- Make sure you're not moving baby into the next stage seat too soon
How we can help
In some of our branches where there's car parking on site, it may be possible for us to check your fitting. If the facility to try isn't available at your local shop, or you buy your car seat online, you may be able to make an appointment at another branch, or have it checked with your County Road Safety officer – check your local government's website.
For extra peace of mind, we're working with Which? to ensure you receive the best advice and service possible. We've signed up to the 'Retailer Best Practice Charter' which clearly explains the training that every selling assistant should have, and the process that will be followed when offering advice on infant carriers and car seats.