Choosing the right children’s car seat can be a tough challenge, especially during a time when everything is new and there is a minefield of information out there.
We hope this helps in your journey to making the right choice for you and your child. Here are our top 9 tips:
1 ° A CAR SEAT WELL ADAPTED TO YOUR CHILD
When purchasing a car seat, you are also choosing a travel companion for your kid. Ensuring your child’s seat follows your national and regional regulations is utterly important.
The UNECE and European law state that every child must be positioned in a car seat appropriate to their body, weight, and size. Therefore each car seat should meet the standards according to either the weight of the child (standard ECE-R44 / 04), or their size (ECE-R129).
The newest car seat regulation ECE-R129 is often referred to as i-Size, but this is a common misconception. To clarify, i-Size is a category of seats within the R129 standard and describes seats that are compatible with i-Size positions in cars.
This means that not every car seat that follows an R129 is an i-Size seat, but they still have most of the benefits of the newest UN and European regulation.
2 ° FOLLOW YOUR NATIONAL REGULATIONS
Yes, ECE-R44 and ECE-R129 are here to establish the safety standard of every car seat, but they are not the only laws that apply.
Since the introduction of ECE-R129 in 2013, 60 countries – including all European countries – have adopted the regulation. Car seat laws, however, may vary from country to country, check out this article about car seat laws around the world for other regulations that may apply.
3 ° KNOW WHEN TO CHANGE FROM REAR-FACING TO FORWARD-FACING
As required by law, your baby must travel rear-facing until a minimum age of 15 months.
The reason for this lies in the anatomy of your child: The neck muscles of a baby are not properly developed at the time of birth. In fact, it takes them several months until they are able to support the weight of their own head. Compared to an adult, the proportion between the mass of the head and that of the body is way higher, while at the same time, not having the strength to support it. For this reason, the neck’s ligaments and muscles are exposed to critical risk.
Our recommendation is to stay rear-facing for as long as possible. Swandoo’s 360° car seat Marie is designed with all these factors in mind and allows children to be in this position up to 105 cm or 18Kg (or approximately 4 years).
Once your baby is ready to change the sitting position, so will Marie. Our seat is created with a high degree of safety for forward-facing positions as well and will accompany your child forward-facing after the minimum mandatory 15 months defined by the law. You can read more about the importance of rear-facing on our previous blog post.
4 ° CHECK THE INDEPENDENT CONSUMER TESTING SCORES
A high-performance car seat is often recognized by independent experts and is, therefore, a guarantee of safety. It is always worth researching the results of the leading independent crash test, and consumer test bodies. These are a few leaders in the field: ADAC, Stiftung Warentest, TCS, Which?, Race and ÖAMTC.
We’ve explored how crash testing works in a dedicated article that you can read here.
5 ° A SIMPLE AND REASSURING INSTALLATION
The correct installation is an essential safety factor of any car seat. The independent tests carried out by the leading consumer testing associations follow specific and strict procedures to ensure this.
To avoid the risk of mishandling, it is necessary to opt for a car seat whose installation into a vehicle is simple and accessible to all. Statistics show that 50 % to 60% of car seats are incorrectly installed, meaning the safety performance of the seat will be less effective or will not work at all.
Choose a seat with a simple design, easy to understand, and clear instructions to fit your vehicle. There are 2 types of installations possible:
Using the 3-point seat belt of the vehicle.
Using the Isofix anchor points of the vehicle’s seats.
The Isofix standard (compulsory since November 2011 in Europe for all vehicles) is very safe because it reduces the risk of misuse by facilitating the attachment of the car seat to the vehicle’s seat.
We recommend reading the user manual to make yourself familiar with the installation process – this may vary depending on your car seat manufacturer and model. A clear and well-designed user manual may reflect the quality of the product. It really shows the attention to detail that the manufacturer has paid during the development process.
In addition to the type of installation, it’s important that your car model is suitable for your car seat. Every manufacturer should provide their own compatibility list; we recommend checking it before making a purchase.
6 ° A COMFORTABLE CAR SEAT IS CRITICAL FOR SAFETY (AND FOR MORE PEACE OF MIND)
A child who is comfortable will feel at ease, will enjoy the ride, and let you be focused on your driving.
You can be a lot more exposed to having a car accident when being stressed and distracted with a child screaming bloody murder in the rear seat… enough said. We are parents… we all have been there…
7 ° DO NOT BUY A SECOND-HAND CAR SEAT
A used car seat from which you don’t know history can be dangerous because it can contain non-visible internal damage.
Seats older than 8 years are also not recommended to be used. The mechanical performance of the plastics is reduced with natural aging, and the seat might not perform as intended.
8 ° CHOOSE A DEALER SPECIALIZED IN CHILDCARE
Retailers specialized in childcare have a good knowledge of child safety. Visit your local retailer and ask them questions. They will listen to your needs and recommend an appropriate product for your child.
Swandoo actively provides training for our sales teams and retailers about child safety and our latest products. We’re here to make your journey of choosing a children’s car seat a lot easier.
9 ° CHOOSE A PRODUCT FROM A COMPANY THAT SPEAKS “PARENTS LANGUAGE”
…and is, therefore, easy to reach.
Opting for the choice of a brand like Swandoo is choosing a car seat guaranteed for the product’s lifetime warranty upon registration. We have an exchange service with no time limit in case of an accident (see conditions). After an accident, a car seat is no longer 100% effective. Therefore we want to guarantee you we can respond to your needs in case of an emergency.
We hope these tips are helpful for choosing a children’s car seat. If you are still feeling confused about any of the points, get in touch with us. We would be more than happy to hear from you!
And if you happen to be in Vienna, give us a call to arrange a visit to our office.
Come meet the team and get all your questions answered!
P.S. We have good coffee and cookies!