The world of car seats can be a confusing place for first time parents, or for those with children who are ready to move on from their existing car seat and are unsure on where to start. Laws are put in place to help guide parents and caregivers and to ensure that you are using the correct type of seat for your child and to clarify the different standards across different countries.
What you need to know
It is important to note that all children up to the age of twelve or at least 135cm tall are required by law to use a car seat or booster seat in the UK, and as the driver you are responsible for every passenger under the age of fourteen, even if the child's parents are passengers in the same car.
Fines up to a whopping £500 can be implemented for drivers if a child under twelve is not in the correct car seat or a child under fourteen is not wearing a seatbelt while the adult is driving.
If you are making short journeys, you may be tempted to share a seat belt when travelling, or travel with your child on your lap. This is very dangerous and never advisable. Each passenger must use their own seat belt that is supplied, and if the child is 12 or under, they must use their appropriately fitting car seat.
Types of car seats
In the UK, only EU-approved child car seats can be used. There are two types of car seats: height-based seats and weight-based seats. You can easily distinguish between the two based on their safety tested labels: ECE R129 (i-Size) and ECE R44/04.
Note! Both types of car seats are legal for use in the UK and do not replace one-another.
If you do decide to use a weight-based car seat like mifold and hifold car seats, you may find that your child fits into one or more categories (see below). The Group indicator is displayed on the orange safety label.
0kg to 10kg
|0||Lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness|
0kg to 13kg
|0+||Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness|
9kg to 18kg
|1||Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield|
15kg to 25kg
|2||Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield|
22kg to 36kg
|3||Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield|
For example, both mifold and hifold are considered group 2/3 car seats, suitable for children aged 4 – 12, weighing between 15kg – 36kg.
Fitting a child car seat
Fitting a child car seat is just as important as making sure the seat is suited to the child’s age, weight and size. Government regulations state that you must only use a child car seat if your car has a diagonal seat belt strap, unless the seat has either been designed for use with a lap seat belt only, or fitted using ISOFIX anchor points.
You must not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats as your child will not be protected in the same way as forward or rear-facing seats.
Rear-facing car seats can be installed on the passenger seat, however by law you are required to deactivate the frontal airbags before you begin your journey. If you are fitting a forward-facing car seat on the passenger seat, you must ensure that the car seat is positioned as far back as it can go to reduce the possibility of injuries in the event of a collision.
Where is the safest place to install your child’s car seat?
The back seat is the safest place to install your little one’s car seat. However, although not the most practical, the middle seat is actually the safest spot (of course it is the hardest spot to access too). This is because this is the furthest position away from the sides of the car.
When a child can travel without a car seat
You may find yourself in a situation where you do not have access to a car seat. According to the law, the four exceptions for travelling without a car seat are:
- If the child is travelling in a taxi or minicab
- If the child is in a minibus, coach, or van
- Emergency/unexpected journeys
- If there is not enough room for another car seat
This safety gap in the market is exactly what prompted Jon Sumroy - the inventor of mifold - to design such compact, portable and convenient car seats so parents no longer need to cut corners and take risks with their child's safety.
Note! Car seat belts are designed for adults, not children - using the seat belt alone on a child could do more harm than good!
At mifold, safety is our #1 priority, and we always recommend keeping a child in a 5-point harness for as long as possible.
We hope that this information will help you keep your children safe during every journey. If you have any further questions or queries regarding the law about car seats in the UK, please get in touch or leave your comments below!