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Guide to buying the right car seat


 - Guide to buying the right car seat
There are very strict standards and laws in place to protect babies and children travelling in cars.

> Buy a seat with the official approval mark (usually the United Nations 'E' mark), which indicated that it meets European standards.

> Choose a universal fit which will go in nearly all car models.

> Make sure you read the instructions carefully before you buy. Some research suggest that 70% of children travel in car seats that are either incorrectly fitted or not suitable for their weight/age.

> If you can, test the model before buying it and install it in your car. A car seat that's easy to put in place and to remove will be very practical, especially if you swap cars often or your child goes on holiday with the grandparents, for example.

> Seat categories
Car seats are divided into categories according to the child's weight. Although these categories correspond roughly to different age groups, weight is the most important factor to take into account.

Group 0: for babies up to 10kg, roughly from birth to 6-9 months.
Group 0+: for babies up to 13kg, roughly from birth to 12-15 months.
Group 1: for children weighing 9-18kg, roughly from 9 months - 4 years.
Group 2: for children weighing 15-25kg, roughly from 4 -6 years.
Group 3: for children weighing 22-36kg, roughly from 6-11 years.

Note that seats that only fit into Group 2 or only into Group 3 are no longer produced. Modern seats are designed for children weighing between 15kg and 36kg.

> Avoid buying second-hand car seats
Even though it may be tempting (buying brand new is pricey) and the seat may appear to be in good condition, buying a second-hand car seat is not advised, for three good reasons:
- It will probably come without fitting instructions which means you won't be sure of installing it correctly. It's absolutely essential that car seats are fitted correctly otherwise your child's safety will be compromised in the event of a collision or sharp braking.
- Normal wear and tear weakens the straps. In the event of an accident, they could break.
- Just as a motorbike helmet is no longer 100% effective after it's taken a hit, a car seat could be damaged if it has been involved in a collision, resulting in extremely small cracks and defects. Unfortunately, such damage is invisible to the naked eye.

For more details on car seats, visit www.childcarseats.org.uk


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