Child seat shopping is not as easy as you think
Choose the right child seat

Child seats are not a case of “one size fits all”. The seat needs to be changed as the child grows because different types of safety seats are designed to fit children of specific heights and weights.

There are three main types of seats for children: infant, forward-facing, and booster.

Infant seats

An infant seat is designed for babies from birth until they weigh about 9kg or are one year of age. Such seats may come with or without a removable base. Rear-facing seats provide greater protection for a baby’s head, neck and spine than forward-facing seats. So, keep babies in the back seat, rear-facing, for as long as they fit the weight and age criteria.

Never place a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat with a passenger air bag as the child may sustain serious injuries if the air bag inflates.

Infants less than a year old who weigh over 10kg or have reached the height limit for an infant seat should use a rear-facing convertible seat.

Forward-facing car seats

Once your child has outgrown a rear-facing infant seat, and is heavy enough and able to sit up unaided, you can switch to a forward-facing restraint. This type of seat consists of a seat shell attached to a frame. The child is held in the seat by an integral five-point harness, while the frame is attached to the car, usually by seatbelts.

Once again, it is safest to keep children in this type of seat until they have outgrown it. Move your child to a booster seat only when he or she has exceeded the maximum weight for the child seat, or the top of his or her head is higher than the top of the seat.

Booster seats

Booster seats are used by older children who have outgrown their convertible seats. A booster seat raises the child’s height so that the safety belt fits correctly, protecting the child from crash and safety-belt injuries. Some booster seats are designed to be converted into a booster cushion by detaching the back rest.

As such seats don’t have an integral harness, it is important to ensure that the car seat belt is worn correctly. The lap belt should go over the pelvic region, not the stomach, and the diagonal strap should rest over the child’s shoulder, not the neck.