Expectant parents have a lot to think about before their baby arrives and it’s a list that comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
As well as getting the essentials like pushchairs, a cot, baby changing stations and stash of nappies, mum and dad-to-be motorists also need to buy a baby car seat before the birth.
The NHS recommends that parents have the car seat bought and ready ahead of the baby’s arrival as it will be needed to drive newborns home safely from the hospital.
Parents must ensure the seat fits properly in their car, is suitable for a newborn and – most importantly – that it is brand new.
For some baby items, it’s perfectly acceptable to buy things second hand or use hand-me-downs from family and friends, particularly as furniture, clothes and prams don’t come cheap. But the car seat is an exception to the rule as health professionals strongly advise that this particular item is new.
The reason for this is that it is difficult to know what condition it is actually in as you cannot be certain of its history or whether it will still work in the event of a crash.
Argos has a baby seat for kids from birth to seven years old which is highly rated.
Second hand car seats could have been involved in an accident and the damage may not be visible, it may not have all of its parts – including the instructions on how to use and fit it properly – and it may not be the safest and most user-friendly model. Plus, there’s also the risk that it might not actually fit in your car.
The NHS says you should only ever accept a car seat for your baby from family or friends “if you know its history, it’s not too old and it comes with instructions”.
Only EU-approved weight-based child car seats can be used in the UK – you can check this by looking for the ‘E’ mark label on the seat.
A car seat should be chosen based on your child’s height or weight. Seats that are height-based are known as ‘i-Size’ seats and must be rear-facing until your child is more than 15 months old. After this, a forward-facing child car seat can be used, providing the seat is suitable for the height of your child.
Only EU-approved height-based child car seats can be used in the UK, which feature a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’.
Weight-based car seats feature a label with a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’, and the way a child must be restrained in it is dependent on how much they weigh.
Halfords has a 360 degree rotating Isofix baby seat suitable from birth to four years old.
Parents should be aware that their car will need to have Isofix connectors built into it to be able to use an i-Size car seat, although not all vehicles will have this.
Isofix car seats are fitted using Isofix fitting points in the car, rather than using seat belts, and are designed to make fitting the seat less of a headache.
It’s possible to check your car’s compatibility on the websites of most major manufacturers, so it’s worth doing this before splashing the cash. If it’s the case that your car is not Isofix compatible, you should be able to install the car seat using the seat belt installation method.
Amazon sells an Isofix car seat suitable for newborns for less than £100.
UK law states that you must only use a child car seat if your car’s seat belt has a diagonal strap, unless the seat is either:
specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt
fitted using ISOFIX anchor points
It is also a requirement that you deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat and not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats.
According to the UK government, children should use a child car seat until they are 12 years old, or 135cm tall – whichever comes first.