It seems like some parents are confused over the new car seat guidelines in the UK. You must have the right car seat in event of a crash. You can also get a £500 fine if you’re caught using an unsuitable or incorrectly fitted car seat.

Raf Autos – Breakdown recovery service in Reading have a checklist making the new laws easier to understand.

  • You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight.
  • Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 cm tall. Whichever comes first.
  • Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.
  • Children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm can use a backless booster seat.

Height-based seats

  • Height-based seats known as ‘i-Size’ seats.
  • Must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing child car seat when they’re over 15 months old.Check the label

Only EU-approved height-based child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’.

Weight-based seats

  • The seat your child can use depends on their weight.

Check the label

Only EU-approved weight-based child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’.

You may be able to choose from more than one type of seat in the group for your child’s weight.

  • Fitting a child car seat

Deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat

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

You can not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats.

Children with disabilities or medical conditions

  • The same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions. They can use a disabled person’s seat belt or a child restraint designed for their particular needs.
  • A doctor can issue an exemption certificate. If a child is unable to use a restraint or seat belt because of their condition.

When To Change Car Seat

Now that you know about the current law regarding car seats. Let’s have a look at when to change your car seat.

  • Don’t rush! If your car seat meets the criteria with regards to height and weight you don’t need to change it.
  • Don’t be in a hurry – each particular seat is designed for maximum safety at a specific weight, height, and age.
  • Rear-facing car seats. You can use a rear-facing car seat when your child is 2 or more years.  When your child grows you would have to switch from using a smaller rear-facing car seat. To a bigger rear-facing convertible car seat that can hold a larger child.
  • Forward-facing car seats. After your child reaches the weight or height limit for rear-facing. You should turn the seat forward-facing. Or use a forward-facing only car seat with a 5-point harness.
  • Booster Seat. When your child gets too big for the weight or height limits of the forward-facing car seat. Use a belt-positioning booster seat with the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt.

Backless Booster Seat

  • All new to market backless booster seats are only approved for children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm.
  • For children smaller than this, it is recommended for them to travel in a highback booster car seat.
  • If your booster seat was manufactured before 9th February 2017. Then your current booster seat is legal.
  • For older seats designed and manufactured prior to 9th February. The older rules still apply. If you already owned a backless booster seat and have been using it after 9th February. You have not been breaking the law!

What to Do with your Old Car Seat

Pass it on. When your child gets too big for her car seat, give it to someone you know if it is in good condition. If it is damaged throw it away.

Car Seat Guidelines UK