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the five questions to ask before you buy a car seat

car seats buyers guide

the five questions to ask before you buy a car seat

Feeling confused about which car seat to buy? Here are five questions and answers to help you decide which one suits your baby, your car and your family life.

1. Is portability important to me?

If you want to be able to carry your sleeping baby from car to house or supermarket trolley, go for an infant carrier (Group 0+). These have a handle and are usually lightweight, so they can be removed from the car and carried around, and used indoors as a rocker. You can buy as part of a travel system with the bonus that it snaps into your pushchair chassis.

These are good until your baby weighs 13kg (usually about 12 months old) but you'll find the baby carrier difficult to lift and manoeuvre after about six months.

2. Do I want a fixed car seat?

If so, you'll want a combination car seat (also called Group 0+/1). These are larger and costlier, but have a longer life than infant carriers, lasting from birth until your child is around 4 years old.

Like a toddler car seat, these stay strapped (or fixed) in the car, initially rear-facing, then swivelled to face the front when your child weighs 9kg or can sit unaided.

3. Shall I buy a second hand car seat?

No! You can't be sure that it hasn't been in an accident because it may have suffered invisible damage. Even if you know the seat's history, wear and tear will mean that the belts may not be as tight as they should be.

4. Does my car have a passenger airbag?

If so, your baby must go in the back seat - inflated airbags can be lethal to babies. Some airbags can be disabled, but you need to check this with the manufacturer of your car. Side airbags are no problem.

5. Will someone else be driving my baby around?

If a childminder or grandparent will be taking your baby out and about, you need to check the car seat will fit in their car too, and they need to practice fitting it.

If you regularly use two cars, buy two seats. Otherwise, you can bet that car number one, complete with seat, will be zooming towards the horizon at precisely the time you need to strap your baby into car number two.

baby and child car seat buying guide