When it comes to child safety, one of the first things to think about is your little one’s car seat. A car seat is one of the most paramount safety items you will purchase, especially since the hospital won’t let you and your newborn leave without one.
However, with any safety-related purchase, there’s often a lot of jargon that follows which can be slightly confusing to take in. Therefore, this November Nuna are on a mission to simplify the rules and regulations behind buying your car seat.
Read on to discover our helpful guide to keeping your little one safe on your travels…
Nuna’s Safety Mission
Nuna’s car seats are some of the top-rated safety seats on the market. Nuna test their baby gear thousands of times before it leaves the factory, with regular testing carried out by independent, accredited labs. Using advanced equipment, they ensure to go above and beyond on safety, promising to never compromise.
Even down to the materials used, Nuna produce car seats with high quality, durable fibres that comply with European chemical safety standards. The plastic, metal, fabric, fiberfill and foam all abide by REACH regulations and EN71 standards in Europe.
What are the different types of car seats?
There are 4 main types of car seats which all meet the different safety needs of your child as they grow and develop. Each car seat is designed for a specific stage of development to keep your little one as safe as possible. Children must use a car seat until they're 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
Some car seats cover more than one of these categories by being adjustable, for example the sides can expand, or the head rest can move up and down, which changes the position the child is held in the seat. These are sometimes called ‘All-stage’ seats or ‘multigroup’ seats.
These seats allow your baby to lie flat in the car and are sometimes called side-facing or lie-flat car seats. These seats can typically be used up to 6 months and combines the safety of a car seat and the sleep comfort of a carrycot.
These seats are rear facing and lie your child in a semi lie-flat position. They are designed to be removed from the car with your child in it for easy travel. They are often compatible with pushchairs.
These seats are designed as the next stage car seat on from the infant carrier; however, some can be used from birth. They can be rear-facing or forward-facing, depending on the weight or height of child they are approved for, some can even do both.
These seats are designed for children that have outgrown a toddler seat. They help give your child a boost to help raise them up so they can safely use the car’s seatbelt.
How can you find the safest car seat for your little one?
Just to make the world of car seats that little bit more confusing, there are currently two different regulations running alongside of each other. In a nutshell, there is the group system which is categories on weight, and an i-Size system which is sorted by height.
We know, this is not the easiest thing to get your head around, so let's take a closer look at what this means...
The weight-based group standard is also known as R44 - we know, really catchy! To keep it simple we will stick with calling it the weight-based group standard. Whatever you choose to call it, it's important to know what it means. This standard categorises car seats into groups according to your child's weight. Each group has an upper weight limit, when your baby reaches this limit, it is time to move them up to the next stage.
When you are shopping around you may notice that some car seats fall into more than one of these categories - that's because many car seats can be adapted as your child grows to meet their changing safety needs.
Group 0 (0 -10kg)
These car seats will all be rear-facing, which is the safest way for your child to travel. They tend to fall into the infant carrier category.
Approx. Birth-12 months
Group 0+ (0-13kg)
These car seats are still from newborn but offer longer longevity of use and often adjust as your child grows.
Approx. Birth-4 years
Group 1 (9-18kg)
Your child can use either rear or forward-facing seats with a harness or safety shield. Babies can move to a forward-facing car seat when they reach 9kg, however, it’s safer to keep them rear-facing until they reach the top weight for group 0+ car seats (13kg or around 15 months old).
Approx. 9 months-4 years
Group 1/2/3 (0-36kg)
These car seats cover multiple stages thanks to their adaptable design. They convert and adapt with your child.
Approx. 9 months-12 years
Group 2/3 (15-36kg)
A booster seat designed for older children with adjustable height, width and leg rest options.
Approx. 4 years-12 years
This regulation is also known as the R129 standard, but commonly referred to as i-Size. It uses the length of your child to help classify which car seat your little one should use. This guideline is a newer regulation and is meant to gradually be replacing the weight-based R44 standard explained below. Due to it's increased safety testing, better compatibility and extended rear facing features, we do tend to recommend you buy an i-Size car seat. Car seats that are manufactured with this standard will use the term i-Size.
We do advise to choose an i-Size car seat for their first and second stage car seats so your child can rear face for as long as possible, which studies show is the safest way to travel. Plus, i-Size car seats are fixed using an ISOFIX base for improved safety. Remember you must ensure you car is ISOFIX compatible before purchasing an i-Size car seat.
Safety and Installation
You can install a car seat in one of two ways. Either with a seat belt or an ISOFIX attachment.
Using the seat belt to install your car seat has been a more traditional method for a while. However, it can be tricky and tends to increase the risk of user error when installing your child's car seat.
If you want to ensure your seat is properly attached, we recommend using an ISOFIX base. ISOFIX car seats have anchoring points on the base which then simply plug into the anchorage points within a compatible car. The whole premise of ISOFIX is to reduce the risk of car seats being installed incorrectly, therefore increasing level of protection for your little one. With ISOFIX there must also be another touch point to the car to prevent any movement in a collision. These additional anchor points can come in the form of either a top tether, which is a strap from the back of the car seat that clips to a special point behind the car's seat, or a support leg which comes from the base of the car seat to touch the floor of the car.
Don’t forget to make sure that your car is ISOFX compatible and read the vehicle owner’s manual carefully or contact the manufacturer.
How is car seat safety regulated?
The ADAC is an automobile club in Germany, founded in 1903, as German motor biker’s association, and renamed to General German Automobile Club (ADAC) its present name in 1911. It is a vehicle insurance company that is involved in the promotion of safety and product testing, including Child Car Seats.
ADAC cannot test all seats, they are preselected based on popularity, volume of sales and novelties, an example may be a seat that swivels. Seats are fundamentally tested to the appropriate ECE R44 or ECER129 Regulations.
The ADAC specifically choose the seats that they stock because of their high quality and safety ratings. ADAC always recommend that your purchase is based most importantly on the compatibility of the car seat with both your vehicle and your little one.
Below ADAC have listed a selection of stocked Nuna car seats have ADAC scores:
Scored Good (1.9)
Scored Good (2.2)
More top tips on safety
Whichever regulation you decide to purchase your car seat under, it is important to not rush to move onto the next group or stage of car seat. Make sure they reach the maximum limit detailed in each group or on the side of the seat before deciding to move them on. It's best and safer to make the most of each stage or group of car seat to make sure your child has reached the right development stage, remember a snug fit is good!
It is a legal requirement to rear face babies in R129 (i-Size) child seats until they are at least 15 months old. This is because this is the safest way for children to travel. Although you can turn them forward-facing in R44 (weight-based standard) seats a little earlier, child safety experts do not recommend it. For this reason, we recommend that you try to keep your child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, ideally up to the age of four.
If you do decide to go for an i-Size car seat with an ISOFIX base, do make sure your car is compatible first. You can usually find all of this in the vehicles manual or contact the manufacturer if you are struggling to find the information.