Car seats land themselves at the top of the baby shopping list and for very good reason. They are an essential for keeping your little one safe whilst you are on the go, in fact the hospital won’t even let you leave if you are travelling by car and don’t have your car seat with you to drive home. However, all the different laws, jargon and regulations can feel a little confusing and make the whole process of car seat shopping a little stressful.
One of the terms you may have come across whilst you were doing your car seat research is ISOFIX. But what does it mean? We took a closer look at what this term means, how it works and why it is important.
What is ISOFIX?
In a nutshell ISOFIX means “International Standards Organisation Fix”. ISOFIX is the top-class level of car seat safety on the market at the moment to ensure your car seat is secured safely and properly. ISOFIX is a universal system for fitting car seats that uses attachment point built into the car rather than a seat belt which makes it easier to fit the car seat securely by reducing the risk of error.
ISOFIX became mandatory in all vehicles manufactured after Nov 2014 which required all new cars to be manufactured with ISOFIX fittings. It can be found in most models prior to this but always worth checking pre-2014
It’s worth noting that the ISOFIX standard covers Group 0+ and Group 1 chairs, which is from birth to 4 years. While Group 2/3 (4-12 years) car seats are categorised by a system called ISOFIT.
ISOfit is another piece of jargon that pops up from time to time. What is the difference? When your car seat has an integrated restraint (harness or shield) it falls into the ISOfix category. When your child reaches 105cm approx 4 years of age your car seat may still connect to the ISOFIX points but the adult seat belt does all the work.
How does it work?
It is important to note that not all cars are compatible with ISOFIX. For you to be able to install an ISOFIX car seat you need to have the ISOFIX points built into your car. Check your car model handbook to see if it is compatible before buying an ISOFIX car seat. The anchor points are often hidden within the car seat itself.
ISOFIX was created in reaction to statistics showing that two thirds of car seats are fitted incorrectly. The whole premise of ISOFIX is to reduce the risk of car seats being installed incorrectly, therefore increasing the safety of your little one.
The ISOFIX premise really is quite simple and makes car seat installation a breeze. ISOFIX car seats have anchoring points on the base which then simply plug into the anchorage points within a compatible car.
The three approved forms of ISOFIX car seats
Universal – Uses either a top tether or foot prop, in addition to the attachment points, to fix the seat to an additional anchorage point for forward-facing seats. Universal ISOFIX car seats should fit into most newer cars.
Semi Universal – Uses a top tether, foot prop and connectors but is not compatible with all cars. Can be used with forward and rearward-facing (i.e lie-flat) car seats.
Vehicle Specific – Uses only the anchor point to secure the seat. This method is vehicle specific and is only compatible with certain vehicles. Always check the suitability of the make/model of the chair on the manufacturer’s website.
What are the benefits of ISOFIX?
The main benefit of ISOFIX is it decreases the risk of fitting your car seat wrong with it’s quick and easy installation method. This helps give parents peace of mind and reduces the chances of your child being hurt in an accident due to their car seat being installed incorrectly.
ISOFIX helps create a rigid connection between the car seat and the anchor points in the vehicle itself for improved protection.
What are the downsides of ISOFIX?
The main downside of ISOFIX car seats are that they aren’t compatible with every model of car. This can cause problems for families with multiple cars that are swapping the car seat between cars. Because of this it is important to do your research before buying.
If you are looking to buy a car seat make sure you check out our “Beginners guide: What stage car seat do you need?” blog.
If you are unsure which car seat to pick or if it is compatible with your car do pop into our Surrey, Bagshot store and our expertly trained supervisors will be able to answer any of your questions. Or you can call our friendly customer services on +44 (0)1276 408494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.