Car seat: What should you pay attention to? Apart from the fact that the use of car seats for small children is mandatory by law, you naturally want your child to be transported safely. When you give birth in the hospital, you will not even have your child with you, if you can not show a car seat! Whether or not you are going to use it.
What does the law say?
Children up to 18 years and less than 1.35 meters must be transported in the front and rear of the car in an approved child car seat or car seat.
Children over 1.35 meters must use the seat belt in the front and rear of the car and may use a seat booster if necessary.
What kind of?
A child car seat can be a baby car seat, a child car seat or a booster seat. A child safety seat must be approved in accordance with the European safety requirements: ECE 44/03 or 44/04. You can use an approved child restraint in the front and back of the car.
There are different models. The most popular is the seat that you can attach to a matching chassis, so that you can make a stroller out of it. The advantage of this is when your child has fallen asleep, you do not have to wake him up.
If your child is smaller than 1.35 meters, it depends on the weight of your child which child protection device to use:
- less than 13 kilos: baby car seat (group 0 and 0+)
- between 9 and 18 kilos: child car seat (group 1)
- between 15 and 36 kilos: booster seat (group 2 and 3)
- more than 36 kg: car seat belt, possibly with booster seat or separate belt guide
On the child seat it is indicated for which weight category it is suitable. In addition to weight, the height and posture of the child also play a role in the choice of the most suitable child seat. The overlap in weight increases the space you have to make this choice.
Where in the car
On a seat with an airbag in front of it, a child may not be transported in a baby car seat placed against the direction of travel. This is only allowed if the airbag is switched off. It is advisable not to put children under 12 when the airbag is switched on. If it is not possible, put the car seat as far back as possible.
Against the driving direction
A baby car seat is placed against the driving direction. The seat is secured with the vehicle's three-point seat belt. The child is fastened with a Y-belt. Some of these seats can also be secured with a so-called ISOFIX system: at the back of the car seat there are two projections. Cars equipped for this system have two anchors between the backrest and the seat. The protrusions can be easily inserted into the anchors and the car seat is fixed. Sometimes there is a third attachment point. Look for more information in the car seat manual.
A children's car seat is intended for children who can sit independently. The child is fastened with the five-point belt of the car seat. Often these car seats have multiple positions and are placed with the driving direction. A child car seat is secured with the seat belt or ISOFIX attachment.
A child on a booster seat (also called booster seat) is fastened with the seat belt. The booster seat ensures that the diagonal part of the seat belt does not run along the neck, but over the shoulder of the child. The booster seat also ensures that the lap belt runs over the hips and not over the stomach. The latter can cause serious internal injury.
Booster seats are available with and without backrest. It is best to buy one with (removable) backrest. The backrest is usually adjustable in height and provides better lateral support when the child falls asleep on the way. In addition, the backrest offers some protection in the event of a side-on collision. The backrest also ensures that the child comes forward slightly and can therefore bend the knees. That is more pleasant and prevents pockets. If the child is slumped, the hip belt is no longer fitted properly and this can lead to abdominal injury in the event of a collision.
Above 36 kilos, then what?
There are no car seats or booster seats approved for children over 36 kg. These children should then only use the seat belt. If the belt runs over the neck of the child instead of over the shoulder, it is advisable to carry the child on a booster seat until he / she is long enough to use the seat belt alone. Another possibility is to use a separately purchased belt guide. Choose only this last option if it really can not be otherwise.
Keurmerk child seats
A child seat must be approved according to the European safety requirements: ECE 44/03 or 44/04. Only these child seats may be used. They are provided with an inspection label or inspection sticker. On it, the letter E plus is a number in a circle. Further down is the approval number. This number must start with 03 or 04. The weight of the children for whom it is suitable is also stated. An example of an official label can be found in the brochure Carriage of children in the car. If necessary, ask the seller for advice.
No longer use
If approval no longer applies, it is no longer an approved child protection device. A child seat that has no or an ECE R44 / 02 quality mark may no longer be used because the requirements it had to meet in the type examination is outdated. The inspection requirements for child seats are periodically adjusted to new technical developments and insights. Research is being done into possible improvements.
Used and old child seats
When purchasing a second-hand child seat you have to check whether the seat fits well in your own car and whether the child is sitting correctly in the seat. The correct mark must be present and the manual must be supplied. Only buy a second-hand child seat if you are absolutely certain that no accident has ever happened. Due to the force that can be exerted on a car seat in the event of a collision, the seat is no longer safe to use.
Many child seats are partly made of plastic and often remain in the car, both in frost and in the blazing sun. Due to years of exposure of the child seat to both very low and very high temperatures, the strength of the material gradually decreases. It is therefore not recommended from various points of view to continue using an old seat.
Taxi or bus
Children under the age of 3 may only be transported in an approved child safety seat. A child safety seat is not required in a taxi or bus. A child car seat can be a baby car seat, a child car seat or a booster seat.
Children from 3 years and adults must use the belt. Children under the age of 3 may be transported in buses and on the back of a taxi without a seat belt. Do not take a child on your lap, because that is risky in a frontal collision.
Too little space on the back seat
If there are two child seats in the back seat of a car, there is often no room for a third. In that case, a child aged 3 years or older may use the seat belt on the remaining seat.
Transport of other children
Parents and foster parents are expected to have a child car seat in their car for their child. For other children who ride along, there is not always a child safety seat available. In case of transport over a limited distance, the use of the seat belt in the back seat for children from 3 years of age is sufficient. This does not apply to your own children.
A limited distance is a maximum of about fifty kilometers and therefore not a holiday trip. If the transport of other children occurs regularly, it is much safer to provide extra child seats.
Exemption use of a child safety seat
An exemption for the use of a child safety seat can be granted on medical grounds. The exemption is granted by the Claims Division of the Central Bureau for Driving Skills (CBR).