Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Children nowadays travel by car almost as often as adults, but at the same time they are more defenceless in traffic. Children's bodies are much more sensitive to acceleration and sharp braking, not to mention accidents. Therefore, the priority for all parents is to ensure the safety of their children while driving. At the moment, the use of special child seats is the most effective way to protect children in various dangerous situations in the car.

In our child seat test 2021 we want to introduce you to the topic of child seats. We will provide you with important information about the different types of child seats and the criteria you should consider before buying. With the help of our test article, you should be able to find the right child seat for you and your child.




The most important facts

  • The main criterion when buying a car seat for your child is the group that focuses on a certain age and weight of the child.
  • Booster seats are less safe than child seats.
  • A booster seat must be used for a child up to 12 years or 150cm.

The Best Child Seat: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for child seats

The criteria you should pay particular attention to when buying a child seat include:

To make the right decision when choosing a child seat, you should first look at the important evaluation criteria.

Standard group

Depending on the group your child falls into, you can choose the right chair. Each group focuses on a certain age and weight of the child, so you need to weigh your baby before buying and not just look at the age of the child.

The reason for this is that each child develops individually. There are generally accepted classifications of car seats for children, according to which children can be divided into 5 main groups:

  • Group 0: up to 10 kg
  • Group 0+: up to 13 kg
  • Group 1: 9 to 18 kg
  • Group 2: 15 to 25 kg
  • Group 3: 22 to 36 kg
Group 1/2/3 car seats are absolutely not suitable for newborns and toddlers up to one year of age.

Remember that for groups 2 & 3 the upper belt should be about 2 cm above the child's shoulder. There is actually also a group transformer 1/2/3.

These seats are designed for children from one to 12 years with a weight of 9 to 36 kg. As the passenger grows, these units are transformed, providing the greatest comfort and protection. These car seats are practical because they can be used for a long period of time. This option will be much cheaper than buying seats for each age group.

However, specialised chairs correspond more precisely to the specifics of each age and are therefore safer and more comfortable than universal seat "transformers".

Safety

In the event of an accident, the car seat has a large load, so it is very important that its frame is strong. The most reliable ones are metal frames, but they increase the weight of the chair considerably.

If you buy a car seat with a plastic frame, make sure it is a plastic primary because the secondary is more prone to damage. The material of the child seat must not have elevated levels of harmful substances.

Reinforced protection of the head and shoulders will protect small passengers in the event of a side impact.

Choose car seats of well-known brands, check whether they have passed crash tests, and independent evaluation: manufacturers usually provide information about awards. Information on the product about the certificate of a uniform safety standard - ECE R44/04 or ECE R44/03. This ECE test standard means that the model has passed the test cycle and meets the requirements of the European safety standard.

Fastening system

Isofix is considered to be one of the safest and most reliable fastening systems. Isofix is part of the basic set of most modern models, but there are still many old models that are not equipped with this system.

The Isofix Seat Pass has a list of car models that have this system.

Before you buy a car seat, you should make sure that the model of your car is also on the list. In the car, there are several brackets located under the back of the seat that rigidly attach the child seat to the body.

The installation of the child seat, according to the instructions, plays a crucial role in safety.

Isofix is fixed with a maximum load of up to 18 kg, so Isofix is used as a basic mount in 0 and 1 group car seats. In groups 2 and 3, Isofix can be used together with normal three-point belts. An important advantage of this type of attachment system is that it is impossible to install it incorrectly.

Comfort

When choosing a car seat, pay special attention to comfort. The baby has to travel long distances in the car seat and it is important that the child does not experience any discomfort. It is worth looking after your comfort: it is worth buying a car seat with a handle for easier carrying.

It is practical if it has an adjustable back. Many children like to sleep while driving, and if the child falls asleep, it can be reclined in one movement.

It is important that the child seat has an adjustable headrest and improved side impact protection. It protects the child from side impact and holds him or her well during sharp turns.

Accessories

Modern car seats offer a number of additional features in addition to the main task - to ensure the safety of the children, mostly they are focused or designed on achieving more comfort for children.

For different weather and temperature conditions of the child seat, it can be equipped with a light protective cover. In summer, mosquito nets and sun protection in the form of a hood are certainly useful.

Other accessories can be a play table (travel tray for playing), neck crescent, headrests or seat reducers. Also useful for parents is a bottle coaster and a compartment for storing all kinds of small items.

Decision: What types of child seats are there and which is the right one for your child?

Let's analyse the 3 different types of child seats with their advantages and disadvantages:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
The infant carrier Attach to pram with click system + Have a padded five-point harness Only up to 12 months of age
The booster seat Universal use + Regulation of individual parts Combined group seats have less safety than dise for individual groups
The booster seat Mobile + Compact Lack protection for spine and head + Offer hardly enough safety

The following information will give you the knowledge you need to decide which of these models is right for you and your child. You will learn about the main differences, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Die Babyschale

The baby car seat

The baby car seat is a group 0 car seat and is designed for the youngest children from newborn age up to 6 months (max 1 year) and weighs up to 10 kilograms. These chairs are a small cradle in which the child is in a reclining position.

Advantages
  • Optimal baby position without body strain
  • Padded five-point harness
  • High material quality
  • The low weight
Disadvantages
  • Limited use (up to 12 months)

The seat is equipped with internal five-point safety belts and a comfortable handle. It is secured on the front or rear seat surface against the direction of travel. This arrangement protects the child’s head during sharp braking. Additional protection is placed around the child’s head to protect against impact. Manufacturers always equip these child seats with a carrying handle.

Der Kindersitz

The child seat

These car seats allow you to safely transport children for approximately 10 years. They include groups from 0+ to 2 or a group transformer 1,2,3 or 2,3. Children ride in these seats facing forward and the bracket is attached with a three-point harness or Isofix.

Advantages
  • Universal use
  • regulation of the individual parts
Disadvantages
  • Combined groups have less safety than individual groups

The biggest disadvantage of the “transformer” models is that they cannot adapt optimally to children’s bodies. It is impossible to please every age group 100%, so that, for example, children feel uncomfortable because of an uncomfortable headrest that is too high even in the lowest position.

Die Sitzerhöhung

The booster seat

A raised seat with a properly placed belt. Such an installation will not be able to protect against blows from the side, but is suitable for children who find the “classic” car seat uncomfortable because of their height.

Advantages
  • Mobility
  • Compact
Disadvantages
  • Low safety
  • No protection for spine and head

This booster seat allows the child’s seat height to be “raised” to properly restrain the passenger with a shoulder strap. Age restrictions range up to 12 years, weight from 22 to 36 kg. Suitable for children from approx. 5 years of age. A three-point belt is used, so you should make sure that the shoulder belt runs centrally over the child’s shoulder and that the child does not fall out of the belt when sleeping.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about child seats answered in detail

In this section, we have answered frequently asked questions in detail to help you choose a child seat.

When should I change to the next higher child seat group?

You will find exact information about the time until which your child seat can be used in the instruction manual. If the child's legs are hanging out of the shell, this is not a reason to switch to the next group.

A follow-on seat is necessary when the child's shoulders protrude about 2 cm above the topmost grommet for the shoulder straps.

To determine if your child has outgrown the car seat they are currently riding in, look for the following indicators. For car seats of group 1 and higher: if the head is more than one third above the upper edge of the backrest and if the exit points of the internal safety belt are lower than the child's shoulder. The infant carrier is then too small if a child's head protrudes above the upper edge of the headrest.

When does the child seat need to be replaced?

If you have been involved in an accident, the child seat must be replaced. Unfortunately, even small hairline cracks can make the seat unusable. If you are unsure whether you are still allowed to use your child seat, it is advisable to have the child seat checked by the manufacturer.

Kindersitz-1

There are various systems available for strapping the child into the seat: Harness straps, restraints or the three-point belt. (Image source: Sharon McCutcheon/unsplash)

That's why it's not advisable to buy pre-paid child seats. The person selling you a child seat may hide defects that you will only notice during use. It is safer to buy a second-hand seat from someone you know.

What is the maximum age for using a child seat?

A child seat is compulsory in Germany for children up to 12 years of age who are less than 1.50 m tall. What you should pay attention to is that a child seat must not only be adapted to the age but also to the size of the child.

Even if the child exceeds the specified weight limit of 36 kg, he or she must still ride in a child seat until he or she is 12 years old or 1.50 m tall.

Image source: Ko?mider/ 123rf.com

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