Child Seat Features
Rotating Child Seats
Rotating child seats have become very popular in recent years - but is it a gimmick, or are they genuinely helpful?
Benefits of rotating child seats:
Some things to consider when choosing a rotating child seat:
Height adjustable harness
Child seats which use a harness will generally have some method of adjusting the height for your growing child.
There are two ways in which this can be done - either with an 'easy adjust' harness, or a 're-thread' harness.
An easy adjust harness increases in height when the headrest is adjusted. You generally do not need to remove the harness from the seat at all, and simply squeeze a handle to increase the height of the harness to fit your child correctly.
A re-thread harness requires you to remove the harness shoulder straps from the child seat, and re-thread them through the desired height slots. This is very time consuming to do, and carries a risk of the harness being adjusted incorrectly.
While the harness itself is the same regardless of the method of adjustment, from an ease of use and reduction of misuse consideration, an 'easy adjust' harness is considered to be safer.
Maximum harness weight limit
If you are looking to move your child out of the infant seat and into a toddler seat, it is important to know that there are seats which use a harness up to 18kg, and seats which use the harness to 25kg.
A child seat with an 18kg harness will last an average size child until around 4 years old. If your child is a higher centile on the weight/height charts in their red book, then they are likely to reach the weight or height limit before they are 4 years old - the seat may not last them as long as you would expect.
You would then either need to purchase a 25kg harness child seat, or put your child into a high back booster before they are ready (this is not recommended)
A child seat with a 25kg harness is generally fitted with the vehicle seat belt, and is usually rear facing in the car. Seats with a 25kg harness limit allow children to use a harness for longer, and removes the risk of children being put in a high back booster when they are too young (even if they meet the weight or height requirements of a booster).
If your child is a high percentile for weight or height, a 25kg child seat will allow full harness use and maximum safety.
multi-stage child seats
Most child seats on the market cover multiple stages, with single stage seats being less common (apart from infant carriers).
The combinations you tend to see are:
There are also seats which cover from birth - child, so potentially cover 12 years of use. While these seats present good value for money, over that length of time safer child seats may be released. While the seat will still be safe, safer options may become available.
Many child seats offer a recline to give your little one a comfortable sleeping and resting position. The recline isn't the same on all seats - some are more reclined than others, and some seats must be reclined when you fit the seat and it cannot be adjusted on the go.
The amount of recline that you need ties in with how often you are in the car, if little one will be likely to nap in the car on long journeys, and the angle of your vehicle seats.
If your vehicle seats are very sloped, or bucket like, a seat with a deep recline may be more comfortable for your child and will help to prevent their head from dropping forward.
The best way to know if a seat will offer a comfortable sitting position for your child is to physically try it in your car, either with a trained retailer, or at a car seat library.
Lie Flat seats
When babies are young, it is important that they don't spend too long in their child seat. A child seat puts them in a scrunched position, and has been found to reduce oxygen levels.
The length of time a baby can spend in the child seat is an area with little research, and advice ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
We recommend that car journeys are kept to a minimum and only make necessary journeys when babies are very young, particularly for small or pre-term infants.
Lie flat child seats help to keep the airways open, and generally are not subject to the same constraints - so they are a particularly good choice if you plan to do long journeys with your newborn.
If possible, have an adult in the back of the car with baby to keep an eye on them. If this is not possible, a rear facing child seat mirror allows you to keep an eye on little one.