How do you know when your child is too big for their Car Seat?
One of the most frequently asked questions we get is ‘how do i know when to change my child’s car seat?’ So here is where we will outline a few easy steps to checking if your little one is too big for their current car seat.
Infant Carriers - Group 0+
For infant carriers depending on the model you have there will be a clear label which is normally on the side or underneath the seat, that states the weight or height limit for the seat.
Another clear indication is when your little one is sitting in the chair and where the top of their head is resting in relation to the top of the seat, if their head is higher than the top of the seat, you need to move up to the next stage. A simple way to check this is by using your hand as a marker when sitting on the top of the chair, if your baby's head is not touching your hand then you are ok to keep using this seat. Provided they are under the weight limit and/or the height limit stated on the seat.
Some infant carriers are designed for children up to 15 months of age. Don't worry if their legs are coming over the end of the seat, this is completely normal and they themselves will find a comfortable position to rest their legs in.
What seat should I buy next?
You will be taking your little one from an infant carrier and putting them in a Group 1 or Group 1/2/3. These can either be extended rearward facing or forward facing depending on the one you choose.
For a group 1 stage seat these again are measured on weight or height and this is stated on a sticker at the side of the seat or underneath the seat. These mostly go to 18kg or 105cm. Some may go to an extended weight limit of 25kg so be sure to check this, as these guides are for the use of the 5 point harness.
You will also need to be aware of the child's head height with the back of the car seat. Most of these seats have an easily adjustable head support that moves to suit your little one. The correct position for the head support is that the bottom of it is in line with the child's jaw line.
Always be sure that the child's 5 point harness is coming from above the child shoulders or just slightly behind. If it is curving around the shoulder these need to be moved upwards - the seats normally have a few different positions for the harness to be moved into.
As long as the child's eye level or the top of their ear has not passed the highest point of the seat, and that they are within the weight and/or the height limit they can again remain in the seat.
If you are using an Extended Rearward Facing seat, do not be concerned with the child's legs and that they look too long for the position. Little ones adapt to using the ‘frog position’ and are perfectly comfortable!
What seat should I buy next?
If you have purchased a Group 1 seat your next seat will be a Group 2 / 3 and the last stage car seat you will buy for the child. These are only forward facing car seats.
Group 2 / 3
These are suitable to 36kg or 150cm when they can then legally sit unaided by a car seat, again these will be stated on a sticker on the side of the seat or underneath the base of the seat.
With a high back booster seat these are fully adjustable and will grow with your child, this is usually situated on the headrest itself. There is generally a button that you will squeeze and then you will pull the headrest into its next position.
The headrest should just be sitting above the child's shoulder and the bottom part of the headrest curving around the child’s jawline.
Also make sure to note if your high back booster has a little arm rest for your child, then the seat belt should thread underneath this. The lap belt should be positioned low, sitting across the hips and not high near the stomach.
When do I not need a car seat or booster seat?
The law states that ‘All children under 150cms in height or 36kgs (79lbs) in weight must use a child restraint system (CRS) suitable for their height and weight while travelling in a car or goods vehicle (other than a taxi).’ RSA.ie