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New parents unaware of i-Size child car seats law change

The rear-facing rule parents are missing out on
Maxi-Cosi i-Size car seat

Car-seat law has been a hot topic for the past 12 months, thanks mainly to the change in approval rules for booster seats. But more than half of new parents are missing another fundamental change in the child car seats law – i-Size.

We’ve discovered that 53% of parents of babies haven’t heard of i-Size. And a further 25% are aware of it but don’t understand what it is. That’s despite i-Size becoming part of child car seat law two years ago today.

Find out which i-Size seats we’ve named Which? Best Buy child car seats

i-Size child car seats

i-Size rules make it mandatory for babies to stay rearward facing in a baby car seat until they are 15 months old. This is to stop parents turning their baby forwards-facing too soon, so putting their baby at risk of serious injury or even death in a crash.

The new rules also change the way parents buy a new seat – based on a child’s height, rather than the current car seat weight groups. Going by height makes it easier to see whether your child has really outgrown their seat (when the crown of the head is past the top of the baby car seat).

i-Size child car seats have more protection for your baby’s delicate head and neck area, and Isofix connectors are mandatory for the car seat bases, which help reduce the risk of fitting a car seat incorrectly. An incorrectly fitted car seat may reduce the protection it offers in a crash.

Child car seats you buy by weight are still available and perfectly legal to use. But now, with i-Size, parents have a choice on the type of car seat they buy for their baby.

i-Size child car seats – find out all you need to know

Who’s missing out on i-Size?

In February 2017, we asked 1,552 parents with at least one child, whether they’d heard of i-Size and were aware of what it covers. 53% of parents with a baby aged one or under admitted they’d never heard of it, despite being the main target audience for these seats.

But although our survey shows many parents of young babies still don’t understand about i-Size, the message appears to be getting through – albeit slowly. When we asked the same question last year, 59% of new parents admitted they hadn’t heard of the i-Size regulation, and back in 2015, only 28% had heard of it.

Lisa Galliers, Which? child car seat expert says: ‘Although it’s great to see awareness figures on an upward curve, it’s a shame that more new parents aren’t aware of their choice in child car seats, and of the benefits of keeping babies rear facing for longer.’

Why rear-facing car seats?

The most dangerous car accidents are frontal collisions. They are the most common type of incident, and generally take place at the highest speeds.

However, this force can cause a lot of strain on the areas of the body held back by the belts, and also on the head and limbs, which are flung forward, too.

A baby’s body is different from an adult’s: they’re not fully developed, so they can suffer severe injuries to their neck, spine and internal organs from the force of a crash, especially if they aren’t strapped in properly or are in the wrong car seat.

In a front crash, in a rear-facing seat, the baby’s head is cocooned by the padding and the shell of their car seat, supporting the head and back and limiting the movement of the head on the neck, reducing the force on the neck.

Child car seats law – what you need to know

  • There are two sets of car seat rules in force now. You can buy and use seats from either quite legally. You just have to make sure you follow the rules for the seat you are using.
  • If you currently have a car seat that’s approved to the R44.04 rule (ie not i-Size), then you don’t need to buy another one.
  • If you choose not to buy an i-Size seat, our car seat experts advise keeping your baby rearward facing for as long as possible, and to keep your baby in the lowest group seat for as long as possible. Don’t be tempted to upgrade to the next stage seat too soon.

Child car seats law – read more and avoid a £500 fine.

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