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Which? verdict on royal car seat controversy

Safe car seat advice from Which? experts

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Following the controversy over Prince George’s car seat, Which? speaks out with advice for new mums like Kate on the safest way to fit a car seat.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sparked criticism ahead of their royal tour by opting for a forward-facing car seat for eight month-old Prince George during their visit to New Zealand.

Current UK laws require all infants be rear-facing until they weigh at least 9kg, and Which? recommends keeping your baby rear-facing for as long as possible – at least until they’re 13kg, or 15 months old.

Misconceptions revealed in Which? car seat survey

According to our latest baby survey, the royal couple are not alone in choosing a forward-facing car seat too soon. Three in five parents thought it was safest for children to travel facing forwards than rearwards in their car seat from nine months old, which is incorrect – and 18% just didn’t know.

In July 2013, the new iSize car seat regulation came into effect; it will run alongside the current regulation (R44), but will eventually replace this in 2018. The iSize regulation should make choosing and fitting a car seat much easier for parents, and a key feature is that children will have to stay rear-facing until 15 months of age, regardless of their weight.

Are rear-facing car seats safer?

Which child car seat expert, Lisa Galliers, says: ‘The most important change you’ll make for your child is moving from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one.

‘Forward-facing (Group 1) child car seats are approved to be used from 9kg, but when you turn your baby forwards you expose them to the danger of their spinal cord snapping in a frontal impact crash – the forward momentum of their big head can overstretch their weak neck muscles and ligaments.

‘Which? recommends that you leave your baby in a rear-facing child car seat until they are least 15 months old, or they reach the weight limit of that seat (13kg for a rear-facing Group 0+ seat).

‘Rear-facing car seats minimise the movement of the babies head in a frontal collision, surround the baby with a protective shell and distribute the pressure from the car seat as over the strongest parts of the body.’

Car seat safety

Choosing the correct car seat is imperative to ensuring your child’s safety. Child car seats are grouped according to the weight of the child. For information on choosing the correct car seat weight groups for your child, see our guide to choosing a child car seat.

Buying a safe child car seat will help protect your child, but making sure it is fitted correctly is also imperative. Correct fitting will ensure the car seat works properly in a crash situation. For more information, and to find out about fitting a car seat safely, see our guide on how to fit a child car seat.

Our survey also discovered that one in five parents thought a backless booster seat would offer the same crash protection as a high backed booster seat, which is not the case. Our shocking video shows what happens during a crash when using a backless booster seat.

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Car seat reviews

Choosing a Which? Best Buy car seat will give you peace of mind that it’s easy to install and will minimise the chances of incorrect fitting.

To see which car seats came out top in our rigorous tests, visit our page on Best Buy child car seats.

More on this…

  • Find out which car seats scored highest in our car seat reviews
  • See our video on how to buy the best child car seat
  • Learn how Which? makes child car seats safer
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