How to choose the best car seats for children
The Child Retention Systems (SRI) are of vital importance for the safety of children when they travel in the car. For this reason, it is important to know which are the best car seats for children that exist in the market. To do this, we must be aware of the legal regulations that affect them to know what types of SRI there are, how their security is evaluated and how they are mounted.
Regulations for children's chairs
The regulation that regulates the safety of child seats is included in two legal texts. Both documents have been prepared by the European Commission. The first is called ECE R44/04 and the second ECE R129 or i-Size . This last document came into force in July 2013, but in 2018 it replaced the first.
Types of chairs
Groups 0, 0+, I, II and III
The ECE R44/04 regulation divides the different types of Child Retention Systems (SRI) into five different groups. For its configuration, two variables have been taken into account: the child's weight and age.
- Group 0 and 0 +: These chairs are for children of 0 to 15 months or a weight that reaches 13 kilos . It must go in the opposite direction to walking, since it offers greater protection for the head, neck and spine. If it is a carrycot , it should be placed in a transverse position and with the head of the baby in the center of the passenger compartment. The subjection to be through a system of five points, having to replace the chair with another upper group when the child exceeds 13 kilos or his head protrudes from the backrest. The use of the front seats is discouraged, except that the vehicle has no rear seats.
- Group I: This chair is intended for children between 9 and 18 kilos or 4 years old. Your position on the bench depends on the type of chair and anchorage (ISOFIX or belt), although it is preferable that it goes in direction opposite to the march . The chair must be fixed to the vehicle before the child is assembled, which in turn will be secured by a five-point harness tightly fastened to the body.
- Group II: The child's weight ranges between 15 and 25 kilos and their age ranges from 3 years to 7 years.
- Group III: Finally, the chairs belonging to this group are suitable for children from 6 to 12 years old approximately, weighing between 22 and 36 kilos.
The SRI of the Groups II and III are mounted on the vehicle in the same direction of travel. By age, weight and size of the children, they correspond with the elevating seats. In this case, it is more effective to use one with backup, because they provide more security. Thanks to them, the seat belt will pass over the shoulder, above the collarbone, without touching the neck.Regarding the chairs approved with the previous regulations, they must pass a lateral impact test , in addition to all chairs for children under 15 months must be placed in the vehicle in the opposite direction to the march.
i-Size chairs mark the range of maximum height (in centimeters) of children who can use it. These vary between 45 and 75 centimeters , the limit being 105 centimeters. However, in those children under 12 years of age who have a height of less than 135 centimeters, they will have to use a Group II or III chair. In addition, it is recommended that they use an SRI even until they reach 150 centimeters in height.
Chairs with or without ISOFIX?
To fix child seats to the car there are two systems. The first that arrived is the most known by all, that is, by using the seatbelt of the seat itself. This is the most complex, because you have to insert the belt band in different slots of the chair, being able to be slack. In addition, if the belt is unbuckled, the safety of the chair, and therefore of the baby, are canceled.
The second, and most effective and comfortable, is the so-called ISOFIX anchorage The ISOFIX system is the safest and most comfortable, because the chair can only be placed in one way, reducing the risks. To mount the SRI, we must pay attention to the following anchor points .
- Two located in the low area of the sidewalk (just between the backrest and the seat). Both anchors are welded to the car's chassis, allowing greater support in case of impact.
- The third point can be of two types.
- Top Tether. Anchoring located in the rear area of the seat or the floor of the trunk (on the chassis), or
- Leg support. It is a rigid supplement that goes from the lower area of the chair to the floor of the vehicle.
Safety test on car seats
car seats for children are evaluated through various impact tests (safety), ergonomics, use or handling and even the presence of toxic substances. To carry out these tests, up to 30 organizations are involved, with clubs such as the ADAC German, the ÖAMTC from Austria or the TCS from Switzerland.
To carry out the tests, the chairs are acquired in anonymous form in a center where they are for sale. The tests to which they are subjected are the following:
In these tests, vehicles of different segments and brands are used.
- Frontal impact. To carry out this test, the chairs are placed in the back seat, both on the left and on the right side. The mannequins correspond to children with a height ranging from 60 to 125 centimeters. These mannequins are exposed to a deceleration of 74 to 0 kilometers per hour in each and every one of the positions that the seats have. In case an SRI can be mounted in several positions or is valid for several groups, it will be evaluated as many times and with as many mannequins as necessary.
- Lateral impact. This test is carried out by placing the manikin (between 75 and 125 centimeters) on the chair in the right rear seat.To perform the test, between the manikin and the element that impacts against it, a "door" of sheet metal is placed with an inner cushion of 2 centimeters that is located with respect to it at 80 degrees. The impact is 27 kilometers per hour, taking place as often as necessary depending on the possibilities of the chair.
- Belt adjustment and fixing in several vehicles. Because each vehicle has a different passenger compartment , the seats have to be evaluated in several vehicles. In this case, it is evaluated that it is well fixed in as many cars as possible. In addition, the safety belt adjustment is also taken into account for minors. For this test, in addition to using mannequins, the help of real children may also be required.
With these tests the technicians of the TCS, ÖAMTC and ADAC value how the chairs adapt to vehicles and children. For this, they use dummies of children with different ages, weights and statures. In addition, they use different body types , focusing their attention on the best selling models. Other aspects also valued are the thickness and quality of the padding, freedom of movement in the chair, visibility or open areas that can cause injuries or frictions.
Use or handling tests
This test assesses the clarity of the instruction book that accompanies the chair. Other aspects valued are the ease of installation and removal of each model, the comfort of fastening the child or how easy it is, or not, to clean it.
Tests of toxic substances
In these tests, the agencies focus their attention on those materials with which the chairs are made. To carry out the tests, they take samples of the materials of each model , and in a laboratory they analyze the degree of toxicity. The materials that focus their research are: aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, ignition retardants and heavy materials.
Once the tests described above, the experts meet to develop a ranking . The safety test assumes 50% of the final grade, the test of use 40% and finally, the ergonomics test 10% of the total. The toxic substances test does not compute, but its results are noted in the comments of each chair.
Choosing a seat to take the child
To choose The best car seats for children The best thing to do is to follow these two steps. First read the car instruction book and, second, the book of the chair that we are interested in purchasing.
The vehicle book is important , because it explains whether or not it has an ISOFIX or Top Tether system. In addition, it will also tell us in which places the SRI can be installed. With the reading of the chair manual , we will be able to know how the assembly, placement of the child or cleaning is carried out.
In case of acquiring the child seat > at a car center, ask them to install it for you. At that time, ask to explain each and every one of the steps that have followed for it. In this way, you can assemble and disassemble the chair correctly when you are not with them.
Finally, taking into account both manuals and only remains to take the child's reference and find the most appropriate.Getting carried away by the price , as a key factor in choosing an IRS is a common mistake, which can, in case of bad luck, result in minor injuries.
How to install a car seat
When installing a chair in the car we must follow the following guidelines.
- First of all, have chosen the most appropriate chair to the characteristics of the child.
- Check the system of fixing the chair to the vehicle. In this case, there are two alternatives:
- The vehicle does not have a ISOFIX system. In this way, for the SRI fixation, the car safety belt must be used. When mounting the chair, you must pass the belt through all the chairs on the chair. In this operation, care must be taken so that the belt is not loose. To do this, it is necessary to periodically check that it has not been loosened and has not even unbuckled.
- If the vehicle includes an ISOFIX system. You only have to anchor the chair to the system checking that the green tabs of the chair are visible. In this case, you have to see, every so often, that they have not been released and that they are still stable.
- Anchor the chair to the Top Tether hitch. /strong> In case the vehicle has it, it is necessary to fix the SRI to this one to avoid that the chair moves involuntarily before an impact.
In case the vehicle does not have Top Tether, it is advisable to use the "support leg" . This element, provides greater stability to the chair , helping it to not move in case of impact. It must be placed on the chassis, not using the holes that carry some vehicles.
When assembling the chair, it is important not to remove the headrest . This element prevents children in groups II and III chairs from suffering "whiplash". Therefore, all the elements of which it is composed must be kept in the seat.