The safest way for children to travel in cars is in a child car seat that is suitable for their weight and size, and is correctly fitted in the car.
UK law says that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
New babies travel in rear-facing baby seats that are in group 0 or 0+. Most manufacturers are no longer making group 0 though. From the moment your new baby comes home from the hospital they need to be travelling in a rear-facing baby seat.
They are safest in the back seat of your car. If they do travel in the front seat the airbag must be turned off as this could seriously injure your baby in a crash.
A properly fitted child car seat will help to prevent your child from being thrown about inside the vehicle, or ejected from it, if there is a crash. It will also absorb some of the impact force, and provide some protection from objects intruding into the passenger compartment.
What do I need to know about car seats?
What do I need to know about rear facing child car seats?
There are very many different types of child car seats available, so take your time when choosing a car seat for your baby or babies.
ROSPA provide some great advice and have a helpful checklist available on their website to help you select the child seat that is most suitable for your child and your vehicle(s).
Car seats should only be used for transport and not as an alternative for cots or high chairs. It’s OK for your baby to fall asleep in a car seat when travelling, but they should be taken out as soon as you get home or to your destination, and placed onto a firm, flat surface to sleep.
It is recommended
- That babies should not be in a car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time and they should be taken out frequently.
- If your trip involves driving for long periods of time, you should stop for regular breaks. Not only will this allow you to stretch your own legs but you can check on your baby, take them out of the car seat and let them stretch and move around.
- Ideally, a second adult should travel in the back of the car with your baby, or if travelling alone use a mirror to keep an eye on your baby.
- If your baby changes their position and slumps forward, then you should immediately stop, take them out of the car seat and reposition them before continuing on your journey.
- That you do not buy a second-hand child seat. You cannot be certain of its history. It may have been involved in an accident and the damage may not be visible. Very often the instructions are missing from second-hand seats which makes it more difficult to be sure that you are fitting and using it correctly.