As a proud new parent, one of the dilemmas you might constantly have to encounter is baby or toddler car seat fitting. Parents who own cars, or want to move around with their baby in a personal car, often struggle with this part of the journey. You want your baby to be both comfortable and safe through the journey. It is, therefore, important to carefully think about car seat fitting when buying baby car seats.
Car seats are categorized differently. The main consideration is majorly the baby's weight as opposed to age, so have your baby weighed first.
- Baby seats are suitable for infants up to 13 kgs. They are all rearward facing
- Combination seats can be used at first 13 kgs of the baby when rearward facing, then forward facing when the baby passes this weight. They, however, shouldn't be used with babies weighing more than 18 kgs. Most babies at four or below years weigh this much.
- Forward facing seats are all used for children between 9-18 kgs. These are usually babies between nine months old and four years old.
- High back boosters and booster cushions should only be used with children weighing between 15-36 kgs. These are roughly four- to twelve-year-olds.
To eliminate vast differences in car seat fitting for toddlers, most new car manufacturers include Isofix restraint contacts in all cars. Read your vehicle handbook carefully to determine the correct Isofix contacts. Also, carefully read the child car seat manual and follow the instructions exactly as illustrated. Although Isofix is considered universal, many child car seats might not properly fit into these contacts. This is why when buying child car seats, first ask the retailer to fit the seat into your car while you study the exact process first. After this, try doing it yourself under instructions from the observing retailer. Practice the exact sequence and layout many times before you even start driving around with the child.
If you cannot find car seats that can fit in your car, it is best to ask the car manufacturer directly for advice instead of improvising.
Looking out for the expected Problems
One common occurrence is short belts. Car seat belts are not standardised to specific lengths. You may find that your seat belts are too short for the restraints. This is especially common with rearward facing seats. It is important to try the seat in all positions to ascertain that your belts will fit, before purchasing the seats. Some child car seats have alternative belting routes in case of such a situation. The vendor should point this out and illustrate the alternative route.
Another point to look out for is a sloping seat. If your car cushions have a slope, the infant may not be in a good position. The solution to this would be getting a reclining baby car seat for angle compensation.