How to choose the right Seat?

Here you will find tips and recommendations of our Child Safety Team.

Buying a new car seat

When purchasing a new car seat please consider the following points regarding purchase and installation:

  • Seats with "semi-universal certification" are not permitted in all vehicles. Check the seat manufacturer's compatibility list to find out if the seat will fit in your car. In case of doubt, simply ask your car dealership.
  • Take both your child and your car to the specialised shop and test the seats to find out which one fits best.
  • Child seats should be easy to install!
  • Check the length of the seat belts in the back to ensure they are not too short!
  • Children's harnesses must be easy to adjust, so that they can be tightened or loosened depending on what the child is wearing.
  • The safety seat should offer children who tend to sleep in the car, maximum side support and a comfortable sleeping position (Gr. I) or an adjustable head rest (Gr. II/III).
  • Never buy a seat for the child to grow into! Even though three-year-olds are theoretically old enough to sit in a Group II/III seat, they are often too small for it at the time.
  • Rear-facing child safety seats must not be positioned on the front passenger seat of cars with an activated front airbag. In this instance, the infant car seat must be installed on the rear seat!
  • When buying a new, older and/or used child restraint system, you should always ensure that it complies with the new ECE test standard. The current standard is known as ECE-R-44/04 and reflects the state of the art. The current test label may look like this:

Explanation of the ECE label

The latest version (04) of the test standard has been in force since 2006. However, child restraint systems tested in compliance with the earlier version ECE-R-44/03 can still be used. This standard represents the minimum amount of safety a seat must provide. Seats with test labels ECE-R-44/01 and ECE-R-44/02 or with an "officially approved" label are no longer permitted for use.

Description:

  1. ECE R 44/04: European test standard for child safety seats
  2. UNIVERSAL: Certification as universal or vehicle-specific
  3. 9-18kg: Body weight, for which the seat is approved<
  4. E1: European country designation refers to the country in which the seat was certified
  5. 04301251: Test number: the first two digits refer to the version of the test standard used: These two digits should either be 04 or at least 03!

Buying a second-hand car seat

Should you decide to buy a used child restraint system, you need to consider the following:

  • Be careful when buying a car seat from unknown origin, as it may have already been involved in an accident. Either have it checked by the manufacturer or do not buy it!
  • Car seats can age, so make sure you swap your model for the third child.
  • Models are often already considered outdated after just three to four years.

What dangers are inherent in using used or old child restraint systems?

Over time, hairline cracks can form in the seat shell as a result of accidents. The fissures are often too small to see with the naked eye, but if the seat is still in use they will gradually get bigger.

A seemingly harmless crack can suddenly trigger a complete material failure. This can occur spontaneously during a car crash due to the great forces to which the seat is exposed to on impact.

Alternatively, these tiny cracks may grow unnoticeably due to other factors, such as constant use or exposure to sunlight, which lead to the slow deterioration of the material over time. Therefore, only use second-hand seats that comply with at least test label ECE-R-44/03, are no older than four years, are of known origin (for example, from siblings, family or good friends) and have never been involved in an accident of any sort, even minor.

Always remember that a used seat must perform and fit the car and child as well as a new seat. Otherwise, it cannot offer sufficient protection!

ECE-Groups

ECE-Groups according to the ECE Standard

A child has to be secured with a car safety seat up to the age of 12 years or the height of 150cm. ECE-Standard 44 defines five groups, each of which is designed for a particular weight category. As a rule of thumb, if the child is too heavy or tall for one group, it should move up to the next. We strongly advise parents not to move their child up too quickly, as too large a seat can be just as ineffective in a car crash as one that is too small.

The different groups and the average age of the child using them are displayed in the graph below. It should be noted that the age is not a criterium but should be seen as a guideline, as it refers to the age and weight of an average child. As a result, the weight categories overlap, allowing for added flexibility for those children who do not reflect average trends. This is designed to prevent children from moving up a group too early or too late.

ECE Gruppen-Einteilung unserer Kindersitze

  1. Aton with Base-fix: Group 0+: 0-13 kg (from birth to approx. 18 months)
  2. Sirona: Group 0+/I: 0-18 kg (from birth to approx. 4 years)
  3. Juno-fix: Group I: 9-18 kg (approx. 9 months to 4 years)
  4. Pallas2-fix: Group I/II/III: 9-36 kg (approx. 9 months to 12 years)
  5. Solution X2-fix: Group II/III: 15-36 kg (approx. 3 to 12 years)

When should I change to the next group?

The choice of child restraint system depends on your child's weight. Please ensure that the safety belt or harness fits well, since a badly fitting belt can cause serious injury.

From Group 0+ to Group I

Babies should always be secured in an infant carrier for the first twelve months. There is no need to move your child to a Group I seat if their feet are poking out of the bottom or the child can sit up.

However, if the head protrudes above the edge of the carrier and the baby weighs more than 13kg, you should change seats immediately, as the most vulnerable part of the child’s body is not protected.

From Group I to Group II/III

Should the child already be too heavy for its current seat and tall enough for a new seat, there is no reason why it should not move up a group. If the child’s head is far above the top edge of the seat, you are urged to switch to Group II/III immediately. In this case, the child is often heavy enough to make the change anyway.

The following points apply in establishing whether the seat is the right size

The seat is too small when more than a third of the child's head rises above the seat's top edge or the child's harness in the top setting stretches over the child from an angle below the shoulders. Should this be the case, a car crash could cause serious, if not fatal injury. It is equally important to ensure that the seat is neither too large nor too small. A seat is too large when the harness is far above the shoulders, even in the lowest setting.

Combination seats

Some child restraint systems span several groups; they have the ability to transform into a higher class, allowing them to grow with the child. The usual combinations are between Groups 0+ and I, and Groups I and II/III.

Group 0+/I seats are usually Reboard seats (rear-facing). In this case, the child continues to face the rear, even after they have outgrown the infant carrier. This offers considerable safety benefits over forward-facing systems with integrated harnesses, as the child’s neck is not normally strong enough to support its head in an accident. Modern Reboard seats, like the CYBEX Sirona, are designed with a rotating system that gives it the ability to face forward when the child is too old to be facing the rear.

Group I/II/III combination seats have a life span of approx. 11 years. The material is especially designed for long-term use. Provided the owner observes the instructions, a high-quality seat should not suffer any wear and tear. Modern combination seats, such as the CYBEX Pallas 2-fix, offer the ISOFIX function in both groups, thus covering the whole period of use.