Stuff: Car seat

If you’re driving with your baby, you’ll need to put them in a special seat until they’re about 12, unless it’s an emergency.

What is it?

A seat that sits in your car to transport your baby safely. They come in rear-facing or front-facing. Rear-facing are much safer, and in Sweden they’re the law up to the age of 4. As they’re only mandated until 9 months in the UK, larger rear-facing ones tend to be pricier here – we’re talking a couple of hundred quid.
In the UK, then, you tend to get rear-facing for small babies (up to 9-12 months; use the newborn insert when they’re tiny), followed by forward-facing, followed by booster seats. Always buy a high-backed booster seat – Bin the Booster campaign (Britax website)

Do I need one?

Probably. If you’re certain that you’ll never travel in a car with your child until they’re 12, then no. It’s worth noting that you don’t legally need one in the UK if you’re travelling in a licensed taxi, or having an emergency. However, there’s a reason they’re the law – they’re safer, so it’s probably worth having one in the cupboard even if you don’t own a car.

What about multiple children?

They’ll need one each. If you have more than two kids, you’ll need to make sure they fit in your car properly.

How do I get one?

This is one of the few times it might be worth buying new, as it’s really important to get one that’s not been in a car accident. But if you’re confident of the source, you can pick them up on Freegle, Gumtree, or a secondhand market.

How much are they?

You can pick up a stage 1 rear-facing seat new from around £25. I got one at a Jack and Jill market for a fiver.

What are the safety concerns?

It’s really important that you put your child in the seat correctly. Children are often injured or die in car accidents because the car seat wasn’t correctly fitted. Read the manual (if you do buy second hand, try and get one with a manual; otherwise look it up online).

Never fit a rear-facing seat on a seat with an airbag.

What’s the alternative?

Don’t ever take your child in a car.

Accessories

If/when you have a rear-facing seat, you might want to get a baby mirror, so you can see your baby when you look in your rear view mirror. I didn’t, but kept meaning to get round to it; there were times I just pulled the car over to check the baby was breathing! You can also get fun little mirrors and toys to amuse the baby while they sit there.

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