Advice on what to look for when buying a forward facing car seat for your baby to help ensure their safety when travelling by car.
When your child outgrows their rearward facing car seat you will need to purchase a forward facing car seat (group 1). These are designed for children weighing between 9 and 18kgs (20-40lbs) and anywhere from 6 months to 4 years. Depending on the type of car you drive, it may be possible to sit your baby on the front seat in their forward facing car seat. However, it is safer to fit the seat in the back if at all possible.
Forward facing car seats consist of a metal frame attached to the plastic shell of the seat, covered in a washable or wipable cover. The seat is fitted into the car using a 3 point adult seat belt and baby is fitted into the seat using an integral 5 point harness. Child car seats can be difficult to fit so it is important to closely follow the manufacturers instructions and to practice several times before taking your child out in the car.
You should ensure that the seat belt is positioned correctly around the seat, that the seat has little forward or sidewards movement (leaning into the seat whilst tightening the belt around it should help) and that the seat belt buckle is not resting on the frame. You should regularly check the position of the seat and carefully adjust the positioning each time you move the car seat out of the car.
It is important that the harness fits snugly around your baby so that there is less than 2 fingers space between them. Additionally, it is vital that you attach the bottom strap that fits between baby's legs as this prevents baby sliding out the bottom of the seat during a crash. You should never use blankets or clothing to pad your child's car seat and you should always adjust the fit of the harness each time your baby uses the seat.
Not all car seats fit all cars so it is important to check that the car seat you purchase fits comfortably in your car and in any other car it is likely to be used in. If you are unsure of how to safely fit your baby's seat you should contact your local Road Safety officer and they should be able to provide you with advice.
You should never buy a second hand forward facing car seat for your child unless you can be absolutely certain of its history as even the smallest impact could affect its reliability.
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