2nd Stage Child Seats
your info starts here...........
Once Baby reaches that magical 9kg/20lbs they can be transferred into a group 1 (forward facing or rear facing) child seat. This seat will last until they achieve the maximum weight for the group 18kg/40lbs, in age terms normally about 4 years old. DO NOT BE RUSHED INTO TRANSFERING YOUR BABY INTO A GROUP 1 CAR SEAT, AT THIS AGE IT IS GENERALLY SAFER FOR THEM TO TRAVEL REAR FACING FOR AS LONG AS PRACTICALLY POSSIBLE.
Group 1 child car seats are secured into the car by using your normal 3 point (lap & diagonal) seat belt or by using the Isofix system (see General Info).
Many experts would agree that this group of child car seats is the most difficult to fit safely in to a car because of a problem called "buckle crunch".
In the U.K. we (quite correctly) take buckle crunch very seriously but some other countries do not share our view as they consider the weakest part of a design will always exist.
So firstly let's try and describe buckle crunch.
Let's pretend you had a pencil and you wanted to break it. If you pulled it from one end and a second person pulled from the other the chances are the pencil would not break. Now if you placed the pencil in both your hands and "snapped it" the pencil would of course break immediately.
In theory we have described "buckle crunch", except you need to replace in real life the pencil with the buckle located on the cars seat belt.
In normal passenger usage the force in a accident is applied down a seat belts length but when placed around a car seat sometimes the seat belts buckle lies across the frame of the child cars seat. In event of an accident the seat is then thrown against the seat belt buckle and it can burst open as the force is going "across" as opposed to "down".
In practice however many car seat fitters definition of buckle crunch varies.
Some people consider that even if the buckle touches the frame of the car seat that is enough to consider the child's car seat as being unsafe in the car.
Other people are more tolerant and define buckle crunch when the buckle lies across (or nearly across) the car seats frame.
In short this is a matter of opinion but everyone would agree if the buckle is laying across (or nearly across) the car seats frame it is without question unsafe to be used in the car you are trying to get it to fit.
Unlike infant carriers, group 1 car seats often lie back so that when little one falls asleep they can be reclined. By this age Oxygen desaturation (see stage 1) is probably far less significant so the angle they are sitting at is less important, though of course your baby would much prefer to be comfortable!
Most group 1 car seats these days can be reclined without releasing the seat belt holding it in place but it is worth checking that you are buying a seat that does have this facility as it is a real pain if you need to adjust the cars seat belt before reclining the seat.
Some people find fitting a group 1 car seat securely can be a bit tricky and if you are prepared to spend a little bit more the better models often come with a "tensioner" which helps to tighten the car seat belt once you have routed the cars seat belt.
The size of the seat is also important as little one will not be so little in a couple of years' time and you also need to consider that in winter months they will often have a coat on. Some child car seats can be a bit tall, some can be a bit wide and it's a matter of balance between your baby and your car which seat "feels" best.
With the odd exception the only other issue is if the profile of the seat you are looking to buy fits reasonably snugly into the seat within your car.
As you have probably now realised, buying on the web is NOT a safe option.
JULY 2011: Update Regarding Rear Facing Stage 2 (Group 1) Car Seats.
For some time there has been a "campaign" in the U.K. for parents to adopt rear facing seats normally originating from Scandinavia. In some extreme cases the campaigners have even alleged the UK government & suppliers dont want to improve kids safety and are obstructive in promoting rear facing. (Editors personal note.........can I suggest you guys go look at the use of Fire Retardents in nursery products.........now there is a real story!). But back to car seats.
Experts are very divided on the benefits of these seats.
Here are the two views:-
- Eurotest crash test results confirm that rear facing group 1 car seats are little safer than some impact shield seats (such as those from Kiddy, Cybex and Jane). At the time of writing Which? magazine has made 4 of the 5 models tested as "Dont Buys" often citing poor side impact results
- Claims that group 1 rear facing seats are "5 times safer" are therefore highly controversial.
- Some argue that Scandinavian accident statistics are better than ours purely because of the size & brands of cars that they drive.
- Many users find it significantly more difficult to fit a rear facing stage 2 seat than a forward facing seat.
- If sold second hand the risks of these seats being fitted in a dangerous manner are considerable.
- Unless you have a very large car these seats are likely to impact on either the drivers seat or the front passengers seat.
- Some reports suggest that children do not enjoy traveling in these type of seats.
- They are expensive & sometimes difficult to move from car to car.
- Rear facing seats are NOT tested in high speed REAR impact crash tests. (A rear impact in these seats is the same as a head on accident in a front facing seat).
- Only "specialist fitters" are trained to fit these seats and research clearly shows that parents have problems fitting car seats.
- The BMJ has issued a report confirming they believe rear facing stage 2 seats offer better protection.
- The Hatfield rail crash proved that rear facing was safer (the most serious injuries occured to those forward facing).
- Most experts do agree the principal of rear facing is safer but only in a head on crash scenario. In consequence parents should try to keep a child rear facing as long as practically possible when using an infant carrier.
- In May 2011 Which? made two Besafe models a "Best Buy" (most other brands remain "Dont Buys). Editors note: if you are considering rear facing, Besafe would appear to be the best brand available at this time.
- Some experienced Road Safety Officers hold strong views that rear facing group 1 seats are better.
- It is much easier to "load" a child in a rear facing seat.
- Because these seats are normally fitted at independent shops the chances that the instilation will be correct is very high.
UPDATE: We now have a page on this website dedicated to the rear facing car seat debate.