Transporting a baby in your car can be quite daunting, especially for new parents. From buying a car seat to getting your tiny passenger from one place to the next, you need to make sure you take care in protecting your baby.

Here are a few very important factors to consider when buying a car seat:

It must be ECE certified

As South African car seats subscribe to European regulations, they need to be certified by the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). Seats that are not certified by the ECE are illegal in South Africa.

You should find a certification sticker showing numbers and codes somewhere on the car seat. The numbers will include the seat’s weight range and the regulation number R44-04.

It must be the correct size for your child

Baby seats are usually divided into the following size and weight ranges:

  • 0-10 kg – Reclining baby seats
  • 9-18 kg – Toddler seats
  • 15-25 kg – Booster seats
  • 22-36 kg – Bum-booster seats

Small babies and toddlers are very different and therefore require different seat design elements to protect them. For example, a recycling baby seat is ideal for newborns as it is especially designed to cater for the softer skull, spine and pelvic bones of an infant, reducing the risk of internal injuries in the case of an accident; a rear-facing seat provides the best protection on impact for a small infant and is recommended for babies up to 18kg; and combination seats are suitable for all weight ranges but are recommended for toddlers, not babies.

Ideally, your vehicle should be ISOFIX-compatible

ISOFIX seats connect to a vehicle’s chassis and subscribe to ECE regulations. If your vehicle is ISOFIX-compatible, it should have clips or tags at the base of the seat, usually in the rear. Alternatively, you can buy a traditional belt-restrained seat; these are not as safe as the ISOFIX seats.

It must be practical

If you have a very busy life, you may want to make sure that you don’t get an overcomplicated baby seat. Consider the following:

  • It must fit into your vehicle. Try the seat before you purchase it to make sure it fits into your car properly.
  • If your vehicle is ISOFIX-compatible, the seat anchor points should all be intact.
  • You should be able to get your baby in and out of the seat easily. Just remember, in the case of an accident or hijacking, you want to remove your baby from the seat as quickly as possible.
  • The seat cover should be removable and easy to clean as lots of germs can build up on the seat.

It must be placed correctly

Place the car seat in the left-rear passenger seat. This will ensure that if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, like a hijacking, you can turn around and remove the baby from the seat quickly. Read more here.