Staying safe in the car – the new i Size regulations

Choosing a car seat was one of the hardest thing we had to do when we were shopping for the Wee Man’s imminent arrival. There are so many different ones out there – different groups, different fittings… and it didn’t get any easier when we wanted to move him up to the next stage either.

I did a bit of research and decided we wanted to keep him rearfacing as long as possible, particularly given that he was such a long baby that he outgrew his group 0 seat by the age of six months, with his head protruding over the top. It felt far too soon to move him into a forward facing seat. So we invested in a rearward facing group 0+/1 seat, and he’s literally only just moved out of it now at almost 4. (Bubby D has gladly taken it over! By contrast she was small for her age and stayed in the group 0 seat til she was 20 months, and even though her legs were bent her head was still only just at the top).

It seems the Government are in agreement with the rearfacing thing too, because this week they’ve launched new i Size guidelines which will run in parallel to the current regulation R44.

But what does that actually mean?

According to BRITAX’s car seat safety expert Mark Bennett, it’ll have the following effect:

· i-Size will make rearward facing travelling mandatory for children up to 15 months

· It will require ISOFIX only seats and the introduction of a side impact test

· i-Size will make it easier for parents to choose and install the right child seat and it will make travelling for children even safer

So it’s all a bit different to the previous rules, which went by weight rather than age and size. Before, babies could be moved to forward facing from 9kg, which is generally around 9 months. There was also no obligation to use an ISOFIX seat – although we always use them now because they’re safer and much, much easier to fit. In fact, studies have shown that belted car seats are only fitted correctly a third of the time! (having seen my mum’s attempt to fit one, I can kind of see why…sorry Mum!).

If you’re getting worried, don’t be – you don’t have to rush out and buy a new seat. The regulations are running in tandem until 2018, so although the new i Size compatible seats will soon start hitting the market parents will still have a choice of which option to go for, at least in the next few years.

Looking at the evidence though, babies and toddlers are much safer being rearward facing in the case of a collision – and that’s because until they reach about 13kg their neck muscles are not yet particularly strong.

So for us, we’ll be sticking to rearward facing as long as we can. And of course car seats until they’re 12, or 135cm tall – something that hasn’t changed with the new regulation.

If it keeps them safer, it makes sense! And, given how comfy their car seats look I often wish I had one myself…

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