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Child car seats

Most children love to be on the move. But climbing and fooling around in a car can be dangerous. So, there are child car seats for moving kids from point A to point B safely. A requirement here is a restraint system fitted to the child's height, appropriately fastened. A too-large or too-small child car seat can cause the seat belt to press against the child's neck. In Germany a car seat is required until the child is older than 12 or up to 150 cm in height. Infringement of this regulation will result in a fine and a point assessed in the driving fitness register.

There is another requirement: the car seat must be tested to ECE 44/03 or higher, which can be seen in the first two digits of the 8-digit registration number on the orange-colored ECE test seal. When buying a child car seat, take note of the ECE test seal and be thoroughly aware of the test results, for example from ADAC.

Child car seats are designated in different classes according to ECE guideline 44: 0+, I, II, and III. The class is determined by the child's weight and not his/her height or age. But these designations are no longer current, since nowadays children "grow out of" the seat before reaching the weight limit. So, for several years there has been the ECE-R 129, which is valid only for vehicles with Isofix mounting (so-called i-Size car seats):

  • Class Q0 for up to 60 cm height
  • Class Q1 for 60-75 cm height
  • Class Q1.5 for 75 - 87 cm height
  • Class Q3 for 87-105 cm height
  • Class Q6 for 105-125 cm height
  • Class Q10 for over 125 cm height

Furthermore, there are differences in positioning the seat, which could be front- or rear-facing. In Germany babies weighing up to 9 kg (up to about 10 months old) belong in a rear-facing baby carrier - this better protects the baby's head in a front-end collision, since the neck muscles of a child are still quite weak. The ECE regulation 129 mentioned above specifies rear-facing transport for the new i-Size car seats, even up to 15 months of age.

Group I car seats

Car seats in group I are for children weighing 9-18 kg and may be mounted facing front or rear. But it's recommended to use it facing the front only after age 3, when a child's neck muscles are strong enough to hold the head upright during a front-end collision.

There are group I car seats with shoulder harnesses and impact shield systems with a plate in front of the child's stomach which minimizes force in case of a collision. On the other hand, shoulder-harness systems are more comfortable for sleeping. If these can be installed facing the rear, they are called Reboard seats. With car seats with shoulder harnesses, be sure to tighten the straps and fasten the seat itself securely into place. With the other system, the harness must go securely through the impact shield.

Group II car seats

Car seats in group II are suitable for children weighing 15-25 kg. These can also be installed either front- or rear-facing, but only if no Isofix system is used to secure them. In this case, the seat must be installed facing the front. Group II car seats are usually booster seats with back rests or head supports for sleeping. The child is secured with a conventional three-point safety belt, which must be placed over the middle of the child's shoulders. This is strong enough to protect children age four and up against impacts.

The lap belt is threaded through large belt hooks which are meant to prevent the belt from slipping against the child's stomach. There are also car seats that fall into both groups II and III.

Group III car seats

Group III car seats are for children weighing 22-36 kg. Apart from this, the specifications of group II appy here also. Car seats which fall into groups I, II, and III can also be purchased, but as a compromise these are not 100% customized to the child's age. It's important above all here that small children are able to remain in a safe sleeping position.