Travelling with young children: Mistakes to avoid when choosing a car seat

January 26, 2021

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travelling with children

Being a parent comes with a variety of challenges and can naturally cause parents to find themselves in a perpetual state of worry. Travelling in cars with young children can be cumbersome and when you factor in child seats, the operation becomes all the more complicated. Which is why we’ve put together a handy list of common mistakes when it comes to selecting a car seat, and how to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Not knowing about different types of child seats and the law

Historically, parents have relied on common practices based on a child’s age when it came to choosing an appropriate car seat. For example, the widely-held belief was that children should remain in a rear-facing seat until the age of 2. It’s important to keep UK vehicle laws in mind for accurate information and to understand the difference between booster seats, height-based seats and weight-based seats.

Child Seat or booster seats

  • Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
  • Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.
  • You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight.

Height based seats

  • Height-based seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing child car seat when they’re over 15 months old.
  • You must check the seat to make sure it’s suitable for the height of your child.

Weight-based seats

  • These will vary based on the advised kilogramme weight – we recommend that you visit the UK Government website which breaks down the differences in a variety of weight-based child seat options

We highly encourage you to get familiar with laws above before purchasing or using a child seat for the first time. It may appear overwhelming at the start but once you select the seat that fits your child’s requirements it’s a stroll in the park.

Mistake #2: Inheriting a used baby seat

Friends and families are always eager to support new parents by contributing hand-me-downs in the form of sage advice and baby gear that their own not-so-little ones have since outgrown. New parents are usually more than happy to accept these generous gifts. But new parents should be cautious of this particular type of hand-me-down: the second-hand baby seat car scenario.

It seems innocuous enough, right? After all, baby gear, especially car seats, don’t come cheap! But what many parents don’t realise is that just like those canned peaches in the back corner of your pantry, car seats have expiration dates, too!

Car seat manufacturers are constantly putting new data and technology to good use in redesigning their products for maximum safety, which are re-designed at the same rate as vehicle styles and models. With a baby seat, it’s often best to have the latest and greatest model because it’ll mean increased safety for your little one!

One last note on the subject: never, ever use a baby seat that’s been involved in a car accident. Accidents are known to compromise the integrity of a car seat, which makes it highly unsafe in abrupt stops or a sudden impact.

Mistake #3: Not Buying the Right Car Seat

Let’s be honest: buying a car seat can be incredibly overwhelming, especially as a new parent! Not only is your child’s safety on the line, but type “car seat” into Amazon and feel the consumer vertigo start to settle in from the abyss of choices.

It can be tempting to click “Add to Cart” on the first baby seat that has high reviews, a great price, is popular with other parents in your social circle, and looks stylish strapped into your backseat! Of course, those factors are important, but you’ll also want to consider:

  • The right seat based on the age, size, and weight of your baby. Manufacturers will have this listed in the seat’s user manual.
  • The type of harness on the seat. Make sure it’s compliant with your UK Government’s safety laws, and also will provide the most protection for your child.
  • Does it fit in your vehicle? Many parents have found themselves regretting their decision when they’re forced to prop up their new car seat with extra padding to ensure it fits properly!
  • Is it a good fit for your lifestyle? Is the fabric easily removable? How about machine washable? Does it effortlessly convert into a pram for maximum mobility? Does it have plenty of storage space for that metric ton of kiddie equipment you’ve been lugging around? Etc.

Mistake #4: Not Asking for Help

Being a new parent comes with its very own special flavour of imposter syndrome. Not only are you sleep-deprived, but you’re also paranoid about appearing incompetent. It can be hard to put your hands up and ask for help.

But baby seats are notoriously complicated. It’s bad enough trying to decipher the mysterious web of straps and flaps, but it’s made worse considering you’re toting precious cargo! And while the new isofix car seat models provide greater safety and ease of installation, it doesn’t make the task any less daunting, especially when you’re just starting out!

The sales representatives at car seat retailers are always well educated on the ins and outs of each model and will be happy to show you the ropes when it comes to installing your baby seat correctly. They’ll also have insider knowledge when it comes to registering for warranties, applying discounts, and getting on the correct mailing lists so you can stay up to date on safety recalls. So don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Same goes for those parents who opt to purchase online. Today, car seat manufacturers are likely to have easy to follow tutorials and a wealth of information on their website and social media channels, so when in doubt, don’t hesitate to google from a trusted source.

Travel around with Bolt

Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you always have to be in the driver’s seat! If you’re frequently out and about with your kiddo in tow, be sure to visit the UK Government website to reference child seat regulations for private hire vehicles. We look forward to getting your family around your respective city safely and efficiently. If you ever have any questions about travelling with children before using Bolt please send us an in-app message, we would be happy to help!

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