Baby car seats: The law in the UK is changing, here’s everything you need to know…

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by Emma Dodds |
Updated on

Yes parents, we're afraid the law on car seats for babies is changing in the UK in March 2017.

Keeping your children safe is every parents prime concern, and when you're travelling by car that means one thing - a car seat.

But the problem is, when it comes to car seats the situation is far from 'one size fits all.' Not only are there tons of car seats on the market - some of them costing hundreds of pounds - but the rules and regulations change depending on your child's age, weight and height.

And now the UK government have changed the law concerning car seat again. Here's everything you need to know...

Car seat
The UK laws around car seats are changing (Credit: Getty) ©Getty

How is the UK law on baby car seats changing?

Parents and guardians will no longer be able to buy a backless booster seat for children under 4'1" and who weigh less than 22kg (3.5 stone).

This law will only apply to backless booster seats that are new to stores from March 1 - but if you already own one that you use, it's fine to keep using it.

If you want more info, you can head over to Gov.UK.

Why are the laws on baby car seats changing?

Experts have claimed that backless car seats are not as safe (Credit: Alamy) ©Alamy

This is down to claims from experts who say that smaller children are not as well protected in a crash by backless seats because they are not as secure because of the seatbelts sitting too high on their bodies.

They also have no back and side support, which could cushion a child in the event of a crash.

So your child's safety is seriously at risk in an accident if they are only on a booster seat. Definitely worth investing in one with a back!

How to fit a baby car seat

A worrying third of car seats in the UK are fitted incorrectly (Credit: Alamy) ©Alamy

Worryingly, new research by insurance company Sheila's Wheels has found that a whopping third of car seats in the UK aren't installed correctly - and 10% of those are a danger to the child.

It's hardly surprising though - they are REALLY hard to fit!

How to fit a car seat:

  • If you're using a rear-facing car seat, deactivate any front-facing airbags

  • Check the seat is fastened securely and won't move once you start driving

  • The seat buckle should be outside the frame - otherwise it might open in an accident

  • A baby's harness should be pulled tight with a maximum of two fingers' room between their collar bones and the shoulder straps

  • The harness buckle should be as low as possible - preferably over their pelvis instead of their stomach

  • Adjust everything to the seat's instructions

Even more concerning is that a Freedom of Information request by showed that 66% of parents in the UK don't properly understand what the regulations are for a booster seat for height, age and weight.

If you're one of those people - don't worry, we've got you covered.

Babies weighing less than 9kg should be in a carrier (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Baby car seat regulations:

  • Children either under 12 years old or less than 4'5" tall must sit in a car seat - whichever comes first

  • If your baby is older than 15 months, they can sit in a rear OR front-facing seat, but before that the baby must face the back of the car

  • You'll know when you need to get a new one by checking where the top of your child's head is. If it's level with the top of the seat, you need a new one. Experts say that this should only happen when your baby can hold their own head up for at least half an hour

  • Babies weighing less than 9kg (20 pounds) should travel in a baby carrier instead of a seat

  • When your child weighs more than 15kg, they can sit in a backless booster seat - this is normally around three years old

Can baby car seats go in the front?

Baby car seats are always safer in the back passenger seats (Credit: Alamy) ©Alamy

It completely depends on how old your baby is and whether your car seat is front-facing or rear-facing, but it is ALWAYS safer to put babies in the rear seats of your cars.

Can a baby car seat face forward?

If your baby is younger than 15 months old, they must face the back of the car. This is for their own safety. However, as soon as your child is older than 15 months, you can buy a front-facing car seat.

Rear-facing seats:

You should NEVER fit a rear-facing seat to the front passenger seat if there is an active airbag on the passenger side. The back of the baby seat would be too close to the dashboard, and if the airbag was released in a crash it would hit the baby very hard and potentially cause serious injury.

You could think about de-activating the airbag, but that would mean that an adult passenger who then sits in it would not have the protection. If you think you might do this, check with the manufacturer of your car and also check with your insurance company.

Front-facing seats:

It is better to avoid putting a front-facing car seat in the front with an airbag, but it is safer than a rear-facing seat.

You can put a front-facing seat in the front passenger seat of your car if there is an airbag, but - we must stress - it is always safer for children to travel in the back passenger seats.

If you are going to put a front-facing seat in the front when there is an airbag present, make sure that the seat itself is moved as far back as possible and that the child seat is held securely so that the distance between the child and the airbag is as big as possible.

If you really need to fit a car seat in the front of your car, it is best to check with the vehicle manufacturer and find out how far the airbag extends and follow the above advice to move your seat back.

Does a baby need a car seat in a taxi?

There are some exceptions to the car seat laws (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

No, children don't need to be in a car seat if you are in a taxi, but they cannot ride in the front seat of the car.

There are a few exceptions to the law for baby car seats. You do not need to use a car seat:

  • If you need to make an unexpected emergency journeys - as long as it is only a short distance and the child is over the age of three

  • If you are travelling in a minibus, minicab, taxi, coach or van - but the child must not ride in the front seat of the car

  • If there are three children sat in the back of the car and the third car seat just won't fit - but only if the child is older than three

How much are baby car seats?

Like anything, the prices range from super cheap to rather expensive and you get what you pay for. But when it comes to your child's safety, we reckon no price is too high.

Our friends over at Mother & Baby have reviewed what seems like almost every car seat there is - for 0+ years, then up to 1+ years and also 2&3 years for each stage of your baby's life.

Here is a different range of baby car seats that adhere to the new laws and won't break your bank.

For 0+ years - carry cots:

Price range £££: Doona Simple Parenting by CuddleCo Infant Car Seat - Amazon, £299.99. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

Price range ££: Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus Car Seat - Amazon, £165.00. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

Price range £: Joie i-Gemm Car Seat - Kiddicare, £115.00. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

(Credit: ©

For 1+ years:

Price range £££: Cosatto Hug ISOFIX – Uberkids, £280.00. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

Price range ££: Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Car Seat – Amazon, £180.00. Read the Mother & Baby review here

Price range £: Joie Stages - Uberkids, £139.95. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

(Credit: ©

For 2&3 years:

Price range £££: Recaro Monza Nova 2 Seatfix Car Seat – Amazon, £139.00. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

Price range ££: Diono Monterey 2 Expandable Booster Seat – Amazon, £84.95. Read the Mother & Baby review here

Price range £: Joie Trillo Group 2/3 Car Seat – Uberkids, £45.95. Read the Mother & Baby review here.

(Credit: ©

For more information on car seats, you can visit Child Car Seats which covers pretty much everything you will ever wonder about car seats.

Do you find the rules around children's car seats confusing? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

Like this? Now read these:

Dad creates video on how to install baby's car seat - with hilarious results

Mum's warning to parents over deadly car seat mistake: 'I wish someone had warned me'

The technicalities of baby car seats

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