Child car seats

First things first: There are generally two types of high back booster car seats:

Group 1/2/3 — from 9kg to 36kg, or around 9 months to age 12 (or 135cm)
Group 2/3 — from 18kg to 36kg, or around 4 years to age 12 (or 135cm)

As of 1 March, 2017, under the new R129 (i-Size) regulations, children must be in a high back booster seat until they are 22kg/120cm (around age six) at which point they can move to a backless booster if you prefer. However, high back booster seats are also the safest way for older children to travel as they include side impact protection and a headrest.

Prices vary pretty largely, from around £50 to £250.

These booster seats raise your child to the correct height to use the car’s standard 3-point seatbelt, but also include side impact protection and a headrest. This provides optimal protection in the event of a collision for your child. Some seats (such as the Recaro Monza Nova Seatfix) also include snazzy extra features such as an iPod jack and speaker in the headrest or cup holders within easy reach of shorter arms.

Some children may say they don’t like using a high back booster seat because they feel ‘childish’. If this is the case, opt for a grown up colour or design wherever possible, to help differentiate it from the seat they had when they were younger – the Joie Trillo looks mature enough to make older children feel at ease. Depending on the size of your car, it can be tricky to fit three car seats across the back seat, so if you have a child over 120cm, you may wish to move them to a backless booster to help free up some space.

Child being strapped into car seat

Key features to look out for:

Side impact protection both creates a comfy seat for your child and protects them in the event of a side-on collision. The padding on the sides of the chair and headrest absorb the force of the impact, meaning less strain on your child’s spine, neck and muscles in the event of a collision. Some models also have a stabiliser that touches the door closest to the car seat, which helps absorb the force of impact as well.

A headrest is essential to keep your child’s head safe in the event of a crash. It also comes in handy for those quick power naps in between swimming and football or on the long drive to Grandad’s at the weekend. If the headrest is also adjustable to suit your growing child, that’s a huge bonus, and some models (such as the Cybex Solution Q3-Fix) even have reclining headrests to ensure your child’s head doesn’t loll forward when they nod off, keeping their head safely within the padding of the headrest.

Seat belt guides to show you where to thread the car’s seat belt are really handy and help minimise the chance of installing the car seat incorrectly.

Highback boosters can be installed using isofix or the car’s standard 3-point seat belt – and sometimes both. Isofix installation minimises the chances of parents installing the car seat incorrectly and improves the stability of the seat in the event of a collision. More and more highback booster manufacturers are included isofix installation as standard, so it’s definitely one to look out for when you’re shopping around.

Check out our Mumsnet Best Highback and Backless Booster Seats for recommendations on which seat to buy for your child.

Depends on your car and how wide the seats are as to which seat will fit best in the middle. A good idea to find out whether they will all fit across the backseat is to take all the seats with you when you go to buy your new one.

Booster seats (from 6 years old)

Once your child reaches six years old, you could start to look at backless booster seats. On one hand, these are a lot easier to fit in a car, so for parents with multiple children it may be a matter of convenience. On the other hand, backless boosters come with less impact protection (if any). What’s more, many high back boosters are now made to last up until your child is 12, so if you really want to get your money’s worth you may want to stick with those.

However, it can be handy to have a booster seat around, if only because they’re easier to transport than high back boosters. For playdates and going on holiday, it could be worth the investment.

While most backless booster seats simply raise the child so that the 3-point car seat fits them safely, new designs are constantly appearing. For example, the Mifold sits flat beneath the child and adjusts the seat belt itself to the correct height.

For more information about the safety of high back boosters and booster seats, take a look at our Car Seat Regulations Guide.

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