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Car Seats FAQ: Your Questions Answered

Car Seats FAQ: Your Questions Answered

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Alongside a stroller and a crib, a car seat is usually one of the first investments you will make as a soon-to-be parent. But unlike most of the parenting decisions you’re going to make, the oft-repeated ‘do what works for you’ doesn’t apply to car seats. That’s because they’re subject to their own safety laws and guidelines, which change as your child grows.

This means ‘winging it’ really isn’t an option. But with so many models out there, different ages and stages to consider and legislation to review, where do you start? Well, you’re not alone in wondering. Here are the most frequently asked questions about car seats from our customers.


How long are car seats good for?

Ah, the eternal answer: it depends. A car seat is effective depending on the age and stage of the child. Most parents will use three different car seats as their little one develops: an infant seat, a convertible seat and a booster seat. Here’s the lowdown on each type of seat and how long they’ll last your child.


Infant seat: typically from birth to 12 months

  • The infant car seat is the rear-facing bucket-style seat that you can use for at least the first year of your baby’s life. 
  • They usually snap in and out of a base that’s installed in the car. 
  • They have a five-point harness, more than one recline option and usually come with a newborn insert. 


Convertible seat: from birth up to 4-6 years


Booster seat: from 4 to 12 years

  • Booster seats can be either high-backed or backless. 
  • Your child is restrained by an ordinary seat belt that can fit safely through slots on the seat.
  • They raise your child’s seating position so the belt sits across the pelvis, chest and shoulder, not their stomach and neck.
  • High-backed seats are generally the next step on when a child outgrows their forward-facing convertible seat at around age four. 
  • High backs have side wing protection and some have adjustable headrests.



Why do car seats expire?

Car seats continue to improve in safety and child vehicle fatalities have decreased. But like milk or batteries, car seats do expire, and can become unsafe after their life span. Exposure over the years to UV rays, heat and cold and daily wear and tear can break down the plastic and other materials used to construct car seats, making the parts less capable of withstanding an impact.

Infant car seats generally last around six years and convertible car seats about 10 years. Have a look at the registration card that comes with your purchase or check the seat itself for its expiry date. Fill out the card and take a photo of it (or the expiry date on the seat) on your cell so you can easily recall the information. 

Don’t be tempted to save on a second-hand car seat. Older seats may not meet current standards or be as well suited to your car. You won’t know its history, either. Even if there’s no exterior damage, it may previously have been in a crash. Its internal structure may be weakened and therefore less safe for your baby.

When your car seat’s time is up, render it useless to others by cutting the straps. Don’t pass it on.


When can baby face forward in car?

We get it – it’s way easier to talk to your kid, hand them snacks and comfort them if they’re forward facing. But experts agree that deciding to turn a child forward-facing before they outgrow the rear-facing limits isn’t safe. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advise keeping your little one rear-facing for as long as possible or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. 

This could be up until the age of four. In Sweden, children sit rear-facing until they’re four years old – and the country has reported a notably low fatality rate in car crashes. British Medical Journal research also shows that a child is safer riding rear-facing until the age of four. 

So, best practice is to keep children rear-facing as long as possible. Why? Well, facing backwards is safer for young children. That’s because kids are built differently to adults. Their heavier heads and stretchier bones make them far more susceptible to neck and spinal cord injuries in a car accident. Riding rear-facing can help protect those areas. In a head-on collision, the shell of the car seat will cocoon your child, absorb the crash and keep your child’s head, neck and spine aligned. 


When is my baby too big for infant car seat?

Your child has outgrown their infant seat when they’ve either reached the maximum height or weight limit, which is around 30 to 32 inches or 30 to 35 pounds. Or, the top of their head is less than an inch from the top of the seat when they’re strapped in.

Most babies reach 30 to 32 inches between 12 and 19 months, and generally outgrow the seat’s height limit before the weight limit. Bigger kids will therefore move on faster. In general, most parents opt for a larger, convertible seat between nine months and two years. 

Within that age range, a rear-facing infant seat and a rear-facing convertible seat are both safe, provided that the child meets an individual seat’s height and weight requirements. Some parents find the click-in-and-out convenience of the infant seat preferable, instead of switching to a one-piece convertible seat that stays in one place.



What age are car booster seats for?

Your little one should be at least four years old, and be able to understand and adhere to sitting still in the car. 

Your child should weigh a minimum of 40 pounds and be at least 38 inches tall, but do check your car seat manufacturer’s recommendations.

They should also be able to sit up without slouching or slumping, even when they’re napping. Good posture means that if there’s an accident, they’re less likely to be injured. 

Don’t ditch the booster too soon. Your child may want to ride like a grown-up, but kids smaller than 4 feet 9 inches belong in a booster, no matter their age.


How to put a car seat in a shopping cart

It seems like everyone shops with their infant seat balanced precariously on top of their shopping cart. But just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it safe. It may look secure – you can even ‘click’ your car seat on – but it’s not (and it can damage your car seat’s base-locking mechanism). It makes the cart top heavy, which could lead to your baby toppling off the cart or even having the cart tip over on to them, resulting in severe injuries.

So, what’s the alternative? 

Put the car seat in the cart.

Yes, it’ll take up much of your shopping space, but it means your cart won’t be top heavy. Carefully place your items around your baby and ensure your goods can’t fall on top of them. 

Wear your baby in a carrier.

This is a simple option that allows you to keep baby close and your hands free for pushing the cart. No cart space will be taken up, leaving plenty of room for groceries. Check out our collection of child carriers.

Take the stroller.

Using your stroller as a cart could be worth a try, especially if you have a large storage basket. Just take care not to overload your stroller or load it in a way that could make it tip over.

Need some support? We’ve got you. Simply head to and click on the ‘help me choose’ tab on the right-hand-side of the home page. We’ll take you through some simple options to find the perfect safe and comfortable car seat for your child. Already know what you want? Shop our wide car seat collection.
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