You are legally required to transport your child in a car seat: The child sits in a slightly raised position and is protected from the sides and in the head area by special support features. There are special baby car seats for newborn babies and very young children. The weight of your child determines which seat you need: Up to a weight of 13 kg your baby needs a Group 0/0 car seat, up to 18 kg a Group 1 seat and if your child weighs between 15 and 36 kg you will need a Group 2/3 seat. Many models combine the various age-appropriate functions, and therefore allow you to use your seat for many years.
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1. Traveling by car in safety and comfort
Not so long ago, safety belts on the rear seats of the car were optional accessories. The first child car seat was invented in 1963 and had nothing at all in common with today's modern restraint systems in terms of visual appearance and safety features. Nowadays, there is a huge variety of car seats - there are different models available for every age, class and any taste. But the same applies for all models: safety is obligatory, comfort a widely available optional extra.
2. Many advantages
Much has changed since the early days of child car seats: Today's car seats are much more than just a restraint system for the car. You can find the suitable car seat for any age and any use. For example, there are special restraint systems for newborns and babies, seats for toddlers and seats for kindergarten and school kids. Plus there are car seats that attach via the car's three-point seat belt and those that have an Isofix system that attaches directly to the car body.
Modern car seats have active and passive safety features so the child is not just secured via the safety belt but the seat itself forms a kind of airbag or impact absorbing zone for the little passenger. Baby car seats are particularly versatile: they can usually be used not just in the car, but also on the pram plus as baby carrier or baby rocker. And there are numerous extras: from an adjustable backrest to an integrated cup holder.
2. The seat - what to look out for when buying
To find the right car seat for your child, it is first of all important to get an idea of all the different restraint systems that are available. Here is a short overview of the common types of child seat systems:
- Isofix car seats and three-point seat belt car seats:
- These terms refer to how the car seats are anchored in the car - either via the Isofix system to the Isofix hooks in the car, or via the car's three-point seat belt.
- Baby car seats:
- These are also referred to as baby car seats 0 13 kg Gr 0+. They are restraint systems for babies from birth to a weight of 13 kg. Usually, they are rear facing car seats, because they offer the best protection for small children.
- Toddler car seats:
The specialist term for these car seats is car seats 9 18 kg Gr 1. These are car seats for children who can already sit up on their own, but still weigh less than 18 kilos.
- Booster seats:
- These car seats are best for bigger children who can no longer be strapped into a bucket seat and are also ideal as spare seats for visiting children or when traveling in the grandparents' car.
- 2-in-1 car seats:
There are car seats that can grow with the child, enabling you to use them for a longer period of time. The following seats fall into this category: car seats 0 18 kg Gr 0 1 (for babies and toddlers), car seats 9 25 kg Gr 1 2 (for toddlers and kindergarten kids), car seats 15 36 kg Gr 2 3 (for children from kindergarten age to the end of the compulsory car seat phase) and car seats 9 36 kg Gr 1 2 3 (for babies aged approximately six months up to the end of the compulsory car seat stage).
Once you have decided which category of car seat you want to get, you can also let the experts' verdict help you decide which one to buy. The ADAC test winners have been tested thoroughly and awarded a good verdict by ADAC.
3. Planning ahead - the best time to buy
Car seats should be perfectly matched to the size and weight of your child. A baby car seat needs to be purchased before birth; all other restraint systems can be bought later. But watch out: sometimes there can be long delivery times.