When your little one suddenly outgrows their infant carrier, a whole new world of next-stage car seats is opened before you. With so many products on the market, as parents we ask ourselves, which is safest? How much should I spend? Is there really a difference between them?
Hamish McPhillips, Head of Car Safety at Silver Cross, answers your questions on how to choose the best toddler car seat.
Shop: Motion All Size 360
What should I consider before buying?
When choosing your next-stage car seat, there are a few things to consider. Think about how you will be using the seat. Will you be leaving it in one family car or switching between two? If it’s for a grandparent’s car, how many children of different ages and sizes will be using it? Most cars nowadays will have the ISOFX system in them but be sure to double check this before purchasing your seat.
Are there different kinds of toddler car seats?
The award-winning Silver Cross car seat collection includes two next-stage seats that have both been designed by our team of car safety experts.
First we have the Motion All Size 360 – our R-129-approved 360 rotating, all stages car seat. It’s suitable from birth up until 12 years with effortless rotation for easy accessibility and a Side Protection System (SPS) to keep little one protected on every journey. For extra comfort, Motion All Size 360 includes soft, breathable bamboo fabrics, a removable newborn insert, 8 head rest positions and 3 recline positions. This is our go-to car seat if it’s being used for multiple aged children or is remaining in just the one car. And at just £375, it’s superb value for money, giving you 12 years peace of mind.
Or, if you’re looking for a more lightweight option that can be easily moved between multiple cars – ideal for travelling – consider the Silver Cross Balance i-Size. This is an every stage car seat offering the best in comfort and security. Growing with your child from 15 months to 12 years, its expanding side wings, memory foam seat and adjustable head hugger ensures they’re protected at every stage of their development. Balance is priced at £250, so it’s as affordable as it is safe.
Alternatively, there may be a toddler seat available to fit onto the same ISOFIX base used for the infant carrier. Some brands offer this option but remember you will need to purchase an additional ISOFIX base if you are still planning to use the infant carrier for a second child.
Shop: Balance i-Size
How do I install a next-stage car seat?
Fitting any of the Silver Cross car seats is super easy as they all have the ISOFIX system for peace of mind that the seat, and your little one, are as secure as possible. Studies show that the risk of incorrectly fitting a car seat is 2.3 times lower when it has the ISOFIX feature, than when using an adult seat belt.
When it comes to putting your child’s seat into the car, ensure you have all the instructions to hand. Or, to make things even easier, scan the QR code on your Silver Cross car seat which will pull up the Silver Cross app for an easy step-by-step guide.
What does i-Size mean?
It’s a term taken from the latest European child car seat safety regulation (R-129) which was introduced for better compatibility between the child and the car seat using their height, instead of their weight. This regulation also includes the additional side impact testing using up-to-date crash test dummy technology and the requirement for rearward facing up to the 15-month mark.
Which side of the car should I install the seat into?
As with newborn car seats, the middle seat in the rear bench of a car is considered the safest as it’s the most protected during a collision. But not all vehicles have a middle seat and some often don’t have ISOFIX fittings. Together with the fact that loading in and out of the middle seat may be harder, especially with other passengers in the car, it could lead to a less than optimised fit. Because of this, the rear passenger side is the best option to allow safer loading on the pavement side and avoid incoming traffic.
Shop: Motion All Size 360
Three-point harness, five-point harness or seatbelt?
When you were shopping for your first-stage infant carrier car seat, you probably came across products with five-point and three-point harnesses. Generally, the more contact points there are, the safer the design is. As a guide, Formula 1 drivers and fighter jet pilots wear six or seven-point harnesses!
All Silver Cross car seats have a five-point harness system for maximum security. As your child grows, the harnesses can be adjusted for a comfortable fit, but should remain snug at all times. Once your little one gets to an age when the harness is too small for them, you should switch to using the adult seat belt, but ensure you have made the correct adjustments to seat before doing so. On Silver Cross toddler seats, the harnesses can be easily stowed away in the seat – handy if you need to convert the seat back in the future. On the Motion All Size 360, an adult seat belt can be used once the child reaches 18.5kg, and 20.5kg on Balance.
Should I check the fitting of the seat regularly?
Yes – this is so important! Frequent checks to ensure the height of the headrest and harness are correct and adjusting as your child grows are key. The child’s head should be in the centre of the headrest with the harness level with the shoulders.
Also check the function of the seat, ensuring no toys or other items have fallen into any parts of the mechanisms. I’d recommend taking the car seat out of your car and re-installing from time to time to ensure nothing has come lose and everything is working as it should.
Before purchasing or taking your little one out for the first time in your new seat, get familiar with the product so you’re in tune with all its functions and how the fittings work – especially how to rotate, remove and adjust the seat. Practice loosening the buckle and connecting the harness. Also, remember to use the harness hooks if using the Silver Cross Motion All Size 360 or Balance, which will move the harness out of the way for easier, stress free securement of the child into the seat.
Ultimately, nothing beats seeing and getting to know the product in person!