Child passenger safety begins with sturdy, secure car seats. From the time mums and dads ride home with their newborn, it’s an irrefutable travel requirement. But the search for the perfect child safety seat becomes quickly overwhelming. Is the ISOFIX installation safer than the seatbelt? Will a three-point harness suffice? Should the baby ride in a rear-facing seat, instead of a front-facing one? With several options in the market, shopping according to the little one’s age is a good place to start.
Does my baby need a car seat?
We spoke to a certified car seat safety advisor to help you pick the safest equipment for your child. Sophie Huang is the founder of Safety On Board Middle East, a consultancy based in Abu Dhabi that raises awareness about the best car seat practices. As a mum of two, Huang says a car seat is a no-brainer, if you’re commuting with kids.
“Using a car seat is the best way to protect your kids when they’re in a car,” said Huang, adding that car crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for children. According to the child passenger safety guidelines published by the European Child Safety Alliance, research shows that child restraints significantly reduce the risk of injury than adult seatbelts.
How long does my baby have to be in a car seat?
A car seat for your child is recommended from infancy till up to 12 years of age. Huang says car seats are broadly categorised into three age groups: baby or infant car seat (zero to 12 months), toddler car seat (six months to seven years) and a child car seat for older kids.
Parents will come across rear- and forward-facing configurations, too. Should your child sit facing the oncoming traffic? “Rear-facing systems are five times safer than forward-facing systems, because they protect the child’s neck and head from whiplash in the event of a collision,” said Huang, who advises sticking to a rearward seat for as long as the child outgrows it or at least until the age of four.
Which car seat is the safest?
Another aspect mums and dads are keen on is the installation system. A car seat with an ISOFIX fitting is installed without the car’s seatbelt. Instead, the internationally standardised car seat fitting system latches on to two metal clips found between the base and back of your car seats. It’s fairly simple and involves fewer chances of human errors during installation, says Huang.
But, she adds, it’s not necessarily safer than a seatbelt installation: “Both offer the same level of safety, as long as the car seats are installed properly”. If you do have an ISOFIX anchorage in your car, Huang advises opting for a car seat with this installation system.
Finally, for maximum safety, parents should consider car seats that are certified. Huang lists two safety labels laid down by the European safety standard: the ECE R44 regulation and the upgraded ECE R129, which offers greater safety. Try to spot one of these labels on the car seat.
“It is imperative that you buy an EU-approved car seat for your child (R44 or R129); but to guarantee the maximum safety and protection for your child, it is equally important that you make sure your car seat has also passed the Swedish Plus Test,” added Huang. A tough crash test implemented with high speeds and shorter breaking distance, the Swedish Plus Test is far stricter than the EU standards.
Safety On Board Middle East prefers car seats manufactured by the Norwegian brand BeSafe. Its line boasts the Swedish Plus Test mark. Our other choices below include some of the best-rated car seats on Amazon, as well, for different age groups. Shop with Prime delivery to receive your child's safety seat as soon as tomorrow.
1. Best Overall: BeSafe Izi Twist B I-Size
- Has passed a tough crash test and meets R129 regulations
- Allows baby to sit rearward till the age of four
- Supports ISOFIX installation
- Multiple recline and headrest positions
- Doesn't deliver with Prime
Get the highest standard of safety and security, with a Swedish Plus tested car seat. Designed for newborn babies up to the age of four, BeSafe Izi Twist B boasts the European R129 safety approval, as well. It combines a baby seat and toddler seat into one, with a side-to-side rotating base. Since parents can easily spin the seat around, it makes getting their child in and out of the car a breeze. Adjustable settings include 10-step headrest levels and four recline positions. Your baby will always sit facing rearward in this equipment, which is installed using the ISOFIX anchorage.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh300 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best Convertible Car Seat: Chicco Fit4 4-In-1 Convertible Baby Car Seat, 0M-10Y
- Sees through all four growth stages
- Extra secure with Chicco’s own latch system
- Rear- and forward-facing
- Many recline positions
- Installation can be tricky with so many customisable options
A convertible car seat grows with your baby, making it a practical investment. The Chicco Fit4 four-in-one has removable layers to ensure a snug fit for the child, all the way from infancy to 10 years old. It has a 10-position headrest and a nine-position recline for maximum comfort, so that the harness always fits right. For the initial growth stages, the child sits rear-facing, and once they’ve outgrown the position, the Fit4 converts into a forward-facing seat with a single seatbelt. Parents can install the seat using the ISOFIX or LATCH (as called in the US) system, using Chicco’s own tightening belt.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh120.42 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best Infant Car Seat: Graco Snugride Click Connect 30 Infant Car Seat
- Has passed crash tests
- Supports babies weighing up to 13.6kgs
- Sun canopy
- Portable due to lightweight construction
- Straps are difficult to unfasten; reviewers complain of waking the baby up
If you’re looking for a dedicated infant car seat, Graco’s SnugRide is a good start. It sits rearward and straps the baby in with a five-point harness. Mums and dads have the option of either an ISOFIX or a car seatbelt installation. The SnugRide has passed rigorous crash tests to meet the US safety standards, including side impacts. While your baby rides in the back, you can shield them from the sun with the rotating canopy. It’s lightweight, too, since the seat is meant to ‘click’ and connect with Graco’s strollers. Babies up to 30 pounds (13.6kgs) can ride safely in this car seat.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh42.34 for 12 months with select banks.
4. Best Booster Seat for Older Kids: Chicco Kidfit Zip Air Plus, 3Y-12Y
- Supports kids from the age of three to 12
- Converts into a backless booster
- Kids’ console for storing snacks
- Quick-release latch
- No five- or three-point harness belt – only uses the car seatbelt
Once your child is ready to graduate from a rear-facing seat, they’ll want a less restricting system. The Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus booster seat supports both growing toddlers and big kids till the age of 12. It easily converts into a backless booster, once the child has outgrown the extended leg rest and headrest. There are two easily accessible cup holders and a kids’ console for drinks and snacks, along with armrests for a comfortable commute. Like most car seats, the KidFit Zip Air Plus is fitted with energy-absorbing foam in the head and torso areas. But what parents would appreciate the most is the quick-release latch button in the front that detaches the seat in one go.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh59.08 for 12 months with select banks. Save an extra Dh100 when you apply a coupon.
5. Best Value Convertible: Evenflo Everystage Lx All-In-One Car Seat, 0M-10Y
- Multiple reclining positions
- Rear- and forward-facing
- ISOFIX installation
- Has passed crash tests
- Booster mode is not backless
Another all-in-one convertible to consider, except this one accommodates a tighter budget. The Evenflo Everystage car seat transforms all the way to a booster, promising you 10 years of safe and secure use. When in rear-facing mode, the seat recommends its five-point harness and reclines enough to keep your infant’s airway open. It allows the child to ride rearward for as long as possible, with the extra built-in leg rest. Older children can switch to a belt-positioning booster later on. The car seat has been tested above industry standards, from front impact to rollover tests. It installs using the LATCH or ISOFIX connecters.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh87.42 for 12 months with select banks.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.