North Wales Police - When Your Child Needs a Car Seat

When travelling in a vehicle, children need to use the right car seat.

Children aged 12 or older or 135cm tall. Once your child is 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, they can use an adult seat belt. They don’t need a child’s car seat.

Children younger than 12 or under 135cm tall. Adult seat belts aren’t designed for children because children are proportioned differently and their bones are still developing. So until your child is old or tall enough to use an adult seat belt alone, they must use a child’s car seat. Children’s car seats are designed for different weights - check the label on the seat, which shows the weight range the seat is suitable for.

Rear-facing baby seats. Your child needs a rear-facing baby seat until they weigh up to 13 kilogrammes. Baby seats have their own (integral) straps. The adult seat belt or ISOFix system is used to hold the baby seat in place. You must not use a rear-facing car seat in a seat with a front airbag, unless the airbag has been deactivated. In a crash, a rear-facing seat would be hit by a frontal airbag and could be knocked up towards the rear of the vehicle. Check your car’s handbook for advice about deactivating any airbags. When the airbag is deactivated, move the car’s seat as far back from the dashboard as possible.

Forward or rearward-facing baby seats. When your child weighs between 9 and 18 kilogrammes and has outgrown their rear-facing baby seat, they can use a forward or rearward-facing baby seat. These seats also have their own straps or impact shield and are held in place by the adult seat belt or ISOFix system. In a seat with a front airbag, make sure a forward facing child seat is as far back from the airbag as possible.

Forward-facing child car seats. Children weighing from 15 to 25 kilogrammes can use a child car seat (booster seat). These are forward-facing and may have backs or side wings. Child car seats don’t have their own straps – your child is held in using the adult seatbelt and the seat is held in place by the adult seatbelt and/or the ISOFix system. Make sure you position a forward-facing booster seat as far back as possible from a frontal airbag.

Booster cushions. When your child reaches 22 kilogrammes, they can use a booster cushion. These may not have backs but raise your child in the car’s seat so they can use the adult seat belt.

If your child weighs more than 36 kilogrammes but isn’t 135 centimetres tall, they must continue using a booster seat. This is safer than using only an adult belt.

Victoria Lee