Infant or baby, seats are specifically designed to keep a baby safe during the first months of their life.
During this time, the skull, spine and pelvic configuration is immature and cannot support the body as that of an adult. We must go to extra lengths to keep that little body safe during a crash.
Infant seats are designed for children till 13kg, 15 months or 75cm. It is advised that you use a seat like this till your child outgrows them in either weight, height or age.
Infant seats, or Group 0+ as per ECE regulations have features that set them aside from a toddler seat:
1. Baby seats have a flatter angle. This is to ensure that there is no strain on the neck or back of the child and to prevent the head from falling forward during travel.
2. Baby seats are always installed rear facing. Rear facing is safer till the age of 15 months at least, longer if you can wing it.
3. A good baby seat will have side impact protection for the head and neck of your baby. The side impact protection does not only provide a softer surface that the head will bounce against during a crash, but it minimises the movement of the head and will absorb crash force.
4. A good baby seat is quite deep and your baby will be within the safety zone of the seat. Imagine looking at the side of the seat with your baby in it: very little of your baby will be visible.
5. Baby seats will have either a 3 point or 5 point harness. A 3 point harness is safe, but a 5 pint harness will give better protection and is advisable. Your baby is within a cocoon of safety.
6. Baby seats will have blue markings to show the belt path for a seat belt installation.
7. Some baby seats have bases that make it easier for you to take the seat out of the vehicle and put in in again. Car seat bases can be installed with seat belts or Isofix.
8. Baby seats are designed to be removed from the vehicle to allow you to carry a baby safely in their seat. This is very handy when your baby is sleeping!
9. Baby seats double up as rockers and you can sling the handle back to turn it into a feeding seat.
10. Words of caution: Car seats are not beds. It is quite safe for baby to sleep in a car seat for short periods of time, but it is preferable that they sleep on a flat surface when they are at home. It is recommended that a new-born baby spend no more than 20 minutes in a car seat at a time. You can extend this period as they grow older and stronger.
11. More words of caution: do not use any aftermarket products or bulky blankets under your baby in your baby seat.
12. We highly recommend that you start off with a baby seat for your new-born. You can upgrade them to a combination seat when they can sit strong. Still keep them rear facing though!
13. Never leave your child unattended in a car seat.
When your child reaches the upper weight, height or age limit of their baby seat, you can upgrade to a toddler seat. Car seats are much like shoes: They have to fit comfortably and you use them till you outgrow them.