Pregnancy Guide
NHS Choices

Car seats and child car safety

By law, all under-fives must ride in proper baby or child car seats when travelling by car, even on short, local journeys.

When buying a car seat, you should be aware that not every car seat is suitable for every make of car. You may also be able to get advice from a good retailer of child car seats, or from the manufacturer.

Baby or child car seat buying

  • When buying a seat, try it in your car before buying it. A badly fitting seat can provide less protection in a crash.
  • Always use a baby or child car seat that’s right for your child’s height and weight.
  • Don’t buy a second-hand baby or child seat from a car boot sale or small ad. It could have been damaged in a crash, and it may not have all its parts (including the instructions). It may also not be the safest and most user-friendly model, nor might it fit your car properly.

Baby or child car seat fitting

It’s dangerous and illegal, to carry a baby in a rear-facing baby seat in a front car seat that has an active airbag. Forward-facing seats in the same position, while not illegal, are not ideal for toddlers. Use the back seat for all under-fives if you can.
Make sure the seat is fitted properly in the car following the manufacturer's instructions

Using a baby or child car seat

  • When putting your baby or child into the car, make sure you do so from the pavement side of the vehicle
  • Make sure that your baby or toddler is securely strapped in following the manufacturers instructions. When you buy your car seat, you may be able to have someone demonstrate how to strap your baby into it
  • Use a rear-facing car seat for as long as the baby fits into it as these offer much better protection in the event of a crash.
  • Never leave your baby or toddler alone in the car. It can get very hot in summer. Also, they may play with window and door switches or the cigarette lighter. It’s especially dangerous if you leave the keys in the ignition.

Read about car safety and the law on GOV.UK.

Read about the rules on car seat belts and child restraints on GOV.UK.


Last Updated: 08/11/2017 10:00:21