Your child's safety is an absolute priority for every parent. Child car seats are designed to protect your child in the event of a road accident. The transition from a car seat Using a safety belt may seem simple, but it's important not to rush things. It is therefore essential to understand when it is safe to dispense with the use of a car seat.
Car seats and road safety rules
In France, it is compulsory by law for children under the age of 10 to use a car seat when travelling, or for children under 135 cm tall. This is the age at which children usually reach the minimum height for safely using a seatbelt.
Until what age should a child use a car seat?
There is no simple answer to the question of when a child can move from one car seat to another, as age cannot be the only criterion to be taken into account. Children grow at different rates, so it's important to consider the child's height and weight. In France, the law requires all children under the age of 10 to be in a car seat that is adapted to their height and weight. For children under 15 months, the car seat must be installed facing the road.
The time to go from a car booster seat The child's ability to use the seatbelt depends on the child's size and the car's seatbelt. In general, children can switch to a seatbelt when it fits their body perfectly, without the need for a booster to raise their position and ensure that the seatbelt is correctly positioned.
To determine whether your child is ready for the safety belt, it is important to check that the belt fits correctly over the child's shoulder and pelvis, without touching the neck or tummy, and that the child's knees bend correctly over the edge of the seat. If you have any doubts, it is always advisable to continue using the booster seat until the child is old enough to use the safety belt without any risk. Even after the age of 10, if you switch to a seatbelt too quickly, you risk putting your child's life at risk in the event of an accident.
Today, most booster seats with backrests (Cybex, Britax Römer, Joie, Recaro or BeSafe) can be used up to the age of 12 or until the child reaches a height of 150 cm or 36 kg.
Safety standards for child car seats
Child car seats have to meet strict safety standards before they can be marketed. Standards vary from country to country, but all are designed to ensure adequate protection in the event of a road accident.
In France, baby car seats must comply with ECE R44/04 or UN R129 standards. These standards lay down minimum safety requirements for child car seats in terms of impact resistance, stability, restraint systems and compatibility with cars. It is imperative that all car seats are approved in accordance with the European standards in force and certified by a type-approval certificate.
Regulation R44/04 is the most common safety standard for car seats and imposes minimum safety requirements for child car seats. Car seats approved to this standard are classified according to the child's weight.
Here are the different weight classes for seat models approved to this standard:
- Group 0 : for babies up to 10 kg (from birth to around 9 months)
- Group 0+ : for babies up to 13 kg (from birth to around 12-15 months)
- Group 1: for children from 9 to 18 kg (approx. 9 months to 4 years)
- Group 2: for children from 15 to 25 kg (approx. 3 to 7 years)
- Group 3: for children from 22 to 36 kg (approx. 6 to 12 years old)
R129 (i-Size) regulations
The R129 (i-Size) regulation, on the other hand, is a more recent standard aimed at improving the safety of child car seats. Car seats approved to this standard are classified according to the child's height rather than weight, and they must also meet stricter safety requirements than those in the R44/04 standard.
Here are the different size classes for seat models approved to this standard:
- Baby car seats : for children up to 75/85 cm (approx. 12/18 months)
- Children's car seats : for children from 75 cm to 105 cm (12/18 months to approx. 4 years)
- Child booster seats : for children from 100 cm to 150 cm (approx. 3 to 12 years old)
When should I stop using the booster seat and switch to a seat belt?
To help you determine the right time for your child to abandon the booster seat and use only the seat belt, here are our recommendations for keeping your child safe in the car.
- According to standard R129, children must use a car seat until they reach a minimum height of 1.35 metres, or until they are 12 years old.
- Experts recommend using a car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child is comfortable and the car seat is adapted to the child's size.
- When you are ready to switch to the seat belt, make sure that the belt fits your child correctly, passing over the child's pelvis, sternum and shoulder, and is neither too loose nor too tight.
- Check that your child is mature enough to remain seated properly during the journey and not to play with the seatbelt.
- Car seat laws and regulations vary from country to country, so it's important to check the regulations in force in each country when travelling abroad.
- Your child's safety is the top priority, so it's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations in terms of weight, height and age for each car seat. In general, all the information can be found on the approval label of the head office.
From what age can a child use a forward-facing car seat?
Children can use a rear-facing car seat from the age of 15 months for i-Size approved car seats or from 9 kg for R44/04 approved models.
My child is big for his age. Should I use a larger than normal car seat?
No, it's important to follow the weight and height recommendations for each car seat to ensure your child's safety.
Do I have to put my child in a car seat when I take a taxi or carpool?
Yes, it's important to always put your child in a car seat when travelling by car, whatever the type of vehicle.