The introduction of the new i Size standard represents a significant step forward in car safety for children. With the introduction of this regulation, the European Union has established more rigorous standards with the aim of guaranteeing better protection for the youngest passengers. The R129 standard, more commonly known as i Size, has been introduced to simplify the choice and installation of car seats, while at the same time tightening up safety criteria, particularly with regard to side impact and the length of time a child must remain in a car seat. travelling rear facing.
What Is i Size?
The i-Size standard is a European regulation that aims to make child car seats safer and easier to install. Officially known as R129, this standard was introduced in 2013 and represents a significant evolution of the previous regulation, ECE R44/04.
The Importance Of The Standard i Size
The safety of children in cars is a major concern for parents, car seat manufacturers and legislators. The i-Size standard has been developed in response to a number of challenges identified with the previous regulations. It focuses on side impact protection, which was not sufficiently covered by the R44/04 standard, and encourages the use of rear-facing seats, which are considered safer for young children.
The main features of the i Size standard
- ISOFIX installation : The i-Size standard requires the use of the ISOFIX system, which allows the seat to be attached directly to the car's anchorage points, reducing the risk of incorrect installation.
- Extended rear-facing installation : i-Size recommends that children travel rear-facing until they are at least 15 months old, whereas the previous R44/04 standard allowed children to travel forward-facing from the age of 9 months.
- Side impact protection : The i-Size seats must pass side impact tests to be approved, which was not a requirement under the R44/04 standard.
- Classification based on the child's height : Unlike the previous standard, which classified seats according to the child's weight, i-Size uses the child's height as the main criterion, helping parents to choose a seat more suited to their child's morphology.
The i Size Norm And Child Car Seat Advantages
The European i Size regulation was introduced to improve the safety of children in the car. It aims to eliminate the risks associated with incorrect installation of car seats, often due to incorrect use of seat belts, and promotes the adoption of the ISOFIX attachmentrecognised for its reliability. The introduction of this standard brings significant changes:
- Children up to 15 months of age must be in a rear-facing position
- The widespread use of ISOFIX mountings for car seats
- A classification of car seats according to the size of the child
- Enhanced protection against frontal and side impacts
Mandatory Rear-Facing Travel Until 15 Months
i Size legislation requires car seats to be rear-facing until the child reaches 15 months of age, to ensure maximum head and neck protection in the event of a collision. This orientation is crucial to prevent serious injuries in frontal or side impacts.
Indeed, a car seat The fact that babies are positioned facing the road too early exposes them to an increased risk of being thrown and of suffering serious injuries in an accident. Infants, whose heads represent a considerable proportion of their body mass and whose cervical muscles are still developing, should remain in the rear-facing position for as long as possible. The i-Size regulation reinforces this safety measure by setting a minimum duration of 15 months for this position, unlike the previous R44/04 standard, which was based on the child's weight (9 kg) to determine the orientation of the seat.
Better protection in the event of a front or side impact
The i-Size standard considerably increases child protection in the event of frontal and side impact, thanks to more rigorous test criteria and improved car seat design. For frontal impacts, the standard requires i-Size car seats to maintain high performance by absorbing impact energy, reducing the force exerted on the child's body and the risk of serious injury.
With regard to side impacts, which were not necessarily tested under the old ECE R44/04 standard, i Size regulations now require specific tests for these types of collision. Car seats must therefore offer additional protection for the child's head and body, often by adding absorbent materials and reinforced side protection to limit injuries in the event of an accident.
Isofix Attachment System Generalization
The i Size standard, or R129, has revolutionised the safety of child car seats by requiring the use of the ISOFIX attachment system. This system uses predefined anchorage points in the car, eliminating the frequent installation errors and risks associated with the use of seat belts.
All i Size car seats must be ISOFIX compatible, guaranteeing quick, easy and safe installation. The ISOFIX connectors on the seats attach directly to the car's metal anchor points, providing a solid and stable hold, essential for protecting the child in the event of a collision. The aim is to standardise child safety across Europe, ensuring that every car seat is optimally installed.
Classification Of Car Seats By Child Size
The i-Size standard revolutionises car seat classification by basing it on the child's height, rather than weight, as was the case with previous regulations. This classification method allows parents to choose a car seat that precisely matches their child's morphology.
This ensures that safety features such as harnesses and headrests are correctly fitted and positioned. i-Size car seats are labelled with height indications in centimetres, providing a clear indication of when a child can start using a car seat or move up to the next model.
By adopting size as the main criterion, the i-Size standard also makes it easier for parents to assess the appropriate time to changing car seatsThis avoids the risk of changing too early or too late, which could compromise the child's protection in the event of an accident. This size-centred approach aims to improve the protection offered by the car seat through all the phases of the child's growth.
i-Size Regulation Implementation
The i-Size standard was introduced in three key phases, each introducing specific requirements to improve the safety of child car seats:
Phase 1: Introduction of the i-Size standard (R129/01)
This phase began on 9 July 2013, marking the entry into force of the i-Size regulation. It concerned ISOFIX car seats fitted with a harness and intended for babies up to 105 cm tall. This first stage laid the foundations for the standard, emphasising the use of the ISOFIX system for greater safety and introducing classification by size rather than weight.
Phase 2: Extension to booster seats (R129/02)
From autumn 2017, the standard has been extended to include booster seats. The new i-Size approved models for children over 100 cm must be fitted with a backrest. Backless booster seats, meanwhile, are no longer approved for children under 125 cm, although they are still permitted for older children.
Phase 3: Fixing the belt and phasing out the old standard
The third phase began in December 2018, applying to car seats that use the vehicle's seat belt. These models must now be fitted with green belt guides to simplify installation. The regulations have also been extended to allow the use of seats for children weighing between 9 and 36 kg (Group 1 2 3), provided they are secured with the ISOFIX system and have a strut. For children measuring less than 105 cm, the use of a five-point harness is required.
Transition From Standard R44/04 To R129 (i-Size)
The transition from R44/04 to R129, also known as i Size, will take place in two stages to ensure a gradual changeover for manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.
1. Production of R44/04-approved car seats halted
From September 2023, car seat manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce new models that comply with European legislation R44/04. This marks the beginning of the end for car seat production under the old regulations, forcing brands to focus exclusively on producing seats that meet the i-Size standard.
2. Stock clearance for retailers
Retailers will have a transitional period of one year to sell existing stocks of car seats approved to the old R44/04 standard, meaning that these models can still be sold until September 2024. This ensures that retailers do not suffer any sudden financial losses due to an immediate change in regulations, and gives consumers sufficient time to adapt to the new standard.
3. Authorised use of car seats R44/04
It is important to note that no date has yet been set for the end of use of R44/04 car seats. Consumers will be able to continue using their car seats that comply with the old standard for as long as they wish. Since the introduction of the i-Size standard in July 2013, the two standards have coexisted, allowing parents to choose between the two types of seat. Although the production and sale of R44/04 car seats is set to cease, those already in circulation can be used without legal restriction until further notice.
Main Differences Between ECE R44 & R129 (i-Size) Standards
Whereas the R44/04 standard classified car seats according to the child's weight, the i Size standard gives priority to height as the main criterion, enabling the car seat to be better adapted to the child's physiognomy. This approach is reinforced by the requirement that car seats must be installed rear-facing up to the age of 15 months, to reduce the risk of neck injuries in the event of an accident.
The accuracy of safety tests has also been improved with the introduction of new dummies (Q-Dummies). These latest-generation dummies replace the old dummies (P-Dummies) and offer a more faithful representation of children's anatomy and biomechanics. They are equipped with advanced sensors that measure the forces experienced by different parts of the body during frontal and side impacts, providing essential data for evaluating and improving the design of car seats.
Thanks to these more sophisticated dummies, the i Size standard ensures a more rigorous assessment of the protection offered by car seats, pushing the industry towards ever higher safety standards.
|ECE R44/04||R129 (i-Size)|
|Classification||By weight of the child||By size of the child|
|Back to the road||Up to 9kg||Up to 15 months|
|Collision front (50 km/h)|
Impact rear (30 km/h)
No side impact
Use of older generation mannequins (P-Dummies)
|Collision front (50 km/h)
Impact rear (30 km/h)
Shock lateral (24 km/h)
Use of new-generation mannequins (Q-Dummies)
|Fixing system||Belt or ISOFIX||ISOFIX|
|Date of implementation||Gradual disappearance from 2021||In force since July 2013|
What Does i-Size Car Seat Mean?
i Size car seats refer to car seat models that meet the European R129 standard, known as i Size. This standard was introduced to improve the safety of car seats in the event of an accident. It features more stringent crash test requirements and the use of more advanced dummies for a more accurate assessment of the level of protection offered.
How To Identify An I-size Car Seat?
To identify an i-Size-compliant car seat, you can look for several key features:
- Labelling i Size : i Size car seats carry a label with the words "i-Size" or "R129", indicating that they are approved in accordance with European i Size regulations. This label is usually accompanied by an indication of the child's size for which the car seat is approved.
- ISOFIX fastening system : i Size car seats are specifically designed to be installed using the isofix attachment system, a standardised method of attaching car seats directly to the car's isofix anchor points without using the seat belt. Check that your vehicle has the ISOFIX anchorage points to ensure safe installation.
- Notice : The user manual or documentation for the car seat should clearly state that the seat complies with the i-Size/R129 standard.
i Size car seats generally have the following 3 approval labels:
|The "i-Size" label to recognise an approved car seat||This label indicates that the rear-facing position is compulsory up to the age of 15 months.||The label showing the classification of the car seat and its "i-Size" approval can also be found|
Standards To Improve Car Seat Safety
The i-Size standard (R129) represents a significant step forward in child car seat safety, placing the emphasis on height rather than weight and extending the period during which children must be installed facing the road. This move towards stricter criteria and more rigorous testing is a step towards greater safety for our children on the road.
But the quest for safety does not stop there. Initiatives such as the More Test The Swedish tests and the ADAC tests in Germany take safety standards even further. These additional tests, although not compulsory, provide parents with invaluable information for choosing the safest car seat for their child. They are also a source of inspiration for future regulations and product improvements, showing that it is always possible to aim for an even higher level of safety.
To find out more about this new standard, the official document introducing the UN R129 (i-Size) standard is available online on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). A detailed explanatory brochure on the standard is also available online.