One of the most common questions we received from parents;
“What is the best brand/model of child restraint for my child?”
Our simplest answer is usually this:
“The best CRS* would be the one that fits your CHILD and your CAR. And it must be used correctly each time”.
*CRS = Child Restraint System. We will use this term extensively throughout this article and this blog to replace the usual term “carseat” in order to differentiate between a vehicle seat and a child carseat.
There are three important elements that are tied together in order to achieve the optimum protection and safety of a child passenger. They are the child itself, the CRS and the vehicle (or car).
A CRS has to fit the child and the child has to fit the CRS. What we meant by this is,
The CRS has to fit the child – It has to be suitable for the weight, height and age of the child according to the classified groups. You can refer to our CRS Timeline Chart here for a clearer picture on how to determine which CRS group your child falls under.
The child has to fit the CRS – Fitting is important and this statement is looking at the micro aspect of the fitting. More often than not, one CRS might fit a child but not another different one. This is because the build of each child is different and the design of each CRS is also different from one another. For example, a snugly strapped child in a cheap certified CRS will always be safer than a child improperly placed in a too-big expensive CRS. Fitting and snugness optimised the effectiveness of the CRS safety features by increasing the ride-down time in a crash. There are more points on the body that’s in contact with the CRS, allowing the crash force to spread around those areas and reducing the actual force impacted on the child.
Your child might also have outgrown the current CRS either by its weight or height limit, thus making him/her no longer fits in comfortably and thus not properly protected in the event of a crash. Always check the CRS manual instruction booklet on the weight and height limit of each orientations (rear or forward-facing). A constant monitoring of a child’s growth is also crucial in determining this.
The Car (Vehicle)
There are various standards used by vehicle manufacturers. We will only be covering European standards since Malaysia is adopting these standards in its car manufacturing.
There are 2-point and 3-point seat belts. And then there are ELR (emergency lock retractor) and ALR (automatic lock retractor) type of belt retractors. There are vehicle seats that comes with ISOFIX as well. Many of these terms might be new to you, thus it is very important to read through your car owner’s manual and take note on the safety pointer to installing your CRS.
It is very important to understand that you can NEVER install a CRS rear-facing at the front passenger seat that has an airbag.
As informed earlier, you’ll have to consider your child’s age, weight and height when buying the CRS and our CRS Timeline Chart is an excellent guide to help you with it be it in terms of fitting or the orientation of the CRS to be installed in the car. Another important factor is to look for a CRS with ECE R44/04 certification and this information can easily be found at the back of the CRS.
Always keep the CRS user manual with the CRS itself so that you can get back to it for reference when needed.