Taking your Child in the Car – Pregnancy to 14 years and Over

Expectant Mothers

You would not use a seatbelt around yourself and a baby on your lap (well some people do – but it is very dangerous) but that is what you can be doing if you don’t get the seatbelt in the right place.  The Department for Transport has done a guide for expectant mothers on the best way to wear a seatbelt and other advice which is called buckle up for baby and you and the key bit of advice is given below.  But please download and read the full leaflet.

Buckle up for baby and you

1. Wear the diagonal strap between your breasts, moving the strap around the side of your bump.

2. Make sure the lap strap sits comfortably under your bump. If it is over your belly button then it is too high. It should go from hip bone to hip bone, as low as possible.

Extract from DfT’s “buckle up for baby and you


Companies supply devices that help you to get the seatbelt it the best and most comfortable position.  Examples are given in these links – but they are neither the only ones – or particularly recommended – or even needed if you follow the advice above.

Baby and Booster Seats – Child-restraint Systems

What the law requires

It is now a legal requirement for a child, no matter how young, to be in a child restraint appropriate to their age and weight*. Child seats are defined in four groups (0 to 3) and the requirements are shown below. (Ages shown for guidance only)

GROUP 0 Birth  – 10 kg Birth – 6 months
GROUP 0+ Birth  – 13 kg Birth – 12 months
GROUP 1 9 – 18 kg 9 months –  4 years
GROUP 2 – 3 15 – 36 kg 4 years – 12 years
GROUP 0+ & 1 Birth  – 18 kg Birth –  4 years
GROUP 1 – 2 – 3 9 – 36 kg 9 months – 12 years

*there are limited exemptions relating to taxis and licensed hire cars but it is recommended that you try to use a firm that will supply the appropriate restraint.

Fitting Car Seats

It is very important to get the fitting of the car seat right and this is the main reason that it is often reported that eight out of ten car seats are not fitted correctly – however is probably less than one in ten that would fail.  The main problem with the seven in ten is that the seatbelt that hold the car seat in are insufficiently tight and really you should check them each time the seat is used.  For larger seats it may take two adults to get the seat firmly secured, one to hold the seat firmly against the seat and another to pull the seat belt tight and locked in place.

If you are having difficultly getting the seat fitted securely the Road Safety Team can do a car seat check for you by appointment.  This will include giving you guidance on checking and refitting the seat.  These issues should not a problem if both the car and seat are compatible with the Isofix standard.

The other main reason for a car seat not being fitted correctly is that the harness on the child is not right, normally too loose or needs adjusting for the size of the child.  This is very important and you should check the fit of the harness every time you put the child in the car.

The one in ten is often because the seat is not compatible with the car and the manufacture’s list must be checked when you buy it.


One way of avoiding these problems is to buy an Isofix seat if you have a car with Isofix mounting points.  Isofix is now required on all car new models, not necessarily all new cars. When a seat is fixed in this way it has a rigid metal connection between the car body and the seat – rather then using the seat belt and so is much more secure.


This is the latest standard for child car seats and provides better protection for your child than the previous one.  The biggest reasons are that they are now designed to protect the child in side impact collisions – which make up 25% of crashes – and keep children rear facing – which is much safer – until they are over 15 months. Also all i-Size seats will use Isofix mountings and be suitable for use in any i-Size approved vehicle thus removing the major causes of incorrectly fitted seats.

Child car seats and cars themselves that conform to the new regulations will have this i-Size label.

For further information, contact the Road Safety Centre

Related links