It is mandatory to use child car seats within the EU for all children up to the heights of 1.35m or 1.5m – depending on the member state.
There are currently two legal standards in Europe:
i-Size (this is a new standard for group 0/0+/1 seats that will exist alongside ECE R44/04 for a number of years and sets more advanced safety standards based on more recent safety data).
To meet ECE R44/04 approval car seats are tested in frontal collisions at 50km/h and rear collisions at 30 km/h using crash test dummies and advanced measuring instruments designed to assess the levels of protection each seat offers. ECE R44/04 approved seats can all be identified by their orange approval label.
WHAT DOES THE APPROVAL LABEL TELL ME ABOUT MY SEAT?
- Your seat meets the European Safety Standard. Note the last two digits: these should end in 04 (latest version) or 03. R44-01 or 02 are not legal and may not be sold or used since 2008.
- There are 3 types of car seat approval: universal, semi-universal and vehicle specific. ‘Universal’ means your seat is approved for installation in all cars, although you should check that the seat fits really well in your car. See below article on ‘Type Labelling’.
- Approval for weight (group). If a letter Y is added here, it means that the child seat features a 5-point harness system with crotch strap.
- European approval indicator.
- Indicates the country in which the approval was obtained:
2 = France
3 = Italy
4 = The Netherlands etc.
- Approval number. The first two numbers (04) show to which version the child seat has been approved, in this case ECE R 44/04.
- Name of product manufacturer
- BAR code
- Unique number allocated to your specific seat, for testing and tracking.
To determine if a child car seat fits your car, there are 3 types of car seat approvals:
The seat is approved for use in all vehicles that meet ECE R14 and R16 regulations. Any Isofix car seat must use the Isofix anchorage points including the top tether or foot support and the vehicle’s handbook must state that the car is suitable for “Universal Isofix child seats”.
Semi-universal approval is when, in addition to the standard requirements, other safety devices for attaching a seat are used and require additional testing. For example: some vehicles provide additional storage space within or beneath the floor area that can influence the behavior of a child seat foot support, therefore you need to check the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list for your car type and model.
Vehicle specific approval
The child seat is tested in an additional car-specific dynamic crash test and approved only for these cars. The car must be listed in the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list. This may include special features or designs that can only be installed in a car of a specific type.
i-Size (ECE R129)
i-Size is a new regulation for child car seats that will run in parallel to the current regulation (ECE R44/04) for the next few years. It has been in force since July 9th 2013. We were a major contributor to its development and believe that it will greatly increase protection for little ones across Europe.
The key changes are:
Extended rearward facing travel until a minimum of 15 months
Proven to be the safer way to travel in case of frontal collisions
Added side impact test
To ensure the seat provides better protection in the case of side collisions
ISOFIX only seats
Using our 1997 invention together with Volkswagen to greatly reduce the risk of incorrect installation
Based on the age and size of the child rather than weight
Reflecting the latest safety data and giving parents a clearer indicator of what seat is right for their child and when their child is ready to be moved to the next stage car seat.
i-Size (or ECE R129) approved car seats can be recognized on the orange approval label by the “i-Size” indication. Additionally, one can easily find the appropriate length classification of the car seat on the label. The remainder of the approval label looks alike the ECE R44 label.
SUPERIOR PROTECTION IN A FRONTAL COLLISION
Car seats are designed to absorb crash forces through the shell of the seat and spread the remaining crash forces away from the child’s body. Rearward facing car seats offer the best protection in the event of frontal collisions – the most frequent type of accident on the roads.*
Physics dictates that in the event of a frontal collision, it is safer for a child to travel in a rearward facing car seat as crash forces are directed to the back of the seat, while the remaining energy is spread evenly across the head, neck and upper body. In a frontal collision with a forward facing seat the energy of the impact is distributed differently across the seat structure and restraint system – potentially resulting in more energy impacting on the child’s body.
Our belief in the safety of extended rearward facing is supported by Swedish government advice and by safety organisations across Scandinavia. Sweden has the lowest car crash fatality rates for children in the world.
EXPERIENCE THAT COUNTS
We’ve been designing industry-leading car seats for approximately 50 years – and have been championing rearward facing seats in Sweden for over 20 years. During this time we’ve constantly used our learnings to develop innovative ways to make safer, simpler, more flexible products. Our research and development team are continually making advances in energy management – enabling us to enhance the protection that our products offer from every possible angle of impact (including rollovers) in a road traffic accident. We’ve also been able to develop an industry-leading selection of belted seats that enable rearward facing travel beyond the limits of ISOFIX – all the way to 6 years old. Our expertise is regularly shared with governmental bodies and safety experts worldwide.
THE PLUS TEST – DRIVING SAFETY STANDARDS HIGHER
The PLUS Test is a voluntary test, which sets demanding standards for a seat’s ability to protect the head and neck in frontal collisions. Currently the PLUS Test is carried out on seats designed for the Swedish market – the only country in Europe where parents transport their children solely rearward facing up to four years. Not all child restraint systems have been able to pass the test since its introduction in 2009. Only nine car seats have passed the PLUS Test successfully – including our MAX-FIX II, HI-WAY II and MAX-WAY.
*Casimir “Child Car Passenger Fatalities - European Figures and In-Depth Study”; Alan Kirk; Loughborough University, UK; Conference: Protection of children in cars, Munich, 2011.
Nearly 50 years of experience and constant technical innovation have enabled us to understand in minute detail what happens in different types of collisions. Based on our continually developing knowledge, a 5-point harness system is the only form of restraint we use on all of our Group 0+/1, 1 and Group 1/2 car seats – and we are increasingly finding ways to build extended 5-point harnessing into our Group 2 seats.
WHAT TYPES OF RESTRAINT SYSTEMS ARE AVAILABLE?
In Group 0 and 0+ children are generally restrained with a 3- or 5-point harness.
In Group 1 children are restrained either with the 5-point harness or the shield system (also referred to as safety cushion, impact shield, tray shield).
In Group 2 and 3 children are commonly restrained with an adult seat belt. However we are also working to champion extended 5-point harnessing for Group 2 so that children can benefit from the safety of 5-point harnesses for longer.
HOW DOES A 5-POINT HARNESS WORK IN A COLLISION?
A 5-point harness significantly decreases the forces a child experiences during a crash since the forces are diverted from the child along the harnessing to the five points of contact with the seat. When the child is decelerated by the harness, the cushioning occurs across a wide area and limits shoulder and hip movements, resulting in low stress to the spine and the forces being directed away from the parts of the body containing vital organs.
In case of a roll-over, side impact or an offset impact (where combined vertical, lateral and or oblique loading lateral forces can lead to ejection or submarining), the shoulder contact points and the crotch strap stop those risks and keep the child safely in the protecting seat shell.
In addition, the harness allows for adjustment to the child’s body and therefore offers a good and customised fit.
WHY DO WE USE A 5-POINT HARNESS?
In all 5-point harness seats, the straps come down over the shoulders and across the hips to fasten to the buckle that comes up between the legs. The harness sits closely against the bony parts of the pelvis (the crotch and hip straps) and across the shoulders and rib cage (the shoulder straps). When a child moves forward in the seat, as they would in a crash, the properly tightened harness is already "holding" the child and it effectively restrains them, spreading the crash forces out through the seat and the remaining forces across the strong bones of the body.
WHY ARE CHILD CAR SEATS WITH INTEGRATED HARNESS OFTEN MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CAR SEATS WITH SHIELD SYSTEMS?
Harnesses are complex to design. The visible part is only a small fraction of the total harnessing system, which comprises straps, tongues, crotch strap, attachment means to the shell and a key element: the buckle. Technology is needed to allow easy tightening and release of the harness, and the harness needs to be routed around the shell to allow connection at the right points for the load to be distributed whilst providing easy access to the parents securing their child in the seat. In addition, designing a shell which can properly withstand the forces the harness places on the upper shell, to effectively restrain the upper body, is technically advanced and costly.
Booster cushions and highback booster seats are not the same. It is our belief, based on our decades of experience and our continuing research that normal booster cushions simply don’t offer adequate side impact or head protection. That’s why we only sell highback booster seats. That’s why we have worked to create Europe’s first Group 2/3 seat with a ‘Very Good’ safety rating.*
*Stiftung Warentest and ADAC Motorwelt, 11/2013, for the KIDFIX XP SICT when used with ISOFIX
Booster cushions offer:
- no side or head protection
- no guidance to ensure that seat belts are correctly positioned and fitted.
Our KID range of highback booster seats offers:
- deep, softly padded full side wings
- height adjustable headrest and belt guide
- V-shaped backrest to ensure a perfect fit throughout your child’s development
- Intuitively positioned seat belt guides
- Typical booster cushion protection area
- Ordinary highback booster protected area
- Britax KID Range protected area
We are not alone in our belief that booster cushions are not the safest option for your child
WHY ARE BOOSTER CUSHIONS STILL SOLD?
Booster cushions are still sold because it is not required by current EU safety standards to conduct tests for side collisions, however if the regulations change, we do not believe that any new booster cushions would pass. Parents are also sometimes unaware that Booster cushions offer no head support in the event of a side impact crash. But here at BRITAX we design our products to provide protection during traffic collisions from every angle of impact.
We believe that risks shouldn’t be taken when it comes to child safety. A second-hand car seat with an unknown history is always a risk as you cannot be sure that it hasn’t been involved in an accident (even if there are no visual signs of damage).
American child seats are approved according to the US standard FMVSS 230. In Europe, child seats must conform to the European safety standards ECE R44/04 or ECE R129. Therefore we always recommend that parents choose only car seats that conform to the European standards for use in Europe.
USING MY BRITAX PRODUCT
The function of the vehicle seatbelt in a Group 2/3 child car seat (Britax KIDFIX II XP (SICT), KIDFIX XP (SICT), KIDFIX SL (SICT), KID II, DISCOVERY SL and ADVENTURE) is to hold it and the child firmly and properly in place. Insufficient (incomplete) seatbelt retracts can be a common issue with Group 2/3 child car seats. There are many factors that contribute to this including the temperature outdoors and in the car, as well as the angle of the vehicle seatbelt as it goes through the upper belt guide of the child car seat. Since the upper point at which a car’s seatbelt connects to the body of the car is not the same in all cars, the result varies case by case depending on car type, child car seat, headrest position and other circumstances. Upon purchasing the child car seat, it is important to do an installation test. Please also try to ensure that the vehicle seatbelt retracts sufficiently when your child is sitting in the child car seat.
To determine if you have an issue, please check the vehicle seatbelt retraction when using the Group 2/3 child seat.
Checking your child car seat:
Please always follow the user guide of the car seat (incl. type lists if applicable) and car for the installation of the child car seat.
1) When your child is sitting in the child car seat, make sure that the vehicle seatbelt runs smoothly and securely through the upper belt guide and lower belt guide.
2 ) It is important that the vehicle seatbelt fits snugly and consistently against the body of the child so that it keeps the child and child safety seat securely in place. Always make sure the seatbelt is properly fastened and ensure that it is not twisted.
3) Once the child has been seated, ask your child to lean forward and then back in the child car seat. Should you notice that the vehicle seatbelt does not retract fully and there is a slack in the seatbelt, please try the following:
- Adjust the headrest of the child car seat so that the headrest is, where possible, 1-2 slots higher or lower (subject to the height of the child and additional guidance in the user manual) than its previous position.
- If the belt-retract is still insufficient and the child car seat has an XP-PAD, please test the belt-retract without using the XP-PAD. If the seatbelt sufficiently retracts without the XP-PAD, then the child car seat should be used without the XP-PAD. Even without the XP-PAD, the child car seat still provides superior safety performance.
- Should these steps not solve the issue, then please do not use this car seat and contact Britax customer service immediately.
- If the vehicle seatbelt remains properly in place when your child moves around while seated, but does not fully retract when your child climbs out of the car, then you can use the child car seat without any restrictions.
All Britax infant carriers are compatible with all Britax and Britax BOB pushchairs. They are also compatible with the below models from other leading pushchair brands.
Please ask trained store staff for the required adaptors and do contact the pushchair manufacturer if you have any further questions.
The following Britax models have been approved for use on a plane:
- BABY-SAFE plus
- BABY-SAFE plus II
- BABY-SAFE plus SHR II
TÜV ID number 9811400300 (ECE approval no. 03301146 or 04301146)
Suitable for children up to 13kg, or until the head extends over the edge of the infant carrier. The label certifying suitability for airline use can be found on the car seat.
TÜV ID number 0000028802 (ECE approval no. 040149)
Suitable for children from 9 to18 kg.
This model is approved for airline use subject to airline regulations. Accessory Kits is necessary and available from your dealer.
As airline regulations regarding suitable car seats can change regularly, we recommend that you always check with your airline before travelling.
Sweating in young babies can often be a sign that their ability to thermo regulate is still developing. We advise that parents use their judgement in terms of how their child is dressed if they appear to be hot. However we also offer specific summer accessories for some of our car seats. Please do check our accessories section for further details.
The design of car interiors can effect the angle at which a car seat fits – and therefore the angle at which the child rests within the seat. In designing every seat our goal is the optimal balance between safety and comfort. The steeper the angle of the back of the infant carrier, the greater the protection in the event of an accident. The flatter the baby is in the shell, the easier it is for a young child with developing neck muscles, but the safety systems of the seat may no longer be working at optimum capacity. We generally advise that consumers seek advice from qualified personnel when buying and fitting a child seat. If a qualified car seat fitter judges that the angle of the shell is too steep in conjunction with the vehicle seat, then for Britax seats you can request a free inclination adapter – either through your retailer or by contacting our Customer Service Department. This adapter is very easy to install using the supplied manual.
In designing our restraint systems we aim to strike a delicate balance in terms of the forces needed to open a buckle – high enough to deter children from opening it themselves, but not so high that the buckle can’t be opened by someone else in case of a dangerous accident situation. Equally a more complicated lock system is not legally permitted if it could also prevent an adult being able to open the buckle in an emergency.
In terms of harnessing, we recommend that parents find the best balance between tightening the harness so tautly that the child is uncomfortable and tries to escape from it – and tightening it so loosely that it is easy for the child simply to slide out of the harness. The harness should be a tight fit but without tension against the body (two fingers should be able to fit between the harness and the child's chest). If your child unbuckles or slips out of his harness we recommend that you stop immediately and re-harness your child.
After an accident in which a car seat had been involved, we strongly recommend that the seat is replaced if involved in an accident at speeds of 10 kmph or more as the forces absorbed by the seat could lead to fine cracks in the structure (which may not be visible to the eye).
Infant carriers from Group 0/0+ must be fastened in a rearward facing direction. These seats should not be used in conjunction with an airbag on the passenger seat. The same applies to our Group 0+/1 and Group 1/2 products such as FIRST CLASS PLUS, MAX-FIX II, DUALFIX when in rearward facing mode, MAX-WAY and MULTI-TECH II – however for MAX-FIX II and DUALFIX, they can only be used in cars that also have ISOFIX connection on the front seat. Please refer to your car seat and vehicle instruction manuals.
Britax car seats in Groups 1 and 2-3 can be used in principle in the passenger seat. The same applies to our Group 0+/1 products such as FIRST CLASS PLUS and DUALFIX when in forward facing mode. However, it is advisable to move the front passenger seat as far back as possible if a passenger airbag is activated. Please refer to your car seat and vehicle instruction manuals. In general, children should be transported on the rear seats as much as possible where there is less risk of injury in case of an accident.
Unlike the front airbag on the passenger side, the side airbags only inflate a small amount – so they have minimal contact with the child car seat. As long as a child is properly secured within the car seat and cannot lean out if it, the use of a car side airbag does not pose a risk.
If you are concerned, we advise that you contact the vehicle manufacturer to ask how far the side airbags come out if they deploy and whether they are likely to contact a child restraint in the rear outboard seats. EuroNCAP tests include assessing the safety of child seats in a side impact, so check www.euroncap.org to see if your vehicle model is one of those that has been tested.
If a child is wearing a very thick coat, there is a risk that the harness or car seat belts cannot be tightened to sufficient tension. So we would recommend in general that very thick coats are removed in the car and the child is covered with a blanket over the top of the harness if extra warmth is needed.
We offer a guarantee for manufacturing or material defects on all products for two years. The warranty period begins on the date of purchase. Please retain your receipt as proof of purchase and complete your warranty card if available. For any warranty enquiries please contact the retailer where you purchased your seat.
Please check with your local retailer for all accessories and spare part needs, or alternatively visit our main website and the spare parts store to make an online purchase.
The cover can be removed and washed with mild detergent on a gentle 30 °C cycle. Please follow the instructions on the washing label of the cover. Do not place on a spin cycle and do not place in a tumble dryer.
For instruction manuals for our current models, please click here