Which Child Car Seat is the best to take abroad?
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Which Child Car Seat is the best to take abroad?

When you are a parent taking your kids abroad, you are very likely to hire a car or use some mode of transport when you will have to consider a travel seat! Although you can usually hire a car seat when renting a car, there are often drawbacks. The additional cost per day is usually more than buying one outright if you rent for at least 7 days. Then there is the quality of the seat which is a whole different ball game. Is it the right group size? has it been in an accident? is the belt in tact?, are just some of the questions that run through a parents mind. I remember going on holiday to Turkey when Zach was only 9months and was handed a high back booster! I mean really?

So, taking all that into account and the fact that we are going travelling in developed and developing countries, I think its best to take matters into our own hands. I have done a lot of research to find out what is the best thing to do, as most advice is to use the right sized car seat. But what if you are in a rickshaw or there are no seat belts? Well one thing is for sure, never hold a child on your lap and fasten the belt over the both of you. Most of us would have done this at some point, but its a bad idea. The child can come loose very easily, the belt can crush them, they become a moving object in the car causing damage to themselves and others (i know, it doesn’t bare thinking about, but we must).

When looking around at portable solutions, I came across a lot, particularly on eBay and Amazon. But as these are international selling websites, many of the child seat products come from countries that have not undergone rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe. Therefore, in order to make the right choice, I had to understand what makes a child seat safe?
 

I have been looking for two car seats, one for Emiliana aged 5y 9m and one for Zacharia aged 2y 8m. Lucky for us, Zach is just about 15kgs which means he can be safe in the same group of car seats as Emiliana, group 2/3. Having said that, we use a more supportive group 1 baby seat for Zach at home at the moment but this is too bulky to travel with.

 

Rapid Rundown

 
Group 1 = About 9m – 4y 6m; 9-18kg
Group 2 = About 3 – 7years; 15-25kg
Group 3 = About 6 – 12years; 22-36kg

So, this is what makes a booster safe:
 

The booster seat raises the child’s seating position so that the car’s seat belt fits them properly. They have red indicators or slots to show where the seat belt should go. There is usually one at shoulder height to position the diagonal part of the seat belt and ones at waist height, often under the booster seat’s armrests, to help position the lap part of the seat belt.The seat belt should go across the child’s pelvis, chest and shoulder:

  • The belt should be worn as tight as possible
  • The lap belt should go over the pelvic region, not the stomach
  • the diagonal strap should rest over the shoulder, not the neck
www.childseats.org.uk

 

Therefore a standard seat belt is not going to be sufficient for either child as the belt will be tight across their stomachs and the diagonal strap will be across their face or inevitably behind their backs!
 
I scoured the net and got lots of helpful info from friends (thank you).

 

 

These were the most common contenders in Group 2/3:

  • Bubblebum Inflatable Car Booster Seat 
    Awesome bit of kit which is small and can be inflated to look like a regular car booster. Also comes with a pouch to store your seat when not in use. 

    Weighs 500g and only 11.8 x 5.9 x 3.9 deflated. Costs £29.99

    bubblebum-inflatable-safety-booster-seat-tfff

  • Mifold Grab and Go Booster Seat 
    Instead of lifting the child up to be the right height to use seat belts, mifold holds the seat belt down. A pretty neat product as its 10x smaller than a regular booster and folds down compactly. 

    Weighs 750g and only 10x5x2″ when folded. Costs £49.95

  • BoostApak by Trunki
    This is a very practical booster seat as it also serves as a backpack. It comes in green and pink and is basically a regular booster with a plastic shell. It has an 11litre volume capacity and is 15.8×14.2×7″ which is larger than the others, but its a backpack too! It is also heavier at 998g but again, it has a dual purpose and I am all for things that kids can hold themselves!  Costs £49.99

 

Although all of these are suitable for both my children, none of them have any head or side/lateral support but if you don’t want to take a bulky traditional booster with backrest around, you have to compromise. So one of these together with a good neck cushion is going to be travelling around the world with us!

 

The only foldable Group 1 seat I could find was this one:

 

 

This list is not exhaustive but these are the ones that I trust and think are safe to use on my children. There are plenty of other straps and padding on the net but based on the research I did on how a booster is made safe, I felt that some of them contradicted the safety aspects.

 

Rapid Review

 

Cheapest Seat: Bubblebum Inflatable Car Booster

Lightest Seat: Bubblebum Inflatable Car Booster

Smallest Seat: Mifold Grab and Go Booster Seat

Most Multi-functional Seat: BoostApak by Trunki

 

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