Safest way to travel for a child in a car is in a safety seat until child is taller than 150 cm. Law requires a child to travel in a safety seat until child is taller than 135 cm. The safety seat should be attached to the back of the vehicle, since it is the safest place for the child. 

What is the safest option for a baby?

Babies should be transported in rearwards-facing baby carriers. The manual of the carrier indicates the maximum size and age of the child the carrier is intended for. Please contact the manufacturer or importer of the carrier for more information.

What is the safest option for a toddler?

The safest way to transport a child is to seat them facing the rear as long as possible but at least until the child is four years old. A small child’s head is heavy and neck fragile. Rear-facing seats support the head and neck the best in a crash situation. Not having sufficient room to straighten the legs is not harmful to a child, and should not be seen as a reason to switch to a front-facing seat earlier than recommended.

The Finnish Road Safety Council recommends a rear-facing safety seat that has passed the plus test. A child can use the rear-facing safety seat as long as possible if the seat has been approved up to 25 kilograms.

Plus test is a voluntary test developed for child safety seats released onto the Swedish market. It is the strictest test for head-on collision impact on a child’s neck.

Rear-facing baby seats and baby carriers must not be attached to a front seat equipped with airbags. Inflation of the airbag is life-threatening for the child. Always find out what the car’s manual says about seating a child in the front seat.

What is the safest option for a preschooler?

After the child safety seat, the child is seated in a booster seat, in which the seat belt settles into the correct position and also protects the child from the sides. Fasten the lap belt appropriately and make sure that the upper belt section is secured across the shoulder. The upper belt section must not go under the arm or behind the back.

What is the safest option for a preschooler or a primary pupil?

The child must be seated in a safety seat when travelling in a car until he or she is taller than 135 cm but Finnish Road Safety Council recommends a child to be seated in a safety seat until he or she is taller than 150 cm. A booster seat is still the safest option, since it protects the child from the sides.

When the child is taller than 150 cm, he or she can start wearing a seat belt like adults. The example set by parents is a significant factor in seat belt use: children will use seat belts if they see their parents wearing them.

Safety seat requirements

When buying a child safety seat, take into account the car in which it will be primarily used. Go through the proper attachment instructions for the seat with the sales assistant. The safety seat manufacturer has listed online which car models are compatible with the seat. If possible, try the seat with the child seated.

Remember that the safety seat must be attached to the car even when vacant. An unattached safety seat is a safety risk in accidents.

All child safety devices must by law be E approved. E approval means that the seat meets certain minimum requirements set by the European Community.

The safest way to transport a small child is to seat them facing the rear at least until the child is four years old.

Second-hand safety seat

You need to know the seat’s history if the seat is second-hand. For example, an intact seat can be recycled between siblings within a family.

However, safety seats do expire. The seat and the dock should be replaced approximately after seven years of use. Since the seats’ maximum length of service life varies, you can ask the sales assistant or importer for the information regarding your safety seat. The year and week of manufacture are marked on the seat’s frame.

If you purchase the seat online, you should know what you are purchasing. For example, make sure the seat is approved inside the EU and definitely fits your car. The fastening systems of seats sold on foreign online stores in particular can be very different and the quality of seats can vary a lot.

If the safety seat is involved in a crash

It is advisable to stop using the seat when it has been under great strain or is otherwise damaged or defective. For example, a seat that has been in a collision or crash should be replaced. 

Replacing the seat after a slight knock at the car park is unnecessary. A more forceful collision may, however, invisibly damage the frame and padding of the seat. It is difficult to identify or assess such damage, and the usability of a seat post-crash cannot be ascertained. Please read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to act in a crash situation. Find out your insurance company’s indemnity policy on safety seats. You can do this in advance.

What if the safety seat cannot be attached to the car?

Children under the age of three cannot travel in a car, van or lorry, in which you cannot attach an approved safety device. When travelling in a bus where seat belt is available, a child should use a seat belt or other safety device attached to the seat.

A child is not allowed to be seated in anyone’s lap during the ride.

In a collision, a child held by a passenger without a seatbelt will be squeezed between the car’s interior and the person holding him or her. If the child on the lap is secured by the same seatbelt as the person holding him or her, the child will be squeezed between the seatbelt and the person.

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