When can a child stop using a safety seat?

The child’s height is the key factor here. Finnish law requires that children shorter than 135cm are seated in safety seats based on their weight. All children develop differently, but typically a 135cm-tall child is approximately 10 years old.

We recommend that children under 140cm do not travel in the front seat if the seat is equipped with air bags.

Can a small child temporarily travel wearing only seat belts? Does a child always require a safety seat when travelling in a car?

A child under 135cm requires a child safety seat when travelling in a car. Children under the age of three should not travel in a car, van or lorry, excluding cabs, in which you cannot attach a weight-based safety device.

When travelling in a bus, children should use seat belts or other safety devices attached to the seat.

If a safety seat cannot be attached to the vehicle, according to the law, a child older than three years is allowed to travel short distances in the back seat wearing only a seat belt, if the need for transport is occasional or sudden and safety seats cannot be used in the vehicle. A ride given by the child’s grandparents is not necessarily considered to be an occasional transport as intended by the law. A child is not allowed to be seated in anyone’s lap during the ride.

Why is the height limit in Finland 135cm while elsewhere in Europe the limit can be as high as 150cm?

The Finnish height limit is based on the EU Directive 2003/20/EC of 8 April 2003, also known as the seat belt directive. The directive extended the application of compulsory use of safety belts to concern all vehicles and restricted the regulations of transporting a child in a car.

The basis of the directive is that children under 150cm should travel in child safety devices in cars, vans and lorries. However, the directive allows member countries to apply the 135cm limit to their area. This limit is in use in Finland. Due to these national exceptions, the conditions regarding the use of safety devices are not coherent inside the European Community.

Why is a rear-facing safety seat the safest option for a toddler?

The principle is that 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 three years old. A small child’s head is heavy in relation to the body and the child’s neck muscles and ligaments have yet to fully develop. A rear-facing seat supports the child’s head and neck in a head-on collision. Less strain is directed at the child’s head, neck and spine.

In a rear collision, the impact is milder than in a typical head-on collision (driving-off-the-road accidents and front crashes), in which the greatest possible protection is required for the impact coming from the front. In crashes like a head-on collision, when facing the front, the force directed at the child’s neck and head is over three times greater than if the child is facing the rear.

Sitting with knees bent is not a safety risk and generally children do not mind the position. The seat should be replaced with a bigger one when the child reaches the weight limit or when the child’s eyes align with the top of the seat. When getting a rear-facing seat, you should favour one with a sufficient kilogram margin. This way the child can use the safest option as long as possible.

How do I know if a safety seat bought in Finland is safe?

All safety seats sold in Finland (or inside the EU) are E approved: they meet the minimum device safety requirements regulated inside the EU. The approval does not classify which seat is the safest, but simply indicates that the seat meets the minimum requirements. Voluntary tests, such as the Swedish plus test, tend to be more strict and they should be favoured.

Ensuring that the seat fits your car by fitting the safety seat into your car with the help of a sales assistant increases the seat’s safety. The Isofix attachment makes attaching the seat easier and decreases the risk of incorrect attachment. This naturally requires that the car has an Isofix attachment system (check the car’s manual or the pocket between back seats’ seat and back rest).

E approved weight and age groups:

Group 0      under 10kg (under 9 months)
Group 0+     under 13kg (under 18 months)
Group 1      9 - 18kg (6 months - 4 years)
Group 2      15 - 25kg (3 - 6 years)
Group 3      22 - 36kg (5 - 11 years)

If you purchase the seat online, you should know what you are purchasing. For example, make sure that 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 the seats can vary a lot.

How long is the safety seat’s service life?

The service life of an intact seat that has not been in a crash is approximately seven years at most. The service life starts on the seat’s date of manufacture, not on the date of purchase. The year and week of manufacture are marked on the seat’s frame. The recommended service life of the dock is approximately seven years as well.

Can I use a second-hand safety seat?

The service life of an intact seat that has not been in a crash is approximately seven years at most. The year and week of manufacture are marked on the seat’s frame.

An older seat you know the history of is a safe alternative. For example, it is perfectly natural that siblings use the same seat. If you have trouble choosing between a new and a second-hand seat, you should consider how long the seat will be in use. Is the service life of an ”old” seat long enough for your child?

How can I recycle a safety seat?

We recommend you take the seat to a recycling station (e.g. Sortti Station).

Do children’s winter clothes, padded outdoor gear, etc. affect travel safety?

If possible, children should travel in seats without wearing a lot of padding. The belts should be fastened tight around the child. This is why light clothing is preferable. Furthermore, if the car is pre-heated and the heating is in use during the ride, one can assume light clothing is more comfortable for the child.

Can I use a seat that has been in a crash?

Replacing the seat after a crash or other damage is recommended. Replacing the seat is unnecessary if the damage in question is a slight knock, for example, at a car park, and the collision force is not strong. A more forceful collision may, however, invisibly damage the frame and padding of the seat. Since such damage is impossible to assess, please read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to act in a crash situation.

Insurance generally covers safety seats. Please check your insurance company’s take on safety seats and their indemnity clause in advance.

What is the difference between a baby safety seat, safety seat, and booster seat?

A baby travels in rear-facing baby safety seat.

Based on the child’s weight 0 - 13 kg
  Group 0, under 10 kg
  Group 0+, under 13 kg
Based on the child’s age Group 0, under 9 months
  Group 0+, under 18 months

When the child’s weight exceeds the seat’s recommended weight or the top of the seat’s head restraint aligns with the child’s eyes, you can move on to a safety seat. (Please note that the head restraint is not the same thing as the baby seat’s outer edge.) Until at least the age of three, it is advisable for children to be seated facing the rear, and the back seat is still the safest place for a child.

Based on the child’s weight 9 - 25 kg
  Group 1, 9 - 18 kg
  Group 2, 15 - 25 kg
Based on the child’s age Group 1, 6 months - 4 years
  Group 2, 3-6 years

After the child safety seat, children should be seated in a booster seat or on a cushion and secured by a seatbelt. The tension of the lap belt must be set appropriately and the upper belt section must be secured across the shoulder. This helps prevent head injuries in particular. The upper belt section must not go under the arm or behind the back. The seat belt settles into the correct position when using a booster seat. Since the booster seat protects the child also from the sides, you should favour it over the booster cushion.

Based on the child’s weight 15 - 36 kg
  Group 2, 15 - 25 kg
  Group 3, 22 - 36 kg
Based on the child’s weight Group 2, 3 - 6 years
  Group 3, 5 - 11 years

The booster cushion settles the seat belt into the correct position and makes the seat more safe and suitable for the child. When using a booster cushion, the lap belt settles into the correct position. A head restraint and a three-point seat belt should be used with the booster cushion.

What does iSize mean?

Safety requirements for children’s safety seats have been defined according to the UNECE Regulation ECE R44/04 since 1995. New seats are approved according to ECE R129, which took effect in the summer of 2013.

iSize is a harmonisation system subject to the ECE R129 regulation. Its purpose is to ensure that a seat is suitable for a car. Not all seats approved according to the ECE R129 regulation are automatically iSize seats.

iSize safety seats have the following requirements:

  • Isofix attachment system
  • support leg in rear-facing seats; upper belt section in front-facing seats
  • specific maximum dimensions to ensure the seat fits all iSize cars
  • iSize approval.

iSize cars are required to have an Isofix attachment system, a counterpart for the upper belt section, a reinforced base structure and an iSize approval. Not many iSize cars are currently available.

All iSize seats fit all iSize cars. If your car has an Isofix attachment system but it is not an iSize car, check if your car is mentioned on the iSize seat-approved vehicle list, which you can find on the safety seat’s manufacturer’s website.

iSize seats cannot be used in a car that does not have an Isofix attachment system.

Are safety seat tests credible? Are any safety seat tests conducted in Finland?

When examining test results, it is advisable to find out what functions have been tested and what the final score covers. Crash safety is only one category in safety tests. For example, the test conducted by the German ADAC, results of which are released in Finnish by the ATCF, tests multiple factors. These other factors include the ease of seat attachment and space requirements.

Example: Even though rear-facing seats are the most recommended seats to be used after baby safety seats, they may not do so well in the aforementioned categories. Comfort factors decrease the total score, making the test result seem worse.

Safety seats are not tested in Finland. All safety seat tests published in Finnish in Finland are imports.