Child car seats

Where to buy child seats to get the best help and advice

The Which? child car seat retailers best practice charter ensures the best help and advice

The Which? child car seat retailers best practice charter ensures the best help and advice

Trying to buy the right child car seat - one that is suitable for your child and your car and that fits your budget - can be a daunting experience.

Unless you really know what you're doing, it's likely that you will have to rely at some time or another, on advice given by shop staff – either in an independent specialist store or the mother and baby department of a national chain.

But just how good is the advice given?

Beware counterfeit child seats

Tests by TRL's Child Safety Centre have highlighted a growing problem of counterfeit child seats that may look and feel genuine but haven't been safety tested and could put a child's life at risk.

Advice

  • Don't buy online unless from a well known and reputable retailer
  • It's best to buy locally from a retailer that can help you choose the right seat for your child and show you how to fit it correctly
  • Never buy a second hand seat unless from family or friends so that you know its history and that it is complete

(1 November 2012)

Which? survey (2011)

In 2011 undercover researchers from Which? carried out an investigation into the quality of advice given by child seat retailers.  They visited 43 stores – 7 from each of the big national retailers together with a selection of independent stores - across the country posing as parents of an 11 month old child ready to move into the next stage car seat.

Shop staff were rated on seven key points:

  • Did they ask the child's weight?
  • Did they explain the benefit of the child being in a rear-facing seat for longer?
  • Did they explain the importance of the child's head position relative to the seat height?
  • Did they ask what cars the seat would be used in?
  • Did they recommend appropriate seats, suitable for use in the car mentioned?
  • Did they/could they explain the basics including child seat/car compatibility, the isofix system, and the pros and cons of rear facing seats for older children?
  • Did they install the recommended seat correctly in the test car?

Disappointing results

Overall 15 out of 43 stores didn't ask the weight of the child, and 20 recommended seats that weren’t compatible with the researcher's family car.

Half of the stores (49%) failed to install the seats correctly and two of the big retail chains failed to mention the importance of keeping a baby rear-facing for longer, in all of their seven stores visited.

Independent retailers demonstrated a generally high standard with a few exceptions and outperformed the national chains by a considerable margin.

Which? Child car seat retailers best practice charter

The Which? best practice charter

Child seat retailer best practice charter

Following their investigation, Which? gave detailed feedback to the retailers involved and has since worked with them to develop a "child car seat retailers best practice charter" - a set of 10 principles describing the knowledge and behaviour of shop staff involved in selling child seats or giving advice about choosing them.

Babies R Us, John Lewis, Mamas & Papas and Mothercare - all of which had stores checked as part of the Which? investigation - have signed up to the charter, together with the body representing independent specialists, the British Independent Retailers Association.

Child seat retailers best practice charter

Download (pdf)

Using a retailer that has signed up to the charter should ensure that you get the best advice and come away with the right child seat for your child – one that suits the child's current age/height; is compatible with your car and one that you know how and are able to fit correctly.


(1 November 2012)