A young girl being strapped into her booster seat. Her older sister straps herself in with a seatbelt, without a booster seat.

Choosing the correct car seat for your child.

"How do I choose the right car seat for my child?" 

When it comes to road safety for children, using a car seat is mandatory for children up to 3 years old. After that it is up to you to ensure the safety of your child. Car seats will reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of a car crash. But it is important that when choosing a new car seat, it is both appropriate for your child’s age and weight.

Correct installation is just as important. Not meeting these requirements will put your child at risk – so how do you go about choosing the right car seat? Children transition from one type of car seat to the next once they reach a certain weight or age milestone. Weight and age are taken into consideration in relation to the size and developmental requirements of a child.

For example, a baby’s skull, spine, and pelvis are less developed than those of an older child, making them more susceptible to injury. The design of an infant seat specifically protects their smaller and more fragile bodies.

We cannot express enough the importance of a correct weight- and age-appropriate car seat for your child. 

"We cannot express enough the importance of a correct weight- and age-appropriate car seat for your child."

The wrong car seat for your child’s weight and age requirements could cause a higher chance of injury or death. The car seat would not be able to sufficiently protect them in the way that it is intended at that specific stage of a child’s development. There is a wealth of different seats and sizes on the market. Deciding which is the best car seat for a child’s needs may be a difficult task for parents. Parents need to equip themselves with the appropriate knowledge to make an informed decision when purchasing a car seat. There are three main types of car seats for children: infant, toddler and booster seats. Let us break this down for you so that you can choose your next car seat with confidence.


A bright-eyed baby sits comfortably and safely in an infant car seat. The seat is rear-facing

An infant seat will protect your child from birth until 15 months (or up until 13kg). Infant seats take into account that babies have a larger head in proportion to their bodies. This means that in a car crash, a baby’s head will throw forward or sideways with greater relative force than that of an adult. Thus the design of infant seats is made to protect their heads and necks at this stage of development.

Besides safety, infant seats are also designed to support sleeping babies. Infant seats are also easier to take out of a vehicle, doubling as a rocker or feeding chair. When your baby reaches 6 months, their weight at that age will help you to determine the trajectory of their development. From this you can preempt when they will likely need to transition to a toddler seat. Parents can measure this developmental path using Wheel Well’s Weight-For-Age Chart for boys and girls.
Other factors to keep in mind when determining when to change from an infant seat to a toddler seat:

  • Do you want to rear-face your car seat after 15 months?
  • Does your vehicle have space limitations?
  • What is your budget for a new car seat?
  • Will you be installing the car seat by seat belts or Isofix installation?

Isofix is a car seat anchorage system built into cars at the manufacturing level. With the diversity in vehicle design, not all car seats are capable of universal installation in all cars. The introduction of Isofix allowed for a universal car seat anchorage system. This creates a standardised installation system for most car seats across board. Isofix also offers an easier installation method, compared to seat belt installation. Some vehicles may not have Isofix installed, so a 3-point safety belt installation of a car seat will suffice. Note that installing a car seat using this method is more complicated, so special attention should be given to correct and safe installation. Consult your manual for all your installation guidelines.


A mother checks the tension in their toddler's car seat, making sure that it is sitting securely.

Toddler seats are designed for children who have reached 9kg, 75cm or 15 months. A toddler seat is suitable up until children reach 18kg, 105cm or 4 years old. A rear-facing seat installed in the backseat is the preferable choice, but after 15 months, a forward-facing seat is also acceptable.

"Rear-facing a toddler seat on the back seat of a vehicle is safer than forward-facing."

Rear-facing a toddler seat on the back seat of a vehicle is safer than forward-facing. Rear-facing in the event of a head-on or side collision means that the backrest of the car seat provides better support against the momentum of a car crash. This is safer than being thrown against the car seat harness, in the case of a forward-facing car seat.

Some parents may feel prematurely inclined to move their children to a booster seat. It is important to keep using an age-/weight-appropriate car seat for as long as possible without going over the safety limits of weight or age. As car seats accommodate the different developmental stages of a young child, progressing to the next car seat too early could prove dangerous to your child.


A young boy smiles at the camera. He is correctly strapped into a red booster seat.

Once your child reaches 4 years old or 18kg (15kg is the absolute minimum for tall, slim children), they are ready to transition to a booster seat. A booster seat will accommodate them until they are big enough to safely use the vehicle’s seat belts. For young children, booster seats provide side-impact protection.

This reduces the chance of neck and spine injuries. When using a booster seat, belts must be correctly positioned. The shoulder belt must pass across the chest, while the lap belt must fasten across the lap or hips, not the stomach. Children may protest against being restrained, but the wrong placement of belts can have dire consequences in a car crash.

Once your child reaches 10 years old, they are old enough to use a seatbelt, provided they meet the following conditions:

  • Your child can sit with their back against the backrest of the seat.
  • Their knees should bend comfortably over the edge of the seat, while their back remains against the backrest.
  • The shoulder belt is able to cross the chest from the middle of the shoulder, away from their neck.


  • The lap belt securely crosses their lap away from their stomach.
  • They are able to comfortably maintain this position for the full car ride.


A parent reaches to pick up their infant from a multi-stage car seat.
Multi-stage car seats for children are convenient in that it allows them to use the same seat for longer. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether a multi-stage car seat is right for you and your child:

    • Starting with a car seat specifically designed for the infant stage of your child’s development is safer. Some parents may choose to use a multi-stage car seat from birth as it better suits their needs
    • For infants, ensure that the car seat is both rear facing and that the back of the seat is at a 45- degree angle to the horizontal. This angle allows the car seat to safely cradle a newborn baby in the event of a car crash.
    • Ensure that there is enough space for your newborn, as well as the harness positioning so that it’s both safe and comfortable.
    • Parents should understand the weight and age limits of the rear-facing a car seat, as well as the installation method at each stage.

    • Make sure that your vehicle has space to accommodate a multi-stage car seat. Install the car seat in both orientations at the maximum extension of each to ensure that it fits.


A child sits in a booster seat in a store. Her mom is with her, checking that the seat is the correct size for her.
Whichever car seat you opt for, the following points must be met:

  • Up until 3 years old, a child must use a car seat. This is mandatory by law.

  • Children must be rear-facing up until 15 months.

  • Children must use a harness up until the age of 4 years old.

  • Children must use a booster seat until they are seat belt ready.

  • Make sure that your vehicle has space to accommodate a multi-stage car seat. Install the car seat in both orientations at the maximum extension of each to ensure that it fits.

Hopefully, this has given you the confidence to make the right choice when purchasing your next car seat.

If you feel that you have further questions or need help with installation, please contact Wheel Well. Parents may also visit our showroom in Randburg or attend one of our car seat handout days. At Wheel Well, it is important to us that all children are safe on our roads.

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