Baby car seats: what are the standards?

As the birth of your child approaches, so does the crucial choice of car seat. Far from being an easy task, the search for the ideal baby car seat often overwhelms parents. And then there are the regulations on car seats (R44/04 and R129 or i-Size). For example, the seat must correspond to the child's weight and height to be as safe and comfortable as possible. Which approved car seat should I choose? What criteria should you use? Bébé2Luxe takes a look.


What is homologation?

To be sold on the market, a car seat must be approved according to precise specifications. Approval ensures that a car seat provides a minimum level of protection in the event of an accident. To find out a car seat's level of protection, simply check its label: this is compulsory for all seats. There are currently two sets of regulations governing car seats: the European standard ECE R44-04 and its successor, R129, which came into force in 2013. The latter, also known as i-Size, will eventually completely replace R44-04.

These new regulations have been introduced in response to the fact that many children are still killed or injured in road accidents, and that almost 70% of car seats are not correctly installed. Baby car seats complying with ECE R44/01 and ECE R44/02 standards must no longer be used.    

What are the current standards and approvals for car seats?

As explained above, there are currently two standards for car seat approval, which will probably remain in force until 2021. These are the R44/04 standard and the R129 standard, also known as i-Size.

Regulation R44-04

Launched in 2006, the R44/04 standard is the most frequently used car seat standard. It governs the rules that a baby car seat must comply with in order to be approved and sold on the European market. It sets out 5 distinct groups of car seats:

  • Group 0 car seat: for babies from birth to 10 kg (approx. 9 months)
  • Group 0+ car seat: for babies from birth to 13 kg (around 18 months)
  • Group 1 car seat: for babies weighing from 9 to 18 kg, i.e. from around 8 months to 3 ½ years old
  • Group 2 car seat: suitable for children weighing from 15 to 25 kg, i.e. aged from around 3 to 7 years
  • Group 3 car seat: suitable for children from 22 kg to 36 kg, i.e. from around 6 years to 12 years.

Cette norme siège auto comprend également des groupes évolutifs :

  • Groupe 0+/1 : siège auto qui accueille un bébé de sa naissance à ses 18 kg soit jusqu'à environ 3 ans ½
  • Groupe 1/2/3 : siège auto transportant un bébé dès 9 kg jusqu'à 36 kg soit d'environ 8 mois à environ 12 ans
  • Groupe 2/3 : siège auto adapté à partir de 15 kg jusqu'à 36 kg soit d'environ 3 ans à 12 ans.

Pour être certain que votre siège auto répond à la norme de sécurité R44/04, il suffit de vérifier qu’il affiche une étiquette orange sur laquelle il est inscrit qu’il est conforme aux exigences de sécurité standard.


The R129 regulation (or i-Size standard)

Launched in 2013, the R129 (or i-Size) standard is a new regulation for car seats. It will co-exist with the R44/04 standard until at least 2021. This means that any car seat purchased today must comply with either the R129 standard or the R44/04 standard. The aim of this standard is to make it easier to choose the right car seat and to optimise baby's safety in the car. 

In particular, it requires babies to be transported in a rear-facing position until they are at least 15 months old. It also raises the requirements in the event of a side impact by requiring manufacturers to have their car seats tested using a new dynamic side impact test. Finally, the aim of these new car seat regulations is to highlight the Isofix attachment system, which considerably reduces the risk of incorrect installation of the car seat.

Based on the same model as the R44/04 standard, the i-Size car seat is marked with a specific logo and also has an orange approval label specifying "i-Size".


The differences between the ECE R44 standard and the R129 I-size standard

To put it simply and to differentiate between the two standards, an R44/04 car seat requires babies to be transported in a rear-facing position until they weigh 9 kg (around 8 months), whereas the R129 I-size car seat requires babies to be transported in this position until they are at least 15 months old. The former has been tested in frontal collisions only, while the latter has been tested in both frontal and side collisions.

An R129 car seat uses the Isofix system, while an R44/04 seat can still use the safety belt. Finally, the first (R129) classifies its car seats mainly according to the size of the baby, while the second (R44/04) according to weight.


Seat marking

Finally, you should know that there are various ways of differentiating them, in particular through specific marking. The label on an R129 (or I-size) standard car seat includes several details: the i-Size label, the size classification and the designation of the country in which the car seat has been certified (Germany = E1; France = E2; Italy = E3; Spain = E9; United Kingdom = E11; Japan E=E43).

The label on an R044/04 standardised car seat shows the ECE R44/04 label, the car seat group, whether it is universal or semi-universal, and the country in which the car seat has been certified.  

Are you unsure about choosing an approved car seat for your child, or do you have specific questions about a model we sell? Don't hesitate to contact our teams!   

share Share