The rundown on baby car seats: ISOFIX vs Seat belt system
04.04.2017 by LadyAlly
The dreaded topic of baby car seats. With so many brands and types out there, what is the difference and which is suitable? If you are thinking of procuring one for your newborn or your child, firstly, I have to warn you: forcing your child to sit in his/her own baby car seat is a power struggle between you and baby, with him/her winning if you don’t have the patience to deal with his/her (loud) complaints, or the ironclad discipline to put your foot down and insist. Which is the reason why so many people end up selling their pre-loved car seats on various online platforms. OK, to the main topic.
If you’ve noticed, there are 2 main types of baby car seats sold here in Malaysia; those using the ISOFIX system, and those using the seat belt system. If you are planning to buy one, you will have to decide which if these you plan on getting before moving on to the next criteria. So, which is better? Honestly, they are both good, depending on your how you are planning to configure your seating, and whether your car supports ISOFIX or not.
The ISOFIX System
Basically, ISOFIX has a clip on mechanism at the base of the seat where you latch it onto a hook in the gap of your seat (between the backrest and the buttrest. Hehe). An ISOFIX car seat is usually identifiable by this long metal bar attached on the front of the seat base, which serves as a stabilizer and safety precaution of sorts since just 2 clips alone will not be strong enough to keep the weight of the seat and child in place in case of collision or due to wear and tear.
The actual seat will be then attached to this base plate, and usually can be placed either rear-facing, or front-facing, although some higher end models allow you to just swivel it around to change its orientation. However, for babies and young children, always try to keep them at rear-facing configuration until their legs become too long, then only more to front-facing. This is for safety purposes ya.
Make sure to always read the instructions carefully when it comes to installing the seat. Most of the time you can access that easily since the instructions are on the seat itself; probably since most people will throw away the manual even before reading.
Now, compared to the seat belt system car seats, ISOFIX seats are more costly; most of the time at least double the price. However, what is great about this type of car seat is that you won’t have to fiddle with the seat belts, and should you be placing it on the second row of your MPV, people can still shimmy their way into the last row without having to remove and reattaching the seat belt.
How to tell if your car supports ISOFIX? Some cars have external indicators like a little button, such as this on a Honda CRZ, however, most of the time you will need to check your car’s specs, or dig in between the seats to find the ISOFIX hook.
The Seat Belt System
This type of baby cat seat is the most commonly used since it is functional and affordable. It has a base plate, and the seat is fixed and non-removable from the plate usually. In order to change the orientation of the seat, whether front or rear-facing, you will need to turn the entire chair around, and follow the instructions on how to attach the seat using your car’s seatbelt. Make sure it is snug!
This system is easy to attach, however, some models may have larger base plates, which can be quite annoying to place on your car seat if you have one of those bucket-styled seats at the back. But to be honest, the seat belt system car seats can be purchased at a really cheap price, and you can even find lots of pre-loved units for sale. The only drawback of this system is that if you use it in some cars (especially MPVs), the seat belt will block your other passengers from going in to the next row.
Other than that, any cars that have seat belts at the back can use this type of seats, and installation is so easy as long as you follow the instructions to the T. You can tell the difference between ISOFIX and seat belt systems usually by the instructions attached on the seat – which is rather useful if you’re buying a pre-loved seat and the seller has no clue whether he/she is selling an ISOFIX or not.
Never buy these!!
I’ve also seen people actually selling these items online. Please, for the love of your child, don’t EVER buy them. Firstly, these pieces of flimsy crap is the same as not buying a car seat at all. What’s the point? In an accident, the child will still be seriously injured as if not wearing a safety belt at all. .
Secondly, this other piece of crap. During a light collision or even just a sudden brake, your child will slam onto the seats or hit whatever since he/she will be just rolling on a piece of mattress like a rag doll. Imagine how it will be like in an impactful collision. I don’t even dare to think about it. The comfort of your child sleeping in the car should not be the main issue; it is the safety. Both our kids grew up strapped snugly in their seats and they have no trouble sleeping in them. Just get one of those seats that has adjustable inclination for better comfort. Most of the time, baby car seats are cushiony and snuggly anyway.