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Car seats guide

The right solution on every ride

As a father of two children, I know from my own experience how important it is for children to be seated with the greatest possible safety and comfort, even when on the move. As a parent, however, I also attach great importance to simple, stress-free handling when it comes to child seats.

For over 30 years, Thomashilfen has been supplying special children with rehab car seats in cooperation with strong partners such as Britax, Römer or RECARO. Today, we also use our know-how to develop our own rehab car seats. All our many years of experience in the needs of children and parents flow into them.

With this guide, we provide you with the essential information in terms of functionality, handling, comfort and safety. Use this decision-making aid to choose the "right" seat for you and your everyday family life.

What to consider before buying?

How tall and how heavy is my child?

In which car(s) will the child seat be used? Does the vehicle have an ISOFIX connection?

What additional rehab support does my child need for sitting?

Are there any special features or accessories that make it easier for me to use?

As a rule, health insurance companies cover the costs of the rehab car seat. Depending on the health insurance company, a co-payment may be due, as car seats must also be purchased for healthy children.


What makes a good rehab car seat?

Rehab equipment

These car seats have special rehab equipment and a selection of rehab accessories that allow the seat to be better adapted to the special needs of your child.

Safety testing

The seats have been tested with rehab equipment by an independent testing institute to ensure that the highest safety standards are met. The successfully tested rehab car seat is then marked with an "S" as a restraint for special requirements.

Aid number

They are marked as a recognized aid with an aid number (HMV no.).

Long service life

Especially for special children, seats are often needed that can be used for a long time. Some seats have therefore been tested with an overload test and are thus usable for longer than actually specified by the ECE groups.

Professional help facilitates the decision for the right fit

"Get advice from your local dealer. The trained rehab consultants are very familiar with car seat fittings. A trial installation in your vehicle and an adjustment with child is recommended. I would be happy to name a specialist dealer near you."

Anette Detjen, Car Seat Consulting


Two standards for child car seats apply simultaneously

ECE R44/04 and ECE R129 (i-Size)

Child car seats are divided into 5 ECE standard groups. ECE regulations are regulations for motor vehicles and their equipment derived from internationally adopted standards. The selection criterion for a car seat is the weight of the child, an age specification is only for orientation.

Only child car seats that have been approved and authorized by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) have the ECE test seal. Since April 2008, only child seats tested to ECE R44/03 or higher may be used.

Since July 2013, two approval regulations for child seats have been in force at the same time, which often leads to confusion when looking for a new child seat. The new ECE R129 (i-Size) directive will exist in parallel with ECE R44/04 for a transitional period of several years.

Despite the introduction of the new directive, child seats with ECE R44/04 approval can still be purchased with a clear conscience, as they may continue to be used in the future.

How do the approval standards differ?

The main difference between the two approval standards is that i-Size approved seats must also pass a side impact test. The criteria for selecting a suitable child seat also differ. Child seats approved according to ECE R44/04 were divided into the so-called ECE weight groups and the suitable child seat was thus selected on the basis of the child's body weight. According to i-Size, the selection of the child seat is based on the height of the child. The seats are no longer divided into fixed groups; the decisive factor is the size specified by the manufacturer.

Also new after i-Size is that all children up to 15 months must be transported rear-facing. However, this only applies to child seats that are approved according to the new i-Size standard. In child seats with ECE R44/04 approval, younger children may also be transported forward-facing in the future, as soon as they have reached 9 kg body weight.

When purchasing an i-Size approved seat, parents should inform themselves well in advance whether the seat may be used in the vehicle being used. This is the case with newer vehicles if they already have an i-Size label. If your own vehicle is not yet marked as "i-Size ready", check whether it is listed in the type list of the respective i-Size child seat.

Group Weight Age (approx.)
Group 0 up to 10 kg Until 9 months
Group 0+ up to 13 kg Until 15 months
Group I 9 till 18 kg 9 months to 4.5 years
Group II 15 - 25 kg 3 to 7 years
Group III 22 till 36 kg 6 to 12 years
none up to 80 kg Adolescents, Adults
Saskia Schleßelmann, Parents' Advisory Service

The right car seat for special children

"The physical development of children with special needs is often quite different. Many special children are smaller and more delicate than their peers.

Therefore, in addition to age, pay particular attention to the height and build of your child.

The best way to find out whether the seat fits your child is to try it out. Your child should feel safe and comfortable in the car seat. For this purpose, there are also optional accessories for a better fit. Take advantage of our no-obligation test offer to find out which seat is right for you."


Car safety

According to road traffic regulations, children under the age of 12 who are smaller than 150 cm must be transported in car seats.

Choose the right child seat size and check it again and again

The child seat must not be too small. Take particular care that the child's head does not protrude above the seat. If, in the event of an accident, the head hits the top edge of a seat that is too small, this can result in serious injuries. If the child seat grows with the child, keep adjusting the height of the backrest, harness and head restraints as the child grows.

Select appropriate weight class and check again and again

The specified weight class of the child seat must match the child's body weight. If the child is too heavy, the seat may not protect properly in the event of an accident. If the child is too light, the seat belts will not grip reliably in the event of a collision.

Fasten the seat according to the operating instructions
  • Only a correctly installed seat can provide the best possible safety
  • Before using a new child seat, try all the features and familiarize yourself with the correct belt routing.
Use on a rear-facing vehicle seat
As a rule, only forward-facing vehicle seats are approved for the installation of child seats. Preferably, rear-facing seats should therefore be occupied by adults. You will find information in the operating instructions for your child seat and your vehicle.
The best place for a child in the car is the back seat behind the passenger seat
  • Boarding and alighting can be done quietly on the safe side of the sidewalk facing away from the street
  • Driver can always check on the child quickly and without much effort while driving
  • The middle of the back seat is just as well suited (with three-point belt)
Never buy child seat on increase

Do not buy a child seat for which the child is still too small and too light. Only a child seat suitable for body size, weight and development stage reliably protects the child.

Deactivate passenger airbag

If the seat is installed on the front passenger seat, deactivate the airbag if necessary. You will find information in the operating instructions for your child seat and your vehicle.

Strap children safely

The harness should fit snugly but without tension on the body (a maximum of three fingers may fit between the harness and the chest)

Always activate child safety locks on the doors

Independent opening of the door is prevented

Sought - found

Try out the wish rehab car seat in your car now!

If you are looking for a rehab car seat for everyday family use, but are still undecided which is the right seat, you have come to the right place. Let our team advise you and try out a rehab car seat.


These errors are a security risk

Car seats for children must not only fit the weight, size and age of the child. For safety, in addition to the correct installation, the correct buckling also plays a major role.

Incorrect belt routing
Ensure the correct belt routing in accordance with the operating instructions for the child seat. The belt guides provided on the child seat ensure optimum belt routing. The shoulder belt of the 3-point belt must run over the middle of the shoulder, if possible centrally over the collarbone.
Too loose fit
The vehicle seat belt should be pulled tight enough so that the child seat - grasped by the backrest - cannot be noticeably pulled away from the vehicle seat. If available: Isofix facilitates orrect and firm seat installation in the car.
Belt too loose
The 5-point belt is not tightened enough. Rule of thumb: A maximum of three fingers may fit between the shoulder belt and the child's chest. If older children want to fasten their seat belts themselves, drivers must make sure that the belt is actually tight.
Careless handling
The 5-point belt is not tightened enough. Rule of thumb: A maximum of three fingers may fit between the shoulder belt and the child's chest. If older children want to fasten their seat belts themselves, drivers must make sure that the belt is actually tight.
Twisted belt
The risk of injury increases because a twisted belt cuts deeper into the body in the event of a collision and can also tear earlier due to the incorrect loading of the material. When using a 5-point safety or positioning belt, a belt connector clip prevents the belts from twisting dangerously.
Thick clothing layers

Down jacket, anorak, etc. should not be placed between the belt and the child's body. If the belt is loose or the clothing is bulky, the child is exposed to considerably higher impact loads in the event of a collision and cannot be held in place by the belt.

et al. Source: BMVIT, Vienna

In winter the right clothes in the car

"Do not put your child in the car seat with a thick jacket, even in winter. There is an increased risk of injury because the child in the thick jacket will not be held in place by the seat belt in the event of an accident. When the child is safely and securely buckled in, simply put the jacket you have taken off over the child so that he or she does not freeze.

Or you can put a thin jacket on your child for the journey and cover him or her with a blanket after buckling up. In the cold season, it is advisable to have this in the vehicle anyway - especially if it takes a little longer in a traffic jam."


Standard car seat or
Rehab car seat?

Should we buy a "standard car seat "* and enhance it with rehab accessories or is a rehab car seat the better choice? What are the consequences of my choice in terms of safety and product liability? These questions are answered by Lothar Wiesehan, quality assurance officer.

How does my "standard car seat "* get equipped with rehab accessories?

Specialized dealers can attach rehab accessories to a "standard car seat "*. Proper installation plays a major role in the fitting of rehab accessories. The safety of the seat also goes hand in hand with this. If it is a retrofitted individual special construction from a specialist dealer, the approval of the car seat under road traffic law normally expires, since as a rule no safety test has been carried out. In this case, a doctor's prescription must be carried on every journey as an exemption. This confirms that the child can only use this special restraint device in the car.

Who is actually liable for the subsequently modified product?

Manufacturers of "standard car seats "* may not be liable for products that have been "modified" by retrofitting rehab accessories. The testing of the respective seat was carried out without the retrofitted equipment. It is not always clear who assumes responsibility for the safety of the modified seat.

What are the advantages of a rehab car seat?

Rehab car seats are tested by an independent testing institute including rehab equipment. Product liability is thus assumed by the manufacturer of the rehab car seat. With these seats, it is clear that all tested rehab accessories are matched and adapted to the respective product. This ensures that the structure of the seat shell is not weakened by the add-on parts and that it continues to offer the child optimum protection.

How to apply for a rehab car seat?

As a first step, I recommend that parents think about the requirements that a rehab car seat for their own child must meet. Of course, the size, weight, clinical picture and vehicle model play an essential role here. Specialist rehab dealers or social pediatric centers (SPC) offer support here.

There, there is usually the possibility to try out seats with the child and in their own vehicle. Once the right car seat has been found, the family doctor or pediatrician issues a prescription.

The rehab specialist prepares a cost estimate based on the prescription. This is submitted to the health insurance fund together with the prescription for cost coverage and, ideally, a test report. After reviewing the submitted documents, the health insurance company informs the specialist dealer whether it will cover the costs or not. In the event of approval, the specialist dealer will order the approved car seat and arrange a delivery date with you.

* Car seat for healthy children without rehab accessories.

Used child seat
- yes or no?

It becomes critical if you do not know the history of a used seat! You then run the risk of using an accident-damaged seat for your child, for example.

In a car accident the child was on board in the seat

To do this, you should know that even in an accident with an impact speed of about 10 km / h can damage a car seat.

So before you use a seat that someone before you has already used: Have the possibly damaged seat checked by a manufacturer who has suitable equipment for this purpose. Such checks can only be carried out with special equipment. A visual inspection alone is by no means sufficient, as microcracks may have formed in the seat shell.

Professional safety checks are usually time-consuming and very expensive. Thomashilfen therefore does not offer these checks and we recommend that in the event of an accident with an impact speed of 10 km/h or more, the old seat should be replaced with a new car seat as a precaution.

How many years can child car seats be used?

Many manufacturers recommend that child car seats should not be used for longer than about 5 years. After that, material fatigue may occur. The protective effect of the seat shell is limited in the event of an accident and there is an increased risk of injury.

We recommend when buying or using used car seats: Do not buy / use a car seat whose history you do not know!

Make absolutely sure that the seat already used by others has not been involved in an accident with an impact speed exceeding 10 km/h.

Belt pads should be present and belts should not show any damage. The belt buckle and locking systems must function properly.

A child seat should also only be bought or used second-hand if the operating instructions are available and it has the ECE R44/03 or ECE R44/04 test standard.


Rehab equipment for individual fitting & safety

A rehab car seat, unlike a "standard car seat," offers more customization options and accessories to meet the needs of special children in the car.

Pads and supports - better support in the seat

Additional cushions and pads in the seat, upper body and head areas provide better support and help special children sit well in the car. If head control is weak, the head pads in the rehab kit provide support. Thoracic and side bolsters provide better upper body support. A seat cushion prevents sliding back and forth in the seat. When the child is older, the extra padding of the rehab equipment can be easily removed.

Thorax pads - stable upper body

The stable thorax pelotte pads are fitted close to the body to the right and left of the child's torso. In this way, the child sits upright and stable and can still move the arms freely and actively. The height and width of the thorax pelotte pads can be individually adapted to the child. A Velcro back plate can be used for precise placement of the pads.

5-point harness - for larger children

Standard car seats for older children in particular often lack a 5-point harness. The children are only held in place with the vehicle's own 3-point belt. Rehab car seats are also equipped with their own 5-point belt in higher weight classes. This belt helps position the child in the seat. It is often longer than the belt in standard seats, so that even larger children are still held well for a long time. ATTENTION: The vehicle's own 3-point safety belt must also be used. It holds the child and the seat in the event of an accident.

Abduction block - guidance of the thighs

Abduction here means spreading the thighs in the hip joint and thus a wider seat and a better, more stable sitting position. If a child requires such abduction, this is achieved with an abduction block between the knees. At the same time, it prevents unwanted overturning of the legs and possible injury from the seat belt buckle. There are simple and individually adjustable abduction blocks.

Seatbelt shield pads - extra support and protection

Children's car seats are often equipped with a thin padding on the belt buckle of the 5-point belt. The belt is tightened well for safety - so that the belt buckle does not press uncomfortably on the child's sensitive abdomen, the padding cushions movement and pressure in the crotch area. A large, extra-lined harness shield pad gives children additional support and protects less mobile children even better from unpleasant pressure.

Forearm support - for upright sitting posture

The child can lean on the support and better hold himself upright instead of reaching into the void in front of him. The forearm support provides stability and safety as an all-around support. As a visual barrier to the seat belt buckle, it distracts from unbuckling and the child can use the support as a play surface.

Rotating plate - for easier transfer

The laborious process of getting in and out of the car seat, especially for larger and heavier children, is a daily strain on the back. With a swivel plate, the car seat can be turned to the car door. This makes the transfer of the child in and out of the seat less stressful and protects the backs of parents and caregivers. TIP: A Seatfix connection or a stabilization bracket holds the turntable even better in the car.

Seat wedge at the bottom - for relaxed sitting posture

Children with weak head control need a relaxed sitting position that is not so strenuous. A seat wedge under the car seat shifts the child's center of gravity further back and allows them to lean back and sit in a relaxed position.

Seat inclination plate
- Relief with little body tension

A plate with seat tilt function offers more flexibility than a seat wedge. Several angle settings are possible - from a slight resting position to an optimally relieving reclining position of up to 16°. This means that even older children with weak head control can ride along in a relaxed manner. TIP: A Seatfix connection or a stabilization bracket holds the seat tilt plate even better in the car.

Footrest - for stable sitting position

With a footrest, the child sits stably in the car seat. The legs do not simply dangle in the air, but the child can firmly support the feet. This gives children security, as they can feel "solid ground" under their feet. Slipping out of the seat down onto the vehicle floor is also prevented.

Back plate with velcro
- for special construction solutions

Children with weak body control and low muscle tone require particularly strong support when sitting straight and upright. Stable thorax pelotte pads are used to guide the upper body and can also be custom-made by rehab technicians if required. Standard pelotte pads and special construction solutions can be attached to a Velcro back plate to fit the child precisely.


Status survey - What assistive devices does my child need?

A needs assessment form makes it easier for parents, caregivers, and providers to clearly describe and document a supply of assistive technology.

Many stakeholders are involved in the provision and use of assistive devices. In order to find the best possible aid for the child's development and participation in the respective environment, it is advisable to clearly document and describe the need.

For example, the following information is gathered:

  • general information about the child
  • accompanying therapeutic measures
  • Classification of the degree of disability (e.g. according to GMFCS)
  • Body functions (physical and mental)
  • Activities and participation

The classification of motor impairments in children with cerebral palsy is based on the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS for short) of the ICF. The GMFCS system includes five levels. The classification is based on the ability for independent mobility and the need for assistive technology support. Parents can help with the classification, as they can usually assess their child well. GMFCS is simple and quick to use, requiring only about 15 minutes for experienced professionals.

Stage I

Free walking without limitation; limitation of higher motor skills.

Stage II

Free walking without walking aids; limitation in walking outside the home and on the street.

Level III

Walking with walkers; limitation in walking outside the home and on the street.

Stage IV

Independent locomotion limited; children are pushed or use e-wheelchair for outdoors.

Stage V

Independent locomotion severely limited even with electrical aids.


Illustrations taken with kind permission from: "GMFM and GMFCS - Measurement and Classification of Motor Functions", Dianne Russel et al. Verlag Hans Huber, Hogrefe Verlag, CH-Bern, Ill. Prof. Kerr Graham, AUS-Melbourne.

Status survey to determine the need for aids

Use the survey form from rehaKIND e.V. to document the provision of aids.


What is the ICF
and why is it so important?

The basis for the provision of assistive devices is not only legal requirements such as the entitlement to benefits for assistive devices, self-determination and participation in SGB XI. The ICF must be taken into account when assessing and justifying the provision of aids.

ICF means "International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health".. (The ICF is a classification of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was first created and published in 2001 and is considered a globally recognized standard. It describes the current functioning, activity and participation of a person in order to derive participation goals, support measures and process recommendations.

Significance of the ICF for the provision of assistive devices

Aids are intended to ensure the success of medical treatment, prevent an impending disability or compensate for a disability. For the successful provision of an aid, an individual care concept must be created for the child.

For this purpose, the classification according to the bio-psycho-social model of the ICF is included. This model describes a current state of health and the interaction between the components. With the help of the ICF it is described what the child can do and what help and support he needs.

Objective: Auxiliary supply car seat

The ICF classification is used, for example, to request a car seat for children. The goal-oriented justification of the supply is always better than having to formulate an objection later. Example:

Health issue: Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

Body functions and structures:

  • Compensate for severe trunk hypotonia / thoracic supports
  • Prevent emotionally triggered spasms and seizures
  • Promote spatial perception of the environment

Activity: Master almost independent boarding and disembarking within 10 weeks

Participation: Strengthen family relationship with grandparents, enable attendance at school and day care center

Environmental factor: Grandparents and acquaintances are instructed in the safe use of the child seat, suitable aid (rehab car seat) is available

Person-related factor: Acceptance of own rehab car seat as seating aid for on the road, create motivation to get in and out of the car independently

The right to participation

"ome and again there is talk of the right to "participation", i.e. "being included in a life situation". For people with disabilities, there is even a legal right to participation in SGB IX and thus also to aids such as children's car seats. This is because they promote self-determination and equal participation in social life. This active participation is an important building block in children's development."


How do children stay safely buckled in their car seats?

A big concern among many parents:

That the child unnoticeably wriggles out of his or her belt while driving and the upper body is no longer held securely. It is then often not possible to stop quickly and fasten the seat belt again. And while the child with the new freedom of movement in the back seat causes unrest, the driver lacks concentration for the road traffic.

Anti escape vest

Here's what you can do: A special anti-escape vest for children in car seats prevents them from wriggling out of the secure harness.

Dangerous gaps between belt and child are concealed

Fewer accidents, as there is no distraction of the driver by unbelted children

The belt buckle is not covered

It can be opened quickly in case of emergency

Easy customization and application

More than 70% of children often squirm out of their car seat belt while driving

Saskia Schleßelmann, Parents' Advisory Service

The right car seat for special children

"The best way to find out whether the seat is right for your child the best way to find out. Your child should feel safe and comfortable in the in the car seat. For this purpose, there are also optional accessories for a better fit. Take advantage our no-obligation test offer to find out which is the right right fit."


ISOFIX - Fast and safe

Isofix is an internationally standardized fastening system for child seats in cars. The system consists of sturdy hooks at the bottom of the child seat and standardized retaining eyelets between the seat and the backrest, which are firmly connected to the body of the car.

With Isofix, child seats can be anchored easily and particularly firmly in the car. Isofix thus significantly simplifies the handling of the seat and reduces or avoids errors when installing child seats. In addition, the empty child seat is secured during the journey and does not have to be strapped in all the time.

But not every seat equipped with Isofix fits in every car. Older cars, for example, often do not yet have Isofix eyelets, because they have only been mandatory for the outer seats of the back seat since 2014.

Isofix seats can only be used universally with an additional attachment point in the car. This prevents the seat from tipping forward in the event of an accident.

One option is the so-called Top Tether, a tether strap at the top of the rear seat. Alternatively, a support foot is used to stabilize the seat. But beware: if there are storage compartments in front of the rear seats, it must not be used, because the lids are not stable enough. To still be able to use a child seat with a support foot, there are special "blocks" for the storage compartments that stabilize the lid.

Isofix is particularly popular for baby car seats and group I seats. Here, the Isofix attachment holds the entire seat, and the child is held in the seat by a harness belt. The vehicle's own three-point belt is then no longer required for the lower ECE weight classes up to Class I.

Stability for large rehab car seats: Attention - risk of confusion

"Some manufacturers of rehab car seats use the vehicle's Isofix anchorage system to provide additional stabilization for child seats for larger, heavier children. For this purpose, Seatfix adapters are used to connect to the vehicle's own Isofix system. This makes handling easier for parents and caregivers, especially when a swivel plate or tilt plate is used to tilt the seat. However, please note: The Isofix connection does NOT replace the securing of the child in the child seat by the three-point belt - the child must always continue to be secured with the prescribed harness according to the operating instructions of the seat!"


Reboarder child seat - secured with Isofix and support base

Child seat - secured with Isofix and support foot

Child seat - secured with Isofix and Top Tether

Reboarder
- Sitting backwards provides safety

Switching from a safe rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one is already permitted from a weight of 9 kg according to an EU law. However, a toddler's head is still relatively heavy in relation to his total body weight. It accounts for 25 percent of his total body weight. This changes with increasing age.

If the child is thrown forward in a frontal collision, enormous forces are exerted on the head in particular, which the neck and throat cannot compensate for. For this reason, rearward-facing seating in the car is advisable, especially for children with weak head control. With a reboard seat, the energy of the impact is distributed evenly over the entire back. The seat shell acts like a protective shield and protects the head and neck.

Reboarder should not be used on the front passenger seat if the airbag does not have a deactivation function. Ideally, an accompanying person should sit on the back seat next to the child so that he or she can take care of the child.

cf. www.autobild.de

Forward facing car seat

Rear facing car seat behind the passenger


FAQ - Frequently asked questions

When do you change to the next larger weight group?

Group 0/0+:
The baby's head must not protrude beyond the upper edge of the shell. A change to the next larger seat (Group I) should be made as late as possible.

Group I:
For safety reasons, you should not change to group II before 15 kg, or even before 18 kg if possible.

The back of the child's head should always be supported by the seat shell. Above all, the weight specification for the corresponding child seat must be observed. A premature change to a follow-up seat is not recommended in the interest of the child's safety.

What is the difference between 3-point harness and 5-point harness?

The belts differ in the number of their fixation points. Thus, the 3-point belt, which is part of the vehicle, is fixed at three points. The 5-point belt, which is part of the child seat, is fixed at five points.

For light children up to and including ECE Group I (up to 18 kg), the child seat is secured in the vehicle with the 3-point belt or ISOFIX. The child is then strapped in with the 5-point belt. The 5-point belt therefore represents the seat belt here.

Heavier children from ECE Group II (from 15 kg), on the other hand, must be strapped in with the vehicle's 3-point belt. In the case of child seats approved for ECE groups I-III, this means that the child is initially secured with the seat's own 5-point belt. If the child reaches a body weight of over 18 kg, the 5-point belt must be removed. From then on, the child is secured with the 3-point belt.

This is somewhat different for rehab car seats. Here, the 5-point belt can often be used for additional positioning, even for large children. The 5-point belt then no longer functions as a seat belt, but is used purely for positioning in the seat, e.g. to ensure an upright seat. The child must then also be strapped in with the 3-point belt. This means that the child is "strapped in" with two different belts at the same time. Please always follow the instructions in the car seat's user manual.

My child often opens the seat belt buckle while driving. What can I do?

You should stop as soon as possible and put the child's seat belt back on. The child should be taught, as far as possible, that unbuckling the seat belt leads to an immediate stop of the ride. We advise against the use of any technical aids that make it more difficult to open the seat belt buckle.

Please bear in mind that in an emergency, a third-party rescuer must quickly free the child from the child seat. Therefore, the red opening button should be able to be found and opened directly.

What does crash test mean?

In a crash test, a collision of vehicles is simulated under realistic conditions. This controlled process is usually carried out by independent institutes. Via the crash test, the safety of the seat is confirmed by an independent body.

Rehab car seats are tested including rehab equipment and rehab accessories. It is not necessary to carry a medical certificate as an exemption if the rehab seat has been tested and approved by road traffic law.

What is ISOFIX?
  • Internationally standardized fastening system for child seats
  • Simplifies handling of the seat and reduces or avoids errors when installing child seats
  • ISOFIX replaces the securing of child seats with the vehicle's own three-point belt. In addition to connecting the child seat via the ISOFIX anchorage system, ISOFIX child seats are secured in the vehicle with a stand or tether (top tether). ISOFIX child seats are only offered for the lower ECE weight groups.
  • Check with the type list of the child seat whether the respective ISOFIX child seat may be used in the own vehicle.

ISOFIX does NOT replace the seat belt - the child must always be secured with the prescribed harness according to the instructions for use of the seat! Attention risk of confusion

  • Some manufacturers use the vehicle's ISOFIX anchorage system to provide additional stabilization for child seats for larger, heavier children (e.g. RECARO Monza Nova Seatfix Reha).
  • However, here the attachment replaces not securing the child and child seat by the three-point belt. Advantage besides the additional stabilization: The seat no longer needs to be strapped when NO child sits in it.
Is a used child car seat still safe?
Make absolutely sure that the used seat has not been involved in an accident with an impact speed of more than 10 km/h. Seat belt pads should be present and belts should not show any damage. The seat belt buckle and locking systems must function properly. A child seat should also only be bought or used second-hand if the instructions for use are present and it has the ECE 44/03 or ECE 44/04 test standard.
How long must my child use a child safety seat?

The legal limit for the use of the child seat is reached only when the child is either 1.50 m tall or 12 years old. When the children grow taller, people also often just use a so-called booster. This is a booster seat that provides optimal belt guidance. If the child is over 150cm tall, the 3-point harnesses are to be used.

Car seats for disabled children are partly usable up to 50 kg (e.g. RECARO Monza Nova Reha), these are "restraint devices for special requirements" which have passed special overload tests. You can recognize these seats by the additional stickers.

Do you have to take into account the maximum permissible weight of the respective ECE group?

The weight of the child is decisive for the max. use of a child car seat. However, if the child is very large and the head reaches over the edge of the seat shell/headrest, the child is safe in a larger seat. Therefore, in these cases, you should switch to the next higher seat group.

Group Weight Age (approx.)
Group 0 up to 10 kg Until 9 months
Group 0+ up to 13 kg Until 15 months
Group I 9 till 18 kg 9 months to 4.5 years
Group II 15 - 25 kg 3 to 7 years
Group III 22 till 36 kg 6 to 12 years
none up to 80 kg Adolescents, Adults
My child does not have enough room in his rear-facing seat for his feet?
This is more a question of comfort and not dangerous for the child. Rear-facing child seats offer significantly more safety. In Norway and Sweden, rear-facing transport of the child is practiced significantly more than here for safety reasons.
In a car accident, the child was on board in the seat!

To do this, you should know that even in an accident with an impact speed of about 10 km / h can damage a car seat. Before you use a used seat: Have Him checked by a manufacturer with equipment suitable for this purpose. Such checks can only be carried out with special equipment. A visual inspection alone is by no means sufficient as micro-cracks may have formed in the seat shell.

Professional safety checks are usually time-consuming and very expensive. Thomashilfen therefore does not offer these checks and we recommend that in the event of an accident with an impact speed of 10 km/h or more, the old seat should be replaced with a new car seat as a precaution.

Can I buy new covers for my child car seat?

The cover wears out over time. It becomes stressed and sunlight and dirt affect it. With normal wear and tear, it is advisable to replace the cover after a period of use of 3 to 4 years. The modern covers of Recaro seats are very easy to clean and remove. The cover is part of the type approval! Therefore, please use only original replacement covers.

How many years can you use child car seats?

Many manufacturers recommend that child car seats should not be used for longer than approx. 5 years. After that, material fatigue may occur, which can negatively affect safety in the event of an accident.

We recommend when buying or using used car seats: Do not buy/use a car seat whose history you do not know! This also applies, for example, to rehab seats from the reuse of health insurance companies. You may then run the risk of using an accident-damaged seat for your child, for example. It is therefore recommended that you have the "accident-free" status of a used seat confirmed in writing by the previous owner.

A child seat should also only be used, purchased or used if the instructions for use are available and it has the test standard ECE R 44/03 or ECE R 44/04 (recognizable by the orange ECE test mark).

Is it safer to attach a child seat to the front passenger seat or the back seat?

Accident statistics show that child car seats offer the greatest safety for the child when the seat is placed in the back seat behind the front passenger. But beware. A large number of accidents also occur because the driver turns to face his child in the back seat while driving.

The use of a child car seat on the front passenger seat is often preferred, especially when transporting disabled children - due to the possible and sometimes necessary direct visual contact with the child.

However, this requires the express permission of the child seat manufacturer (see instructions in the user manual) to place the child seat on the front passenger side and that an existing front airbag is deactivated.

With rear-facing seats (e.g. THOMASHILFEN Co-Pilot or seat shells), the child's protection is also guaranteed in the front passenger seat - but here too, the existing airbag must be deactivated. However, it is safer to place rear-facing child car seats in the back seat as well. With an additional mirror (available everywhere in baby specialty stores), you can then even enable visual contact.

We generally recommend using the child car seat on the back seat and there always on the passenger side. This allows you to put the child in the vehicle from the safe sidewalk side.

Are there spare parts for child car seats?

Only for those that comply with the standard regulation ECE R 44/03 and higher, which has been valid since 1995. Since manufacturers and retailers have no longer been allowed to sell child seats with old approvals since 1999, repair and spare parts supply by the manufacturer - also for product liability reasons - are no longer possible for old seats.

What does the ECE marking on child car seats mean?

Child seats must be approved by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). This approval is achieved by awarding an ECE test seal to the manufacturer of the child car seats. Since April 2008, only child seats that have been tested according to ECE44/03 or higher may be used. You can tell whether this is the case by the first two digits of the 8-digit approval number on the orange ECE test seal (Fig.), because these indicate the test version. If the number begins with 00, 01 or 02, the seat is obsolete and may no longer be used.

Since when do children have to wear seat belts in the vehicle?

Since April 1993, there has been a general obligation to secure children in motor vehicles in Germany. This means that restraint systems for children must be used that are built, tested and approved in accordance with ECE Regulation 44/03 or 44/04 and bear the ECE test mark.

Commercially available child seats for the car are only equipped with a "5-point belt" up to group I (up to 18 kg body weight); from group II onwards, children are only secured with the car safety belt together with the child seat.

For children with disabilities, this protection is often not sufficient, e.g. when trunk hypotonia or spasticity is present. For this reason, manufacturers of Rehab car seats so-called "Positioning belts" an. These are used solely to achieve a better sitting position for the child, but they must never be used without securing them with the vehicle's 3-point belt.

What should be considered when using child seats in conjunction with airbags in the car?

In principle, all warnings on the child seat and in the car as well as all instructions in the child seat user manual and in the vehicle manual must be observed.

Unlike the front airbag on the front passenger side (which must be deactivated for rear-facing Group 0+ seats), the side airbags inflate only very shallowly. So they hardly come into contact with the child seats. So there is no danger from a side airbag if the child is properly secured in its seat and cannot lean out of it. This is usually the case with infant carriers and group 1 seats.

For older children, the use of a seat with a backrest and the greatest possible lateral protection is absolutely recommended against tipping out sideways when sleeping. In modern child car seats, such as the RECARO Monza, this lateral protection is already fully integrated due to the chassis shape, which is drawn far around the child.

Do all car seats offered by Thomashilfen fit in every car model or on the back seat?

In principle, yes, but you should check the type list of the child car seat manufacturer - only the vehicles listed there are verified for the selected seat.

However, it is also important to try out the selected children's rehab seat together with your child in your vehicle. Only then can you be sure that the seat is not only suitable for the vehicle, but above all for your child.

What does the "type list" mean in connection with ISOFIX?

Child seats are approved according to ECE R 44/03 and 44/04 in various categories, each for different types of installation or use. In some cases, especially for installation with ISOFIX, the approved vehicles are listed in a type list.

The harness is getting too tight for my child. Do I need a bigger seat?

This question is asked especially in winter, when children wear more voluminous clothes (even in the car). They are usually in the upper weight range of the respective group for which the corresponding child seat is designed. Nevertheless, it is better to avoid bulky clothing than to switch to the next seat too soon. As a general rule, the tighter the straps, the safer the child seat as a whole. Therefore, dress your child according to the inside temperature of the car and only allow him or her to switch to the follow-on seat when he or she has reached the weight or size for it.

Can I use a child car seat on the passenger seat?

In principle, child seats can always be used on the front passenger seat as well. However, it is advisable to move the front passenger seat all the way back to give the child the greatest possible legroom. If there is a passenger airbag, it must always be switched off. If there is no switch, your specialist automotive workshop can help you.

Please follow the instructions in the user manual of your child seat as well as the instructions in the manual of your vehicle.

In general, however, children should be transported in the rear seats if possible - that's where the risk of injury is lowest.

Is it possible to use a booster seat without a backrest?

If we start from the minimum requirements of the standard ECE R 44/03 and 44/04, a booster cushion can be used for children from 15 kg even without a backrest. The actual purpose of the booster cushion is to position / guide the vehicle's 3-point seat belt optimally over the child to be strapped in.

Good booster seats usually offer lateral protection in the pelvic area, but not in the head and upper body area. Cheap products usually have no lateral elevation and therefore do not even offer this protection!

The use of a seat cushion in conjunction with a backrest as a unit (the classic child car seat) is therefore best in line with current safety findings and meets the requirements for good side impact protection. The child's head and body are supported laterally - this is safer in the event of an accident, but also ergonomically favorable when your child is sleeping in its seat. In addition, the belt guide integrated into the headrest on modern seats guarantees that the shoulder belt is positioned correctly on the shoulder according to the size of the child.

Can my child keep his winter jacket on in the car?

If a child is wearing a thick anorak or overall, the seat belt of the child seat cannot be tightened, does not sit in the right place and, above all, is not close enough to the body. In the event of a fall, the belt must first compress the thick down filling of the jacket before it can hold the child in place. This limits safety considerably. Therefore, it is necessary to take off the jacket. Until the temperature in the car is comfortable, you can cover the child with his anorak or a blanket.

What is a "Top Tether"?

An ECE amendment allows ISOFIX seats to be approved as "universal" if they are equipped with an additional "Top Tether" anchorage point on the back of the seat shell. A tether attached between this additional "Top Tether" anchor point and a special anchor point in the vehicle prevents an adverse forward tipping movement in the event of an accident. These child seats may be used in all vehicles with ISOFIX anchorages and third anchor point, but only in the weight class 9 to 18 kg and only forward facing!

Although the additional attachment point allows the seats to be used universally, it also means a certain loss of operating comfort and thus increases the risk of incorrect operation.

My child often opens the seat belt buckle while driving. What can I do?

You should stop as soon as possible, strap the child back in, and instruct them about the danger before continuing the ride. It may be necessary to repeat this "educational measure" several times. In any case, avoid praising your child for opening the lock or even demonstrating its ability to others.

Please keep in mind that in the event of an emergency, a third-party rescuer must quickly free the child from the child seat.

A lock that is too difficult or impossible to open would possibly prevent this. From there we recommend, even if it is sometimes difficult especially with disabled children, not to use technical aids such as belt buckle increasing the pressure force, cover for the belt buckle, etc.

My child weighs over 36 kg. Does he still have to sit in a child seat?

The legal limit for child seat use is not reached until the child is either 1.50 m tall or 12 years old. Child seats for older children are limited to 36 kg for testing reasons, but according to the Federal Highway Research Institute and the State Materials Testing Institute (MPA) in Stuttgart, these restraint devices are equally suitable for children with a body weight of over 36 kg and must therefore also be used by them. Only in individual cases can an exemption be granted. The prerequisite for this is the presentation of a medical certificate or an eye examination, according to which the use of a restraint device is not possible and reasonable for anatomical reasons (excerpt from the StVO - for children under 150 cm tall with an oversized body).

Excluded from this are so-called "Restraint devices for special requirements"! These are rehab car seats, which have been subjected to special stress tests and often also have an increased weight approval. For example, the RECARO Monza Reha is approved for up to 50 kg user weight! Parents do not need to carry a medical certificate for this type of child car seat.

Rehab car seats are often too heavy to carry when changing to another vehicle!

Child car seats of older design are sometimes very heavy. Modern child car seats are characterized by high side protection, good climate behavior and above all light total weight off.

With the RECARO Monza, a modernly designed seat with a basic weight of only approx. 6 kg (!) is offered in the rehab sector. This makes it the lightest seat in this segment, to the delight of all mothers who, after all, often have to transport the seat from one vehicle to another in practice.

Why are rear-facing child car seats actually safer?

Baby car seats are almost always mounted backwards to the direction of travel. There is a reason for this: the child's head is heavy compared to the rest of the body. In a 9-month-old baby, the head accounts for 25% of the total body weight; in an adult, it accounts for only 6%. Therefore, in a crash in a forward-facing seat, the child's neck is disproportionately loaded. In a rear-facing seat, the forces are distributed over the entire back and head in an optimal path.

Swedish accident research shows that rear-facing seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 92%, while forward-facing seats have a reduction in injury risk of only 60%.

Can I use the front passenger seat even though the front passenger airbag cannot be deactivated?

Under no circumstances should a rear-facing child car seat be placed in front of an activated airbag! It is life-threatening for your child. If you do not have the airbag professionally removed or immobilized, the front passenger seat must not be used for this seat!

Do children also have to be secured in cabs?

The obligation to secure children also applies to journeys in cabs. Seats must be available for a maximum of two children, at least one of which must be from ECE Group I (9 to 18 kg). When ordering a cab, parents should be sure to announce that children will be traveling with them and insist on securing them with child seats.

You should always take rehab car seats specially adapted for your child and transport your children only in these.

Which child seat to use for children with disabilities?

For many types of disabilities, children can be secured very well in specially adapted rehab car seats. Decisive for the seat selection is professional advice from your local medical supply store, which should also have its own children's rehab department.

It is important that you try out the seat once in your vehicle together with your child - this is the only way to avoid incorrect fitting.

Further questions about providing your child with a rehab car seat? Feel free to contact Thomashilfen or also the free hotline of IGAP e.V. (counseling center for parents and therapists).

Here you will find comprehensive information and optimal advice IGAP hotline:
0800 2684 335 (toll-free) - www.igap.de

What is the safest place for children in the car?

The best place for a child in the car is in the back seat behind the passenger seat. When getting in and out of the car, you and your child are on the sidewalk side and not in the middle of the roadway. Even if two or more children are being transported in the car, they should always get in and out on the sidewalk side. The child safety locks on the doors should always be activated. The space in the middle of the rear seat, if three-point seat belts are available, is also optimal and additionally offers the child a clear view to the front. If the child seats are mounted against the direction of travel, it is best to have an accompanying person sitting in the back to look after the offspring. And it is certainly not wrong to check now and then that the seat belt buckle has not already been opened by clever little children's hands.

How do I properly secure my child?

Make sure that the child seat can be firmly and securely fastened. The seat must not tilt or slip. Ensure that the child's seat belt is positioned correctly. Always place the shoulder belt neatly over the shoulder and as centrally as possible over the collarbone. The lap belt should run as low as possible over the groin. Never run the shoulder belt under the child's arm! Always fasten the child seat and child as tightly as possible. Adjust the belt routing and head support to the growing child as required. And in the case of seats with a catch element, the catch element must never be omitted.

Car seat approval types

Car and child seat registrations
There are three types of approvals for child car seats: universal, semi-universal and vehicle-specific. This way you know if a child seat fits your car and is approved for it. Universal approval does not require a vehicle type list, and the child seat is approved for installation in all cars. But you must always make sure that the child seat really fits properly in your car.

Universal approval
The child seat is left for use in all vehicles that comply with the regulations ECE R14 and R16. In the case of universal approval for ISOFIX, the child seat must be connected to the anchorage points of the vehicle via the Top Tether. This solution must be used in any case, and the vehicle's owner's manual must state that the car is suitable for "Universal ISOFIX child seats".

Semi-universal approval
Semi-universal approval is when safety devices are used to secure the child seat beyond the standard requirements from universal approval, which require additional testing. As a manufacturer, we update our vehicle type list. Constantly. For example: In the case of a support leg, some cars provide additional storage space in or under the floor area, which can significantly affect the behavior of this support function. Therefore, you need to check if your car is included in the vehicle list.

Vehicle specific approval
For vehicle-specific approval, the child car seat must be tested separately for each vehicle model by means of a dynamic test in the vehicle. The approved vehicles are listed in our type list.