Family panning

My daughter bought a 2006 Mazda 3 (manual, petrol) from a Mazda dealer last year for £7k just after her first baby arrived. It's a very nice car and is fitted with EU-approved child-seat brackets. All was fine when the infant was in the bassinet-type carrier but now, eight months later, he's grown and has to travel in the child-seat, rear facing, i.e. the next stage up in the child-carrier 'system'. Unfortunately this means the front seat has to be fully forward and this leaves no room for an adult front seat passenger. Also, the Mazda has quite a narrow rear door aperture and a lowish, sloping roofline, making loading the baby an awkward business. She now wants/needs to change the car - please could you recommend a better alternative to the Mazda? She does a modest annual mileage, mainly short trips and would prefer a manual, petrol car. I'm guessing that the Mazda is worth about £5K (still pretty mint) and the most that could be added to that would be £3K cash, so I guess we are looking to spend £8,000 tops. She likes the idea of a SEAT, for no reason other than she enjoyed owning an Ibiza a few years ago and I've suggested a Citroen Picasso, or a Kia, mainly because you usually give them good marks. If possible she needs to avoid largish people-carrier type vehicles due to cramped on-road parking. Before I do the Grandad duty and go round the local dealers with either the baby seat, or a tape measure, is there any chance of your expert advice?

Asked on 27 March 2010 by D.B., via e-mail

Answered by Honest John
I don't understand why she is trying to use a rear facing child seat in
the back when she can use a forward facing child seat in the back (and the child will be a lot happier). These are the official rules:

The right baby/child seat/booster for your child depends on the weight of the child, not age.
* Group 0 and Group 0+: baby seats are for babies weighing up to 13kg (approximately birth to 9-12 months). Baby seats face backwards and are fitted into the front or rear of the car using a seat belt or ISOFIX connectors. They must not be used in the front if the front seat is protected by an active airbag.
* Group I: child car seats are for children weighing between 9 and 18
kg (aged roughly from 9 months to about four years) and have their own integral straps. They face forwards or rearwards and are fitted in the front or rear using the adult seat belt or ISOFIX connectors.
* Group II: booster seats for children from 15kg to 25kg (roughly 4–6
years), or depending upon make and model, from 15kg up to 36kg. These may or may not have backs. They are designed to raise children so that the adult seat belt goes safely as low as possible from hipbone to hipbone.
* Group III: booster cushions for children weighing 22 to 36 kg (aged
around 6 years and upwards). They are designed to raise children so
that the adult seat belt goes safely as low as possible from hipbone
to hipbone... Generally, these do not have backs.
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