What child restraint seat should I get and other common questions

Published February 1, 2021, 3:48 PM

by Inigo Roces

Children sitting in the appropriate seats for their age and height.

Starting Feb. 2, 2021, children 12 years old and below will have to be in child restraint seats (CRS). This is in accordance with the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11229).

While it may be new to the Philippines, laws like this have already been passed elsewhere in the world. You likely have many questions. We’ll try to answer them all here.

What is the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act?

This new law was passed to ensure that children in vehicles are seated and restrained properly. It doesn’t just require child restraint seats (CRS) for small children, but also prevents children of a certain age and height from sitting in the front passenger seat. This law was passed because vehicle’s seatbelts and airbags were designed for adult passengers.  Putting a child in these seats and keeping them buckled in with just a seatbelt could cause more harm in the even of an accident.

What seats are required for children?

There are various seats required for children of various ages. Naturally, children aged 0-15 months will require a rear-facing child restraint seat. Children from 15 months to 4 years will need a forward-facing child seat. Children 4 years old to 12 years old (under 150 cm / 4’11 inches) must use a booster seat. There are even child seats that can be converted to fit a child of any age from an infant up to 12 years of age. Naturally, as a child grows, the parent will have to acquire the proper child seat for their age and height.

Children aged 4- 12 years old must be in booster seats.

My child is 10 years old but is already 5 feet (151 cm) tall. Does he/ she need a child seat?

No. Your child is tall enough to use the standard adult seat and seatbelt.

My child is 13 years old but is only 4 feet 10 inches (149 cm) tall. Does he/ she need a child seat?

No. Your child is old enough to use the standard adult seat and seatbelt. To avoid hassle, bring your child’s documents or identification as proof of their age.

An example of a booster seat for children aged 4- 12 years old.

When can my child stop using a child / booster seat?

When your child is taller than 150 cm / 4’11 inches or older than 12 years. Children taller or older than this can be seated in the front passenger seat because they meet the criteria for a seatbelt and airbag to effectively protect them in an accident.

A rear-facing child seat for infants 0 to 15 months old.

What kind of child restraint seat (CRS) should I get?

There are many kinds of child restraint seats (CRS) available. It’s best to choose something that best fits your child and the type of vehicle you have. RA11229 allows all kinds of child seats that are approved by United Nations Regulation 44 and / or 129. To find out if your car seat meets this criteria, look for a stamp or sticker bearing the code, “ECE R 44.” In addition to being UN ECE compliant, it will greatly help if the child seat also bears the Philippine ICC (Import Clearance Certificate) sticker. This means it has passed inspection and is approved for sale in the Philippines.

Where can I buy these child restraint seats?

Child restraint seats are sold in various baby care stores. You may also find them in online shopping sites. In addition, several automotive showrooms and dealerships may have these on offer as well.

A forward-facing child seat for children aged 15 months to 4 years old.

How much will they cost?

Child restraint seats cost anywhere from PhP5,000 and up. The price varies depending on the brand, additional features, portability, and more. The most important thing is to ensure that it is compliant with the current ECE (Economic Comission of Europe) standards and bears the appropriate stamp or sticker.

Can I get a used / second hand child restraint seat?

Yes you can. Like we mentioned above, the only requirement is that the seat is appropriate for your child’s age and weight, as well as compliant with current ECE standards. We do not recommend getting a child seat older than 10 years old.

A child seat with built-in handle and harness.

My car is not ISOFIX compatible. Can I still use a child restraint seat?

Yes. ISOFIX is not a requirement. It is an international attachment standard that some car brands follow to ensure easy attachment and installation of child restraint seats. It is not mandatory.  There are many child seats that work with non-ISOFIX compliant cars. Many child seats are designed to make use of a standard seatbelt to attach the child seat to the car in the absence of ISOFIX attachments. As long as you have working seatbelts, you can find a child restraint seat that will fit.

What is the benefit of an ISOFIX compatible car?

A car with ISOFIX compatible seats simply has dedicated hooks with which to attach and install the child restraint seat. They are designed to make it more convenient for parents of small children.

Car brands like Volvo, Volkswagen, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, and BMW, are just a few of the vehicles that come standard with ISOFIX-compatible seats.

A child seat for children aged 15 months to 4 years old.

I don’t have a child restrain seat (CRS) yet. Will I get caught and issued a ticket?

For now, the LTO will be conducting an “initial phase” for motorists to get used to and complete all the requirements. Parents caught with children not restrained in a child seat will be given warnings. The agency is giving the public three to six months to get their CRS before they start apprehending violators. Do not wait until this period is over. If you have the means to buy a child restraint seat, we recommend getting one already.

I bought my child restraint seat before this law was passed. Is it legal?

LTO will soon launch guidelines on how to submit your child seats for inspection. Once they pass inspection, you will be given a certificate of compliance. The LTO will inspect if it still meets safety requirements and has no serious damage. If your child seat passed UN Regulation 44 (ECE R 44), there should be no problem with inspection.