Children and car seats – Safety rules

They can be homologated according to the ECE regulation n. R44 and according to the ECE R129 standard (also called “i-Size”).

The current standard (R44) divides the seats according to weight, with a further indication of the child’s age and occasional differences between the two factors. The weights indicated in the different groups overlap so as to leave the time necessary to provide for the purchase of a larger seat. It is important that you do not go too early from the initial group 0+ to group 1 (see page 18). The new R129 regulation no longer starts from the weight, but from the height of the child. Manufacturers can set themselves reference points for their seats. The classification of child seats for groups is thus less.

Two rules applied in parallel

THE ECE R129 STANDARD («i-Size»)

  • The car seats must pass a side impact test to obtain the homologation – a requirement that the TCS has been asking for a long time.
  • All children must be transported facing backwards up to 15 months of age (this applies only to child seats approved according to the new regulation and not to those according to ECE R44).
  • Even Isofix child seats with support legs can be approved for universal use, but only in cars with specially marked seats (“i-Size”).

Who already has a seat can safely continue to use it

Parents who already have a seat are not affected by the new regulation. For now there is no ban on ECE R44 models, which continue to be in order and can be used safely.

Parents who need a new seat can then purchase an ECE R44 approved model without fear of having to replace it in the near future. Before purchasing an ECE R129 model, it is important to check that the vehicle (or the cars) owned is suitable to receive it according to the instructions of the seat manufacturer.

Travel sitting in the opposite direction to that of the direction of travel

The little ones travel safer facing backwards, and they can also do it in traditional bébé eggs until the age of 15 months. Now many manufacturers offer car seats in which children up to four years can be transported facing backwards.


The use of child seats with ECE label R44.03 or .04 (from 1995) is still permitted. Even the recently purchased seats equipped with this label will remain on sale for a long time. It is therefore up to the purchaser to decide whether to opt for an ECE R44 or ECE R129 approved child seat.

Differences between the ECE R129 standard and the ECE R44 standard

ECE R44 ECE R129, i-Size
Classification of seats by weight Classification of seats for height
Transport in the direction of travel from 9 kg Transport in the direction of travel allowed only for 15 months
Installable on all cars, with Isofix only on compatible ones according to the list of the manufacture In the future all new cars will be in compliance with i-Size

Questions and answers

What is meant by «i-Size» and ECE R129?

ECE R129 is a new standard that establishes the minimum safety requirements to be satisfied by the seats being approved. It provides for the transport of children in reverse gear installed until the age of at least 15 months. Seats in accordance with ECE R129 for children up to approx. 105 cm in height and with Isofix fixation are called «i-Size». They require assembly with the Isofix system as well as the presence of lateral protections. R129 comes alongside the ECE R44 regulation, in force since the 80s and amended several times.

Why has the ECE R129 standard been created?

The ECE R129 aims to increase the safety of children in cars on European territory; in fact, many parents tend to move the children too early from the spacecraft or the ovetto (group 0+) to a larger seat facing the direction of travel. The bébé traveling thus run a high risk of trauma to the nape and head in the event of a collision, as their neck is not strong enough to support it. However, the current provisions do not contain any side impact safety requirements. The TCS has been subjecting the crash test chairs since 2002 and has seen clear improvements in the quality of the products over the last few years.

The new standard promotes Isofix attachments, which are easy to use and reduce the risk of incorrect assembly, to the benefit of safety. In Switzerland, one in two children is not connected correctly and therefore is not optimally protected.

When did the new call enter into force?

The ECE R129 regulation takes effect on 1 January 2014, from which car and seat manufacturers will have the right to approve their products under the i-Size standard and market them as such.

The introduction of the ECE R129 is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1: «i-Size», Isofix child seats for children up to about 105 cm, from 1.1.2014 in Switzerland.
  • Phase 2: seats for taller children, about 100 cm (September 2017).

Can we still use our ECE R44 seat?

Seats with ECE R44.03 or .04 labels (since 1995) are still permitted. For a detailed product comparison see the TCS tests. Even recently purchased seats equipped with this label will remain on sale for a long time. It is therefore up to the purchaser to decide whether to opt for an ECE R44 or ECE R129 approved child seat.

Do TCS experts recommend a particular car seat?

First of all, we recommend to favor seats that have won at least three stars in our test cycles. In addition, before buying the chosen model it is advisable to install it in your car, trying it with the child placed. Let the child choose the color he likes best, so that he will be able to travel in his new “throne”.

Is R129 a new law or a new law?

With the ECE R129 a new safety standard has been implemented that is in addition to the current ECE R44 standard. This means that for the time being we will continue to homologate seats according to ECE R44 and consumers will be able to use these marked models without restrictions.

R129 and ECE R44 are both regulations, so it is up to the child seat manufacturer to decide whether to prefer one or the other homologation method. In turn, consumers will be able to find seats that conform to the ECE R129 or ECE R44. In fact, the latter also offer a high level of protection to children.

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