The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Top 10 Child Car Seat Safety Tips

1. Maximum safety!


Many parents are keen to move their child up to the next stage car seat as soon as they are ‘big’ enough, not realising that it is a big step down in child car seat safety!

The children in the pictures all fit in the next stage car seat, but they are much safer staying in the lower stage car seat.  The first child is safer being rear facing as opposed to forward facing and the second, older child is safer in a harnessed car seat then a booster with the adult seat belt.

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 1a

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 1b

 

Keep your child in the lower stage car seat until fully outgrown by weight or height.  The chart shows when each group is outgrown:

 


Pic5

 

2. Escape artists!

 

It is extremely frustrating when your child learns that they can slip their arms out of the harness and it is also very dangerous!

 

There are a number of thing’s that you can do to stop your child escaping from the harness:

 

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 2

 

3. Harness height

 

The correct height of the harness can be confusing!




    • If a seat is REAR FACING the harness should be level with or just BELOW the child’s shoulders.

 

    • If a seat is FORWARD FACING the harness should be level with or just ABOVE the child’s shoulders



4. Harness tension

 

Lots of parents travel with their children’s car seat harness too loose, and it can be tricky to get right.  Harnesses should be tight enough on the child that you can just get 2 fingers between the child and the harness – with your fingers lying flat against the child’s collar bone.  When you take the little one out of the seat, loosen the harness off before you unclip the buckle – that way, when your little one next goes in the seat you can just pull the harness tensioner and get the perfect fit!

 

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 4

 

5. Car seat clothing

 

Children should travel lightly dressed when in the car, what they would be wearing if they were playing indoors.   Certainly take them to the car wrapped up!  But once you put the child in their seat all puffy and thick jackets should be removed.  You can keep your child warm with a blanket. Babies should also be lightly dressed then a blanket wrapped tightly around them once the harness is secured and tensioned.

 

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 5a

 

 

 

 

Child Car Seat Safety Tip 5c

 

6. Wobbly seats!

 

A very common mistake is the seat belt not being pulled tight enough when the child seat is fitted.  The child restraint should not wobble or move more than 1 inch.  If you have pulled the belt as tight as possible and the seat still moves about, it is possible it is not fitted correctly or compatible with your vehicle.

 

7. Getting the right fit!


Child seats have blue guides if they may be used rear facing, and red guides if they may be used forward facing.  Make absolutely sure the seat belt passes through the correct guides – it doesn’t necessarily go through every guide!

 

8. Using the back on a booster


Booster seats should be used with the back support in place as long as possible – head rests on a majority of high back boosters will raise up to accommodate your growing child.



Child Car Seat Safety Tip 8

 

9. Buckle crunch:

 

The plastic casing of the seat belt buckle should not sit on or over the frame of the child seat, if it does, it may not hold in an impact

 


 Child Car Seat Safety Tip 9

 

10. Most important child car seat safety tip!


Not every seat fits every car!  Whether seat belt or ISOFIX, it is essential to ensure your vehicle and child's car seat are compatible and that the seat fits correctly.  If a seat is not fitted correctly it will not be able to protect your child properly in an impact.


 

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Guest — ERF Mama
Nice read! So important to spread the word! x
Sunday, 13 April 2014 01:52
Guest — Good Egg Safety
Thanks ERF Mama, I had a look at your blog and really enjoyed it. Keep the posts coming ... Read More
Monday, 14 April 2014 09:55
Guest — Robert Kay
Another very important and informative post! Thanks for the tips, look forward to reading more on here and spreading the awareness... Read More
Monday, 21 March 2016 15:02
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What is i-Size?

 Survey banner Britax

 

i-Size is part of the latest child car seat regulation ECE R129 that will launch in three phases.

Phase 1, is for children up to 105cm and includes an integral restraint, such as a five-point harness launched in 2013.

Currently, this regulation is running alongside child car seat regulation ECE R44.04 which is an older yet still valid car seat safety regulation.

Eventually, ECE R129 will phase out ECE R44 and be the only legal child car seat regulation, however a definite date is yet to be confirmed.

ECE R129 will eventually become the only regulation that you will be able to approve a car seat to.  However, older models of R44.04 car seats will still be legal to use.

The primary goal of ECE R129 (i-Size) is to keep children safer in the car, by making child car seats easier to choose, fit and use.

 

 

What are the key changes?

 

Mandatory rear facing to 15 months

Under the older R44 regulations, children can legally forward face in car seats when they weigh 9kg.

However, with R-129 this is not the case, and children must be rearward facing until 15 months in i-Size seats. This is because it is a safer way to travel, and it is recommend to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible.

This is because young children are at most risk of neck and spinal injuries in the event of a collision due to the size of their head in relation to their body and their developing muscles and bones. This makes them much more vulnerable to serious injury than older children and adults.

i-Size seats require children to be rear facing to at least 15 months old, a point when a child’s neck is stronger and more able to cope with the forces applied during an impact when facing forward.

 

Better compatibility

i-Size addresses the frequent problem of compatibility between R44 regulated ISOFIX car seats and many vehicle makes and models.

From July 2013, car manufacturers were able to have i-Size seating locations approved. Although in the first few years only a few cars had this feature, today nearly all newly designed cars have i-Size seating positions. You can identify i-Size seating locations by the label on the vehicle seat or in the vehicle handbook.

i Size

The benefit of an i-Size approved seating position in a vehicle, is that an i-Size car seat is automatically compatible.

You can still use an i-Size car seat in a standard ISOFIX car, however you must always check the vehicle compatibility list first.

 

Seats selected by height

ECE R44 child car seats are defined by a child’s weight. An approximate age is often also stated but this intended as very rough guidance only.

However, this combination does sometimes cause confusion and can lead to a child being moved to the next stage child car seat before they are ready and their safety can then be compromised.

i-Size makes it simpler for parents to get the selection right as it is defined by the height of the child and mandating rear facing for the first 15 months.

A maximum weight limit will also apply to each child seat and this will be shown clearly approval label attached to the product.

label

R129 i-Size car seats are selected by the child’s stature. i-SIZE restraints are selected by your child’s height, and each i-Size seat will carry an individual maximum child weight limit. R44 child seats will continue to be chosen by weight, stipulated by defined “group stages”.

 

Side impact test

You may be surprised to read that ECE R44 does not require child car seats to undergo a side impact test.

Although not legally required, some manufacturers already do this but it is not apparent to the consumer from the ECE R44 product labelling.

To ensure an enhanced level of safety and clarity, all i-Size child car seats undergo a rigorous side impact crash test and so provide a high level of protection in the event of a side impact.

 

Child seats will be easier to use

i-SIZE phase 1 specifies that child seats must be installed with the ISOFIX mounting system.

ISOFIX establishes a stable connection between the bodywork and the child seat, and minimises the risk of incorrect installation in the vehicle.

Note: there is an exception for infant carrier which may have a belt routing.

 

A Better Fit For Longer

Unlike ECE R44, the internal dimensions of an i-Size seat will be specified and these dimensions will relate to the latest size data for European children.

 

 

i-Size Car Seat Example

Trifix

 

The Britax Römer Trifix i-Size conforms to the ECE R129/01 car seat regulation (i-Size) and is suitable for children from 76 cm to 105 cm tall (15 months up to approx. four years), making it the perfect follow up to your infant carrier.

The Trifix i-Size not only provides optimum safety technologies, but also makes sure that children are travelling in comfort with advanced ergonomics of a good seating position and padding.

This seat offers three recline options and a headrest which provides seven height positions to ensure that the seat will grow with the child. Find out more

 

 

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When should I turn my baby forward facing?

When should I turn my baby forward facing?

 

It can be very confusing to know when you should move your baby forward facing, but this blog will help you know what the safest course of action is!

Child car seat groups can seem complicated at first as they go by weight and height, yet there is a crossover between each stage on the weight limit, and then there are age recommendations to top it off!  What do you do with a baby who is the 9 months forward facing age but only 18 lbs?  Do you have to turn forward?  Is the rear facing seat not safe to use after 9 months then?

The best thing to do when researching car seats is to ignore age recommendations and choose a seat solely on your child’s weight and height.  This helps to remove some of the ‘smoke’ and it makes the seat stages a little easier to understand.  The seat stages have a crossover on the weight categories, and this is due to the chance that a child can outgrow a seat by height before they hit the maximum weight and so they will have to move up a stage.

This chart shows the categories for R44 seats:

Group Stages 2014-01


*For maximum safety time you should keep your child in their rear facing car seat until it is fully outgrown

**Some seats may specify a different height limit - check instructions and follow carefully

If they are in a group 0+ infant seat this is at either 13kg, or when the top of their head is level with the top of the seat.  Their feet are not in danger of being hurt if they are touching the vehicle seat back, and they will not be uncomfortable if they are ‘filling’ the seat.  Child car seats are not unlike a crash helmet - a tight fit will provide better protection than having lots of room!



0+ Car Seat



The 9 month age given on a group 1 R44 forward facing car seat is an approximate recommendation.  The 9kg minimum weight limit is just that, a minimum.  The best advice states to keep your child in each seat to the maximum limit, and then move them up. If you have an i-Size R129 seat then the minimum age to keep rear facing until is 15 months.

Babies can legally move to a front facing seat at the 9kg minimum weight, but they must fit in the harness and also be able to sit unaided for a minimum of 30 minutes - no less.  Moving your child forward facing at 9kg is not just as safe as having them rear facing.

If your child has outgrown their baby seat by height or you want to move them up to the next stage before they have outgrown their seat, you do have the option of a combination 0+1 car seat.  This will let you have them in a full size group 1 car seat, but it is rear facing.  These seats can either rear face to 13kg or 18kg, and offer your baby the best safety of rear facing before you make the switch to front facing.


Elena Car Seats 015



If your baby is 9kg and outgrowing their baby seat by height you can also use a rear facing group 1 or 1,2 seat as well as the option of a 0+1 seat.



Elena Car Seats 022

 

Recap


Group 0+1: newborn - 18kg (newborn - approx 4 yrs)

Group 1: 9 - 18kg (mainly front facing, but rear facing seats available) (up to approx 4 years)

Group 1,2: 9-25kg (mainly rear facing) (Up to approx 6 years)

 

So… when can my baby move forward facing?  


Legally you can currently turn your baby forward facing once they weigh 20lb/9kg and they must also be sitting completely unaided for a minimum of 30 minutes.  If you are using an i-Size car seat, you must legally rear face until a minimum of 15 months.  Eventually, all children will be rear facing to at least 15 months by law.

However, ideally you would not move forward facing until they are at least 18kg/4 years old.  A rear facing group 1 (or group 1,2 seat) will provide much better protection for your child from the most dangerous and most common type of impact - a frontal impact.  The younger a child moves forward facing, the less protection they have in a crash - it could be the difference between life and death.  This doesn’t mean that you should ignore maximum outgrown limits on your seats however!  If your baby has outgrown the rear facing limit of their seat, they will need to move up to the next stage, be that rear or forward facing.

 

Are forward facing seats dangerous?

Since child seats were introduced, car seats have gone a long way in helping to reduce death and injury in children.  Forward facing car seats are designed to restrain a child in a collision, which when they are correctly fitted and used - they do very well.  New technology and data does however show that children are much better protected by facing backwards when in the car.

 

 

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Carry handle or safety feature?

The handle on your baby’s car seat is more than just a convenience, it is also a very important safety device!


LIFESTYLE_CS_BABY-SAFE_PLUS_SHR_II_Dad_BR_2015_300dpi


While it makes it easy to lift your infant seat in and out of the car, it is really important to check the instructions on your child seat.  Not all carry handles are placed in the same position in the car.

carry handle edited

 

The instructions on the side of your seat will show the correct handle position.

The handle is often required to be upright, or forward towards the baby’s feet when driving.  This is because your child’s seat can rebound in a collision, and having the handle in the correct position prevents this from happening.


LIFESTYLE_CS_BABY-SAFE_PLUS_SHR_II_DUALFIX_sucking_thumb_BR_2015_300dpi

Elena SC

 

What happens if the carry handle is at the back?

If you were to have a collision, with the carry handle back by the baby's head, the seat may not protect your child adequately.  The seat may flip up and make contact with the vehicle seat back, which would be avoided with the handle in the correct position.

This is exactly what happened to one Mum, when her husband was involved in a collision - thankfully he was OK and her little one wasn't in the car at the time.


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What is a top tether?

​When you buy or use an ISOFIX child car seat, it will have the two ISOFIX bars on the back of the seat, and almost all ISOFIX seats will then have a third point of anchorage. This third point of anchorage is very important, as it prevents the ISOFIX child seat from moving too much in a collision. The third point of anchorage will either be a support leg, which is a very popular option, or a top tether. This article is focusing on the top tether – how to use it, what it does and the benefits.

What is a top tether?

The top tether is the third point of anchorage on an ISOFIX child car seat. It is a length of webbing which is attached to the back of the child seat, with a hook on the end. The top tether strap must have a green indicator on it to show when it has been pulled tightly enough.

How do you use a top tether?

​The top tether will pass over the top of the vehicle seat, and hook onto the top tether point. The top tether point will either be in the boot, on the back of the vehicle seat, or it may be in the roof of the car.

Top tether points are normally indicated with the anchor logo, or your car handbook will tell you where your point is.

What does it do?

As we have already mentioned, ISOFIX seats tend to have a third point of anchorage, which reduces dangerous movement of the seat in a collision. The top tether hooks behind the child seat onto the bracket in the car holding it in place, along with the ISOFIX arms.

In a collision, a child seat will move forward, and the seat can pivot on the ISOFIX arms. To prevent this from happening, and to also absorb energy from a collision, the top tether point is able to then reduce movement in the seat along with the ISOFIX, and absorb crash forces.

It is very important to ensure the top tether is used, if it is supplied.

What are the benefits?

Many ISOFIX seats have the support leg which reaches into the floor well, and this leg does the same job as the top tether point. However, the support leg is not compatible with every vehicle, and cannot be used in conjunction with floor storage compartments.

For ISOFIX seats with a top tether, there are not so many constraints. Providing the ISOFIX seat with top tether is classed as universal, and your cars' ISOFIX and top tether point are approved as universal, you are able to fit the seat in the car.

Top tether seats also tend to take up less room in the car, as there is no support leg in the cab – this can make it much easier for other passengers to get in and out, particularly older siblings who may sit in the middle.

ISOFIX seats with tethers may also be lighter, and therefore quicker and easier to move from car to car, as there is no heavy leg attached to the base.

Finally, ISOFIX + Top tether seats have all the same features and benefits that you would expect, such as easy adjust harnessing, some seats offer longer rear facing, and some even swivel!

Anything to consider?

As with any seat you buy, it is very important to ensure the seat fits every car it will be going into. Not all cars have top tether points, so be sure to check each car. Many ISOFIX + Top tether seats are ISOFIX only, very few have an option belt the seat in the car.

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The hidden projectile in your car - Booster seats

The hidden projectile in your car - Booster seats

 

When children are younger, they use a child car seat that contains a harness to restrain them. This seat is fitted into the car, where it normally stays strapped in, so even when your little one is not in the car, their seat remains restrained.

 

  

 

The next stage seat - boosters

When it comes to your child moving up to a booster seat, both the seat and the child are restrained with the adult seat belt.

 

GRACOBRITAX PICS 005

 

This means that unless you buy an ISOFIX booster seat, you need to remember to strap the booster in when not in use.

 

Why?

An unrestrained booster will multiply its weight by the force of a collision, so if you have a crash when your child is not in the car, but their booster is sat on the back seat - you have a very heavy projectile waiting to hit someone!

  

Spot the Error!

 

Spot the error! Take the above child seat, the Britax Adventure. This seat is known for being lightweight and portable, so it is easy to move between vehicle's. This child seat weighs just 3.9kg. In a 30mph collision, the seats weight will be multiplied, and when the seat flies forward, it will hit whatever it impacts with a weight of 117kg - or 18.4 stone! If you have a little one sat next to the seat that is flying around, or a passenger in the front, or even if the seat is behind you as a driver - 18 stone hitting the back of the seat, or a person is not good news! So for the safety of all, remember to strap in your non ISOFIX booster seat!

 

ISOFIX Boosters

 

KIDFIX_II - edited

 

ISOFIX boosters don't need to be strapped in when your little one is not in the car, because the ISOFIX provides a rigid attachment to the vehicle. Just one of the great benefits of ISOFIX! Both ISOFIX and non-ISOFIX booster seats offer great protection for a child, but remember to strap in the non-ISOFIX booster when your child isn't out and about with you!

 

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Extended Rear Facing Car Seats

Extended Rear Facing Car Seats

An extended rear facing child car seat, is a seat which allows a child to travel rear facing for longer, usually up to 4 years of age. These seats have been used in Sweden since the 1960's, and over the past few years, they have become increasingly popular in the UK due to their excellent safety offering.

ISOFIX, or seat belt fitted?

Extended rear facing car seats are available with ISOFIX, and there are also seat belt options available. ISOFIX extended rear facing car seats have an 18kg weight limit (i-Size seats may differ), and some belt fitted rear facing seats have an 18kg weight limit. There are also many seat belt fitted seats which have a 25kg weight limit.

The group stages available to rear face:

Group 0+1 – 0-18kg
Group 1 – 9-18kg
Group 1,2 – 9-25kg

Combination, or rear facing only?

Some extended rear facing seats will allow the option of putting your child rear or forward facing, where others can only be fitted rear facing.

Testing

Extended rear facing car seats are currently tested to R44.04. Many iSize child car seats which are approved to R129 will offer longer rear facing, up to approximately 4 years old (105cm). Some rear facing only car seats may also have passed the Swedish Plus Test.

Additional fitment

Leg Room

One of the most common questions asked about keeping children rear facing is "Where will their legs go?" While children are very flexible and comfortable in a rear facing seat, it can look quite odd to adults. There are seats available which have extended leg room options, which is usually achieved by adjusting where the seat is fitted on the vehicle seat.

Three rear-facing children
If children feel the need to stretch out their legs, they can stretch them up the back of the vehicle seat.

What is the best extended rear facing seat to buy?

What is the best seat for you, will depend on your vehicle, your child and your family situation. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Method of fitment – There is no safety difference between a properly fitted belted seat, and ISOFIX seat, however ISOFIX is considered safer as it reduces the risk of incorrect fitment. Belt fitted extended rear facing seats can be more difficult to fit.
    With any method of fitment you choose, be sure to seek professional advice and fitting help, read the manual and practice fitting the seat so you are confident with it.
  • Combination or rear facing only – Do you want to have the option of using the seat forward facing 'just in case', or are you 100% sure that your little one will be rear facing up until the limit of the seat? Take this into account when choosing your seat, if you aren't completely sure you will be rear facing until 4, you may want to opt for a combination seat. Similarly, if you know you definitely will be rear facing to the limit, you may want to consider a rear facing only seat, as these can often be cheaper!
  • Additional fitment – Almost all extended rear facing car seats are classed as semi-universal, and they will have a vehicle compatibility list available online. Before you buy your seat, check that every car the seat will be used in is on the compatibility list.
  • Is your child tall or heavy for their age? – Child seats with an 18kg limit will accommodate most children to around age 4. If your child is likely to reach 18kg long before their 4th birthday, a seat with a 25kg harness limit will give you better longevity.  You may also want to consider a 25kg harness limit seat if you wish to rear face beyond 4 years of age.
  • Where to buy – extended rear facing car seats are becoming increasingly available in major retail stores. However, you are more likely to find them in your local independent nursery retail shop.  Phone up local stores to see what they have in stock, and if they are trained to show you how to safely fit the seat.
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Winter coats and car seats – the winter facts every parent needs to know.

 

The danger you may be putting your child in when travelling in the car this winter.


The temperature is beginning to drop outside, and children are being bundled up in thick winter coats and snowsuits to keep them snug and warm in the cold weather.  But did you know that you are supposed to remove your child’s coat before you strap them into their car seat, and not doing so may put them in danger?

This video demonstrates why winter coats and car seats don't mix:

 


Winter Jacket sequence

 

Leaving your child’s coat on in the car is a problem because it creates a gap between your child and their safety harness. In a collision, the harness isn’t as close to your child’s body as it needs to be to allow it to properly restrain them.

To keep your children safe in the car this winter, remove their coats and jackets and pull the harness tight enough that you can just get two fingers between your child and the straps.


Pic6

 

 

How to keep your child warm:

Despite puffy and thick coats being dangerous, children will still feel a chill when they first get in the car!

There are several ways you can safely keep your child warm.

 

Babies

 

Keep your newborn warm OL

maxi-cosi-pebble-footmuff-confetti

 

 

Babies should be dressed in thin layers when in the car seat, and thick or puffy snowsuits will cause the harness to fit incorrectly.  Instead, use  a cosy toes approved by the child seat manufacturer, or fold a thin blanket in half and tuck it tightly around your baby over the harness, once they are strapped in correctly.  Make sure any blankets do not come up higher than arm pit level.

 

Children 

 

harness toddler

 

Remove children's coats and jackets, and strap them into their car seat properly - then tuck a blanket around them.  Your child will be able to remove the blanket if they get too hot, which they cannot do when they have their coat on, this can lead to them overheating.


Winter_clothes_-_children.png

 

Some parents may place the jacket over both their child and harness, however Good Egg Safety do not recommend doing this as it may delay removing a child from their car seat in an emergency.

 

Winterclothing 3 reasons

 

 

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My child escapes the harness when I am driving - help!

 

Does your child escape the harness?

Lots of parents have had the moment when you are driving along, glance at your little one and they’re having the time of their life on the back seat – with their arms in the air and out of the straps! So what can you do when your little one develops this habit?


GOODEGG-29.05.14_0380

  

So what can you do when your little one develops this habit?

Be sure to remove any coats or puffy jackets and snowsuits  These thick items of clothing create a gap between your child and the harness, making it super easy for them to wriggle out!

Check the strap height – The straps should be level with your little one’s shoulders, at the point where the straps come out of the seat. If you can’t get the straps quite level, they may dip slightly below when rear facing, and sit just above the shoulders when forward facing.

Make sure the straps are tight enough – Pull the harness tight, and do the ‘dual test’. This is: ensuring you can fit no more than 2 fingers between your child and the harness at collar bone level, then check that you cannot pinch the harness strap together.

 

They still do it!

If you have done the above, and your child still escapes, you may want to try an aftermarket product designed to block the gap they get their arms out of.

 

5-point-plus 

The 5 point plus is a fully crash tested and approved anti escape device, which is also recommended by child seat manufacturers.  It is a long piece of breathable fabric which sits behind your child, and comes under their arms to wrap around the straps.  This then blocks the gap that they are getting their arms through to wriggle free.

 

Chest clips

There is a lot of confusion surrounding chest clips in the UK.  It is currently illegal to sell a child car seat in the UK, with a chest clip as part of the child seat.  This is because our approval requirements state that a child must be released from the child seat in one movement.  However, this does not apply to aftermarket products, and you can legally fit an aftermarket chest clip to your child’s car seat.

If you do choose to use a chest clip it is very important to check the following points:

That the clip safely and securely fits to the harness straps – it must not interfere with the placement of the chest pads on your child’s car seat.

The chest clip MUST sit at your child’s armpit level. It is very dangerous to get this wrong.

Once your child has broken the habit of wriggling their arms out, remove the chest clip.

 

Nothing works…

If nothing else works, you may need to buy your child a different child car seat.  For children very determined to escape the harness, or for those that really dislike it, an impact shield car seat is an alternative. 

 

Cybex Pallas

 

These can be better for children who often escape, as there is no 5 point harness in the seat to restrain them.  Instead they are restrained with an ‘impact shield’, which is placed over them, and the adult belt is placed over the shield to secure the child.

These seats often cover group stage 1,2,3, and will convert to be a high back booster, so it will be the last seat you need to buy your child.

 

Has your child ever escaped the straps?  What did you do to teach them to keep their arms in?

 

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Child Car Seat Safety Infographic

 

Is your child's car seat correctly fitted?

Find out now using Good Egg Safety's handy infographic.

 

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