The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

How to fit an ISOFIX car seat

ISOFIX car seats are considered safer than seat belt fitted child seats, because the risk of them being incorrectly fitted is reduced.  However, not all ISOFIX seats fit all vehicles, and mistakes can still be made.



fitting ISOfix

 

Here are some tips to help you fit your child’s ISOFIX car seat


 

Tip1

You must check the vehicle compatibility list to ensure your ISOFIX car seat is compatible to your vehicle.  Not every ISOFIX seat fits every car, so it is important that the child seat manufacturer confirms that it is a safe fit. You can find the fitting list on the child seat manufacturer’s website.

Don’t forget!  The seat must also be suitable for your child!


 

Tip2

Once you have bought your seat, read the manual thoroughly.  This will not only give you specific instructions on how to fit your seat safely, but you will also find information which is essential to your child’s continued safety.

 

Tip3

To begin fitting your seat in the car, locate the ISOFIX points in your vehicle and attach the ISOFIX guides if required.  Once you have done this, release the ISOFIX arms, so they are extended, and ensure the support leg is away from the seat base.

 

Tip4

Attach the ISOFIX arms to the ISOFIX points in your vehicle, you should hear an audible ‘click’ and the indicators will turn green.  You may now have to push the child seat firmly into the vehicle seat back to secure the fit.

 

Tip5

Now lower the support leg to the floor, so that it fits firmly, but is not pushing the base of the seat upwards.  If your seat uses a top tether strap instead, pass this over the back of the vehicle seat as instructed by your manual, attach to the tether point, and pull firmly – there should be no slack in the tether strap.

*please ensure you attach your tether strap to a top tether point, indicated in your manual – and not onto a luggage hook.

 


fitting isofix seat

 

If your child seat fits using a separate ISOFIX base, you can now click the seat into place.  Remember to follow your manuals instructions - some combination ISOFIX seats require you to fit it in full recline!  Once you have clicked the seat unit into place, check that all of the indicators have turned green.



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Tips for fitting a child car seat with a seat belt

Fitting a child car seat can be notoriously tricky, so we have put together our top tips to help you along the way!


The key thing to remember with child car seats, is that not every seat fits every car.  It’s easy to think that a belt fitted seat will fit with any seat belt, but there are many potential problems that can undo all your hard work and cause your seat to be fitted dangerously.  Our blogs can help you learn about the dangers of buckle crunch, floor storage boxes and the most common fitting errors.

It is important to seek help when choosing your child car seat, to ensure it is compatible with your car, and every car that the seat will be used in.

Don't forget!  It also has to be suitable for your child!

 

Top 10 tips when fitting a child car seat with an adult seat belt


 

Tip1


Rear facing seats have blue guides, and forward facing seats have red guides.

 

Rear facing seats have blue guides, and forward facing seats have red guides.


If your seat is able to fit rear facing, you will need to follow the BLUE guides.  If your seat is able to fit forward facing, you need to follow the RED guides.

 

Tip2


 

The child seat manual is in many languages.

 

The child seat manual is in many languages.


Read the manual – Although the manual looks very thick and daunting, it is actually in many languages.  The section you need to read is in fact very small, and contains lots of life saving information to help you keep your child safe.   Also, familiarise yourself with the child safety section of your car manual, here you will find lots of information about how to best keep your child safe in your car.  The car manual is also where you need to look for advice about putting your child in the front.

 

Tip3

Watch a fitting video a couple of times before you attempt to fit your child car seat – a majority of manufacturers have fitting videos for their products on their website.

 

Tip4


 

Some vehicles have very sculpted seats, which can cause fitting issues.

 

Some vehicles have very sculpted seats, which can cause fitting issues.


When you place the child car seat in the car, the shell and base of the child seat must be in contact with as much of the vehicle seat as possible. It is possible for the shape of the vehicle seat to cause your child seat to be incompatible!

 


Caution

Resist tipping your baby’s infant carrier seat further back to give a better recline, as it leaves a big gap underneath the seat – this negatively impacts the performance of the seat in a collision.


 

Tip5



Lap Belt OL

A vast majority of child car seats must be fitted with the 3 point adult seat belt. Pull out a length of belt, and pass the lap belt through the lap belt guides, then click the belt in.  Once you have clicked the belt in, firmly pull the shoulder part of the belt, so that it tightens the lap belt.

 

Tip6


Shoulder belt OL

Now pass the adult shoulder belt through the shoulder belt guides, but beware! The belt may not necessarily go through every guide!

 

Tip7



007

Take a moment to check the whole seat belt, at every point – ensure it is flat and untwisted.

 

Tip8



Knee in seat OL


Now push the child seat firmly into the vehicle seat, whilst you are doing this, pull the shoulder part of the belt again to make sure there is no slack in the seat belt (as demonstrated in picture above) - both the lap part of the belt and the shoulder belt should be tightly fitted over the child seat.

 

Tip9


Lock off clips hold the seat belt tight, and tension systems help the seat belt to fit more tightly.

 

Lock off clips hold the seat belt tight, and tension systems help the seat belt to fit more tightly.


Activate any lock off clips or tension systems on your seat.

 

Tip10

 

Ensure the seat moves no more than 1 inch in any direction - if your child seat wobbles, seek professional help!

Essential knowledge!



  • When fitting an infant seat, check the position of the carry handle. It is rarely pushed back behind the baby’s head, and is often upright or towards the baby’s feet.

 

  • Silver Cross OL

 

    • If you have an extended rear facing seat, fit the tether straps before you begin fitting the seat




    • When fitting a forward facing group 1 seat, it can make fitting the seat easier to put it in full recline. It gives you more room to pass the belt through the guides on lots of seats.




    • If the vehicle headrest causes a gap between the child seat and vehicle seat, or impairs the fit of the child seat, remove it.

 

head rest removal OL



Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on how to fit ISOfix seats!

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Common car seat fitting errors and the risks

 

The peril of incorrect fitment and why you should get your car seat checked


An incorrectly fitted child car seat will not work to the best of its ability in a collision, if at all.  Here are some of the more common car seat fitting errors we come across, and the potential risk associated:

Loose harness



Loose harness OL

 

A child car seat harness is there to keep your child in their car seat in the event of a collision. It also helps to spread the force of the crash, further protecting your child.  A loose harness will not be able to restrain your child properly, and they are at risk of travelling too far forward in a collision.  This could cause them to impact the interior of the vehicle, or come out of the harness altogether if it is very loose.

To fix: Remove all puffy and thick clothing from your child, and pull the harness tight enough to allow you to slip two fingers flat between your child’s chest and the harness, at collar bone level.



Incorrect harness height



Incorrect harness height OL

 

Child car seat harnesses must be adjusted as your child grows to restrain them properly, and we often find harnesses on group 1 car seats to be too low on children.  On forward facing children, this is particularly a problem as it can cause the harness to sit incorrectly on the child, causing a risk of the harness slipping off their shoulders and not restraining them.  It may encourage them to remove the harness due to discomfort, which is extremely dangerous in a collision.

To fix: The correct harness height is for the straps to be level with a child’s shoulders, at the point they come out of the child seat.  If you cannot get them at the same level as their shoulders, then they may dip below when rear facing, or sit just above the shoulders when front facing.


Slack seat belt



tight seat belt OL

 

On child car seats fitted with the adult belt, it is important that there is no slack on the belt, and that the belt is straight and untwisted.  A slack seat belt will cause the child seat to travel too far forward in a collision, potentially hitting the seat in front or the interior of the vehicle.

To fix: When fitting your seat, push your knee firmly into the seat, whilst you are doing this, pull the adult belt tight and lock off with the appropriate guides.



Incorrect seat belt routing



Incorrect Belt Route OL

 

We often have to demonstrate the correct routing of the adult belt as many people become confused with the fitting instructions.  An incorrect belt route carries a risk of the seat moving too much in a collision, to it not being restrained at all and exiting the vehicle altogether.

To fix: Read your manual carefully, watch manufacturer fitting videos, seek professional help and get your child seat checked.


High back booster adjustment



Incorrect head rest height OL

 

The headrest on high back boosters are often not increased with the child as they grow, which causes the adult belt not to sit across their shoulder safely.  In a collision the chest part of the belt will not be able to restrain their upper body correctly.

We also see younger children being allowed to use older siblings' seats as a ‘treat’ – to use another group stage seat a child must first be a suitable weight and height for the seat.  If the child is not big enough for the seat, they should not use it, and if they fit into their own seat, they are safest using that.  If they are the correct weight and height, then the booster head rest should be adjusted to suit the child’s height.

To fix: Most high back boosters have a squeeze handle at the top of the head rest.  Squeezing this handle will allow you to increase the height of the headrest to suit your child.

Watch our video on common car seat fitting errors.



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The importance of getting your car seat checked

Good Egg Safety car seat checking events


Car seats under £100

 

Good Egg Safety is the leading organisation for in car child safety, and we have checked over 20,500 car seats since 2002.  The child seat events are designed to give parents somewhere to go to have their child’s car seat checked, so they can make sure they are sitting safely.

Over the years the rate of incorrect fitment has risen however, and over the last 5 years the rate of incorrect fitment has increased by 43%.  The 5 year average for car seats being incorrectly fitted, based on over 12,000 checks, now stands at 57%.

The amount of incorrectly fitted seats last year was 64% in Scotland, and 71% in England and Wales.  Our research suggests there are a vast majority of seats being bought online, where a parent receives little advice on choosing the right seat, and no help with fitting safely.  Other issues come from poor advice given by retail staff, and parents and carers accepting hand me downs and second hand seats.

Anybody can have an incorrectly fitted seat, and it is not something to feel guilty or be embarrassed about, it is certainly better to find out any problems with your seat during a checking event, than in a collision!

 

What happens at a child seat checking event?


GE

 

Child seat checking events allow our highly trained experts to be on hand to not only check your car seat for you, but to also answer all questions and queries you may have – no matter how small!  We will also have a height chart available, stickers for the children and our handy Good Egg Guides for mums, dads and carers.

There are two parts to getting your car seat checked – checking the seat fits your car and is fitted correctly, and checking your child fits the seat and is strapped in correctly.  We can check your car seat fitment even if your child is not with you.

Checking the seat fits your car:

    • We check for any fitting concerns, such as buckle crunch, forward anchor point, floor boxes and the fit of the child seat to the vehicle seat

 

    • We then check the seat belt is routed correctly, and we will inform you of any errors we find.



If there are any errors with the seat compatibility or fitment, we will explain these fully to you, and then explain and demonstrate how to correct the issue.  We are almost always able to correct errors and rarely have to recommend a new seat.



Checking the seat fits your child:

    • We will ask for your child’s age, weight and check their height to ensure the seat they are travelling in is suitable for them.

 

    • We will then ask you to fit your child into the seat as you normally would do. We check the harness is at the correct height and tension, and give any advice that may be necessary (such as removing thick clothing).

 

    • If any adjustments are required to your seat we will explain these to you, and then help you make the adjustments.



Finally, if the seat has had to be removed from the vehicle, we will help you put it back in – we always insist that you fit the seat yourself however, so you can be fully confident with the seat fitment the next time you have to take it out!



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Forward facing children and front airbag use

 

Can my child sit in the front seat once they are forward facing?


This is possibly one of the most commonly asked questions that we get here at Good Egg HQ, and we are unable to give a straight yes or no answer.

When it comes to children sitting in the front when forward facing, the airbag requirements are different with each vehicle.  The only way you can find the answer to keep your child safe is to check your vehicle manual.

Not all vehicles allow children to sit in the front.

If your car does allow you to sit a child forward facing in the front, the manual may state to push the front vehicle seat as far back as possible.  There are two things to take into account when doing this:

1) Children in the back - make sure they have plenty of room for their legs, if the front seat is too close, they will be at increased risk of leg and head injuries.



Sitting up front 1



2) When pushing the seat back, make sure the fit of the restraint is not compromised.  The seat belt needs to be pulling the seat back, not situated forward of the seat belt routing point.

When the front seat is in its forward position, it provides a good fit for a child restraint:



seat forward



The seat belt pulls the child restraint back into the vehicle seat at all points:



seat forward close up



When the front seat is pushed back as far as it can go, it causes the seat belt to sit forward of the restraint.  This causes an unstable fitment and is not safe:



seat back close up

 

Stay in the back


Lots of parents allow their children to sit up front as a treat - however children are in much more danger when in the front.  There is not only danger from the airbag, but also from side airbags and anything penetrating the car in an impact.  Children are also then closer to the force of a frontal impact, which is the most dangerous type.



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Booster cushions - Are they safe?

Mythbuster:  Booster cushions do not offer side impact protection – Fact or Myth?

 

FACT!


Booster cushions are unable to offer any side impact protection to children.

 

Why don't they offer side impact protection?


The current child seat approval standard, Regulation 44 (R44) does not include side impact testing.  This means that seats can be sold that do not offer any side impact protection to children.  Car seats undergo many component safety tests, and the crash test consists of one frontal impact at 32mph, a rear impact at 18mph, and a roll over test.*

There are additional crash tests that seats may undergo, such as the ADAC test, WHICH and the German Stiftung Warentest.  These all test to 40mph frontal impact, and they do include a side impact test. Booster cushions do not pass the side impact test.

Side impact testing has become mandatory under the new child seat approval standard R129 iSize.  R129 iSize began in 2013, and will not be fully implemented until 2018.  Both R44 and R129 approvals are running alongside each other, and will do some for some time after 2018.

*please note, R44.01 and R44.02 approved seats are illegal to use.  Only seats that carry a R44.03, R44.04 or R129 label are legal.

 

Why don’t booster cushions pass a side impact test?


Booster cushions are a belt positioning device, they are simply designed to lift your child up enough so that the adult seat belt restrains them correctly.  They do not offer any additional protection.

They don’t pass a side impact test because they do not have a back and side wings to cushion a child from the force of a collision, and they do not place a child near the vehicles side impact protection – children do not benefit from the vehicle’s side and curtain airbags.

Side Impact Test - Booster Cushion v High Back Booster

 

Why is side impact protection so important to have in your child's car seat?


Side impacts account for 1 in 4 collisions, and they account for 20% of all child road traffic collision fatalities.  When you also take into account that a vehicle's side impact protection is designed for adults, and not children, the best way to protect them is with a seat that has passed side impact testing.

Children do not benefit from a vehicle's side impact protection system, so no matter how much tech your car has, a highly tested car seat is essential.

 

Do Good Egg Safety recommend booster cushions?


No, we do not recommend booster cushions.  They do not offer the same protection for children as high back boosters.  We encourage parents and carers to use high back boosters when their children have outgrown their group 1, or group 1,2 harnessed car seats.

 

What about for short trips/friends' cars/emergencies?


A collision can happen at any time, and it doesn’t make allowances for your child being in a friend’s car, or it being a short trip.  Your child should use the correct seat for their weight and height on every journey.  However, as an absolute last resort, a booster cushion is better than nothing at all.  If your child is going to use a cushion, they must be the correct weight and height for it.

 

Any other concerns?


Booster cushions are very open to misuse, and as they often don’t route the chest belt comfortably for children, they are more likely to put the belt under their arm or behind them.  This is extremely dangerous and puts a child at significantly increased risk of serious injury, or worse.



wrong booster OL

 

Another problem with booster cushions is the lack of torso support, children are far more likely to lean out of the seat belt when they fall asleep, hugely reducing their protection in a collision.

 

Why are booster cushions allowed to be sold?


Booster cushions are allowed to be sold because they pass the R44 test.  They allow the adult seat belt to hold the child in place during a frontal collision - they do not have to go through a side impact test.

 

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Is it dangerous for a child's legs to hang over the car seat?

It's dangerous for a child's legs to hang over the end of the car seat... FACT or MYTH?

 


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MYTH!


A common belief is that once your child's legs start to hang over their group 0+ car seat, it is outgrown and their legs may get hurt in a collision. This is not true however!  A baby's or toddler's legs are safe to hang over the end of the car seat, and are in very little danger of getting hurt in a collision. This is because in a collision, your baby is pushed back into the car seat, which protects their head, neck and spine.  Their legs fold up to their chest, away from the back of the vehicle seat.  Babies and toddlers are also very comfortable when seated rear facing, and it is important for adults to remember that children are far more flexible than us!  Whilst it certainly would be cramped for us to sit with our legs crossed on a long car journey, children are far more comfortable.  The seat gives continued support to the child's legs, and they are able to move them into suitable positions. It is important to keep your baby and toddler rear facing for as long as possible - a young child's head, neck and spine is very well protected when rear facing, and this protection is reduced when they progress to a forward facing group 1 car seat.  Rear facing group 1 car seats are available to prolong the protection to the head, neck and spine.


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Second hand car seats case study 1 - Mamas and Papas Traveller G-Matic

Welcome to case study 1!

Throughout November we are focusing on the dangers second hand seats pose to children and their families.

We are running four case studies on seats that our expert has bought from eBay – this installment is going to look at the first seat our expert found, it is a Mama's and Papa's Traveller G-Matic.

The seller on eBay stated:

"The seat has never been involved in an accident, is in good condition and suitable from 0-6 months.

What are the problems with this seat?

First of all, this seat is old, which we can see from the design of the covers and the frame of the seat. A seat this old will not offer the protection current seats can, and it is unlikely to pass higher impact testing or side impact testing.

This seat is a group 0 rear facing infant seat, these are rarely made in rear facing mode now. This means a child could only rear face to 10kg in this seat, where most modern seats allow rear facing to 13kg – up to about 12/15 months old.

Is it legal?

The seat has an ECE sticker on the rear, which shows it to be an R44.03 approved seat. This means that the seat can still legally be used, despite it's age. However, R44.03 was released in 1995 – so this seat could be anywhere up to 19 years old!

Is it easy to fit?

The fitment of the seat is what we are used to seeing on infant seats nowadays, with the lap belt over the baby's lap and the chest belt around the back of the seat. The handle also has to be back on this seat, rather than upright. On most modern infant seats, the handle is upright or forward to allow it to act as a roll cage in a collision.

This seat has no newborn inserts or head huggers, and the side impact protection is lacking. Under R44.03 and R44.04 crash testing, side impact protection is not currently a legal requirement, however many modern R44.04 infant seats will provide side impact protection.

This harness must be adjusted individually from the back of the seat. This means that the harness is even less likely to be used correctly, as it is very difficult and fiddly to alter the straps as your child grows/to suit their clothing. Also note that there is only one harness position.

The primary concern with this seat – and it should be with any seat you do not know the history of – is that it is second hand. A stranger is telling us that this is going to protect our child's life – is the word of a stranger good enough?

Our expert paid £5.99 for this seat, plus postage – worth the bargain?

No. This seat is now too old to be sure of it's safety and effectiveness, even if it wasn't second hand. We have no idea of the history of the seat and the way in which the seat is fitted and used means it most likely won't be adjusted correctly.

The seat did not fit safely in our expert's vehicle either – can you spot what is wrong with the fitment of this seat in this vehicle?

So, is this seat safe?

No.

This seat is not a safe or suitable child restraint to use. It is unlikely to be able to pass crash testing, it has a small seat shell meaning it won't last very long and the seat provides no side impact protection.

Second hand car seats pose a huge threat to children's safety – don't let a child you know be put in danger! – raise awareness!

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Can I add a cushion to my child's booster seat?

Can I put a cushion on the booster seat?


A recent Ask the Expert question:

“My child complains that the booster seat is too hard and that it hurts their bum. I have noticed that the seat is very hard, there’s no padding at all. Can I add a cushion to the seat to make it more comfy?”

We have also had this enquiry in the past:

"My 3 year old keeps escaping from the 5 point harness, so he has moved to a high back booster seat with adult seat belt.  The seat belt sits up on his neck though, even when it's through the red guide.  Can I put a cushion under him to lift him up more so it doesn't rub on his neck?"

Example of what we've seen at our free car seat checking events

 

Booster seat     Booster seat 1

 

(NOTE: above pictures would be considered incorrectly fitted)

 

This blog is going to look at the potential risks involved in adding a cushion to the booster seat, and what else you can do to make the seat more comfortable.


In infant seats, group 1 seats and group 123 car seats, you normally find that the seat has some sort of insert in it that can be removed as the child grows. This doesn’t happen with high back boosters however, the seat comes as is, and it grows with your child by increasing the height of the head support.

When a child moves up to a high back booster (group 2,3) car seat, the booster is used as a belt positioning device. It lifts the child up so the adult seat belt will fit across their hips correctly. Booster seats nowadays go a step further than this, with many offering additional torso support and side impact protection.

 

What would the risks be if I put a cushion on the booster seat?


The potential risk is that the cushion would compress in an impact and cause the child to slip underneath the seat belt. This may cause them to be ejected from the seat belt, or receive greater injuries due to the belt not being positioned correctly.

 

I need to put a cushion on though, as my 3 year old doesn’t fit, and he can’t go in a harness seat because he escapes!


If a child has moved up to a high back booster seat they must weigh a minimum of 15kg, and be tall enough to fit within the seat belt – this is defined as the lap belt being flat over the lap, across the hips, and the shoulder belt running from the child’s hip to their shoulder. The shoulder belt should sit diagonally across their body and run level across their collar bone/shoulder. It shouldn’t slip off the shoulder (head rest too low) or sit up on their neck (head rest too high).

If a child doesn’t physically fit into the booster seat, then they are too small for it and are not able to safely use the seat. The child must return to their harness seat, or a seat with impact shield may work better. See our blog on the car seat harness for tips on how to stop your little one escaping.

 

How can the seat be made more comfortable?


If you do long journeys with your child, you may want to consider replacing their seat with something more padded – there are differences between the boosters and what comfort they can offer. Some boosters are very hard, which won’t be at all pleasant on a long journey!

We would not suggest padding a seat out with memory foam or DIY inserts – these have not been crash tested and there is just no way of knowing how they will effect the performance of a seat until you have a crash.

 

What about an adult seat cushion?


There are many cushions available for the adult vehicle seat, but these are mainly to assist with posture and back issues. They have not been developed or tested to be used with a child restraint and may affect the performance of the seat.



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Do child car seats fit in all cars?

Q: Do child car seats fit in all cars?

 

A: No, child car seats do not fit in all cars and there are many factors to take into account when choosing the perfect child car seat.


First of all, you need to decide what group car seat is going to be suitable for your child – this is based on their weight and height. Once you know what group options are open to you, you need to find out what child car seats fit into your car.

Vehicles can cause many fitting problems – from having long seat belt buckles causing buckle crunch, to floor storage boxes making the support leg unsafe.  It is vitally important to visit a retailer who is able to give you the right advice and be willing to try different seats out in your car, so you can be sure to find the best fit.

Once you know what child car seats fit into your vehicle, you can choose the seat you like – this is normally based on the features the seat offers, such as longer rear facing, easy adjust harness or additional side impact protection.

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