The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Reusing child car seats

Is it safe to re-use car seats?

Many parents understand the safety risks involved with buying and using second hand car seats and avoid doing so. You do not know the history of the seat, you may not have the instructions, vital parts may be missing from the seat (unnoticed by seller or buyer), and it may have been involved in a collision.


But what’s the story for reusing a car seat you have had from brand new?  Is it safe to use again?  Do car seats expire?

For reusing child car seats, manufacturers recommend that car seats more than 5 years old are no longer used.  This is due to the seat potentially not being able to provide the same level of protection that a new child seat is able to.

Over the 5 years that you have had that car seat, car seat safety will have improved dramatically, the primary reason to upgrade your seat is due to new technologies and developments coming forward that make new car seats even safer.

Here is a comparison of a 10 year old car seat, and a new car seat. The old seat is a Britax Trio suitable from 9kg - 25kg (below left), and the new seat is a Joie Stages suitable from 0 - 25kg (below right).

                                                               1L                    1R

The first image below shows the ECE approval for the above Britax restraint, which shows it is approved to R44.03.  The second image below with the orange approval label below is off of the new Joie Stages seat, showing it is approved to the latest R44 approval - R44.04.


Joie Stages

Both of these seats have an easy adjust head rest and harness, but the head support and side wings on the new seat are noticeably deeper.  The new seat can offer safety and protection to children, that the old seat would not do as well due to the shallow side wings.

The new seat offers 3 recline positions, unlike the old seat.

The new seat offers rear facing up to 18kg, unlike the Britax which is forward facing only.


Don't the plastics in the seat break down?

The plastics of a seat do begin to degrade, but the process takes a long time.  Seats that are constantly left in the car and exposed to extreme changes in temperature, or seats stored near a radiator or somewhere that has fluctuating temperature (like the attic) will begin degrading more quickly, as will seats that are used in very hot or very cold countries.  Plastic does degrade over time, but not so rapidly that the seat will break apart in a collision once it turns 5 years old.


Hang on... my seat is Group 1,2,3 - it's designed to last me 11 years!

The recommendation to upgrade seats after 5 years is just that, a recommendation.  It doesn't mean that seats will become dangerous after 5 years. The primary reason the recommendation is 5 years use for a child restraint is due to the advances in technology, resulting in safer seats being manufactured - the new i-Size regulation is a good example of this.  It does not mean that a group 123 seat is unsafe after 5 years, but it may not perform to the same standard as a new restraint.


I want to keep hold of my seat for my next child, where should I store it?

The best way to store your child car seat is to first clean it, wash the covers (do not wash the harness), hoover all crumbs out and make sure the buckle is free of food.  When the clean covers have been replaced, wrap the seat in a blanket, and then a big sheet of plastic or bubble wrap.  Then store your seat in a cupboard.  Avoid storing it near radiators, in a garage, attic or outhouse - these all experience large differences in temperature.

reusing a child car seat




Check the harness for any visible signs of wear, fraying or rips.  If there are any do not use the seat.




Check the seat for any signs of damage, do not reuse child car seats if you can see any damage.  Be aware that not all damage is visible to the eye.




If your seat has polystyrene foam under the covers check it for any cracks or crumbling parts – again, if you find anything like this or to cause concern do not use the seat.




Check the ECE certification of your seat. A seat certified to R44.01 or R44.02 should no longer be used.  Seats approved to R44.03 and R44.04 may still be used and the newest standard is R129, i-Size.  You can check the verification by locating the ECE sticker on your seat, which will look like this:
Group 0 car seat label




Reusing child car seats that have been stored for a number of years before should be carefully considered and looked at.  If your seat is a number of years old it may not offer the same level of protection you would expect, buying a new up-to-date seat will be the only way of ensuring maximum protection.




It is very important to ensure the seat is suitable for the child's weight and that it is compatible with the vehicle(s) it may be used in.


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When is the infant car seat outgrown?


A car seat lasts until the child reaches the weight, or the height limit for the seat.  As children are all unique, the ages specified on seats should only ever be used as a guideline. The weight and height of a child is the deciding factor.

Most infant car seats available on the market are Group 0+, however, there are still a small number available that are only certified to Group 0.  You can find out what group your seat is by locating the R44 sticker on your seat.  The sticker will tell you the weight limit for your seat.

ECE label

If your label shows a weight range of:

    • 0-10kg – then it is group 0


    • 0-13kg – then it is group 0+


When is the infant car seat outgrown? When the weight limit is reached, or the top of the child’s head is level with the top of the seat.


Are their feet going to get hurt?

If your child’s feet hang over the end of the seat, it is not an indicator to move them up a stage, as is commonly believed.  Childrens' feet and legs are very unlikely become injured in a collision when they are rear facing, and they will not be uncomfortable.  Children are much more flexible than adults and will happily sit with their knees bent or their legs crossed.

Infant car seat outgrown 1


But they look squished...

A common misconception is that babies are ‘squashed’ into their car seat.  Newborn babies look swamped by the seat when they are very tiny, so naturally 9 months down the line they look huge in it!  However, so long as a baby is within the weight and height limits of the infant seat, they are very safe.

A car seat is a little like a motorbike helmet, if your motorbike helmet was loose it would not work as well as one that was a snug fit.  Car seats are the same, if a baby is snug in their car seat, they have maximum protection.  It is partly for this reason that infant seats come with newborn inserts to help support them.


Newborn cushion

Newborn cushions are normally removed at about 5-6 months of age. To learn more about newborn cushions, check out last week's post.


Adjusting your seat

Your infant seat will adjust with your child as they grow.  The newborn cushion and head hugger usually will be removed over the course of the first 6 months (remember once removed the harness will need adjusting too).  The harness will either have an adjuster or it will require you to re-thread the harness to a new height setting.  The straps must be level with or just below your baby’s shoulders.


Seat shell

The length of the car seat shell will play a big factor in how long the seat lasts.  Take a look at these images, both of the seats have a 0-13kg weight limit.


Short seat shell


Infant car seat outgrown 2

Infant car seat outgrown 3

Tall seat shell


Infant car seat outgrown 4

Infant car seat outgrown 5

A seat with a taller seat shell will last a baby longer than a seat with a shorter seat shell.  However, fitting a seat with a tall seat shell can sometimes mean the seat belt is not long enough to go around the seat.



Choosing to use a base that stays in the car for your infant seat (if you have the option) has the benefit of reducing the risk of incorrect fitment, especially if it’s ISOFIX.  It also has the secondary benefit of either eliminating the need to use the adult belt, or it routes the adult belt away from the child.  If the seat is left in the car, it makes getting the little one in and out that bit easier.

Newborn Insert 1


Travel systems

Travel systems are very convenient, but it’s very easy for babies to end up spending far too long in their seat.  Babies should only spend a maximum of 90 minutes in their seat at a time.


What about when the seat gets too heavy to carry and use on the pram?

Another trigger for moving up to the next stage is when the seat gets too heavy to carry or the seat isn’t put on the pram so often anymore.   It is worth remembering that the infant seat is a car seat first and foremost, that will keep your baby safe. It is a pram convenience second.  Once the seat is too heavy to lift with the baby in, leave it fitted in the car and lift the baby in and out of the seat.

Lots of people are not very keen on this idea, as it can be fiddly putting the little one back in the seat.  However, if you are choosing to turn forward facing next, this slight inconvenience will allow you to keep your baby in a safer seat until it is outgrown, as babies are much safer travelling rear facing.


To sum it up

Your baby has outgrown their infant seat when they hit the maximum weight limit for their seat, or when the top of their head is level with the top of the seat – whichever comes first.  Children are safest staying in the lower stage seat until it is outgrown.  This is particularly important if you choose to forward face for the next stage seat.

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What is a car seat newborn insert?


Almost all group 0+ infant car seats come with a newborn insert. These are either a 'head hugger' and cushion (which is under the baby to lift them up) or just the head hugger on its own.


Newborn Insert 1

The purpose of the car seat newborn insert is to provide additional support and padding to a newborn baby when they are using the seat. The inserts also help ensure that babies fit in the harness, so they can be properly strapped in. The head hugger helps support the baby’s head, and if your seat comes with a cushion, it will lift the baby up to allow them to lie in a more natural position and will help prevent them becoming ‘scrunched over’.

As time goes on and your baby grows, the newborn cushion and head hugger can be removed; this is generally between 5-6 months of age.


If you take the car seat newborn inserts out too soon, it can cause baby to sit too low in the seat and not fit in the harness (as seen below)

Newborn Insert 2

When you remove the cushion from under the baby, it will ‘drop’ them down in the seat, giving them more room to grow. When you remove the insert, make sure that the harness straps are still level with or just below your baby’s shoulders; you may need to re-adjust the straps to fit your baby properly.


Some car seat newborn inserts state a weight limit on them, and your child seat instruction booklet may also give guidance on removing the newborn inserts from the seat.

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Floor storage and child car seats

Floor storage compartments – What are the risks?

When it comes to floor storage and child car seats, many owners of people carriers who have gone car seat shopping will have come across “this seat isn’t compatible with your car; you can’t rest the leg on the lid of the floor storage box”.  It is an issue that plagues owners of vehicles with floor storage compartments, as many ISOFIX, and a few seat belt fitted restraints, have a support leg that must be used.




But why, exactly, is the support leg and the lid of the floor storage compartment not compatible?


Why can’t you rest a support leg on a storage box lid?

The concern is that if a child restraint has a support leg that rests on the lid of the storage box, it could go through the lid from the force of a collision.



So what would that do?

If the support leg did go through the box, it would compromise the stability of the seat, and it would not work how it is supposed to in a collision, potentially not protecting your child adequately.


What can you do?

If you have read this blog post and realised that your child’s car seat has a support leg resting on the lid of the storage box, don’t make another trip out in the car until you have confirmed if the seat is a safe fit or not.

If you have these floor boxes and you are looking for a child seat to fit your car,  be aware that there may be some seats that will not be compatible with your vehicle.

If you have three full size vehicle seats with 3 x 3 point seat belts, you could fit the seat with the support leg in the middle seating position to avoid the problem, as the leg will miss both of the boxes.




How can you confirm a safe fit?

Child car seats that have a support leg are classed as a “semi-universal” restraint.  As the seat is a semi universal restraint it must have a vehicle fitting list.  If your car is listed, you may use the seat with support leg in your car, if your vehicle is not listed; do not use the child seat.  Some manufacturers will advise you to have the fitment checked by a professional, as fitment may differ between each car – even if they’re the same model!

You can find the fitting lists on the manufactures website, or it will come with the instruction booklet provided with the child seat.


What if I fill the floor storage box?

Here at Good Egg, we would only recommend you fill the floor storage box with an official filler from your vehicle manufacturer, rather than use a DIY filler.  Not all manufacturers have a filler available, and a DIY filler has not been tested, so it has no guarantee of doing the job you need it to.


Can’t I put the leg in the box as long as it reaches the floor?



If the leg of your seat fits down into the bottom of the box securely, it is often said to be a safe fitment. However, you do need to double check with your child seat manufacturer if they recommend this for their seat.


Is it OK if I have a floor box, but the leg misses it?



As with the above situation, this is often said to be safe, but to be sure contact your child seat manufacturer for their advice.


Floor Storage and child car seats

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Parent and child parking bays


How many parents have experienced not being able to park in a parent and child parking bay due to all the spaces being taken?

It infuriates many parents when they have been unable to park in the spaces, particularly when they have been taken up by people with no children in the car.

The spaces are provided to allow parents to open the car door wide, so they can lift their children in and out of the car seat without risking damage to other vehicles.  They are also positioned close to the trolley bays so parents can collect and replace trolleys quickly. Please note, a child should never be left in the car unattended.

Parent and child parking bays are not regulated, and it is not illegal to park in them without children, they are a courtesy provided by the store.

As the bays are normally on private land, enforcement of misuse of the bays resides with the car park operator or store.  The store may issue a fine to those using the bays that do not have children with them.



There are no clear guidelines as to the cut off age for parent and child parking, however the child must be using a child car or booster seat.  Some stores display a sign, detailing the age of children and that they must use a child car or booster seat.


So what can you do?

Many car parking arguments surround the misuse of parent and child parking bays, and the arguments can escalate very quickly. We do not recommend confronting the offending party.

If you have noticed someone who is parked in the bay with no children in the car, or no child seats, take down their number plate and notify the store. They will then normally put out a tannoy announcement and request the customer moves their vehicle, if the space has been misused.

What child age do you think should be the cut off for using parent and child bays?

Do you mind if a 'Mum-to-be' uses them?


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Car seats under £100


Car seats can be expensive.  But what can you do when you haven’t got hundreds of pounds in the bank?  Or money saved up?  Or relatives who can contribute?  Or even a credit card or overdraft to help cover the cost?

One of our most common questions is "What's a good car seat that won't break my bank?" We put our Good Egg Safety experts on a mission to find 3 good choices for car seats in each child seat group that are under £100!

Now, before you jump for joy that you can get a very safe car seat for under £100 it is vitally important to note that a car seat is only safe when it is compatible with your child, compatible with your car, fitted and used correctly - get one of these wrong and it won’t matter if your baby is in a £400 car seat!  Incorrect use and fitment kills, so take the time to familiarise yourself with your vehicle, fitment issues and what is compatible - not every car seat fits every car!

Group 0+


Newborn - 13kg (approximately newborn to 12/15 months)  

Only outgrown at 13kg or when top of child's head is level with top of seat.

Maxi Cosi Cabriofix





The ever popular Maxi Cosi Cabriofix is a seat belt fitted restraint, it comes with a head hugger, newborn cushion and sun canopy.  It also attaches to many travel systems.

Britax Baby Safe

britax baby safe


From £74.99

Also very popular is the Britax Baby Safe.  This seat is also seat belt fitted, comes with a newborn insert and head hugger, plus a sun canopy.  It attaches to some travel systems.

Graco Junior Baby


From £54.99


Graco Junior Baby Base


Seat belt fitted base available from £24.99


Base and Seat: Comes in at just under £80!

The Graco Junior Baby is a very popular group 0+ infant car seat.  It has a sun canopy, 3 point harness and newborn insert as standard and fits to Graco pushchairs.  This seat also has a seat belt fitted base available, which is a great option if you have short seat belts in your vehicle.

Group 0+1


Rear facing newborn - 13kg, then next stage seat 9-18kg. Approx Newborn - 4 years old.

Outgrown when 18kg or when the child’s eyes are level with the top of the seat.  Rear facing to the maximum rear facing limit is strongly encouraged and recommended for maximum safety.

Joie Tilt


Joie Tilt


From £80+

The Joie tilt offers rear facing from newborn through to 18kg (4 years old).  Rear facing for as long as possible is the safest way for your child to travel.  You can also use it as a forward facing group 1 seat between 9 - 18kg.

Britax First Class

Britax First Class

From £85

The Britax First Class is an extremely popular group 0+1 car seat.  It has a well padded newborn insert and a good recline position.
*SPECIAL FEATURE* When used forward facing, this seat has an alternative routing to avoid buckle crunch, if it is a problem in your car!

Mama’s and Papa’s Mercury 0-1 

M&P Mercury

From £60

The Mama’s and Papa’s Mercury 0-1 car seat has a great recline on it and soft newborn inserts.

Group 1


Forward facing 9-18kg (approx 9mo - 4 years, but a 9mo baby should still rear face for maximum safety - look at group 0+1)

Only outgrown at 18kg or when child's eyes are level with the top of the seat.

Maxi Cosi Priori XP


From £99.99

The Maxi Cosi Priori SPS is occasionally on sale cheaper

The extremely popular Maxi Cosi Priori XP seat can often be purchased for just under £100.  It has a clever seat belt tension system to ensure a tight fit, easy adjust harness and good recline positions, as well as side impact protection.

Britax Eclipse

Britax Eclipse

From £70

The also popular Britax Eclipse is a great choice for 3 door cars.  It is very well padded and has 3 recline positions.

Graco Coast


From £60

The Graco Coast is a comfortable, spacious and easy to fit group 1 child car seat.  It has 3 recline positions and deep side impact wings.

Group 1,2,3


Group 1 forward facing 9-18kg with harness, then converts to group 2,3 high back booster 15-36kg


Graco Nautilus


Graco Nautilus 2


From £99.99

The Graco Nautilus is a really solid group 1,2,3 seat that is very easy to fit in the car.  It has a steel reinforced frame and great storage pockets for your child to explore.  Forward anchorage point and buckle crunch are potential issues.

Britax Evolva

Britax Evolva 123

From £89.99

The Britax Evolva is a very popular group 1,2,3 seat.  It has a small recline option, easy adjust harness, good side impact protection and is well padded.  It can be a problem to fit in cars with short seat belts.  This seat is a good option for avoiding buckle crunch.

My Child Jet Stream


From £78.99

The My Child Jet Stream is a group 123 car seat which offers 5 'on the move' recline positions, which means you do not need to pre-set the recline on the seat, as has to be done with lots of group 123 car seats.

Group 2,3


Child and seat secured with adult seat belt 15kg - 12 yrs old or 1.35m


Maxi Cosi Rodi Air Protect



The Maxi Cosi Rodi features superior side impact protection due to the air protect cushions in the headrest.  The seat also has a recline option and a fully adjustable headrest.

Graco Assure

Graco Assure

From £53.99

The Graco Assure car seat feature side impact protection and clear seat belt guides to help you make sure your little one is securely strapped in.  It is well padded and easy to adjust.

Britax Adventure

britax adventure

From £29.99

The Britax Adventure is a great high back booster that has an adjustable headrest and is lightweight to move between cars.

Summing it up

All the above car seats have passed the minimum R44.04 crash test, some of the seats have also passed ADAC testing.

All of these child seats are available in retail stores.  To ensure you get the right seat for your car or child, always seek professional advice and seat fitment.  You can get child seats cheaper online, but there is then a very high risk of fitting the seat incorrectly.

When visiting a retailer take a note of the recommended seats for your budget and see if they have the seat online.  If it is cheaper, order the seat online to collect in store - you can then still have your child’s car seat professionally fitted.

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What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is an international standard of fitting child car seats.  In most modern cars, and even some older cars, there are ‘D’ shaped hooks in the base of the back seats on either side (some vehicles may have ISOFIX points in the middle or front seat) to find out if you have ISOFIX, either put your hand in the join between the passenger seat base and the back and run your hand along it until you feel them, or check your manual.

Isofix 1

ISOFIX is considered safer than a seat belt fitted child seat as the risk of fitting the seat incorrectly is very small.  An ISOFIX child seat is also quicker to fit, easier to fit and is attached to the chassis of the vehicle.

isofix 2

ISOFIX seats also come with other safety features like an impact leg or a top tether.  These devices must be used, if supplied, as they reduce the rotational and forward movement of the child and the seat in an impact.


If you have a car with passenger floor storage boxes you cannot use a seat with an impact leg, as the floor isn’t strong enough to support it in an impact

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Can I have my child's car seat in the front seat?

Rear facing restraints

It is illegal to have a rear facing child car seat in the front seat if the air bag is active.  This is because when the airbag is deployed it comes out at a very high speed; if that were to hit the back of your child’s car seat the consequences would be devastating.  If you want your child to be in the front with you then make sure the air bag is turned off, some cars have to go to the manufacturer; on others you can do it yourself.  You should also push the front seat back as far away from the dash board as possible, as when in the front seat the child is being put closer to the force of the impact.

airbag caution


Forward facing restraints

There is no law regarding deactivation of the airbag when a child is forward facing in the front of a vehicle, however you must check your vehicle manual to see if the airbag must be switched off and positioning of the front seat.  Some vehicles do not allow a child under 12 years or less than 135cm in the front of the car - so it is very important to check the car manual.  The information will be in the child seat section.


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Flying with young children (Part 3)

Top 8 tip when bringing a child car seat onto a plane


TUV approved child restraints

As of the 21st May 2014, below are the TUV airline approved child car seats.  This list may be updated and if you are in any doubt, phone the manufacturer of your child car seat.

    • Maxi Cosi Pebble


    • Maxi Cosi Citi


    • Britax Baby Safe


    • Britax Baby Safe Plus


    • Britax Baby Safe Plus SHR


    • Guardian Pro


    • Guardian Pro 2


    • Concord Ion


    • Kiddy:


    • Comfort Pro


    • Discovery Pro


    • Cruiserfix Pro


    • Energy Pro


    • Phoenix Pro


    • Phoenix fix Pro


    • Phoenix fix Pro 2


    • Guardian fix Pro


    • Guardian fix Pro 2


    • Britax Eclipse.

Remember:  the final decision to allow a child restraint to be used lies with the airline.

If you have any questions about flying with young children that our blog didn't address, please ask us and we will do the best we can to answer :)

Blog Jargon buster

TUV approved means that the seat has been tested and approved by TUV Rheinland to be suitable for use on an aircraft.


  Go to part 1                                                                Go to part 2

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5 point harness

Child car seats normally come with a 5 point harness to secure the child into their seat.  Some rear facing infant seats come with a 3 point harness. The job of the harness is restrain the child in an impact.

5 point harness

When forward facing, the harness spreads the force of an impact in 5 directions - across the shoulders, past the hips and through the crotch strap.  It is very important that a child rear faces for as long as possible, as when they are forward facing they are restrained by the harness, but their head continues with the forward momentum.  This puts stress and pressure on the neck that can result in serious injury or death.

5 point harness - close

By being rear facing, the 5 point harness still restrains the child, and in an impact they are pushed back into the child restraint, which spreads the force of an impact through the back of the child car seat and supports the child's head, neck and spine.  This is the reason it is so important to keep your child in their rear facing child seat until they have reached the weight limit, or the height limit.  Rear facing offers maximum protection and safety for your little one.  If you are unsure what the rear facing limit is on your seat, check the child seat manual or ask the child seat manufacturer.  The below chart also provides some guidelines:

Fitting chart

An alternative to the 5 point harness is an impact shield style child restraint, which we will explore in a future post.


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