The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

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 – Is this car seat safe?

 

Welcome to Good Egg Safety’s blog series on second hand car seats. We are running a number of blog’s to evaluate if it is safe to buy and use a second hand car seat, and what dangers second hand seats pose to children.

As part of the blog series, our expert has purchased car seats from an online auction site to assess through case studies. We have already released the first case study, which you can read here.

 

Is this seat safe?


SEAT BASE OL

 

To the eye, this seat is in good condition. It also comes with a base and the newborn insert  – this seat and base cost £20 which is far less than the cost of buying new.

However, when our expert inspected this seat, it became apparent that it isn’t as good as it appears to be. We have found problems with the polystyrene protection in the seat, the harness and crotch strap. We also have concerns about the base.

 

 The harness...


Harness OL



The harness looks in good condition at first glance, but on closer inspection, it is severely damaged.


altered straps OL

 

The harness has folded and twisted in the past, beyond being able to use it – the harness has had material stitched to it to straighten it out. This hugely reduces the integrity of the harness, causing serious concern over it’s ability to restrain a child in a collision.

 

 The crotch strap...


damaged strap OL

 

The crotch strap has been tampered with, to the point that it is extremely dangerous. It has torn in the past, and been stitched – this crotch strap would not be able to safely take the force of a collision and restrain a child.

 

 The polystyrene protection...


damaged polystyrene OL

 

When we removed the cover of this seat, we found the polystyrene head support damaged. This seat would be unable to spread the force of a collision as well as a new seat would, and the damage here could also cause head injuries to a child, despite being in the very safest rear facing position.

 

 The base...


The plastic base contains many stress fractures. This base may have been previously involved in a collision, dropped or not very well cared for. The plastic of the base is unlikely to be as strong as needed to adequately protect a child and hold the seat in place in a collision.

 

 Is this seat safe?

 

No.  We would go as far as to term this seat a “death trap”.  It is extremely unlikely to protect a child in a collision and should never have been sold on second hand to the last user of this seat.  The person who last used this seat had no idea it was as dangerous as it is.


Our expert is going to keep this seat and use it in training and demonstrations to highlight the dangers of buying a seat without knowing the history.

 

Have you ever used a second hand car seat, then found problems with it?  We want to hear your experiences!

 


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Guest — ERFmama
I would say that it looks like the seat and base has actually been in a collision. ... Read More
Friday, 28 November 2014 17:53
Guest — Lucinda Hornsby
I once went to a bulk sale, where carseats, amongst other things, were purchased from a reputable store in bulk and resold at a fr... Read More
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 20:29
Guest — Good Egg Safety
Hi Lucinda, Thanks for your comment! That is a big concern, where did that take place? Unless you know what to look for, you jus... Read More
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 17:13
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VAT on child car seats

What do you think the VAT rate is for child car seats?


0%?

jodiekidd1



Child car seats carry a VAT rate of 5% on them – according to Halfords that costs parents £31 million a year.  That’s an extra addition for parents to pay for an essential piece of baby equipment – one that is a legal requirement.

 

The Law


The law states that all children under the age of 12 years or 135cm in height must legally use a child restraint suitable for their size and weight when travelling in a car, van or goods vehicle.  There are very few exceptions to this law – to read more on the exceptions click here.

 

Why should parents pay extra?

 


jodiekidd2

 

You can’t put a price on your child’s life.  Ask any parent and they will do everything they can to keep their child safe in the car, however the cost of child car seats can seem prohibitive to many parents, which is why so many are buying online or second hand.

Good Egg Safety has checked more child car seats than any other organisation and from 10,000 car seat checks, we have found an average incorrect fitment rate of 54%.  This has risen over the last 3 years - along with the increased trend of buying online, but also second hand.  Increasing numbers of parents are accepting hand me downs and buying from auction sites, as they want to get their child a good quality seat, but at an affordable price.

 

What would it mean to parents and carers?


Not having to pay VAT on car seats essentially means more money in your pocket – but it also means that parents and carers may be able to afford to get a better seat, or two seats so they don’t have to swap between cars, which carries a risk of incorrectly fitting the seat.  It may mean parents and carers will be able to afford to visit a store for advice, rather than having to purchase online to get an affordable seat, which in turn will help keep their children safer.

When you think of how much you spend on seats through your child’s car seat years, 5% off each purchase would soon add up!

 

What’s happened so far?


Halfords have launched a campaign to have VAT removed from child car seats, and have written to the Treasury to raise this issue.  The Treasury responded to inform them that the 5% VAT rate on child restraints is not an option to remove, as VAT changes are dictated by the agreement of all EU member states.

Yet this tax costs parents in the UK £31 million a year.  That doesn’t include grandparents and other carers who may also purchase seats for children they look after.  Halfords have responded to the letter with the following statement:

“We understand that the EU has a deliberately complex process to prevent the introduction of any new zero rates, however we believe it’s unfair that families are being charged VAT for essential safety equipment and we’re standing up for all families currently paying more than they need to” – Emma Fox, Commercial Director, Halfords.

 

What can you do?


Halfords are running a Zero VAT campaign, they have a petition set up here.  You can sign the petition link to join the call for the 5% VAT rate on a legally required piece of baby equipment to be removed.

 

 

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Child car seat exceptions

"A child under the age of 3 can travel with no child car seat, if there are two occupied car seats which prevents the fitment of a third."

 

PebbleRubi OL

 

FICTION!


Let's have a look at what the law says in regards to under three's travelling with no child car seat:

"All children under the age of 12 years old or 135cm must travel in an appropriate child restraint. 

Exceptions for children under 3 years of age:

May travel unrestrained in the rear of a taxi or private hire vehicle."

There are no other exceptions that apply to under 3s.  If you have to get three children in your car, they must all be in a suitable child car seat.  It is also vital that the child car seat fit into the car and are fitted correctly.  If you can't get three suitable child car seats in the car,  the children cannot travel in the car.

 

Exceptions for over threes


Over 3s may travel in the rear of the car, and must wear the adult seat belt in the following situations:

    • Two OCCUPIED restraints prevents the fitment of a third.

 

    • When travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle.

 

    • On short, unexpected journey's of ABSOLUTE necessity.



In all other situations, children must use a suitable child restraint!

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Guest — jean
what age can a child use booster seat
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 20:04
Guest — Good Egg Safety
Hi Jean, Children’s car seats are chosen by their weight and height, over their age, as children are all so different. To use a b... Read More
Friday, 07 November 2014 18:36
Guest — ERFmama
Good post! This is something I have come across as well, where sadly the law is misunderstood. I think the safest thing to do, is... Read More
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 23:15
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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.


r44.3

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

 

Tip1

 

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

 

Tip2

 

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.

 

Tip3

 

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.

 

Tip4

 

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

 

Tip5

 

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.

 

Tip6

 

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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Guest — ERFmama
Really good article. I think it's especially important to take note of this section: "For reusing child car seats, manufacturers r... Read More
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 14:08
Guest — Any Good Tips – UK Carseats? | Notes From The Frugal Trenches
[…] I gave her all your previous tips, but one thing I suggested was that they make sure they prioritize what they need new ... Read More
Thursday, 18 February 2016 15:11
Guest — Good Egg Safety
Hi Thanks for the comment! A seat which is nearly 16 years old will be unlikely to now meet current safety testing, there have ... Read More
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 18:16
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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+



Blog-Quick-tip

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.

 

Bases


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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Guest — ERF Mama
Really easy to understand article. Good job! I really like how the common myths are busted.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 08:22
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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.


Caution

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.

Blog-Quick-tip

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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Guest — Martha
My baby is two months old and seems to be growing out of his newborn insert already :/ it seems really uncomfortable for him, he s... Read More
Saturday, 06 December 2014 18:28
Guest — Good Egg Safety
Hi Martha, Newborn inserts are designed to give your baby a more natural lying position in the seat, and these are typically outg... Read More
Monday, 08 December 2014 10:02
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Flying with young children (Part 2)

 

When flying with young children, what do you need to know to help you decide if you are going to take a car seat with you for the plane? That is what we are going to explore in this 3 part ‘Flying with young children’ mini blog series.

 

Using UK seats abroad


All child car seats within the European Union (EU) are tested to ECE  R44.04 or R129 i-Size.  Child seats carrying the ECE approval R44.03, R44.04 or R129 (i-Size) may be used within the European Union.

If you wish to use your child car seat when you reach your destination, it is worth noting that an EU approved child restraint cannot normally be used in countries outside of the EU.  This is because different countries have different laws and testing that European Union seats may not meet.  The same is true for any seat outside of the EU that is brought over to Europe.

As an example, a parent flying to the USA may be allowed to use their child restraint on the aircraft, but once they land, their seat cannot then be used in a car or taxi.

If you are from the UK and flying to a destination within the EU, then you can use your UK car seat when you are on holiday.

If you are unsure check with your holiday provider, the local road safety department or the British embassy in that country.

 

Using a child car seat at your destination

 

If you hire a car when you get to your destination many hire companies will also hire out child car seats at an additional cost. If you decide to do this ensure that you are completely happy with the child car seat’s quality and that you have fitted it correctly.

 

If you are not happy with the seat you can also choose to purchase one whilst on holiday. This could potentially work out cost effective if you were using the hire car for the whole duration of the holiday.

Even if you are not hiring a car, some countries require children to travel in a suitable child restraint in taxis. Some taxi firm’s will have specific vehicles with restraints fitted, however it is wise to check with the taxi firm or transport company you will be using to reach your hotel.

Travelling by coach transfer also needs to be confirmed, firstly to see if you need a child restraint, and also if your child restraint can be used, should you want to use it - even if you don’t have to.

As always, when you are fitting the car seat in the car or on the coach, make sure that it is a compatible fit and correctly fitted.

 

Go to part 1                                                                  Go to part 3


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Guest — Flying with young children (Part 1) | Good Egg Child Car Seat Safety
[…] Go to Part 2 […]
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