1. Maximum safety
Some parents 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.
Keep your child in the lower stage car seat until fully outgrown by weight or height.
2. Escape artists
It can be extremely frustrating when your child learns that they can slip their arms out of the harness like Houdini and it is also very dangerous!
There are a number of thing’s you can do to stop your child escaping from their harness:
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
Many of the seats we check at our free community events find the harnesses are too loose, however the good news is it’s an easy issue to fix.
Harnesses should be tight enough on your child so you can only get two fingers between the child and the harness – with your fingers lying flat against the child’s collar bone.
Alternatively, you can do the ‘pinch test’. First, place your fingers on the harness, around the child's collarbone area. Then try to pinch the harness strap and if you can get a good pinch between your fingers, that means the harness is not tight enough.
When you take your child out of their seat, loosen the harness off before you unclip the buckle – that way, when they next go into their seat, you just need to pull the harness tensioner to get the perfect fit.
5. Car seat clothing
Children should travel lightly dressed when in the car; ideally the kind of clothes they would be wearing when playing indoors. In very cold weather, it’s a good idea to warm your car up first and certainly wrap them up when taking them to the car. Once you have put your child in their seat, all puffy and thick jackets must be removed. You can keep your child warm with a blanket placed over the top of them once safely fitted into the seat. Babies should also be lightly dressed then a blanket wrapped tightly around them once their harness is secured and tensioned.
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! R129 belted seats have green guides.
8. Using the back on a booster
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.
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. Always check both your vehicle handbook and child seat manual first.
I-size seats (part of ECE R129) are designed to make travelling with your child even safer as they are guaranteed to fit any i-Size seating position in an i-Size compliant car. You still need to ensure your child fits safely into their seat however.