The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Second hand child seats - the dangers...

 

The dangers of second hand child seats

A big concern we have here at Good Egg Safety is the number of seats we see being sold secondhand – be it in a charity shop, car boot sale, online or in the local paper.



2nd hand maxi cosi OL



As part of our ongoing research, our expert has found four secondhand car seats. Throughout November we’ll be running a blog series looking at the dangers these seats pose and the potential risks to children's safety.

If you are a parent or carer and are thinking of buying secondhand, we hope our findings will inspire you to reconsider and choose new!

 

Would you let a stranger look after your baby?

 

 

Stranger Danger

 

Stranger Danger


Imagine if a stranger walked up to you and offered to look after your baby for a few hours.  You've never met them before and have no idea who they are. What would you say?  Your answer of course would be a resounding 'No!'  However well-meaning the stranger may be, you have no guarantee that they would take care of your child. You simply wouldn’t risk it because you have no way of trusting them.

So it is when you buy a secondhand car seat from a stranger.  You only have their word for it that the seat they are selling you will protect your child. You have no way of knowing whether it has been involved in a crash, or even whether it is the right size and type for your child and make of car. Even without realising it, they could be selling you a dangerous – or potentially lethal – seat.

You wouldn’t allow someone you did not know to look after your child without knowing they were thoroughly vetted and qualified. It’s no different when choosing a child car seat.  Buying a used seat from online auction sites may seem like a bargain, but it simply isn’t worth taking the risk.

 

What are the risks?

 


Dangers of Second Hand

 

 

Stay tuned for the first case study blog which will be released on Monday 17th November!


 

 

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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 effect the performance of the seat.



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Guest — Eddie Barack
For sure, doing long journeys with children would need more comfortable seat cushions that are padded properly. I fully agree with... Read More
Friday, 03 July 2015 09:02
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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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What is a group 1 car seat?

Group 1 car seats


Group 1 car seats accommodate little ones that weigh between 9kg and 18kg.  After reading the previous Good Egg blog on group 0+ child car seats, you may have noticed that there is a crossover in the weight recommendations.  A rear facing group 0+ child seat will last until 13kg, yet a group 1 car seat says it is suitable from 9kg!  So are they just as safe as each other?

The simple answer is No.  Forward facing your baby at 9kg is not as safe as keeping them rear facing to 13kg.

If your child is moving up to a group 0+1 combination seat in rear facing mode, or an extended rear facing group 1 seat at 9kg, this isn’t such an issue as they still have the protection of being rear facing.

 

So when should you move to the next stage?


The infant seat should be used right up to the 13kg mark.  The only time a child should move to the next stage seat before this weight is reached, is if they have outgrown the infant carrier by height – so when the top of their head is level with the top of the car seat.

If they are moving up to a group 1 car seat and have outgrown their infant carrier by height they must weigh at least 9kg and be able to sit unaided for 30 minutes.

 

What to look for in a group 1 car seat.


Many people assume that a group 1 car seat has to be forward facing, however there are rear facing group 1 car seats available, which offer better protection for the neck, head and spine in a collision.  Many rear facing group 1 car seats encompass more than one group, covering either group 0+1 or group 1,2.   Extended rear facing car seats will be covered in greater detail in a separate post, due to be released soon.

 

Forward facing

 

 

Rubi

 

Rear facing


be safe car seats-533x533

Once you decide which direction you are going to face your child, you need to choose your seat - but there are a few things to do first!  At Good Egg Safety, we recommend you visit a retailer that can offer good advice from trained staff members.  Some retailers offer appointments, so call in advance to make sure there will be someone available to help you.

What information you need to take with you:


1. Your child's weight

2. Your child's height (where their head is in relation to the top of their current seat - do they have space above their head?  Are their eyes level with the top of the seat?) Preferably, have your little one with you so you can try them in seats.

3. Your car details, and details of any other cars the seat will be fitted into (including friends, childminders, grandparents) you will need to know the make, model and year of each car.

4. Do the vehicles that the seat will be fitted into all have ISOFIX?

 

 Features and benefits:


There are big price differences between car seats, so what should you look out for to make sure you spend your money wisely?

ISOFIX or seat belt fitment?


 

isofix 2


If you have ISOFIX points in your car, you will be able to consider ISOFIX car seats.   When ISOFIX and seat belt fitted restraints have been tested, with both seats fitted correctly, there is little reported difference in performance and protection offered - both ISOFIX and seat belt fitted restraints perform well.

ISOFIX is considered safer as it dramatically reduces the risk of child car seats being fitted incorrectly.  Many come with indicators to show when the seat is clicked in properly for complete peace of mind.



Caution

If you opt for an ISOFIX seat, make sure that you check the vehicle fitting list to confirm that the child seat is compatible with your car.

 

Tension system and easy to fit.


tilt

If you are choosing a seat belt fitted car seat, consider seats that have a seat belt tension system and ones that are easy to fit.  Some car seats are more difficult to fit than others, so don't be afraid to ask to have a go at fitting each seat if you have a few options!  It is important that you are fully confident fitting your child's car seat. Opting for one that is easy to fit will reduce the possibility of it being incorrectly fitted.

A seat belt tension system on a seat belt fitted restraint does exactly what it says - it tensions the seat belt once the seat is fitted.  This extra tension is normally applied by pushing a lever or by operating  a 'ratchet' to tighten the seat belt up.  This helps you get a good, tight fit on your car seat and reduces the risk of the seat belt being too slack - which is why a seat belt tension child restraint is safer than one without.

Side impact protection


 

Side Wings



Lots of people assume that child car seats provide side impact protection as standard, but it is currently not a legal requirement on the R44.04 crash test and there are seats on the market which do not offer any side impact protection.



So how do you ensure your car seat does offer side impact protection? 

1. Look for child seats that have a full, integrated head rest.  This will help support your child's head and will give another layer of protection in a side impact.

2. Look at child seats that have deep, padded side wings - this is a good indicator that they may offer side impact protection.

3. Check what crash test awards a seat has received.  A seat that has been awarded an ADAC or Stiftung Warentest score has been side impact tested.  These additional tests not only test how the seat performs in a side impact, but it also tests at a higher frontal impact force.  The ADAC and Stiftung Warentest awards give a car seat a score, the lower the score the better the seat performed.  The ratings run from poor to very good.

4. New i-Size regulations and crash testing have now introduced a side impact test, so if you purchase an i-Size car seat, you can be reassured that it has passed the test and offers protection from side impacts.

Adjustable headrest and harness


maxicosi_axiss_

Child seats come with the 5 point harness which restrains the child, and the harness will have the ability to increase in height as your child grows.  There are two ways this can be done on a child seat.  Either by unhooking the straps at the back of the seat and re-threading them, or by pulling the head rest up which will increase the harness height at the same time.

Choosing a seat with a harness that you can increase simply by pulling the headrest up removes the need to unhook and re-thread the harness.  This is a safety feature as it reduces the risk that the harness will become twisted, re-threaded at the incorrect height, or damaged.

Child seats with a re-thread harness typically only have 3 height options, whereas a harness that adjusts with the headrest normally offers 6 or 7 height options - this will reduce the likelihood that you will end up with the straps at the incorrect height whilst you are waiting for your child to grow into the next slots.

This is also a useful feature for people who will use the seat for a number of children.

 

Recline option


REclinee


Most group 1 car seats come with the option to recline the seat.  This offers a more comfortable position for the child to sleep.  It does not make the child safer if they're reclined and there is not normally an age or weight limit on using the recline function.

When deciding which car seat to buy, ensure the recline function is easy to operate and that it does not alter the seat belt routing.  On some child seats, you must preset the recline when you fit the seat, as operating it once the seat is fitted causes the seat belt to loosen off.

 

Easy to remove, washable seat covers


 

30 wash

Ensure the seat you are buying has the option to wash the seat covers, but that the seat covers are easy to remove from the seat.  If you have to undo half of the car seat and pull out all the harness to get the covers off, it is possible that the seat will be put back together incorrectly.  Choosing a seat that lets you leave the harness in place when you remove the covers reduces the risk of the harness becoming twisted or incorrectly fitted.

For convenience, check that the covers are machine washable at 30 degrees.



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Guest — ERFmama
Really nice post thanks! Where is the best place to find out if the seats have had any awards or testing results? Will it state s... Read More
Friday, 08 August 2014 10:37
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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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Thanks! I have shared this, because this is something that is asked a lot especially among mums on FB and forums. Maybe now they... Read More
Thursday, 03 July 2014 11:12
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