According to road safety campaign group Good Egg Safety, two thirds of children and babies in Britain are at risk, as a result of their car seat being incorrect for their size and weight, incorrectly fitted or wrong for the model and make of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, these figures highlight the fact that, for whatever reason, parents are making mistakes when it comes to car seat safety. And when you consider the fact that the regulations and information on offer can be seriously confusing, it’s really not surprising.
We’ve teamed up with car seat safety blogger Therese Gilbert at ERF Mission to bring you six common car seat safety mistakes you need to avoid.
This is one of the most common car seat safety mistakes. Under the old R44-04 regulations (which are still currently running alongside the new i-Size regulations), children under nine months old or under 9kg had to sit in a rear facing position. However, the emphasis on weight caused confusion, with some parents moving their child to a forward facing position too early.
Research shows that rear facing seats are much safer, as they support babies’ fragile necks and heavy heads, which are otherwise flung forwards during a collision. As a result, the new i-Size seats keep children rearward facing for up to 15 months. You can view our range of i-Size car seats here.
“Rear facing is proven to be up to five times safer for children under the age of four years, but even when parents have bought a combi seat that does extended rear facing, many do choose to turn it forwards way before the seat has reached its max rear facing limit. And I think that has a lot to do with them just not knowing how much safer it would be to keep using it rear facing.”
As we said above, parents changing the seat too soon is a common problem. And the issue seems to largely be down to confusion about the weight classification system. You should never move your child up to the next category before they have reached the maximum weight of the previous category.
Under the new i-Size regulations, the right car seat will be selected based on the height/length of the child making things simpler.
“The most common reasons for changing the seat that come across my email are things like: legs hanging over the end, baby has hit nine months of age, or that the minimum weight for going in to a high back booster has been met, no matter the age of the child. Just because your child is now 15 kg and can *legally* use a high back booster, doesn't mean it would be the safer choice. Keep them harnessed until the weight limit is reached. Use car seats to the *max* before you change them.“
No matter how carefully you select your child’s car seat, if it’s not fitted correctly, it won’t offer them the best protection. Common mistakes include the seatbelt not sitting properly, not all of the ISOFIX points being properly connected or an incorrectly positioned handlebar on rearward facing seats. You can find out more from Which.co.uk.
“The five most common (fitting) errors are:
1. Check the harness height
2. Check for buckle crunch (Read Good Egg’s article, ‘What Does Buckle Crunch Mean?’)
3. Remove bulky clothing
4. Check the seatbelt
5. Twisted harness
Watch Good Egg's YouTube video explaining the five most common errors here.”
Under the new i-Size regulations, i-Size seats will fit all i-Size cars and most cars with i-Size anchors. However, you should always check the car and seat against a compatibility list before you make a purchase.
“This is very important. Most car seats today do come with a vehicle fitting list. This means that they can confirm that the car seat will fit your car. This is something you should look for before going to the shop (or shopping online), as it will most likely narrow down your choices and the ocean of car seats won't be so big anymore.”
Your car seat’s harness is designed to restrain your child in the event of a collision so securing it properly is essential to keep them safe. The straps should come over the child’s shoulders and down towards the buckle, and both pieces of the harness should come together before securely clicking into the buckle. It should also, if possible, be level with the child’s shoulders.
You can find out more from Good Egg.
“The number one rule to follow is that the harness should be nice and snug against the body, no twists and it should be so snug that you can only fit a finger between your child and the harness at the child's collar bone.”
Car seat laws and regulations can be confusing. As we previously mentioned, the new EU i-Size regulations were introduced in July 2013 and are currently running alongside the old R44-04 regulations.
The new regulations make things easier for parents, as well as having numerous safety benefits including; length classification (rather than weight classification), rearward facing for longer and a new ISOFIX installation system, which makes it easier to install the seat.
“The laws and regulations in the car seat world can be confusing. Good Egg Safety covers them very well with an easy to read guide, you can find it here.
I always note though that the law is based on minimums. The law states that it is legal for a child of 9kg to travel forward facing, but it's not the safest option.
The law states it is legal for a child of 135 cm to not travel in a car seat, but again this is not the safest option and it is recommended that a high back booster is used until the child is 150 cm tall.
The law states it is legal to not use a car seat in a taxi for children, but this puts the children at a very high risk of injury and possibly death should anything happen. ”
When it comes to car seat safety you can never be too vigilant, and being aware of the most common mistakes can help you to avoid making them yourself.
At Baby’s Mart, we stock a wide range of car seats by brands you can trust, including award winning car seats, ISOFIX car seats and i-Size car seats.