Most new parents have heard that they should purchase top-rated booster seats or car seats for their children but here in the UK we have a ridiculously high rates of car seats not being fitted correctly so no matter how top of the range the seat might be if it’s not fitted correctly it’s not going to save a life.
I have written before about my hatred of second hand car seats and how unsafe they can be but ill fitting car seat are another of my pet hates and so I am going to share a few tips on how to achieve the safest seats for your children.
- The Seat Belt
Using your car’s seat belt to install the car seat is the traditional method as the belt is pulled through the belt paths of the car seat and buckled in. The seat belt itself is either tightened or has a built-in lock-off on the car seat to hold the car seat in place firmly.
One advantage of using this method is that the seat belts are easy to find in any car. Once you’ve practiced and gotten used to installing the car seat in one vehicle, it becomes easier to move it between vehicles since you already know which belt paths to use and how to engage any lock-offs.
There are some disadvantages of using a seat belt to install a car seat is that there is more room for error on installation. If the belt is not tight enough or is threaded incorrectly it can have disastrous consequences for safety.
We currently have a car seat that is installed by this method as my husbands car doesn’t have any ISOFIX points.
Also there is the little known issue of Buckle Crunch that effects the safety of seat belt installation, more information can be found HERE.
- ISOFIX Installation
ISOFIX installation has been in existence for more than 15 years now, and it can have numerous components – lower anchors, lower anchor strap, top tether anchors and top tether strap. To know if you have the ISOFIX option in your vehicle, look out for sets of lower anchors that look like metal loops. These loops are sometimes in the crack of the vehicle seat, and other times, they may have a symbol like this:
The major advantage of this method is that it is simple to use it and does simplify car seat installation for parents who have no idea how to lock in a child seat using seat belts and the fact it is effecting bolted to the car and so there is no risk of the seat moving once the ISOFIX system is engaged and many of the seats available here in the UK now have designed seats to have clear indicators built into the seat so you know when its engaged and fitted correctly.
Tips You Must Know When Buying And Fitting A Car Seat
- As mentioned earlier, the method you choose for installation will depend on your preference and vehicle type, not everyone can afford to replace a car to gain a car seat of their choice!
- Your child’s weight and height plays a massive role in the purchase of the car seat. These days, car seats come with a maximum weight and height for use so once your child exceeds that maximum weight/height, s/he can’t continue to ride in the seat.
- Looking too big for the car seat does not mean you need to move them up to the next stage of seat. I see it all over social media, people claiming they have moved their child to the next stage seat as they looked squashed. Let me tell you, looking a little squished or travelling with legs folded in a rear fitting seat like the Britax i-size DUALFIX to still use the correct seat for a child’s height and weight is safer than moving them to the next stage seat and them being too small to use it. Think about it seriously … would you rather your child break a leg if your car was involved in an accident or shatter their spine … obviously any harm is not good but I know what I would prefer for my son if there was a choice!
- The safest place for a car seat to be fitted is in the back of the car but if you have no other choice but to fit it into the front you must be able to turn off any front passenger airbags.
- Even if you’re familiar with how your car seat fits into your car, if you change cars you should always check the new cars owner’s manual to see if it has specific fitting instructions.
- Equally you must ensure that you read and follow the instructions for insulation from the car seat manufacture. Just because someone in playgroup has the same seat doesn’t mean they are fitting it correctly so the onus is on you to ensure your own car seat is fitted properly .. After all it’s your child/ren travelling in it
- Not every car seat fits in every single car so if you are wanting to buy online it is worth taking a trip to a store retailer for a fitting test prior to purchasing even if you want to buy online.