Fitting Your Car Seat
What do I do if I have a car with underfloor storage and a car seat with a support leg?
Some vehicles have underfloor storage boxes; these are found in the rear footwell. You can get fillers for some vehicles which may allow the use of the support leg on the top of the box. You would always need to check the car seat manufactures website in conjunction with your vehicle handbook to determine how to correctly fit your car seat. Some cars do not have fillers for these boxes, so you may not be able to use a seat with a support leg.
Can I install a car seat next to a curtain airbag?
Side airbags are usually called curtain airbags. These deploy downward over the window to offer protection to the head in the event of a side collision. They should not pose a risk to a child car seat.
What is a Top Tether?
The top tether is the third point of anchorage on an ISOFIX child car seat. It is a length of webbing which is attached to the back of the child seat, with a hook on the end. The top tether will hook onto a point found on the back of the seat or in the boot somewhere. The vehicle manual will show you where this point is (if you have one). The top tether strap must have a green indicator on it to show when it has been pulled tightly enough.
I can’t find anywhere to tether to.
For extended rear-facing seats, tethers need to be attached to a structural part of the vehicle. Usually the front passenger or driver seat. If the car is a Scandinavian brand (Volvo or Saab) the tether points are D rings attached to the seat runners if other makes look at your front seat, is there a structural bar underneath the seat? Can you access the seat runners to loop around them? Or you should be able to loop the tethers around the seat bracket between the backrest and the seat.
Can we use a buckle extension?
Buckle extensions extend the length of the seat belt buckle, they do not lengthen the diagonal belt, and it will often place the buckle in the wrong position on the child seat or child if they are in a highback booster. They are not tested in conjunction with a child seat. We would not recommend their use.
What happens if I cannot fit three car seats in my car?
This can be quite complicated as each case is different, refer to your vehicle handbook to see where child seats can be used some vehicles do not allow seats in the middle rear seat or the front. It would always be best to get professional help with this problem. The problem is that although vehicles are advertised as having 5 seats, the centre rear seat is usually much narrower than the outer seats. Sometimes if seats are fitted in different directions i.e. rear-facing in the centre and forward-facing on the outer seats this can work. If the vehicle handbook allows one of the car seats could be fitted in the front.
What is the difference between a Universal and a Semi-Universal car seat?
A Universal child car seat means that the particular seat fits every car (in theory). It will still be subject to a physical fit check. A Semi-Universal seat is a seat that requires a vehicle checklist, also known as an approval list, to confirm its suitability.
How much space should be between your car seat and the front seat?
A very important piece of information that not many people know, is that there is a required distance between your child’s car seat and the front seat. This distance is required for forward-facing car seats. Your child must have at least 55cm of “survival space”.
Fitting your Child
How can I stop my child from getting out of their harness?
Firstly, you need to make sure the harness is sitting in the correct place on your child’s shoulders. Ideally, the harness should be level with the child’s shoulders if the harness is too low it can encourage the harness to slip off. The harness also needs to be at the correct tension, you should only be able to slide the flat of two fingers under the harness at the collar bone. If the problem continues to occur, you could look to use an anti-escape device as long as the car seat manufacturer allows you to do so.
My child’s highback booster is close to the buckle, he can’t do it himself.
Some High back boosters are wide and sit across the seat belt buckle, in this case, it may be prudent to look for a narrower HBB. If the seat is on ISOfix and the bar is too close to the belt buckle there is a product called a Rive move that allows the seat to be moved 7 cms to the side allowing access to the buckle.
What is safer, a harness or a seatbelt?
In crash tests, there is little difference between a 5 point harness and a seat belt but these tests are undertaken with crash test dummies that do not move.
Children develop slowly and both physically and mentally are not mature to sit correctly in a 3 point seatbelt until they are 4 or 5 years old; so for a child below 4 a 5 point harness is safer as it keeps the child in the correct position, over that age the child has to understand that they need to sit in the right position so the seatbelt offers the best protection.
My child is too tall for the 5-point harness but not heavy enough for a high backed booster seat?
Look for a car seat that covers more than one group, some of these have higher harness slots, some seats have harnesses up to 25kgs, and they generally can accommodate a taller child. Seats that restrain the child with an impact shield don’t use a harness so can accommodate a taller child.
Is it safe to use a second-hand car seat?
Manufacturers recommend ‘one seat- one child’. The best advice is to never buy or use a second-hand child seat, nor ideally to pass on a well-used seat from child to child, even siblings. The fabrics, foams and other materials gradually degrade with everyday use and do their job. With second-hand seats, you cannot be certain of its history or age. It may have been involved in an accident and the damage may not be visible. Like with any technical product, the latest versions will always contain the most recent developments in safety, therefore, if financially possible, each child should be provided with the safest option each time.
Can I use a seat from another country in the UK?
You can only use a European approved seat in the UK. If you are unsure have a look on the orange label (usually found on the base of the seats) to see if it is stamped with an EU approval label.
Can I use after-market products on my seat?
No aftermarket product has been tested to the ECE standard, child seats are designed to be used as they are tested, with no aftermarket products. However, some of these products are certified to be used, meaning that they have been tested but cannot carry approval as this is reserved only for child car seats. If you are considering an aftermarket product it would be best to choose one that is certified for use with a car seat.
Do you price match?
As child car seat specialists we offer a bespoke service to our customers, when you make an appointment with us you get an hour-long consultation with a trained advisor where we talk through all the seats available check the suitability of those seats and fit them to your car when you have made your choice we go through the fitting of the seat and its features so you are confident on the fitting and use of your seat, we also offer an after-sales service meaning you can come back to us at any time during the life of your seat, if you need it checked or altered, if you have any problems with your seat and we will contact the manufacturer for you and if your seat needs to be sent for repair, we will offer you a loan seat similar to yours whilst yours is being repaired. We are a small family run business and cannot compete with the buying power of larger chain stores or online businesses. For this reason, we do not price match, particularly for online prices.
Is it ok that when my baby/child falls asleep their head falls forward in their car seat?
A baby with no head control should always be as reclined as possible, the ideal for safety and comfort is an angle of 45 degrees, their head should not fall forward (awake or asleep) as they are unable to move their head and this can lead to a drop in oxygen levels.
In an older baby or child, their head falling forward may be a short term thing as they have moved for a more reclined infant carrier to a more upright stage 1 car seat. Although we appreciate this may look uncomfortable, once a child has good head control their head coming forward when they are asleep is not an issue of safety. If your child is uncomfortable they will either move their head or they will wake up.
Are there any guidelines for the length of time a child can sit in a car seat?
Less than 4 weeks old, 20 minutes is the maximum time advised gradually increasing the time as the baby grows to a maximum of 2 hours for an older baby in an infant carrier. If on a long journey stop frequently and let them out to have a stretch. Once a child comes out of an infant carrier there is no stipulation on the amount of time they should be in a seat but like all of us on a long journey, frequent stops are desirable.
Cleaning your seat after a mishap?
Child car seat covers can be washed on a cool wash but check the washing instructions on your seat. Covers should come off quite easily, look in the instruction booklet for your seat, a good tip is to take pictures as you remove it to help when putting it back together. The webbing on the harness and tethers should NEVER be washed in detergent or chemicals as this can damage its structure, rinse only with water.
My child has additional needs, needs a 5point harness?
There are a variety of car seats that are designed for children with additional needs, often these have 5 point harnesses that are approved to 36kgs. There is also a seat that can accommodate a child to 75kgs. There are also a variety of harnesses that can be used with or without a seat.
Do you provide options for a child in a hip spica cast?
Yes, we do provide seats for children who have hip operations these can either be hired or purchased from us. See section on CDH seats on the additional needs page.
What is a Plus test?
This is an additional test carried out in Scandinavia to measure the forces exerted on the neck in a crash, as no forward-facing seat would have forces low enough to pass. Only exclusively rear-facing seats are put forward to test.
What happens if I have been involved in a car accident with car seats installed in my car?
If a child’s car seat was installed in a vehicle at the time of an accident (even without a child in the seat) it should be replaced, even if there is no visible damage. It may have been weakened to such an extent that it will not provide the same level of protection in another accident. It is often very difficult to judge how severe an impact needs to be to damage a child car seat but manufacturers recommend replacing the seat if:
- The collision was above 5mph
- Or was enough to dent a panel of the vehicle
What was crash tested in my car? Where do I find this information?
All child car seats are crash tested but not necessarily in your vehicle. Car seat manufacturers use technical data provided by the car manufacturer to determine whether a car seat is appropriate for your car, they then collate a fitting list, so you know which seats are approved for your car. Some car manufacturers work with a particular car seat manufacturer and they may crash test some seats.
Are there child seats that I can install on an aeroplane?
Some child seats carry an FAA approval label, these are approved for use on an aircraft, certainly, if you were flying to or across America you would need this approval. Some other airlines are not as stringent and only require the seat to fit into the plane seat by dimension and be fitted with a lap belt. You MUST contact the airline before travel to see what they will allow on the aircraft; some airlines do not allow child seats in the cabin.
What is i-Size?
i-Size is a new European car seat safety standard that came into force in July 2013 and forms part of the R129 regulations. R129 aims to increase the safety of children in cars by bringing the safety performance of the car seats to a new, higher level. i-Size is the name of the first phase of the new R129 legislation ensuring enhanced performance criteria for car seats for children from birth to 105cm (approx. 4 years) which are installed with ISOFIX. It will continue to run side-by-side with ECE R44/04 in the years to come.
What is the difference between R44 and i-Size?
When determining the suitability of R44 seats for the child, weight is the main basis, but for an I-Size seat, it is based primarily on height and age. For ISOFIX seats – I-size now requires that seats are tested for Side impact protection I-size must be used rear-facing up to 15 months.
Do I need to stop using my old seat and buy an i-size seat?
No your current seat, if it still fits your child, will remain legal and safe as long as it is properly used. There are seats available that are not i-Size. They are still safe and legal.