Fitting your Car Seat
What is buckle crunch?
Buckle crunch only occurs on a seat installed with the vehicle seat belt, it should be the seat belt webbing that holds the seat in place, not the buckle. In some cars, the buckle stalks are quite long and this can result in the buckle being pulled across the plastic or metal structure of the car seat. This is known as buckle crunch; buckles should only be pulled in a straight line and not bent over the frame of the car seat otherwise it can cause the buckle to shatter in a crash. If you try a seat in your car and the buckle is too high, you can try a different position in the car, or you may need to choose a different car seat altogether.
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 foot well. 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.
Can I install a car seat in front of the passenger seat airbag?
You should NEVER put a rearward-facing car seat in the front if there is an active passenger airbag. If you need to install a forward-facing seat or a high-backed booster (HBB) read the vehicle handbook to determine whether the installation is possible, if so where to position your front passenger seat and whether the airbag should be turned off.
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 back rest and the seat.
Can my child sit in the front?
It is not illegal for child seats to be used on the front passenger seat; however, if your car has an active airbag in the front, a rear-facing seat cannot be used in that position. A forward-facing seat can be used, but you must refer to your vehicle hand book to see if it is possible to fit a seat in that position.
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 HBB. 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 hand book 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 sometimes work. If the vehicle handbook allows one of the car seats could be fitted in the front.
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.
How do I know if my child has grown out of their car seat?
Generally child seats are either categorised by weight or height, so looking at the label on the seat will help you to decide, an infant carrier (Group 0+) seat normally lasts to 13kgs (R44) or 76-85cms (R129). Another guide would be is their head crowning over the top of the seat. For child seats (Group 1) it would normally be at 18kgs or 105cms, a guide would be when their eye level reaches the top of the seat. For High Back Boosters (Group 2/3) the law states 135cms in height we would recommend 150cms if possible, but look at the child sitting without a seat, is the car seatbelt placement in the correct position across the hips and is the shoulder belt correctly aligned across the breast bone.
At what age can my child move out of their infant carrier?
It depends whether you're using a seat that's sold by weight (R44), or an i-Size seat that's sold based primarily on height. If you're using a Group 0 or 0+ seat that's sold by weight, your baby should move to the next stage seat when he/she weighs more than the maximum limit for the seat, or when the top of his/her head is level with the top of the seat.
How long does my child need to use a car seat for?
European law requires child seats to be used until the child is 135cms tall or 12 yrs old in the UK. Before you stop using a child seat look at the placement of the seatbelt on the child, is the lap part of the belt sitting across the child’s hip bone and the diagonal part across the chest. You might find that in 1 car the seatbelt placement is fine but another it’s not. It is preferable to use a HBB to 150cms.
What do they do with their legs when rear facing?
Children are very flexible, bones do not start to calcify till around 3 years, also the joints are more mobile, as their heads are larger in proportion than ours they tend to be top heavy therefore when sitting they would normally sit with their legs tucked up or cross legged. When sitting in a car seat whether forward or rear facing they will often cross their legs as sitting with legs hanging is uncomfortable as they are not supported. When rear facing their legs are supported by the back of the vehicle seat and they are happy to sit with their legs crossed or frogged.
How do I estimate how long my child will last in their seat?
Children grow at different speeds, when looking at the guides on a child car seat these are based on a 50th centile child, so a guide could be to look at your child’s rate of growth on his/her centile chart (in your red book) this will show the line of your child’s growth and give you a guide as to when he/she will reach the maximum weight or height for your chosen seat, if your child is high on the centile chart 90th or above you can expect your seat to last approximately a year less than the guidelines for that seat, if they are 25th centile or below you will probably get a year longer in the seat than it states.
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, there are seats that 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 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 you child is uncomfortable they will either move their own head or they will wake up.
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
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 every day use and doing 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.
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.
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 an 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
My child’s HBB 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 test 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.
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 in the additional needs page.
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 check list, also known as an approval list, to confirm its suitability.
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.
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.
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 on line businesses. For this reason we do not price match particularly for online prices.
Regulations and law
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 test 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. Non i-size seats are still on sale and still safe and legal.
What is the minimum requirement for not using a car seat?
The law states that a child MUST stay in a car seat until they are a minimum of 135cms or 12 years old. However, we recommend continuing to use the HBB until 150 cm if the vehicle height and approval allows.
What can I do if I need to get a taxi and can’t take my car seat?
If the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one - but only if they travel on a rear seat:
- And wear an adult seatbelt if they’re 3 or older
- Without a seat if they’re under 3
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 manufacturer’s work with a particular car seat manufacturer and they may crash test some seats.
Extended rear facing
Why is rearward facing safer?
The most dangerous car accidents are frontal collisions. They represent the accidents where the highest speeds and the greatest forces are at play. When a child is forward facing and a frontal collision occurs the child is flung forward in the seat, being caught by the harness. This puts stress on the neck, the spine, and the internal organs. Rearward facing seats counteract this forward movement – the child would be thrown back into the car seat.
I can’t fit a rearward facing car seat in my car because I don’t think I have enough room?
If you consider some of the more compact rearward facing seats they take up no more room than an infant carrier on a base.
How do I communicate with my child in the car?
As a driver, you should be concentrating on the road and not looking at a child regardless of whether they are rearward or forward facing. However, you can get mirrors that allow a child to see you and would also allow you to see them.
Won’t my child get bored being rearward facing?
In a forward-facing car seat installed behind the driver or passenger seat, all the child can see is the back of the front seat, with a limited view of the side window. In a rear facing car seat the child has a great view out of the side and rear windows.
How does a rearward facing seat work if you get rear ended?
Rear end crashes account for only 5% of the total amount of car accidents, and usually occur at much lower speeds than frontal ones. In a rear end collision both vehicles are moving in the same direction, which throws the car that is hit from behind, forward. This means that the forces of the crash are far lower than they are in a frontal impact where the vehicle comes to a sudden halt.
What are rearward facing tether straps?
The tether strap/straps attach to the seat in front. Either fitted to the front seat runners, designated tether loops (Scandinavian cars) or around the front seat pillars. They reduce rebound (backward movement of the car seat after a frontal collision).
Where do the child’s legs go when rearward facing?
The majority of extended rearward facing car seats are installed with a gap between the base of the seat and the back rest of the vehicle seat. How big that gap is depends on the space between the car's back and front seats but even when there is not enough space for a large gap, most children are happy to sit with their legs crossed or bent.
Why use a RiveMove?
The fundamental point is that, you are going to use the RiveMove only if one of 3 things become an issue.
1) You have three children, one or more is in a HBB, and you need to have 3 seats across the back seat of your car.
2) You have 2 CRS (child restraint system), one of which is a HBB and you want to fit an adult in the middle of the back seat. In most cars the middle seat is not full size.
3) You have 3 CRS across the back seat, one of which is a HBB and you cannot access the seat belt receiver, because one of the seats is sitting over it.
Parents who try to find a selection of CRS for their 3 children, one or more in a HBB, will normally end up with a situation where the 3 seats are at least touching, may be overlapping, but certainly pressed against the car door.
When three CRS are installed, the lateral seats may contact the door panel, but this is not a safety problem. In fact, many CRS manufacturers want their seats to be in contact the door.
Every family requirement is different, ages and sizes of children, style and size of car. We are keen nevertheless to achieve a safe fit for 3 across when possible. We do not check with the insurance company for their view. We supply ‘suitable restraints’, fit them correctly. There is always a compromise. If we are unable to achieving this, the third child goes unrestrained, which child!
The RiveMove does what?
1) It effectively moves the isofix anchorage point 7cms closer to the door. This varies from car to car, in some cars it may be more.
2) It stabilises the seat and absorbs energy on impact, taking it away from the occupant of the CRS
3) It protects the occupant of the middle seat when the outboard seat rebounds.
In relation to the vehicles isofix:-
1) The car manufacturers weld the ISOFIX anchorages in a position determined by the geometry of the vehicle and is not related to safety.
2) The factors that determine if an ISOFIX anchorage is placed farther or closer to the door is normally determined by the wheel arch and the distance therefor between the isofix points.
3) Certain vehicles have their isofix points positioned, where they are not symmetrically opposite one another.
What about insurance?
In Spain, where this product is manufactured, they have agreement from a major insurance company of their acceptance.
Many products used as CRS or accessories depart from the norm and we do not question their validity. This product enhances safety in relation to the 3 across the back seat situation.
It is not mandatory to attach the HBB to isofix, it is just easier and safer to do so.
Many parents are unaware or disregard the instructions of the vehicle manufacturer, in relation to what type of CRS, if any, may be used in the middle seat of a 5 seater car, seats 6 and 7 of a people carrier or the front passenger seat.
Our ‘Approval list’ states only the vehicles that the RiveMove may be used in, the vehicle manual advised what seats may be used and where.