Car Seat Safety: Top Tips on Choosing A Car Seat

As much as we’d like to put a stop to them, unfortunately crashes happen all too frequently, which is why we have to make sure our little ones are protected if they do.

Even at slow speeds, the sudden changes in momentum can result in an injury; an adult seatbelt will not restrain a young child or protect their developing body, particularly their head and neck. Anatomical and physiological differences mean children are less able to cope with the stress of an accident, so it’s so important to ensure they are in the correct seat for their weight and height. A child who is correctly restrained in a car seat is five times safer in a collision.

On top of this, by law children must use a child car seat until they are 12-years-old, or they are 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, whichever comes first. So when choosing and fitting a car seat, and when seating your child, the most important things to remember are:

Choosing the right seat

All children from birth to 1.35m in height (approx. 12 years) must use the correct car seat for the child and car in question. You can check your car’s compatibility here .Isofix fittings are safer, but if the car doesn’t have Isofix points then do not buy an Isofix-compatible child seat. The seat should be suitable for the child’s weight and height.

Stand tall

i-Size regulations are based on centimetres rather than kilograms, so you can decide which car seat is right for you based on your child’s height rather than their weight.

Look back for longer

 i-Size (R129) regulations state that children must be rearward facing in their car seat from newborn to 15 months old. This is to stop your child’s head being thrown forward in the event of an accident.

The child must be properly secured

If using a five-point harness, you should just be able to get two fingers between the child’s chest and the straps. For rear-facing seats, the harness should be level or no more than 2cms below the shoulders; for forward-facing seats, it should be level or no more than 2cms above the shoulders. The buckle of the car’s seat belt should be level or lower than the child seat, and not under pressure

Remove coats

Padding in children’s coats can mean that a car seat harness is not tightened properly, so remove coats and jackets before you strap up to ensure they fitted right.

The only way is UP!

Many people don’t know this, but your infant carrier handle is used for more than just carrying your little one in and out of the car. If an accident were to occur then an upright handle prevents baby being thrown into the car seat’s back support, helping to preventing injury.

Respond and replace

We are only too aware that accidents happen on the roads every day and that is why we want to give your child the best protection possible. If you are involved in an accident when travelling with your car seat, whether your child was travelling with you at the time, you must replace it. Although on the surface the seat may be fine, the impact of an accident may have damaged the core of the seat which means that your little one’s safety is at risk.

Finally, remember not to put a rear-facing seat in the front of a car that has airbags activated!

Tips by RoSPA, Maxi Cosi, and Brake, national road safety charity. 

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