Working with Parents

My experiences of advising parents on child safety

Christmas Trees, Car Seats and Presents!

Another re-blog, such an important one! Drive safely in the poor weather – plan ahead, take your time, drive slowly – safety isn’t cool, but dead isn’t cool either..!

Working with Parents

Another re post from this time last year – last time I posted this it got hundreds/thousands of views – thousands more parents aware!  Let’s get the message out there!

Christmas Trees, Car Seats and Presents!

“The nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder.

All the hats and gloves are out and our scarves are keeping us warm,

Our cars are frosted with ice, and spider webs glisten in the morning light,

it can only mean that winter is here!

Cold mornings, wind, drizzle, hail and snow, minus temperatures and Christmas shopping, mince pies and chilly toes!

The fun of decorating the Christmas tree with the kids, helping them bake cookies to leave out on Christmas Eve and the excitement of visiting Santa!

A last minute dash to deliver gifts to family and friends whilst Dad buys all his presents for Mum last minute!

Christmas Eve and…

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Nania Trio Review

I have been asked by a dear friend of mine to do a review of the Nania Trio car seat.  It is the car seat that is commonly found in Asda or on Kiddicare.com for £25.

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The Seat

Rear Facing: 0 – 10kg

Forward Facing: 9 – 18kg

Forward Facing with seat belt: 15 – 25kg  (Please note that I am NOT reviewing this seat in high back booster mode as I have been given an old model which has been recalled.  I am not swapping it as I have no intention of using this seat!)

Stats:

 

Measurement

Nania Trio

Bum to lowest harness slot

9”

Bum to highest harness slot

14”

Width (bum height)

11”

Width (shoulder height)

12”

Width of head support cushion

9”

Depth of seat (leg length)

12”

 

ADJUSTING THE HARNESS

Adjusting the harness isn’t too difficult, and is easier than some other seats.

Step 1:

Loosen the harness off:

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Step 2:

Turn the seat around, take the metal clip and push it through the slot

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Step 3:

Pull it through the other side, so the harness strap is away from the seat

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Step 4:

Move the harness strap to the desired height and poke back through the seat.  MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE THE METAL CLIP IS RIGHT THROUGH THE SEAT AND NOT JUST THROUGH THE SEAT COVER.

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The back of the seat should have BOTH metal slips lying flat against it at the SAME height!

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Yes I know it’s the same pic from before!!!!

REMOVING THE COVERS

To remove the covers, the entire harness needs to be removed.  Remove the harness shoulder straps as if you were adjusting the height.  The buckle and harness that goes over the hips removes in the same fashion (pokes through the seat!)

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The cover then pulls right off:

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Always keep the harness straight when it is out of the seat to avoid it becoming twisted or tangled!

UNDERNEATH THE COVER:

There is NO additional padding on this seat.  No energy absorbing polystyrene, no additional cushions for comfort, just plastic.  The covers themselves are very thin and won’t give much padding.

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The seat shell is very basic – but then it is a basic entry level seat.

FITTING

Wow… fitting was fun with this seat, as the video will show!

Rear Facing Mode:

The lap belt on this seat goes underneath the seat, and the shoulder belt pulls around the back. The easiest way I found to do this was to clip the seat belt in, then pull the lap belt loose:

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Please excuse the melted crayon!

I then positioned the seat on top of the lap belt and fitted the lap belt through the appropriate guides

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Outside

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Buckle Side – please note the shoulder part of the belt is NOT fitted here and the lap belt needs to be pulled VERY TIGHT at this point!

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Lap belt pulled tight and shoulder belt correctly positioned.

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Correct routing of seat belt

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The shoulder belt routes DIAGONALLY across the back of the seat, passing through the guides. There are 4 guides – this is so you can fit the sea ton the other side of the car.

NOW!!!!  This seat looks like it is absolutely fine!  The belt fits, it is correctly fitted and positioned. HOWEVER – this seat is not compatible with this car!

The lap belt is slightly forward (not pulling the seat back), which is the only reason I can think of for it’s incompatibility, and why the seat was not secure when I tested it – Watch the video to find out more!

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The aftermath….

thick lip from incompatible car seat

Due to the seat being INCOMPATIBLE with the vehicle, it flipped up when I check it was fitted tightly – when it flipped up it hit me in the face – silly me! 😦

Forward Facing Mode

The seat is very easy to fit when forward facing:

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Position the child seat on the vehicle seat

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Pass the adult seat belt between the seat shell and cover. The lap belt sitting low down and the shoulder belt sliding up through the gap, to fit diagonally (as it would be fitting over an adult sat there!)

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Click the seat belt in and then pull ALL the slack off! Do this by taking the top part of the belt (the shoulder part) and pulling all the slack from the lap belt through. Then feed the slack that is now on the shoulder/diagonal part of the belt back where it reels out from.

Yet again, although this all looks absolutely fine, this isn’t really a very good fit in this car.  Watch the video to find out why:

To check the seat fits, grasp the harness and give it a good pull:

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BE AWARE!  When you do this the seat belt will start pulling loose!!!!!  There is NO lock off clip for the seat belt with this seat so you must tighten the seat belt before every single journey, without fail!

FITTING

As well as the belt being too far forward, also be aware of buckle crunch! This is where the buckle sits ON or OVER the frame of a child seat and it may shatter in an impact:

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Buckle Crunch

In this situation, you will need to be a different child restraint, as this video shows:

WHICH Recall

I mentioned the WHICH report on this seat and that I have a re-called model.  When WHICH tested this seat, it scored 0% in group 2 mode – high back booster mode.  You can read the report here: WHICH Report

Viral on Facebook

There was also a story on Facebook about a little boy who broke both of his legs in an accident when he was travelling in one of these car seats.

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It’s always saddening to hear of a child being injured in a car accident, and this Mother like so many others simply assumed a car seat was compatible with the car, fitted correctly and just as good as a more expensive alternative.  To read more on what the basic R44.04 crash test is and other crash testing a seat can have, read my blog on group 1 seats here!

Was the seat to blame for this child’s injuries?  I don’t know. I’m not a crash test expert and don’t pretend to be either.  I feel that if the child was travelling in an extended rear facing seat, he maybe wouldn’t have sustained any injuries – but that is just my personal speculation.  I am pleased that the mother has now had a seat professionally fitted in her car by a trained fitter to ensure compatibility.

PROS AND CONS

PROS

CONS

Lightweight

Easy to fit in forward facing mode

Harness is relatively easy to adjust

Some parents will like the individual harness tensioners

No energy absorbing polystyrene materials

Fits poorly in lots of cars

Sold in stores/online with no fitting service.  You have no way of knowing the seat is suitable (this goes for ANY seat sold in this manner)

Hard and little padding

Harness straps very high on lowest setting

No belt lock off meaning seat works loose easily

The entire harness needs to be removed for washing covers; there is a big risk of the harness not being put back correctly.

It’s a very big and upright seat to have a newborn in.

 

PERSONALLY!!!!!!!!!! (In my PERSONAL OPINION) –  I have done my utmost to keep this blog impartial and fairly balanced so it is useful to parents who wish to purchase this seat, however I PERSONALLY really dislike this seat.  I think it is very cheaply made and I am surprised it passed the basic crash test.  I would be very happy to see it no longer available on the market (I have a feeling it has stopped being made now?? I don’t know for sure?).  There are group 0+1 car seats available from £40, and whilst they may not be as good as more expensive seats that are about £70+ (IN MY OPINION) they are better than this – and £40 really isn’t much more to pay for your child’s safety. (MY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOT FACT….!!!!!!!!!!)

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Prince George is here!

First off I want to extend my massive congratulations to Will and Kate on the birth of their baby boy!  I wish them all the luck in the world as parents, especially with them having to be first time parents in front of the whole world.  Kate looked simply beautiful when her and Prince William presented him to the world.

 

I am of course writing this to discuss the car seat!  I just want to state categorically that I AM NOT JUDGING WILL AND KATE’S PARENTING SKILLS IN THIS BLOG.  There is enough judging between people nowadays, especially parents!  I almost don’t want to join the “mummy club” because of the judging – and with this particular issue I am going to discuss people seem keen get in an uproar rather than accept the calm and NON JUDGMENTAL message that is being given.

 

Now we have cleared that up, lets get down to business!

 

So Will and Kate decided on a Britax Baby Safe Plus infant seat with ISOfix base for their little boy.  I was really impressed with this choice as everyone seems to go straight for the Maxi Cosi, which is brilliant – but hugely over shadows other infant carriers such as the Britax infant seat which is equally as good, if not better (I think it’s better, but then I love Britax!)

It was clear Will had practiced before hand and it was great to see how effortless he made putting the seat in appear.  I’m really happy they went for the ISOfix base, it will raise the awareness of ISOfix which is brilliant – particularly with the new iSize laws that have come out recently.  He also demonstrated really clearly how easy a seat is to use with a base.  I really hope this encourages more parents to use a base as it hugely reduces the risk of incorrectly fitting an infant car seat and makes life so much easier.

 

As for the Britax seat itself, it has performed fantastically in crash testing and has achieved awards from the German Stiftung Warentest and ADAC.  It has a nice tall back height and 7 positions for the straps to be so it will last longer than some other popular infant carriers, and the harness strap height is really easy to change – always ensuring a perfect fit on baby.  The covers wash at 30* and are super easy to remove, the sunshade can also be completely removed.  Finally, the seat has a 5-point rather than 3 point harness which provides baby with a little more security when strapped in.

The 1 main downside I have come across with the Britax Baby Safe is that is seems very upright for a new born – they look very scrunched in it.  However, babies should spend no more than 2 hours a day maximum – preferably less – in the car seat (obviously if you have a long journey, use the seat!)

Well Done Will and Kate on choosing a fantastic seat and base to keep your son safe!

 

Now – the thing that caught my attention right away when they brought the baby out in the car seat, apart from the seat itself – was that Prince George was not correctly strapped into the seat.  He was swaddled underneath the harness, and the harness was far too loose on him.  (This is the part everyone jumps up and down accusing me of judging them as first time parents…!)

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Royal or not – the baby should not have left the hospital strapped into the seat his way.   Not only would he have not been protected in an accident, but he could have easily fallen out of the seat had Will dropped/tipped it on fitting.  Yes they are first time parents, Yes they are allowed to make mistakes.  However, 1) they had any number of aides and hospital staff helping them – did nobody think to tell them how the straps ought to fit? 2) They’ve had 9 months to research this, as does any parent, this should not have happened.  3) Kate had a whole team of stylists helping her – so they were obviously well aware on how scrutinized they were going to be,  everything should have been double checked on the seat to ensure he was safe.

This was a dangerous mistake to make, not to Prince George – the chance of them having a crash was minimal on their way home and that isn’t really what bothers me (too much!).  What bothers me is that thousands of parents are going to see this picture, and if this is good enough for a Royal baby, it’s good enough for their baby – and they don’t know any better either with the distinct lack of awareness on car seats in the UK.  So just how many children are now going to be incorrectly strapped into their seat?   Plenty of people have said that Kate adjusted the straps when in the car, but they shouldn’t have been like that in the first place – and if she did, there are no photo’s to show that Will and Kate strap their son in safely for all the people who may follow in their footsteps to see.

It clearly demonstrates that anybody can inadvertently use their car seat incorrectly (I’m yet to meet someone who has done it on purpose)

 

For information on how to safely swaddle a baby in a car seat, please visit this video post by the American Car Seat Lady https://www.thinglink.com/scene/416412960164937729#tlsite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snowsuits, clothing, car seats and the danger…

During the colder months I regularly see parents putting their babies in danger when travelling in the car – and they don’t even realise they are doing it.

As a result of trying to protect their baby, the parent is inadvertently putting their baby at risk of being ejected from the car seat, or at risk of dangerous over heating.

So what is this terrible mistake so many parents in the UK make? 

Answer: Big, puffy snowsuits and car seats.

In the simple act of a parent trying to protect their baby from getting cold, they are putting them at considerable risk.

So why is putting your baby in a snow suit when using the car seat so dangerous?

Snowsuits, as well as puffy or chunky clothing causes a car seat harness to fit a baby incorrectly.  Car seat harnesses need to be as close to a baby’s body as possible to be most effective in an accident.  If big, puffy clothing is between the baby and the harness it creates a gap.  When the harness then has to do its job and restrain a baby in the event of an impact, it is too loose – as all the air that is trapped in the puffiness disperses.  When the harness is too loose, the baby runs a significant risk of being ejected from the car seat.

Take a look at the 2 photographs below, the snowsuit isn’t particularly puffy, but it is thick.  When the baby is in the snowsuit she appears to be strapped in tightly.  I then unclipped the harness and removed the baby from the seat (without adjusting the harness)  upon strapping her back in you can clearly see the gap now created, and that she has also dropped down in the car seat.

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Not only is there a very real danger of a baby being ejected from the car seat, when a baby is in a puffy snow suit they are also unable to regulate their body temperature.  A car heats up very quickly, and whereas adults are able to adjust the car temperature to suit them or remove clothing, a baby is not as able to make herself comfortable.  There are also related health issues linked to babies being too warm.

So what can be done?

Clearly, nobody wants to put their baby in danger – but when it is cold outside babies still need to be kept warm, for the same reason snowsuits in the car seat are dangerous with overheating – they are unable to regulate their body temperature!

There are a few options a parent can take; you can dress your baby in a few layers (base layer, sleep suit + jumper and warm pants) or dress them in their regular clothes and cover them with a blanket.  You can use a cosy toes that comes with some car seats or buy a specially made after market cover to help them regulate their temperature and keep them warm.

There are a couple of covers available to help combat this issue, but the one I am going to focus on is the Ruby & GINGER cosy car seat cover.

Ruby & GINGER cosy car seat cover

I prefer the Ruby & GINGER cosy car seat cover over other options for a few reasons:

1)      Most importantly:  It doesn’t interfere with the harness – so baby can be safely strapped in, giving complete peace of mind to the parent

2)      The cover doesn’t interfere with the seat belt routing when fitting the seat

3)      It’s 3tog, so very effective at regulating temperature and keeping little one warm.

4)      It’s easy to lift it off – particularly useful in an emergency to quickly release a baby from the car seat.

I also love it because!…

5)      It’s quick and easy to pop on and I haven’t yet found an infant seat it won’t fit

6)      They are super stylish!

7)      They come in a handy bag, so you can store it between uses (great for the typical British weather!)

8)      They are incredibly luxurious and well made – the material is soft yet strong, and the attention to detail is fabulous.

The lovely people at Ruby & GINGER kindly sent me one of their covers to help me in this blog, and I was very impressed!

It came beautifully packaged:

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It comes with a handy carry bag:

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It fits loads of car seats!

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As you can see from the photos, the cover simply fits over the seat itself, and as it is 3tog, it very effectively keeps the baby warm, whilst allowing the air to circulate.

It doesn’t interfere at all with the harness and is quick and easy to remove – in case the baby needed to be quickly released from the seat. (After an accident, for example)  It also doesn’t interfere at all with the seat belt routing when fitting the seat and allows the baby to retain free movement to kick and explore their world.

It also fits all ages of babies, I have tested it on a 5 week old and a 15 month old, and both were warm, comfortable and very, very cosy!

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Both babies were very happy with the cover in place and it also looks incredibly stylish to boot!

Not only does it provide a safe solution to snow suits, it can also be used with the pram when being used as a travel system to keep little one warm!  Perfect for parents who pop in and out of the car with baby frequently – on the school run for example!

At an rrp of £30 they really are a must have buy to ensure your baby is travelling safely and snugly!

Ruby & GINGER have a range of accessories designed to assist parents everywhere – as well as the cosy car seat cover I love the Nappy Purse!  Check them out at http://www.rubyandginger.co.uk

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Harrogate Baby Show!

Last month I got to visit the Harrogate baby show!  It is a trade show for those in the nursery industry, with lots of shiny new products on display!  I saw lots of new products, both good and bad – and some that were just plain wacky!

The Good:

 Britax:

Of course Britax are top of my list!  They were displaying their new seats – the Xtensafix and the Max Fix, as well as the Max Way and I must say, they are very exciting new products!

Xtensafix:

At long last there is a good quality ISOfix group 123 seat coming out!  The Xtensafix incorporates style, safety and usability beautifully, which is severely lacking in other group 123 seats.  In group 1 mode there is a fully useable recline feature, not just a vague tilt that you get with other 123 seats.  It has an integrated and easily adjustable headrest and harness and easily converts to the next stage seat.  It is secured with ISOfix points and a top tether, or the adult 3 point seat belt.  The biggest feature of the Xtensafix is that it has a harness weight limit of 25kg – which is fantastic for parents with heavy, but small children or for parents that wish to keep their children in a 5 point harness past the standard 18kg.  However, to utilise the 18 – 25kg harness usage you must fit the seat with the 3 point seat belt AND top tether.

Overall it is a fantastic seat and will fill a large gap in the market for an ISOfix group 123, but I have some reservations at how many parents will fit the seat with the 3 point seat belt and top tether correctly to utilise the extended harness option.

Max Fix

The Max Fix is an ISOfix group 0+1 combination seat that is rear ward facing from birth to 18kg.  It has a rebound bar and foot prop that means there are no tether straps, making installation quick and easy.  I actually got to see this seat being fitted and it is no more difficult than fitting a normal ISOfix seat.  Again, it has the integrated headrest and harness for easy adjustment, and a 7 recline function as well as a newborn insert, making it truly suitable from birth.

Overall it is an absolutely brilliant seat, and perfect for parents that are not interested in a travel system or those that want to move on from the infant carrier but still need/want a rear facing car seat.

Max Way

The Max Way is a new Britax product, although it has been on the market a little while now.  It is a seat belt fitted group 1,2 seat that is rear ward facing only, with a foot prop and tether straps.  The Max Way is really well padded and also has the easy adjust headrest and harness, it’s easy to fit and simple to use!

I have to say, I was really impressed with Britax for having so many extended rear facing seats on display, and the new colour range is fabulous – especially the colour ‘grape’!  For a company making its money from front facing seat sales it really is brave of them (and decent of them, compared to some other companies) to be pushing their extended rear facing range – here’s hoping more and more parents see the huge safety benefits of keeping kids rear facing now such a large manufacturer has extended it’s range!

Britax also had an ‘adult’ test rig! They had 2 adult sized ‘child’ seats, one impact shield one and another with a 5 point harness.  This is an extension from the video they released of the roll over crash test they did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik_9_FxAfrI

The demo was to clearly demonstrate the difference between an impact shield seat and a 5 point harness seat – and boy did it show the difference!  The test seat launched you forward!  Here are some photo’s of me having a go!

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There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Britax releasing that video, and some people I spoke to thought it to be a dirty marketing trick and that the seat wasn’t fastened properly.  I must say that I beg to differ – when a car seat is crash tested, the seat belt has to be tightened to a certain tightness, which is done electronically, and you can clearly see in the video that the seat belt is fitted correctly.  Another point, the seat has been de-branded.  Although I can tell what make seat it is, it has had all branding removed.

I don’t think it is a dirty marketing trick at all, and I think Britax had good cause to have concerns over impact shield seats.  The roll over crash test on R44.04 is done at a rotation of 3-5̊̊ degrees per second, so very slowly.  When the Britax test was done, it was at 30mph – which is a much more likely scenario.  If a seat is found to not perform under ‘real-life’ circumstances, then that information should be released so people with that seat are fully aware of the limitations of the seat and can make an informed decision as to whether they are happy with it or not.  I think Britax have done a huge service to parents everywhere by releasing that video.

Snugglebundl

The Snugglebundl – all I can say is WOW!  Generally speaking, I don’t really hold all that much of an interest in other baby products, what with being a car seat expert and not having kids myself.  But the Snugglebundl really is amazing!

The Snugglebundl is a baby lifting blanket, with so many uses!  It’s a strong, but really soft blanket with strong handles, and a head hugger to really snuggle your newborn.  I was first drawn to it as it can be used in a car seat, newborn babies shouldn’t spend too much time in their car seat, but lots of parents are reluctant to move their sleeping baby once they’ve fallen asleep in the car so just leave them in it.  The Snugglebundl can be used to lift baby out of the car seat without disturbing them, and you can then cradle them, rock them or lay them down to continue sleeping, undisturbed – which will hugely reduce car seat usage.

Not only can it be used in car seats, but it also helps mum’s lift and care for their baby when they’ve had a C-section, it can be used in trolley baby seats, to rock the baby, swaddle the baby, to give mum’s discreet breastfeeding if they wish for it and to help make passing the baby easier. I put that last one as I am absolutely terrible at passing babies back, not because I want to keep them!  But I’m so worried about their heads, and fragile little necks and bodies that I don’t know what bit to pass first – with the Snugglebundl I don’t have to worry about that.  I can snuggle the baby then pass it back to Mum, or to my partner for a snuggle by holding the handles, gently lifting baby and passing over – easy!

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Hauck

I specifically went to the Hauck stand to check out their new Varioguard seat. It’s a group 0+1 seat that rear faces with ISOfix and foot prop to 18kg, or can be fitted with the 3 point seat belt rear facing to 13kg then turns front facing to 18kg.  It’s a really nice looking seat that is easy to use and comes with 5 colour options.  The recline is very generous and the seat features an easy adjust harness.

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High Back Booster

I also saw the bodyguard high back booster whilst at the Hauck stand, and that too is very nice.  It truly grows with a growing child as when you raise the headrest, the side parts of the seat extend – truly accommodating the child right the way through.

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5-Point Plus

I’ve known about the 5-point plus for quite some time, and regularly recommend it to clients as a solution to escape artist children!  It is a simple device to prevent children from escaping from the car seat harness.  It fits into the child seat and wraps around the harness, underneath the harness pads, closing the gap where children get their arms through.  The big thing for me with the 5 point plus is that it has been fully crash tested.  Aftermarket products for car seats do not legally have to pass a crash test, which is why companies can get away with selling things like chest clips, which can cause serious injuries to children if not used correctly.

More info here! – http://5pointplus.com/

Graco

Graco have a new high back booster coming out at long last!  I have despised the rubbish high back boosters they do for years, and I die a little bit inside every time I see someone with one.  They do not pass any side impact test and have been on the which ‘don’t buy’ for ages for lack of safety, yet people STILL insist on buying the awful things!  When I gave the Graco rep this view, he gave me the old “yes, but they are better than nothing”

Well, OK… but does that give you a licence to make rubbish seats?  The Britax Adventure is very similar in price to the Graco and that gives side impact protection.

The old and new seats:

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Ruby & Ginger

Another accessory!  I loved the Ruby & Ginger car seat cover so much!  It’s a warm cosy cover that goes over the car seat to keep little one snug, without interfering with the harness and causing an unsafe fit.

Website: http://www.rubyandginger.co.uk/out-and-about/the-original-cosy-car-seat-cover

Joie

I also made a special trip to the Joie stand to have a nosy at their products!  They have some really lovely stuff and their car seats are innovative and stylish, whilst being easy to use and fit!  They have some exciting new products in the pipeline, but my favourite one by far is the Joie Stages.

The Joie Stages lasts from newborn to 25kg/7 years old.  It rear faces from newborn to 18kg, and is front facing with the harness 9 – 18kg.  It then converts to a high back booster to 25kg.  The seat is really well made and has very well padded, comfy covers.  It is also really easy to fit, and has an easy adjustable headrest and harness!

Downsides:  The two main downsides to this seat for me:

1)     The way the seat fits means that when used rear facing; the seat belt runs diagonally (as it does with an infant seat) which is no problem for a small baby/toddler, but as the child gets older (2.5/3 years) it would be increasingly difficult to get them in and out of the seat.

2)     The seat must be kept in full recline when used rear facing, so an older child may get frustrated with it, and with the way the seat fits there will have to be a height limit for safe usage, which will reduce the rear facing time (although it’ll be longer than other 0+1 seats).

The Stages is a fantastic seat, really well made and comfortable, as well as easy to use.  It’s a brilliant option for parents who want to keep their child rear facing as long as possible, but are unable to afford an extended rear facing seat.

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The Bad.

So, we’ve come to the bad…..  Please remember that these are simply my opinions, they’re not factual and I’m not saying a product is unsafe – I’m just giving my opinion, my point of view, from viewing and operating the product.  All opinions are my own, and I encourage others to form their own opinions and if they like a product – to go buy it!!

Cybex Sirona

It pains me to put this seat in with the bad, and it nearly went in with the good!  The Cybex Sirona is a group 0+1 ISOfix seat that is rear facing from birth – 18kg, and can front face with an impact shield from 9 – 18kg.

Good points? – It swivels, so it is super easy to get baby in and out of the seat.  It has a rebound bar and foot prop so there is no need for tether straps.

The Sirona is beautiful.  It’s sleek, it’s shiny, and it looks like it’s turned up from outer space.  It’s fashionable – since when could a car seat be fashionable?!!!  But there are, unfortunately a few features of the seat that let it down.

1)     It rear faces to 18kg, but it has a very small seat shell.  Having viewed the newest Sirona, you really would struggle to have a 4 year old child in that seat.

2)     Front facing with an impact shield.  Now, I know impact shields are Cybex’s ‘thing’ but why on earth would you make a seat with the option of being really safe and rear facing to 18kg, then throw an impact shield into the mix????  It complicates the seat, and I think parents should at least be given the option of using the harness in front facing mode.

3)     It’s £400 and in my humble opinion, it really isn’t worth it – Sorry Cybex.  Give me the Hauck Varioguard or Britax Max fix any day!

Although it is a stunning seat, and will be perfect for some families – I can think of a fair few other seats I’d rather buy.

Corbeau

Seriously? Corbeau?  Recaro is enough thanks – please stick to your racing seats!

I have to say, my heart sank a little bit when I saw the Corbeau sign, and then car seats.  The rep was also completely sexist with no idea of the car seat market.  He described buyers of car seats as “Dad’s are the ones who make the car seat decision.  So we’re making it easy for them, they’ll see the Corbeau name and know we make racing seats from seeing them on Top Gear.  The seat is normally going in Dad’s car so he wants something that’s going to look good and is stylish – which is where this comes in”

My reaction:

CARSEATOMG

1)     I receive tons of e-mails a week regarding advice on car seats – I have yet to have one from a Dad.

2)     When I worked at a major retailer, my main customers were Mothers, normally coming in during the end of their maternity leave to get the car seat sorted before their return to work.  They had their car with them, and the seat went in that (once confirming if the seat would go in Dad’s car or not).  I worked for Halfords, which is generally viewed as a ‘man shop’.

3)     They want something that looks good and is stylish?  Do they not want something safe then?

4)     Do you really think all Dad’s watch Top Gear?

5)     The seats looked horrible.  The covers were quilted, and the plastics of the seat not the best quality.  They were like a down market Recaro.

Casualplay

I was really looking forward to seeing CasualPlay’s range of seats, but was sorely let down.  They had some lovely looking seats at the back of the display, which looked to be decent quality, but turn to the main display and there was a huge range of cheap looking seats that didn’t look much better than the Nania seats.

They also have something called the Retraktorfix coming out.  It is an ISOfix seat with a 5 point harness, but the harness is on a locking reel (like a seat belt) rather than pre-tensioned like the harnesses you normally see on seats.  I immediately had alarm bells about this, a locking device on a car seat harness??

1)     An older child could easily pull down and remove the harness.

2)     A child would be thrown forward and the harness would lock, snapping the neck forward far more violently than a normal car seat harness.

3)     A child could lean forward in the seat and if an impact happened, they would be outside the protection zone of the side impact wings and also already stretching their neck and spine, which would then be thrown further forward and locked back.

I did not like this seat idea at all, however, I can accept that this would be brilliant for a parent or grandparent that just didn’t have the strength to pull the harness tight – so it absolutely has it’s place on the market, but do I think all car seats should have this?  No.

The pushchairs were gorgeous however!

car seat stuff 011

So that was my trip to the Harrogate baby show!  It was a brilliant day out, although one day is nowhere near enough to see everything – next year I’ll be staying over!

There are some lovely products coming out and there really is going to be something available for every single situation!

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What ERF kids can see!

What ERF kids can see!

further to my recent post about keeping kids rear facing…

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Which seat isn’t safe?

 

 

unsafe

 

So, a little while back I posted a picture of 3 seats, asking which one isn’t safe.

I did this to try and help people see the danger in buying second hand seats and to show that you can never be 100% sure that an old or 2nd hand seat is safe.

 

The issue with this seat is that it is old.  It is certified R44.03, and judging by the seat itself is about 8 years old.

The polystyrene is very dry and flaky which may reduce side impact protection, but as you can clearly see – it’s snapped.  Which is what makes this seat unsafe!

 

 

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Group 1 seats!

MCaxiss

 

Weight: 9-18kg

Height: Top of ears level with top of seat

Direction of travel: Front or rear facing

Fitment: Seat belt or ISOfix

Other options: Impact shield

Introduction

A group 1 car seat is designed to restrain a child in the event of an impact.  They normally have a 5-point harness and are designed to hold the child in the seat and spread the force through the shoulder straps, hip and crotch straps.  It is law for every child to be restrained in the car in a suitable child restraint and there are very few exceptions.

Exceptions:

Taxi

Emergency journey (not shops or school!)

In both cases the child must the wear the adult seat belt, if available.

Why are there such big price differences?

This is such a common question and a valid one too.  Why would you pay £200 for a seat when you can get one from a supermarket for £25?!  I can fully understand a parent taking this view, especially in the current climate when we are all watching every penny.

shitseat

KINGPLUSS

There are a number of factors that will dictate the price of a child seat:

1)    How much research and technology that has gone into the seat – Major manufactures spend hundreds of thousands of pounds developing technology to keep your little one safe, and are constantly crash testing and evolving their designs to make them the safest they can be – this is often reflected in the price.

2)    The name.  Yes you do pay for the name!  A Maxi Cosi seat is going to cost a lot more than a Nania supermarket seat or a newer brand seat.

3)    The deal the retailer has got:  the cost of the seats to the retailer will differ on how many they have purchased, if they’re the end of line or latest models and then how much profit the retailer adds on.

4)    It also depends on how much the seat cost for the retailer to buy – following on from the previous point.  The £25 seats are very, very cheap to manufacture and are made from the most basic materials that can be used, because of this they have a low base price; however a Britax will be made of much higher quality materials, fabrics and safety components – which all add to the base cost of the seat.

So are all seats not equally safe?

In a word – No.

How safe a seat is depends on if it is suitable for your child’s height and weight, fitted and used correctly and is suitable for your car.  It is also worth considering what sort of driving you’ll be doing. Once you have established what fits your car and what is suitable for your child, you can then look at the different seats available.  Some may have only passed the basic crash test, others may have been NCAP tested, or you could get an extended rear facing – all offer different and varying levels of safety.

Crash Tests

ECE Label

R.44.04:

This is the basic standard that every single child seat on the market must pass in order to be sold in Europe and the UK.  The previous standards of R44.01 and R44.02 are illegal to be used and sold (including second hand sales) and R44.03 may still be used but not sold.  It is also worth noting here that seats from America are illegal to use in the UK.

1 frontal impact at 32mph

1 rear impact at 18mph

NO side impact test

Also tests: buckles, ease of use, ease of understanding instruction, ability to release a child from a seat in 1 movement (why chest clips are illegal in the UK)

STIFTUNG

Stiftung Warentest (Germany)

The Stiftung Warentest is the consumer council in Germany; it is the equivalent of the UK’s Which?  They carry out independent testing on child seats and award seats a rating based on how good they are.  Stiftung Warentest does its own tests in collaboration with ADAC.

The ratings are:

1.0  – 1.5 = Sehr Gut (Very Good)

1.6 – 2.5 = Gut (Good)

2.6 – 3.5 = befreidigend (Satisfactory)

3.6 – 4.5 = ausreichend (Bare minimum)

4.6 – 5.5 = mangelhaft (Poor)

These ratings are formed on the following tests:

Part 1:

Frontal impact: 64 km/h (about 40mph)

SIDE IMPACT: 30km/h (about 18mph)

Part 2:

The next part of the test looks at usability and ergonomics of the seat.  It tests how easy the seat is to fit, the ease of understanding the instruction manual, how easy the seat is to adjust, space for the child, seating positions and quality of materials.  It also tests for harmful substances although this category will not fail a seat, but it will down grade the score and cause a warning comment to be applied to the award.

The Stiftung Warentest is a great award to look out for when buying a child’s car seat.  It gives you the peace of mind that it has had additional crash testing but will also be comfortable and easy to use.

ADAC

ADAC

The ADAC testing is very similar to the Stiftung Warentest and the awards work on the same system, of Sehr Gut to Mangelhaft (very good to poor) it is worth noting that the awards on the same seat can be awarded differently from each organisation as they are looked at by different people.

ADAC is Europe’s largest auto club and their publication ADAC Motorwelt gives results of crash tests on cars, restraint systems, special crash testing and much more.

ADAC awards 50% for crash test result and 50% for user friendliness, comfort and instructions.

WHICH

Which?

Which? is the UK’s leading independent consumer organisation.  They award child seats a best buy, but they also have don’t buys – helping parents make an informed decision.

The awards are based on a star rating:

5* = Excellent

4* = Good

3* = Satisfactory

2* = Poor

1* = Very Poor

The stars are awarded based on the outcomes of various tests.  60% of the award is based on the crash test result, and 40% is based on ease of use – installation, risk of mis-use, comfort, cleaning and workmanship.

The frontal impact is around 40mph and there is also a side impact test performed.

plustest

PLUS TEST

The VTI and NTF introduced the Plus Test in Sweden in 2009. This test provides a stamp of quality for seats that are so good that they are recommended in Sweden. The Plus Test has such strict requirements that forward facing child car seats would not be able to comply with them. The thinking behind the test is that no children sitting in a child car seat which is Plus Test approved would sustain any serious/life-threatening injuries in a collision.*

So, when you are looking to buy your child the next stage seat – keep an eye out for these awards, as they will indicate what other testing the seat has had.

Features!

The features of a seat are also really important to take into account, as they range from safety features through to making life a lot easier features!  Here are a few of them and an explanation of what they mean to you:

Side Impact Protection (SIP)

This means a seat is claiming to be able to protect your child in a side impact collision.  Be very careful here – there is legally no crash test for side impacts.  Make sure the seat you are looking to get has been awarded one of the above crash tests awards to prove it has actually been tested.  Once you have established that fact however, it is an essential feature in working to keeping little one protected in an impact.  Side impacts account for 25% of crashes on Britain’s roads* and 20% of child car crash fatalities*

Click and Go/harness indicator

This is a device on the seat which will tell you when the harness is tight enough on your child; either a marker will turn green or something will click.  They are good for giving a parent peace of mind, but should be used with common sense and the finger rule – you should be able to get 1 finger between your child’s harness and chest.

Seat belt tension system

This is something on the seat which will allow you to fit the seat belt even tighter.  It is normally some sort of lever, compress or ratchet system that is applied after installation.  It gives a firmer fit and therefore less movement of a seat in an impact.

ISOfix – Top Tethers and Impact legs

Some ISOfix seats require you to use a top tether strap, or come with an impact leg.  You must check with the child seat manufacturer as to whether you need a top tether.  If a child seat has an impact leg, it must be extended right to the floor, and you can have a 1 finger gap underneath if the alternative is the child seat being lifted off the vehicle seat.  You must never use an impact leg on a floor storage box, because of the box the floor is weakened and will not be able to support the seat in an impact.

Height adjustable headrest and harness

Some seats will advertise this as a feature and it is incredibly useful.  It is a quick and easy way of adjusting the harness to the correct height on your child – particularly useful if a seat is used for different children.  You simply lift the head rest up and the harness will move with it.  It takes away the risk of the harness getting twisted when the straps are being unhooked to be moved up.

Recline

This is a very important feature for many parents and definitely one to look out for.  This stage child seat normally offers some sort of recline or sleep option that can often be adjusted without interfering with the installation or use of the seat.  Many seats offer multiple reclines to get the perfect position for your child.

Swivel function

There are not many seats on the market that offer this – only the Maxi Cosi Axiss (seat belt) and the Cybex Sirona (ISOfix, group 0+1) to my knowledge.  If you suffer with back problems or struggle to lift your child this may be a very good option for you.  The seat swivels toward you so you can fasten the child in the seat and you simply spin it round for it to lock into place.  Another good option for parents with bad backs is extended rear facing seats.  This is because you have a much bigger gap to get the child in and out of, reducing the lift and twist motion you find with front facing seats when you’re trying to squeeze in between the door and seat.

Things to consider

– Is your LO really ready to be front facing?  This is one mile stone that parents should be dreading, but many seem very keen for baby to be a ‘big boy’ or to have a ‘big girls seat’.  It’s very dangerous for babies to front face too early and they should remain in their rear facing seat as long as possible (see Group 0+ blog for further info)

– What cars will the seat be fitted into? Will the chosen seat fit every car well?

– Who will be fitting the seat?  Make sure everyone is fully aware of how to correctly fit the seat, particularly grandparents who won’t be doing it very often.

– Cost: An expensive seat doesn’t generally mean the best, but try and spend as much as you can to get the best.  If a seat is recommended and a bit more than you have liked to have paid consider what that seat will be offering you.  Is the extra £40 worth the extra features that will keep LO safer and make your life easier for the next 3 years?

– Is the seat going to be moved regularly? If it is consider seats that have very easy seat belt routings, ISOfix or buying 2 seats.

– Above all, make absolutely sure that your chosen seat is suitable for your child’s weight and height, that it fits all cars it will be used in and that it is fitted and used correctly – 100% of the time.

A few tips when using the seat

No winter coats – see previous posts

Harness properly tightened – every time

Correct harness height

– Front facing: Level with or just above shoulders

– Rear facing: Level with or just below shoulders.

REAR FACING GROUP 1 SEATS

Just because front facing children is the ‘norm’ in the UK it doesn’t mean it is the only, and safest option.  You don’t actually have to front face your child at all and extended rear facing seats are available.

So what’s the difference?….

Extended rear facing child seats are up to 5x safer in a frontal or frontal offset impact* as the child is pushed back into the seat – which massively reduces the force of the crash on the child, as the seat back absorbs it (rather than thrown forward into the harness with massive strain to the neck and shoulders)

Why are they more expensive?

As with cheap vs expensive front facing restraints – these seats have had lots and lots of research and technology put into them, and have more components which bumps the price up.  Add to the mix that these seats are not made in as large quantities as a front facing restraint results in a higher price tag.  However, seat belt fitted group 1 rear facing child restraints actually generally cover group 2 as well as they are certified to 25kg, rather than 18kg – so they will last your child 2/3 years longer.   Prices start from around £220, depending on the seat.

So, are they safer?

In a nutshell: Yes.

These seats are up to 5x safer than a front facing restraint and provide a 95% chance of surviving a crash without sustaining serious injury.

Features

They have all the features of a group 1 front facing seat but it is also worth bearing in mind that some offer the option of front facing later on.

I will be writing a blog all about extended rear facing seats at the end of the month so stay tuned and in the mean time take a look at www.rearfacing.co.uk

*(borrowed from the BeSafe website: http://www.besafechildcarseat.co.uk/Child-car-seat-safety-tests/Explaining-tests-and-approvals)

* Reference: Loughborough University, 21st International Tech Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, 2009 Stuttgart

*Reference: 2005 BRITAX Study

*www.rearfacing.co.uk

 

So that is your Group 1 seats lowdown!  Keep checking back for the Group 1,2 extended rear facing blog due at the end of the month!

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Car seat confused!?? Group 0/0+, baby’s first seat!

What is an infant seat?

An infant seat is the first stage seat you will use for a new baby.  All babies, toddlers and children are required by law to travel in a suitable child restraint with very few exceptions.

The infant seat is rear facing and ‘bucket’ like; which cradles the baby (with the exception of lie flat sleepers,) they have either a 3 or 5 point harness to strap them in.  You can expect to see a carry handle on the seat which has the dual purpose of allowing you to carry baby into the house without disturbing them, and it also acts as a roll bar should you be involved in a collision.

Why do you have to have one?

As previously mentioned, all babies, toddlers and children are required to use a suitable child restraint by law with few exceptions.  This is because they are not small adults and their bodies are still developing, if they used just the adult seat belt and were involved in a collision they would be at much higher risk of very serious and fatal injuries.  The seat belt is designed for adult use, not child use; therefore a child restraint is required.

You are not allowed to hold or carry a baby in the car either, if you were involved in a collision you would be unable to protect the baby – they must travel in a rear facing restraint.  If the baby needs nursing or comforting, find a safe place to pull over and then attend to the baby.

It is worth knowing that many hospitals will not let you take baby home unless you have a safe and suitable child restraint.

In a nut shell – we have an adult seat belt to keep us as safe as possible; a child needs a child restraint that is designed to do the same.

Why must babies rear face?

The main reason a baby, and even toddler must rear face is due to the size and weight of their head in relation to their neck and spine.  If a baby or toddler is involved in an impact when front facing they are thrown into the harness, which restrains them, but their head continues forward putting enormous strain on their neck and spine.  This can cause serious and fatal injuries to a child which would be avoided if they were rear facing.  When a child is rear facing they are cradled by the seat back, in an impact they are pushed into the back of the child seat and their head, neck and spine remain in line with much reduced forces on the child’s body, as the seat absorbs it all.

It is law for babies and toddlers to rear face until 9kg/20lbs, but they are far safer staying in the infant seat for as long as possible.

*Note: the law is changing in mid 2013 for babies to remain rear facing to 15 months*

What’s the issue with the front seat and the air bag?

Image

It is illegal to have a rear facing child seat fitted to a front seat that has an active air bag.  This is because when the airbag is deployed it can come out at up to 200mph, if that hit the back of your child’s car seat the consequences would be devastating.  If you want your child to be in the front with you then make sure the air bag is turned off, some cars have to go to the manufacturer; on others you can do it yourself.  You should also push the front seat back as far away from the dash board as possible, as when in the front seat the child is being put closer to the force of the impact.  It is also worth informing your insurance company that you are switching the airbag off to ensure it doesn’t affect your policy.

What is a base?  Do you have to use one?

In some vehicles the seat belts may be very short, meaning that there will not be enough seat belt to fit around an infant seat.  In this case you will need to use a seat with a base or a seat with a different routing system for the seat belt.

You don’t have to have a base for your infant seat but it is highly recommended if there is one available to fit your car.  A base will either attach to the ISOfix connector points in your car or it will be secured with the seat belt.  The base then remains in the car and you simply click the seat on and off the base as required.  They are also useful if you have more than one car in the family that the baby will be regularly travelling in.  You can have one base in parents’ car, one in the grandparents’ and all you have to do is swap the seat over.

Having a base pre fitted also hugely reduces the chance of incorrectly fitting your newborn baby’s seat.  Incorrect fitment is incredibly common and very dangerous.

What is ISOfix?

Image

ISOfix is an international standard of fitting child seats.  In most modern cars, and even some older cars, there are ‘D’ shaped hooks in the base of the back seats on either side (the middle seating position generally doesn’t have ISOfix) to find out if you have ISOfix, either put your hand in the join between the passenger seat base and the back and run your hand along it until you feel them, or check your manual.

ISOfix is considered safer than a seat belt fitted child seat as the risk of fitting the seat incorrectly is very small.  An ISOfix child seat is also quicker to fit, easier to fit and is attached to the chassis of the vehicle.

ISOfix seats also occasionally come with other safety features like an impact leg or a top tether.  These devices must be used, if supplied, as they reduce the rotational and forward movement of the child and the seat in an impact.

*please note: if you have a car with passenger floor storage boxes (some people carriers) You cannot use a seat with an impact leg, as the floor isn’t strong enough to support it in an impact*

What options are there for newborns?

Child seats are put into groups according to the weight of a child they can accommodate.  For newborns, the options are:

Group 0 = 0 – 10kg/22lbs

Group 0+ = 0 – 13kg/29lbs

Group 0+1 combination = 0 – 18kg/40lbs

You should always choose and use a child car seat based on your baby/child’s weight and height, not their age.

The 3 groups detailed are suitable from newborn, but they are all very different and can offer a parent different things.

GROUP 0 : newborn – 10kg/22lbs : outgrown at maximum weight or when baby is too long for seat

Image

PRO

  • Generally fits sideways, not rear facing (be aware that there are a few rear facing group 0 seats available, these only rear face to 10kg, always check the instructions of your seat to see the weight limit)
  • Excellent and highly recommended for tiny or preemie babies as these seats lie flat
  • As the seat lies flat there is no time constraint to how long baby can be in the seat
  • Can double up as a day bed
  • Healthiest position, keeps babies lungs open and spine in line
  • Offers 360̊ protection in an impact
  • Most can be used as part of a travel system, again with no constraint on time in seat as it is lie flat.
CON

  • Can be tricky to fit
  • Some seats are very heavy, so not really practical to carry baby around in.
  • Generally expensive and don’t last as long as other options
  • The seat take up 2 places in the car, making it difficult if you already have another child.

Group 0+ : newborn – 13kg : outgrown at 13kg or when baby’s head is level with top of seat

MANDP  britaxRF

A group 0+ with base, the Mamas and Papas Primo Viaggio (1st picture, 16 months)

A group 0+ without a base, Britax Babysafe (2nd picture, 17 months)

Many thanks to the mum and son for the pictures!

Group 0+1 combination will be looked at in more detail in the next blog!

PRO

  • Rear facing for maximum safety
  • Lasts longer than group 0
  • Baby can be carried around in seat
  • Easy to move between cars
  • Baby won’t be disturbed if sleeping
  • Side impact protection
  • Lots of seats can be used as part of a travel system
  • Many seats are compatible with a base
  • Cheaper than group 0
  • Lots of choice
CON

  • Baby can be ‘scrunched’ over in seats with no newborn inserts, which can cause breathing difficulties
  • Baby should spend as little time as possible in seat – oxygen desaturation can happen in as little as 30 minutes.  Too much time in a baby seat can also lead to other health problems
  • After a few months the baby and seat can get too heavy to carry around!

What to look out for when choosing your seat

  • Do you want your seat be used as part of a travel system?  Not all infant seats fit onto every pram, so check what fits and what doesn’t before you buy your pram and make sure you’re happy with the car seat choice.
  • Look out for seats with side impact protection.  Side impact testing is not currently required under current regulation so not every seat has it (due to change mid 2013).  Look out for seats that have passed independent crash testing such as the ‘Stiftung Warentest’ and ADAC.
  • Check if your car has ISOfix and what base options are available with the seats you are interested in.  Some bases fit the next stage seat too making better value for money.
  • Seats with newborn inserts – these are cushions that can be removed as your baby grows and make the car seat healthier and safer for small babies
  • Car seats with a tall back height will accommodate a taller baby to toddler and will last longer – making better value for money and more safety for your baby!
  • Make sure the chosen seat and/or base fits your car!

TOP TIPS FROM PARENTS:

  • Practice fitting the seat (and base) plenty of times before you need to use it for real!
  • When coming home from the hospital – if you want to drive really slowly, do it!  Your most precious cargo is in the car for the first time so it’s best to take it easy and not rush for anyone else – you won’t see them again!
  • If you can get a base for the seat – do it!  It’s a real help and gives you peace of mind that baby is safe.
  • A travel system is a great help when popping the shops so you don’t have to take the whole pram unit out with you.
  • Practice using your travel system before baby arrives, including collapsing the chassis and clipping the seat and pram unit to the chassis.  It’s also worth finding out how to adjust straps on the seat and pram before you’ll need to
  • A cosy toes for the winter is great, puffy snowsuits and clothing make the harness fit incorrectly
  • Take into account the weight of the actual seat – when you add a baby they are very heavy!
  • Don’t buy second hand unless you know 100% the history of the seat
  • A head hugger is essential for a newborn
  • Make sure the angle of the seat is right!  You don’t want baby too upright, some seats have a guide on them – otherwise its around a 45̊ angle
  • The straps should be level with or just below baby’s shoulders

Many thanks to the mums of Flintshire, Chester and Cheshire for taking the time to pass on these tips!

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New Year, New Blog schedule!

Happy New Year readers!  I hope you had a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year celebration!

 

I’ve been having a think about what to blog this year, that is going to be insightful, interesting, factual and might actually help someone!  So, I figured blogging about each stage child seat is probably going to be pretty helpful?

Jan 1: Group 0 and 0+

Jan 2: Group 0+1

Feb 1: Group 1

Feb 2: Group 1,2

Mar 1: Group 1,2,3

Mar 2: Group 2,3 and nasty booster cushions

I’ll also be throwing in a few other bits in between, but you can expect the above!  I hope you enjoy what’ll be coming up and please comment and share if you find something particularly useful!!!

 

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