Whether you’re driving at home or abroad, it’s important to make sure that your child is safely secured in their travel seat. However a lot of parents aren’t aware of the proper safety checks that need to be carried out, plus it can be really easy to overlook or forget to check the little details that can make all the difference to your child’s safety- so what should you be checking before you set off?
Are you travelling legally?
It’s really important to make sure that you’re aware of the latest rules and restrictions regarding car seat laws and young children.
You can find all the key information about car seat laws in the UK here: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/using-a-child-car-seat-or-booster-seat
Are you using the right child seat?
It’s important to be sure that you’re using the right kind of car seat for your child. Use this excellent SEAT GUIDE SELECTOR to find the right option for your family. Also keep in mind that your seat will need to be compatible with your brand of car. You can usually find this information online, such as on the ISOFIX manufacturer’s website. Avoid using second hand car seats unless you know their history- particularly make sure that they haven’t been used in a crash before or recalled since their original sale.
Is your child sat in the right place?
The child seat should be flat and even on the normal car seat itself, without lifting or peaking in any way. Make sure you check your car seat instructions to ensure that the head rest is in the right place, whether this means removing it completely or attaching it securely.
Try and resist tipping your baby’s seat too far back as it can leave a big gap under the seat, reducing its ability to protect your little one.
Is the harness secure?
It might seem like an obvious one, but double check that the harness is secure. You’d don’t want any escapees, or any risk that your child might get injured! Check that-
- The belt isn’t twisted
- If your seat faces forwards, when you pull the belt it doesn’t move
- If your seat faces backwards and you push down on the space where baby’s head goes, it doesn’t move
Also keep in mind that bulky clothing like coats or jumpers can reduce the effectiveness of the harness, so take these off before you strap your little one in.
Is the seatbelt set up correctly?
The seatbelt should be secure and should be fitted into the coloured guides (red for forward-facing, blue for backward-facing) plus the seatbelt buckle must not stretch around the car seat as this could cause it pop open if you have an accident. Instead, make sure only the seatbelt is stretched around the car seat.
Have you double checked the extra details?
Make sure you read your manual carefully, to double check that you understand how the seat is designed to work. For example, if your car seat faces backwards (not facing the front window) then check with your seat’s instructions which way the handlebar should face. For rear-facing seats the handlebar will usually need to be upright or all the way back, to offer protection in case the vehicle ever flips over, so make sure this is in place before you set off.
Is the safety harness positioned correctly for your child’s age?
- If your child in a car seat is slightly older: the seatbelt should stretch across the hips (not the stomach) and sit on their shoulders (not on their neck or their arm).
- If you have a young child in a car seat: the harness should be tight enough to hold them in place but not so tight that it restricts them, make sure you can fit one- two fingers under the harness by the child’s collarbone. Additionally, make sure the shoulder pads are positioned correctly and are not greatly dropping or lifting. They should be as level as possible, but may be slightly raised above the shoulders for front facing seats, and dip below the shoulders for rear facing seats.
There are many more additional car saftey tips available online: do your research and be sure that your seat is absoloutely safe and secure before you travel!
Still not sure?
Good Egg Car Safety shockingly discovered that only 29% of the car seats they checked in 2015 were fitted correctly. Visit one of their special car safety events to make sure that yours is safe and secure. Some things are not worth risking! Find the full list of events here: http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/ukincar/incar/car_clinics/ alternatively, seek advice from a qualified child seat safety inspector, to double check everything is as it should be.
Other blogs you might like:
Visit www.totstotravel.co.uk to see what baby and toddler friendly options we can offer your family!
Tots to Travel offer baby friendly holidays and child friendly holidays both in the UK and abroad. Our range includes child friendly villas, including perfect villas for kids, baby friendly cottages, baby friendly villas and more…