It absolutely boggles my mind that with the wealth of support available and the body of work that has been done on child passenger safety, that parents are still putting their child’s lives at risk every time they pop them in their automobile.
I often see tiny humans wobbling about in ill-fitting car seats; parents unaware of the dangers of their child’s seat not reaching minimum standards, whizzing past and it turns my stomach. I don’t know whether it is because I have come face to face with human mortality that I am now a stickler for health and safety and making sure any baby product protects my Little Bea, and I make sure to ask the right questions to get the answers that matter!
We are only parents all trying to do the best for our children! We are not experts and policy and guidelines are frequently changing with best practice improving and sadly information gleamed from the statistics we are ignorant to (that involve children’s death.)
Are we doing enough as a Nation to take Car Seat Safety seriously enough? Are we failing our children when we are not getting the most basic safety credentials correct in the first place? The way I see it, I wouldn’t trust a stranger to care for Bea in the manner of which my Husband, close family and I do. Putting your child in a car seat with a history that you don’t know about is essentially the same. With more seats being purchased second-hand online there has been, and will likely be again an increase in serious injury and child deaths on Britain’s roads… all because a large majority of car seats in use are not fit for purpose because they are incorrectly fitted, are not suitable for size and weight of the child or not meant for a particular make/model of the car.
Parents/Grandparents want the best for their children/grandchildren and that should extend to outside the home and on the road more specifically. With such a plethora of designs and makes available it is no wonder that we can be bamboozled by car seats. One basic requirement should be ISOFIX child seat securing points which have come as standard with newer cars for a long time now. This means that the seat is bolted into the frame of the car and is not entirely dependent on the adult seatbelt’s tightness around it. This provides stability essentially from the ground up! ISOFIX is always the safest starting point.
I was internally screaming just the other week when I saw a little girl (who must have been no older than 9 months old) being strapped into a forward facing seat! Babies should be rear facing (legally) for 15 months then it is recommended to remain rear facing if possible until 4 years old. Obviously this may not be practical for every family, but for a year and a quarter our children should be rear facing because this offers maximum protection against the most dangerous types of collisions!
We are using a combination seat for Bea- the Joie EveryStage Car Seat as it is suitable from birth to 12 years old so is a real investment piece. In all honesty when we were bringing home our tiny 5 pounder even the adjustable padding didn’t quite cut it for a teenie-tiny baby, but it has grown well with her and easy to adapt to her growing body. It has won several Parents Choice Gold Awards and is a name I trust in the baby arena.
Children are safest staying in the lower stage seat for as long as possible. Though it sounds extremely obvious seats may be fitted correctly but if the child isn’t strapped in safely, then they will not be adequately protected. The harness will not fit correctly if the child remains in puffy coats/extra layers. The straps must be levels with the child’s shoulders and tightened to allow for just one finger distance between the child and the harness at collar bone level.
I think it is essential that parents & grandparents practice installing the car seat multiple times, and get an idea of best practice for getting their little one in the car first and foremost safely and happily. Nannie H used a YouTube video created by the car seat manufacturer to learn how to install the seat and we sat in my living room putting Bea in the seat in the middle of the floor (the seat that she has does not have an ISOFIX base and her ancient vehicle doesn’t have the ISOFIX compatibility!!) – but she would not even think about putting her precious granddaughter in the car without knowing exactly how the seat worked and that it was the safest it could be as let manufacturing guidelines and the law.
Here are some questions you should be asking yourself whilst shopping for your car seat (a handy Which? Guide) and don’t be afraid to ask for a demo in store because the car seat needs to make sense to you.
Car seat Safety is a very important aspect of your little ones every day life so it is paramount that you get it RIGHT. It is a matter of life and death! There needs to be a much more intense focus on it as statistics have historically been grim and have made my toes curl! It is not a sexy topic, but it is something I have become very passionate about. Having had my own child I am much more aware of the world around me and will do anything to ensure the highest quality of care for our little Bea.
There is a wealth of information out there and laws are put into place for a reason. So I say if we know better (from reports, tests, compiled research around a topic) we owe it to our children to do better and use that information!
#StaySweet (& Safe!)
– Bea’s Mummy x