Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with a car seat safety expert? You can catch up on everything here…
Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, car seat safety expert Damon Marriott was on standby to answer questions.
Damon has 18 years experience in the nursery industry and specialises in child safety. He’s currently Joie’s National Sales Trainer and Service Centre Manager and is responsible for the brand’s national product training demonstrations.
If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…
My friend's offered to sell me her old car seat as she doesn't need it anymore. Is that OK or should you always get one from new?
Damon: Second hand car seats are fine providing you know the history, ensuring it hasn't been in an accident or suffered damage in another way, as you are trusting your child's life with the seat. So, if it’s from a friend or relative then this should be OK.
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What you need to check is the age of the seat as most plastic shells have a shelf life of between five and 10 years, the seat will have a date of manufacture on it to help identify the age, check nothing is missing and if possible obtain a set of the instructions to ensure your friend/relative has been fitting it correctly.
Are there any travel car seats you can recommend so that my child can safely travel in someone else's car?
Damon: All child seats can be easily transferred from one car to another, for most this takes around 30 seconds, so we would recommend using your usual safety seat as familiarity in fitting is essential.
READ: BEST SAFETY PRODUCT – THE MOTHER&BABY AWARDS SHORTLIST
If you use ISOFIX and a friend's car hasn't this fixing then there are many well made and easy to fit seat belt seats that offer good value like the Joie Stages that covers from birth to seven years for around 50p a month – great value without compromising the safety.
What age can my child leave their car seat and move onto a booster seat? Or is it done more on weight - do they have to be a certain weight?
Damon: The current minimum requirements to start using a booster seat is 15kg, however we want to maximise the child seat use for as long as possible and as close to the maximum of that seat which is currently either 18kg or 105cm.
When choosing the booster ensure we look for those that offer side impact protection via a highback, and don't move onto a booster cushion until a child is much older as these don't guide the diagonal belt correctly or offer any protection should a side impact occur.
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Is it ever ok to put a car seat in front seat, so long as you've turned off the air bag? I've seen other people do this and I know my baby would be happier next to me and also it would be safer passing her toys and snacks than stretching round.
Damon: The front seat can be legally used providing the airbag is turned off, but I would always try to use the rear seats as it’s less distracting and potentially further away from the most common point of impact should a collision occur.
READ: 10 THINGS THAT USUALLY HAPPEN DURING A CAR JOURNEY WITH KIDS
Attach toys in the rear onto the seat or near so your child can reach them himself, rather then you.
Now my baby's eating solids his car seat's filthy. I just can't get it clean – how can I make sure it's hygienic?
Damon: Most covers can be fully removed for cleaning but if the food gets inside the workings of the seat or the straps need cleaning then removing the seat from the car and plenty of warm water with a mild detergent may be necessary, check the user manual for cleaning instructions too.
How do you know a car seat's properly fitted? We're ready for a trial run but not sure what to look for.
Damon: If the seat is ISOFIX then you need to check that the indicators are showing green on the seat.
If you’re using a seat belt fixing, then the primary source of incorrect fitting is tightness. One of the easiest ways to check if it’s tight enough is if the belt is tight enough – test this by flicking it and waiting to see if it produces a noise.
You also need to ensure that the belt is routed as per the illustrations on the side of the seat. If unsure then seek expert advice from a local retailer or local road safety department.
My baby hate's reverse facing position and it's really distracting when I'm driving. She's eight months – should I turn her forward facing or how can I make her like it more?
Damon: You need to keep her rear facing for as long as possible and at such a young age she won’t be strong enough to face forwards yet. The minimum legal requirement at the moment is 9kg, around nine months, but this is changing to a minimum age of 15 months in a few years.
READ: PROTESTS OVER PRINCE GEORGE’S CAR SEAT IN NEW ZEALAND
This new law reflects the huge benefit that rear facing offers should the unexpected occur as facing backwards reduces the load on the child's neck due the size/weight of the head in proportion to the body at a young age.
My car doesn't have ISOFIX but I'd like to use it. Is the only way to get a new car?
Damon: In some cases the ISOFIX fixings can be retro fitted but not with all vehicles, you will need to check with your car manufacturer.
All new cars have ISOFIX fitted as standard now but many from as early as 1997 have it fitted or have the capability to have it retro fitted.