The Car Seat Geek

I recently ran a car seat Q&A on my Facebook page.

The world of car seats is such a confusing place to be and in my experience it is also a world full of guilt. When we brought our daughters car seat we got the best our budget could stretch to but like many parents I always felt guilty I couldn’t get her the very best on the market.

Without doubt the safest option for most children is to be rear facing and thankfully they are much more affordable with a greater variety of seats available.

In this confusing world it is comforting to know there are people out there who can answer your questions. Louise aka The Car Seat Geek is one of these people – she started out working for Mamas and Papas where she learned about car seats and fitting them in a variety of cars. While she was on maternity leave with her second baby she started researching rear facing and returned to Mamas and Papas with this knowledge. Louise has now worked for Mamas and Papas for five years advising customers on car seat safety, fitting and training other members on staff on different brands and types of seat. Through her training sessions she met an expert from Good Egg Safety and now also works with them running fitting sessions and making sure car seats are properly fixed at clinics.

Safe to Louise knows what she is talking about!

Louise was kind enough to offer to answer some questions from my Facebook ‘likers’ and here are her responses for you.

I was just wondering how long is too long for a newborn baby to be sat in a car seat? We have a maxi cosi cabrio fix and so far have used it once on our buggy chassis for a stroll around town. If we’re at home we only use his carrycot but it’s not practical when we’re out as it doesn’t fit in my car. I worry about the length of time he is in the car seat for. What’s the recommended time? Thank you

Louise says –

The maximum amount of time a newborn should be in a car seat is 90 mins. Studies conducted show that, among other things,  oxygen desaturation is apparent after just one hour in a car seat. This website talks more about using car seats safely and I’ve linked to a report on a study too: http://babybwell.co.uk/infant-car-seat-safety/
When moving a baby from an infant (newborn car seat) to the next stage, which is more important, height or weight?

My daughter is 14 months and still comfortably fits in her newborn seat, but she’s the right weight to go into her next stage up?

Louise says –

Height and weight are equally important.  Your infant carrier should have an orange sticker on it (normally underneath) which will tell you the weight limit.  Most are a group 0+ with a weight limit of 13kg,  but there are still some group 0, 10kg seats around. They are outgrown by height when the top of the head is level with the top of the seat.  Make sure any removable inserts are taken out and baby is sat with their bottom against the crotch strap for correct positioning. You should use the seat until its maximum height / weight limit (whichever comes first ) before moving to the next stage.  The safest option for the next stage would be an extended rear-facing seat as it’s much safer than forward facing. You can read up on rear-facing and why it’s safer at www.rearfacing.co.uk and www.securatot.co.uk. There are some rather eye-opening crash test videos on YouTube too.

We ERF our 2.5 yr old in a cybex sirona and have no plans to turn him round yet. We wouldn’t be able to safely fit the same seat behind the driver’s seat because of dh’s long legs. Are there any ERF seats suitable for smaller cars with less leg room that would take up less space behind the driver’s seat. We’re in a Clio sport tourer and expecting DC2 later on this year. Thanks!

Louise says –

The cybex sirona is one of the most compact seats available. You can look at the axkid minikid too.  It’s a belted, rear-facing only seat that harnesses to 25kg and has passed the swedish plus test. It can be installed with less legroom and is allowed to touch the front seat gently which can save space. Your eldest could move into the minikid and youngest use the sirona. Alternatively,  turn off your airbag and put one in the front (would have to be the minikid if no isofix in front). I actually have these seats in a Renault modus which is similar to a Clio. You can get a bit more legroom in the front by making the back rest a bit more upright too

Is there a light weight/portable car seat my 5 yr old and 7 yr old daughters could use on a coach when going on school trips? Are lap belts in coaches safe? Is it ok for a child to sit in a seat in a coach with a three point seat belt which is not height adjustable, without a car seat ie the seat belt therefore cuts across their neck. I am worried about the safety of my children when they are on school trips but a told by the school that local authority approved coach operators are used.

Louise says –

This is a link to the law regarding coach travel :
https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/when-a-child-can-travel-without-a-car-seat Unfortunately, children can be on a coach without a seat belt or car seat. That doesn’t mean that it is safe 😦 Seat belts are made for adults, not children. Many coaches just have lap belts and there are no booster seats that can be used with them. The britax eclipse can be fitted with a lap belt, but it’s a group 1 seat so your children are most likely too big for it now. If the coach does have 3 point seat belts then I would ask to use a booster. Obviously a high back booster would be best ( the britax adventure is quite slim), but if that isn’t practical then a booster cushion like the bubble bum or the trunki boosterpak are portable.
When do the new rules on extended rear facing come in?
Louise says –
They are already here, but it only affects you if you have/will buy an ” isize ” seat.  I have written a long post on my page about it,  but basically we have 2 car seat regulations running side by side at the moment. The new one requires mandatory rear – facing travel to 15 months whereas the older one has a minimum weight of 9kg for forward facing. Car seat companies can currently approve their seats to one regulation or the other. If unsure which seat you have,  the orange sticker will say either R44/04 (old reg) or R129 (new reg). Experts recommend rear-facing to at least 4 years old
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I’d like to thank Louise for taking the time to answer our questions and to everyone for taking part in the Q&A. If you have any other questions you’d like Louise to answer she’d welcome you contacting her through her Facebook page.
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