Sunday, June 30, 2013

Green Cross Code

It’s Child Safety Week this week and I thought a piece on the Green Cross Code would be useful for you all. Obviously it is important to teach children to think for themselves and to make decisions on their own for their own safety, but when do you start teaching them all about it?

So the major safety concern for babies is carseat safety, i.e. is it the right one for the baby, is it the right one for the car, is it the right one for the use it is intended for? Are they comfortable in it? Is car travel a happy experience for them? Does the car seat fit properly in the car? Is it being checked before each and every journey? Is the airbag turned off if the seat is in the front? Do you know the history of the seat? (second-hand seats can be dangerous because you don’t know what has happened to them previously). Also, in both car seats and pushchairs, it is much safer to use a 5-point harness as they distribute pressure across more points on the body. Ensure that any second-hand pushchair is hygienic, in full working order and importantly, safe.

As soon as they reach toddlerhood, and mobile (!) it is ever more important to keep them secure while in the car and secure while on the move. They are more liable to wriggle out of any restraint, so ensure that it is tight enough (2-finger test) and that it is in the right position for their height and weight. Keep them entertained with play trays or books, or music. In terms of walking about, hold their hand a lot, and talk to them about the rules of the road as you go. Don’t expect them to remember them just yet though, as the new sights and sounds are far too distracting!

Once they reach 5 years of age, they will now be using a booster seat in the car, and the adult seat belt is definitely easier to escape from than a 5-point harness. It is now that you should start actively teaching them about the Green Cross Code, and advice is to begin this by setting a good example, and explaining why you are doing particular things. For example, crossing the road. And it is from now on, especially up to at least 9 years of age, when they can better judge speed and distance when using the road that you as a parent has the major role to play in their learning and understanding. Naturally, they will be taught to a degree at school about bicycle rules, cycling proficiency, and other similar things as well.

See this website for more information: and

Some products to keep them entertained during boring car journeys:

Soft Safari Book,default,pd.html)
Giraffe Rattle and Jiggle,default,pd.html)
Tiny Love Travel Wonder Wheel Farm,default,pd.html)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do you know what you are buying?

Increasing evidence shows that the number of counterfeit seats and non-regulation seats are appearing on the market and unsuspecting parents are unwittingly buying into the ‘bargain’, unaware that they are putting their child’s life at risk.

The European Crash Test Standard for child restraints was introduced in 1982 and the orange label affixed to all car seats (actually a certificate) will have ECE RR 44 on it. Currently, the standard is 44/04 and any seats made before 1995 (44/01 and 44/02) are now illegal to use as they are not safe enough.

All car seats sold in the UK must meet EU regulation 44/04. This ensures that the seat is tested under crash conditions and is found to be reliable i.e. it doesn't just fall apart under impact, and that it does its job. Each
seat which passes this is awarded an orange sticker notifying the consumer that it is indeed ‘crash-ready’.

Explanation of the ECE-label 

  1. Indicates for which category the child seat has been approved. 
  2. Indicates for which Group by weight the seat is approved.
  3. "Y" shows that this child seat has a 5-point harness system with crotch strap 
  4. European Approval indicator 
  5. Indicates the country in which the approval was obtained (1=Germany, 2=France, 3=Italy, 4=the Netherlands etc.) 
  6. Approval number. The first two numbers show to which version ECE R 44 the child seat has been approved in this case ECE R 44/04.
  7. Is the ‘control’ number allocated to a specific seat. 


Many counterfeit seats and cheaper budget seats may not meet the safety requirements as deemed by law and thus do not have a certificate. Some counterfeit seats may also have older labels or ones which do not make any sense due to also being fake. When buying a seat, you should always make sure that there is a certificate on it.

Another indicator which can show the seat not being ‘real’ is that the user guide or instructions are in poor English, or there is hardly any English on them at all. This would suggest that the car seat was not made for the UK market and has simply been imported. A seat like this would not meet the high safety standards here in the UK and so would not only be illegal but could even add risk.

This video from the TRL shows what happens to a fake car seat in a crash test.

The same applies to second- hand seats. There is risk in buying a seat like this because you don’t know the history, i.e. has it been involved in an accident, but also because little fingers have a habit of picking and peeling labels off. How could you be sure that a car seat without labels had them to start with?

My advice would, as always, do your research into the seat itself and choose it on its merits and whether it is safe for your child. Don’t be drawn in by cheap, bargain seats. Choose from a reputable manufacturer and have it fitted to ensure complete safety.

More Information

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Combination seats (Group 0+-1)

Britax First Class Combination car seat
These are perfect for if you don’t need to have your baby seat portable, as they are car-based, i.e. they are left in the vehicle the whole time. They are bulkier than infant carriers, but this is because they are a combination of an infant carriers and a stage 1 seat (which are suitable up to 18kg or roughly 4 years old). They can be fitted into a vehicle both rearward facing and forward facing.
They can also be the best choice for longer or heavier babies as they are designed to cater for the older child, and so are that much bigger. If a child has outgrown an infant carrier (their head is coming over the top of the seat) but is not yet heavy enough to  be restrained by a forward facing seat (a stage 1) then a combination is perfect because they can be rearward facing in a larger seat.

Another important point to consider is that a combination seat has to fit in the car in both positions that it is going to used in. There is no point in only testing in the rearward position if you are going to use it in the forward facing position in a couple of months time. You need to be sure that it is safe in both. Due to their size, they are not really suitable for small cars! There must be a gap between the car seat and the seat in front, to allow for the seat belt to do its work, rather than jamming the car seat in-between the two car seats. 
They can also be useful if you have other car seats in the car. As they stay in the car, you do not have to re-route the seat every time, rather just take the child in and out. The seat should always be checked every journey though to ensure the seat is still in tight. So if you have three car seats across the rear bench, they can be arranged in such a fashion so that it is easier for an elder child to be restrained in the centre seat rather than you having to refit an infant carrier in the seat next to them for every journey.

A combination seat is also great if you want to save some money. A lot of people will opt for buying an infant carrier to fit onto their pushchair, and then 9 or so months later buy their Stage 1 seat. Both of these, obviously depending on the brand and also the fit in the car, can potentially cost £100-£150 upwards each. On the other hand, combination seats will cover both of these jobs for roughly £150.
The best and most versatile example of a combination seat is that of the Britax First Class, which I will be reviewing in a later post.

Hope this has been helpful for you, and if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Law Behind Car Seats

Under UK law, the requirement is that all children under 135cm tall or less than 12 years old must travel in an appropriate child restraint, and after this they may use just the adult seat belt. This came into force in September 2006 and has been a step forward in ensuring that children are protected for as long as possible.

There are only 3 exceptions to when a child under 12 does not have to be in a car seat, but would still have to use the adult seat belt instead. These are;

  1. if there are already 2 car seats fitted into the back of a car and it is not possible to fit a 3rd, 
  2. in a private hire vehicle, and 
  3. if the child is travelling a short distance of unexpected necessity. However, these occasions should be rare and it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure that every child they are transporting is suitably restrained. 
One of the more common situations is that of the first instance, and even most people carrier style vehicles can not fit three stage 1 seats across the rear bench. However, with a little research and a lot of fit testing with multiple styles and brand of seats, a compromise can be achieved without risking the safety of an elder child.
As for the second instance, some private hire car companies can provide a booster seat for an elder child if pre-booked or specifically requested, as again, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that a child in their car is suitably restrained.
As for the third, I am a strict believer that there is no journey that could ever be safe enough to mean that a child under the limits mentioned could travel without an appropriate restraint. A lot of parents came to me with ‘but it’s only for the school run which is 5 minutes long’. A car accident happens in a lot less than 5 minutes, perhaps more like 5 seconds.
The law with regards to children younger than 3 years old is much stricter as one would expect. The main advice is that children should be rear-facing for as long as possible. Also, it is illegal for children to travel rearward facing in the front seat with an active air-bag  In any case, the APPROPRIATE child restraint for the child’s weight, height and age should be used.
Obviously, as this is law, there are penalties in place for people who break the law, most likely fines. If you are carrying other peoples’ children then there is potential for civil proceedings.

If you would like any further information on this subject, then ROSPA have many useful videos about car seats safety and also other aspects of safety including in the home and on the road.
This PDF summarises the new law too, as does this FAQs from the BBC.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Idea behind the Blog

While working for a reputable child-related business, I came to the conclusion that there are not many places that concerned or confused parents can go to research, investigate and simply ask questions about car seats and other related safety products. I thought this was pretty strange as this is exactly the area where one might need advice due to the astonishing amount of products available and conflicting advice presented. The idea behind Car Seat Clinic is that there is a place where parents and guardians can ask those questions and clear up any queries (hopefully!). I aim to offer advice and information on products, services and ideas in the industry so that this blog becomes the first port of call when beginning to look into car safety. Please bear in mind though that this is only advice and that I can not be held liable for your own actions in relation to this advice.

As the blog develops I would also like to integrate mystery shops and product reviews, especially so that the service is tried and tested. It is often easy to buy something, but then regret it if you read a bad review afterwards because not enough research was done or that particular information wasn’t available at the time.
Please let me know if there is anything that you might want to know about specifically, a new product you would like to know about, or a particular question you would like answered. Car-seat and safety related obviously!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Welcome to our new blog which has been set up to help confused parents and grandparents resolve issues and confusion around the use and fitting of carseats in the UK. As a Britax trained fitter, I know too well about the problems which can arise when faced with the decision of 'which car seat should I buy' and that it can be a unnecessarily stressful and emotional experience when all you want is the best solution for you and the safety of your child.
I will do my best to post regularly and provide any hints and tips, but feel free to ask any questions via email, comment on the blogs in question, or contact us via our twitter feed.
Hope you find it helpful!