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How To Fit Your Child Car Seat Correctly

Baby / Child Seat Fitting Guide

Ok, so you've chosen the correct car seat for your child based on their weight and age, now its time to put it in your car.

First remember that rearward facing seats must not be placed in the front seat of any car with air-bags, even if they are switched off or disabled. Air-bags contain explosives and any high impact can set the off, whether they are connected or not.

This article is a general guide to fitting baby seats, but you must consult the instructions that came with your seat. Most child seats also have fitting guides stuck to the sides, as stickers, and it is always best to buy from a retailer that will show you how to fit the seat anyway.

To start with, inspect the interior of the car. Remove any objects that could fly about in the event of an accident. Even apparently light objects, like tissue boxes, become deadly missiles in a serious crash. Clear your parcel shelf of everything, and imagine what would happen if your car rolled over. Which objects aren't secured? They would rattle around the inside of the car, hazards for eyes and small bodies. Take no risks!

Next is the head rest. Most child or baby seats require these to be removed for correct fitting, and store it in a plastic bag in the boot, not in the passenger foot-well.

Now we have to check if your seat-belts are ok. Slowly pull out the whole belt, checking for tears, rips, or any sort of damages. Now try pulling sharply on the belt. It should lock immediately. If there is any damage to your seat belts, or they don't lock straight away, consult your car dealer to have them replaced.

Now reread the instructions that tell you how to fit your baby seat. Look at the points where the seat belt passes through. If you're fitting the seat in to the rear of the car, move the front seat forward to give you more room. If you're fitting it in the front, move the front seat back to make more room there.

Place the child seat into the car. Most seats will have to be in the recline position for you to pass the belts through, but then you may have to return it to upright for a proper fit.

Now according to the instructions secure the car baby seat with the seat belt. Once it's in place, use any tensioner if the seat has one, or push the child seat back into the car seat and pull the excess belt through. Now take a look at the buckle. It should be clear of the "edge" where the belt holds the baby seat down. If the buckle is holding the seat down, that is a wrong fit. You may be able to try an alternative routing, or a different seat.

Now to test if the seat is in ok, fix the harness buckle and grasp the straps. You're going to give it 2 sharp tugs towards the front of the car. No movement (or just a few mm)? Great. It's in ok. If the seat starts to turn to one side, or tips forward, that seat is not suitable for your car, so try a different one.

Now we've got to place your child in the seat to see if the straps are at the right height for its shoulders. Consult the seat documentation for instructions on how to change the integral harness. Now we can tighten the harness, keeping two fingers between the harness and the baby / child. The harness should be secure, but the child must be able to breathe!

Remember, you should check the fitting of your child-seat before every journey, better safe than sorry!

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