By now, everyone ever in the whole wide world has seen the footage of Prince William carry his one day old baby boy to the car, plug him into his extra secure iso-fix base, and drive off to start their time as a family at home.

Lots of people remarked about how nice and ‘normal’ it was that William did it all himself, rather than using a royal aide for car-seat-carrying and driving duties. Some of us also noticed that William and Kate had made the classic new parent mistake of incorrectly strapping little Prince George into his car seat.

prince george car seat

The straps are loose and the muslin blanket is preventing his arms from actually being held in by the harness. Mamma Two blogged about this yesterday, and the press have also picked up on it. (Although ignore the speculation about the car seat handle in that second link. Always refer to your own car seat manual, but with the Britax seat, the handle should be up when driving).

Blankets should never be wrapped around a baby in a car seat. To minimise the impact of a crash, the straps need to be flush against a baby’s body – this is also why bulky clothing should never be worn in car seats either. Put blankets over the top once your baby is strapped in, and put jackets, jumpers, etc on once your baby is out of the car seat.

We made a similar mistake when leaving hospital with Arlo. I put him in the car seat in a massive pramsuit – another huge no no.

IMG00312-20101016-1608

As a general rule, the more snug the harness is against your baby’s body, the safer they will be.

I don’t know why car seat safety is not as nearly as well known as other aspects of infant safety. Everyone is told about the putting babies on their backs to sleep and having their feet at the bottom of the cot, but not every new parent has been told about not using coats or bulky pram suits in the car seat. Car seat safety should be something that every parent has been briefed on before their baby arrives, not something we realise three months down the line. It shouldn’t be a ‘classic new parent mistake’.

The good news is that little Prince George will be part of the first generation to use car seats made under the new, safer, car seat rules. Once he grows out of his Britax group 0 seat, he will likely go into a i-Size car seat designed to rear face until at least 15 months of age.

The key changes to the current car seat regulations are:

.          iSize will make rearward facing travelling mandatory for children up to 15 months

·         It will require ISOFIX only seats and the introduction of a side impact test

 

·         iSize will make it easier for parents to choose and install the right child seat and it will make travelling for children even safer

i-Size regulations will exist alongside the existing regulations until approximately 2018, when i-Size will become compulsory. So you don’t need to rush out and replace all your car seats now, but if you are buying a new one soon, it would be worth getting one which complies with the i-Size rules.

As I’ve written about before, we have the Britax Two Way Elite extended rear facing seat for Arlo. But it’s a non-isofix seat, so the i-size rules mean that when Rory grows out of his group 0 seat, we are probably better off looking for other extended rear facing options.

In fact, if our dinosaur of a car still exists by 2018, it looks like we will need a whole new car when these rules come in as our 1999 ford focus does not have iso-fix points. (Although I’m not yet sure if the iso-fix rule will apply to seats for children over 15 months old, which Rory will be by that point, so the new rules may only apply if we have more children down the line).

It may seem like an inconvenience for us to have to think about changing our seats that we bought designed to last until 6 years of age, and to possibly even have to replace our car. But I was actually really pleased to hear about the new i-Size regulations.

It means that more parents will learn about the benefits of rear facing for longer.

It means the UK’s safety experts are finally making moves to catch up with the US and Sweden with regards to car seat safety (who recommend children stay rear facing until 2 years old and 5 years old, respectively).

It means more choice of car seats for those who choose to rear face for longer (If, as I’m assuming, car seat manufacturers make their rear facing -size seats suitable beyond 15 months in the interest of longevity).

It means more major retailers stocking and fitting rear facing seats (availability up until now has been shockingly poor, with most people ordering from Scandinavian suppliers and fitting themselves, as we did with our seat).

A lot more could be done to publicise the benefits of extended rear facing, and infant car safety in general, but i-Size seems to be a step in the right direction.

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I am very pleased to be a Britax Mumbassador, and as part of the ambassador program, Britax have kept me updated with the new rules surrounding car seat safety. I am not, however, obliged to write this post as part of my role, and I have not been compensated. It’s just a topic that I tend to write about from time to time.

6 comments

  1. Ooo… Not sure if I should really comment, as car seats are something that really gets me going. I don’t understand why there isn’t more straightforward information made readily available to new parents when it’s so, so important. I also don’t understand how people can prioritise an expensive and fancy pram and then say that many good, and especially ERF, seats are “too expensive”. A pram isn’t a piece of safety equipment and anything that lies properly flat will work for a new baby. I’m also one of these people who hates the rush to turn children forward facing as if it’s a milestone like learning to walk. I feel like saying “your child is not “better” or more advanced than mine because of how they sit in a car!”

    My only concern about I-size is that it seems a bit over complicated, with even those in the industry not being totally clear on what the full standard will entail. But I agree that more awareness, and hopefully more availability of rear facing seat, is a good thing.

    By the way – it occurred to me later after you asked on twitter about non-Isofix ERF seats, and I’ve just remembered now – did you know that you can retro-fit Isofix anchors? Ford sell the parts for I think about £20-25 (although don’t quote me, I’ve seen it mentioned on forums). The holes are usually in the chassis of the car, so you just need to screw the anchors in. You can also get it done for you by a Ford dealer, so may be an option to look in to if you can find a seat which suits you but requires Isofix.

    Sorry for the mega-comment!

  2. While I am in favour of increased car safety, two issues concern me. My youngest (kept rearfacing until 13 months) gets travel sick and screams when rearfacing – which is extremely distracting. The other issue is Isofix, and, more to the point, cost. We have two vehicles, and so have four carseats. If we were ever to have a third child I could be faced with spending a huge amount of money on car seats rather than the cheaper options that we used. Before anyone leaps down my throat, I insist that both children are in HBB, and will NEVER be in a booster, as I don’t feel they are as safe. Many of my 6 year old’s friends are not in car seats at all. And there is the issue. No matter what the law is, or what the guidelines say, some parents will simply ignore them.

    Am I right in thinking that these new seats have yet to be launched by the way?

    1. I think that some seats are available now (Britax certainly have a few I-safe compliant seats), and more will become available over the next year or so. I’m not sure whether the rules for over 15month olds will be changing at all – I’d love to know if iso-fix will be required above 15 months.

  3. Oh really? No, I did not know that about retro-fitting iso-fix. That could definitely be an option. Sam loves a DIY task.

    I guess the phasing in of I-size over the next few years is designed to let everyone (including the experts) get their heads around the changes.

    I really think the complaints about ERF being too expensive/unnecessary will lessen if rear facing gets support from the major retailers. It IS daunting to go for a car seat option that you can’t easily try out in a shop or get fitted for you, and that (probably) no one else in your social circles has bought so you can’t have a look at theirs. I don’t know anyone else (in real life) with a Two Way Elite.

  4. I had a slight panic when I saw the swaddled baby prince completely unrestrained in his car seat too. We are extended rear facers, it was such a PITA to order a car seat without even being able to see it in person (we live in Scotland) but to me there was no contest after reading up on ERF online. My oldest son is 4 now and I was convinced that within a year or two RFing would be the norm but alas no.

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