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Car seat fo3.5 year old? Bit confused!

(6 Posts)
solomonrulesok Sat 17-Jun-17 13:17:06

Currently my 3.5 year old is in backward facing maxi cosi 2 way pearl. Also have 14 month old in recaro baby car seat. Both growing out of them so wondering next step. We were going to move baby into 2-way pearl, should be fine now right? So what about my 3.5 year old? Is it a 1,2,3 car seat group I want? (He's about average size maybe slightly smaller but chunky!) and not 2,3?
If I've got this right any recommendations?

OP’s posts: |
BertieBotts Sat 17-Jun-17 13:46:02

No I wouldn't get a standard 1/2/3 seat for a chunky 3.5 year old, he will be too big for the harness part within months making that extra expense totally pointless. You'll be left with a 2/3 (high back booster), in which case you might as well just buy a high backed booster!

You need to decide whether you want him still harnessed, if you do, you're looking for a forward facing harnessed group 2 seat. Whether it covers other groups too is irrelevant, you're just looking for something which harnesses to 25kg or the end of Group 2. This won't be isofix because isofix for internally harnessed seats only works up to 18kg (end of group 1/average 4 year old). Some harnessed Group 2 seats also offer rear facing.

If you don't want a harnessed group 2 seat then you could look at a good high backed booster. Personally this is what I'd do along with keeping the current arrangement until one or both children definitely outgrow their seats. You will find information online about how longer harnessing is better but I don't find it convincing. I'm not a fan of forward facing harnessed seats and I think that a booster with good side impact protection and providing the seatbelt fits the child well is just as safe and it has benefits too like more freedom of movement for the child meaning they are less likely to try to escape. However for a wriggly or immature child they can be unhelpful as it is obviously very easy for them to move out of the seatbelt, or even undo the seatbelt if they wanted to.

If you decide to go for a HBB I'd look at:

- Seat where the movement of the seatbelt isn't restricted when the child is strapped in so when they lean forwards and then sit back, the seatbelt comes back with them and tightens into place rather than remaining loose. (Sometimes the shoulder guards are too tight IME, or padding around them restricts free movement of the belt).

- Where your child's knees bend. If they don't bend at the edge of the seat, children can tend to wriggle their bottoms forward in the seat in order to bend their knees over the corner which is more comfortable, this moves the seatbelt to unsafe placement on the rest of their body which can cause terrible injuries in a crash. High backed boosters are normally better for avoiding this than cushion boosters or the seatbelt alone. If you can't avoid it in any seat, providing a foot rest such as a cardboard box avoids the problem until they grow.

- Check that the seatbelt crosses their collarbone and lies flat across their thighs rather than over the soft tissue on the abdomen.

- Isofix seems to add about £50-70 to the price, but might be worth it if you have an independent child who wants to strap themselves in as a non isofix seat will move around when they get in and out, making the seatbelt plug hard to find sometimes. Also, a non occupied seat which is not strapped in causes a potential obstacle in a crash situation, so isofix avoids this.

solomonrulesok Mon 19-Jun-17 16:43:54

Thank you this is very helpful

OP’s posts: |
Laquila Tue 20-Jun-17 17:35:52

Bertie - I've heard similar from Hakon the Swedish seat guy (, I think) about harnessed ff being no safer, and indeed possibly less safe, than a HBB after the age of 4yrs. What's the logic, do you know? Is it that kids over 4yrs are thought to be too heavy?

BertieBotts Tue 20-Jun-17 20:50:26

I don't think they are less safe, that doesn't make sense to me. It's just that a seatbelt is actually designed very well and isn't something to be frightened of provided it fits correctly. And also that children of that age might move around but won't generally tend to completely climb out of a seat like a baby or toddler would do.

There is some stuff about how harnesses actually hold the body a bit too well and so in an accident you'll have the head moving further forwards but the shoulders are trapped by the straps which can place a lot of strain on the neck. Not as much as when you have a little baby with their big heads, but even racing car drivers who use a harness tend to wear special helmets with rebound support in them which stops the head from moving forwards in the first place, and adult headrests in cars are also designed to stop the head from moving too far back (further than the rest of the body could go as it's stopped by the seat back.) If necks are protected in all of these ways it doesn't make much sense to put extra strain on a child's neck by using a forward facing harnessed seat. The high backed booster is better as the seatbelt will allow the head and spine to move forwards together. However this does increase the risk that the child will bang their head on something else in the car, which can also be a cause of serious injuries in car accidents.

I don't know how much is in the neck theory, for me it's the fact that harnesses do not actually seem to end up very secure over longer journeys, as children will naturally wriggle and resist being pinned into the same position tightly, which means that they will tend to loosen their straps, and I do often see children in car seats with straps which are far too loose. A self retracting seatbelt has more flexibility, less room for error and will self lock given a sudden stop.

BertieBotts Tue 20-Jun-17 20:53:35

Oh forgot to mention. In some ways the simpler the better for car seats. If you're in a collision and someone else needs to get your child out it needs to be immediately obvious what to do. That's why we have the single button opening rule in Europe and why the button has to be red so it's obvious, but everyone knows how a seatbelt works, and isn't going to waste time worrying about whether they've found the right straps.

I have also seen pictures of firefighters literally lifting the child out of the vehicle using the highback booster as a support to keep the child's back and neck straight which could save their life in the (very very tiny chance) event that you have a serious crash. You can't do this with a harnessed seat as they are secured into the car and also tend to be too heavy.

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