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Escape-proof car seats?(14 Posts)
Any recommendations on how to make sure a 3-year hold Houdini-wannabe does not free herself from her car seat harness? I don’t care if it’s fitting an accessory onto our existing car seat or buying a new car seat altogether – clearly this is not something I’ll be stingy on.
From what I understand, the options are:
* car seats with impact shields instead of a harness system. Surprise, surprise, manufacturers of one system have rubbished those of the others with ads and videos etc., and viceversa. Some kids love the shield and use it to sleep, others feel constrained. We’ll have to let the little one try one in a store.
* a sternum strap, like this Houdini Stop: www.houdinistop.com/page/213524 It’s by a Kiwi company, but Amazon UK sells it.
* 5-point-plus thingy, which fills the space our little escapers can use to set themselves free. Can be bought as a universal accessory, but Cosatto has it in its entire range. It “shields the gaps through which children escape from the harness” 5pointplus.com/about/how-does-it-work/
What’s your experience with these systems? Which one do you recommend? Are there others I have missed?
I recently freaked out because our daughter threw a huge tantrum in the car; she kept trying to free herself – luckily my wife was sitting next to her and kept her harness in place with her hand, but, had the driver been alone with the child in the back, it would have been very dangerous as we were on a motorway.
We have the Houdini strap and it worked for us. DC had previously managed to get out the harness and open the car door on the motorway (was new car and child locks not yet enabled unbeknown to me)
The 5 point plus or the Be Safe Belt Collector are the only products that have been crash tested.
Thanks, I didn't know about the Be Safe. What do you mean by crash tested? By the manufacturer or by some independent entity like Which? BTW, I have just realised that the Costato Hug, with the 5 point plus system, was rated "don't buy" by Which, as it scored poorly in their crash test. To be clear, I very much doubt it has anything to do with the antiescape system.
I would go for either 5 point plus or besafe clip but not the houdini one or an impact shield. Some people have had success doing this with an item of clothing.
I'm not sure who tests them but the Houdini and others haven't had any testing (or no results have been published!!) so those should be avoided.
Which aren't great for car seat reviews. They use the ADAC safety testing which is available online but then give their own judgements for things like ease of fitting and quality of fabrics. Some very good seats have been given which don't buys for silly reasons. Having said that, any Cosatto seat is not going to be a good one. There are better brands!
For good advice, I'd recommend joining the Facebook group 'car seat advice uk' if you can. It's run by car seat experts and they're really very knowledgeable.
My sister has always used the cybex seat with impact shield, 3 children and no car seat escapees. Me, well 4 children and all of them escaped, worst being dc4 who popped up between the front seats to say hello mid overtake on the M5.....
Thanks for pointing out 'car seat advice UK'. I honestly had no idea there exist rear-facing car seats for children up to 25 kg - good to know.
Glad you found it useful. I didn't know about 25kg seats until I went on there either. And made the expensive mistake of buying an 18kg seats for my 91st centile daughter!
We have Axkid Minikids for my two now and they are fantastic seats- Swedish plus tested, rock solid, compact but roomy and very comfortable. We also have a Britax Two Way Elite as a spare and its great, but I love the Minikids.
At 3 I would not go for an impact shield seat. She'll have outgrown it in height soon making it dangerous, as the child is only pinned by their pelvis basically - yet there are no actual height restrictions unlike with a harness - they are only tested with standard sized dummies so you don't get this effect. I do think they have a place but it's not this one.
I would not use a houdini strap or similar, because this interferes with how the harness works and could potentially be lethal in an accident. Soft items which exert no force on the straps, like the belt collector or the 5 point plus are safer.
Personally I think if you have an escape artist then RF to 25kg becomes a lesser concern, because visibility is important - I know tea and I disagree on this
Do you know how your DD is escaping? 5pp have a video on their site showing how they do it, by sucking in their stomach and getting arms through! I do think the 5pp is probably the best product for this. If it's more that she's undoing the harness, you can try sticking the hard part of velcro to the seat button. That makes it painful for small children to press the button but an adult can still do it.
I don't think buying a new seat is likely to help, for this reason. The Cosatto ones only harness to 18kg which will be the same as your current seat, so there's no benefit in getting that, you'd be better off with the 5pp as an aftermarket accessory. The impact shield I've already explained my issues with. You could look at a seat which harnesses to 25kg if she's getting close to outgrowing her current harness and you don't yet trust her with a booster seat, particularly if you find a harness-based solution that works, but there's nothing to gain from this yet if you try the 5pp on her current seat first.
Otherwise - you can look at it behaviourally. Distraction can help if she is bored, especially combined with something which makes it just slightly more difficult to escape. Some people have luck with bringing out the big guns and really scaring the child so that they don't want to do it again. When DS1 did it he was old enough to reason with so we explained about the safety aspect and told him if he waited until we said so, he'd be allowed to undo the belt by himself, but if he didn't wait he wouldn't be allowed any more. That worked for us (and might be useful if you do decide to move to a booster seat soon.)
@BertieBotts, I’m not sure there is a “behavioural” solution. She is usually reasonably well behaved in the car; she typically tries to escape when she throws up tantrums, e.g. when she’s mad we left a playground or a friend’s house, or we didn’t buy her something in a store, etc. Since I am not aware of any scientific method to make toddlers “tantrum-free” I’d rather have a “mechanical” solution.
But you raise good points, thanks. It’s possible she escapes by sucking in her stomach but to be honest we have never looked into it – we should.
At this point we might consider a new seat not to prevent her escapes, but because she’s near the limit anyway; one of those seats that can be fit both rear-facing and forward-facing and are up to 25 kg might be a good solution (but this was not my initial question).
I understand your point about the sternum straps interfering with the harness; I have just bought the 5-point plus thingy and we’ll install it on the current car seat.
Diono Radian 5 is the only seat that will rear and forward face to 25kg.
Ah yes that makes sense - you can't avoid all tantrums and they are totally unable to process any logic/consequences/anything at that point.
Good luck with the 5 point plus! Hopefully it solves the problem.
I would never recommend a Houdini strap, as potentially in a crash they could break a child's sternum. The 5 point plus physically stops them from being able to get their arms out of the straps, but without interfering with them, so it's a much safer option.
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