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Questions about baby car seats (for people who don't have a car?)

(16 Posts)
mackoo0524 Fri 13-May-16 17:13:53

Hi ladies, hope this is the right place for my post... I'm only 5 months pregnant but want to get organised and start buying bits and bobs but as a first-timer must admit I'm confused about pretty much everything!!

So, DH and I live in Zone 2 London close to public transport links so we don't have a car, and don't intend to buy one for now. We're still going to buy a car seat though because will obviously need one to take baby home from the hospital and I envisage us being in my stepfather's car quite a lot and also using taxis/hired cars from time to time.

My questions are... (sorry if they're really daft!!)

1. Are all baby car seats compatible with all or most cars?

2. Are they somehow 'attached' to a car? How easy is it to set it up each time and 'detach' it, since we don't have our own car?

3. Since we won't be using it a lot, I'm considering getting a secondhand one... I know that the official advice is that you should always buy new, but just wondering if anyone's bought secondhand car seats and if so, any problems?

Apologies for the long post... Thanks in advance! x

kivvi Fri 13-May-16 20:17:38

1. No. The advice when buying a carseat is that you should get someone to fit it and/or show you how to fit it into YOUR car. Obviously this doesn't work if you don't have a car, and I don't think there is an easy answer to this!! We also didn't have a car when DD1 was born and when we would go into a shop and say 'but we don't have a car, we want a carseat to go in hired cars, friends' cars, taxis etc' we would get fairly blank looks from the staff. It's a bit of a nightmare, really. We ended up getting one that we were advised would probably fit into most cars.

2. My understanding is that there are two main ways of attaching a carseat. The first is using a seatbelt. It's really important that you understand how the seatbelt is meant to thread through the carseat and how tight it needs to be - they are all different. For some car/carseat combinations, I think it can be very difficult if not impossible to get the seatbelt tight enough (hence the question when you go to buy a carseat of what model car it's going to be fitted into!). The second way is using ISOFIX which is a special fitting on the car that the carseat sort of hooks into. It's much harder to get this wrong compared to a seatbelt fitting - but not all cars have the required ISOFIX fittings (I think all new cars are required to have them, but not sure how far back that goes). Carseats vary a lot in how long they take to fit - ours takes a minute or two. It is hard not to feel rushed if you're fitting it into a taxi or a friend's car, but worth taking the time to get it right. Sometimes you need to fiddle a bit (e.g., remove headrest, move front seat forward).

3. Personally I wouldn't buy one secondhand unless from someone I knew and trusted and who could tell me the carseat's full history (i.e., they bought it new and would know if it had been involved in any accidents etc).

Hope that helps, and good luck!

prettybird Fri 13-May-16 20:31:02

There's been a change in the law (although at the moment "old" seats are still legal) and car seats now have to be Isofix compatible - ie it clicks into the frame of the car.

I think all new cars since 2008 have Isofix "bits" (and some will have even compatible before then)

My ds is now 15, so I don't know the detail - but look up Which? and Isofix for more details.

moggle Fri 13-May-16 20:32:29

I think the infant car seats pretty much fit into all cars, when strapped in with a seatbelt. Also I think infant seats generally need a base to fit with isofix so I'd plan to use the seatbelt if you're not going to be using it much.
I got our maxi cosi cabriofix car seat second hand from a friend so I knew it hadn't been in any accidents. Personally I wouldn't be too worried about buying second hand as I really don't think any parent would knowingly sell a damaged car seat. But I know not everyone feels this way.

Ifiwasabadger Fri 13-May-16 20:32:57

We only have one car and I use taxis a we got the mamas and papa car seat, it belts into any car really easily. It was genius!

knittingbee Fri 13-May-16 20:39:06

I would just take a buggy or sling on public transport (you don't need a car seat for cabs) and get an Isofix for your stepdad's car. Less faff. Babies already come with so much bulky stuff, why add to the mix? Plus infant seats with babies in them are so heavy and uncomfortable to carry about. What would you be planning to do once you hop out of a cab? Carry baby in the car seat? Honestly, a good sling or lightweight buggy would be much easier (although I'd pick a sling for London all the way!)

NickyEds Fri 13-May-16 21:56:05

We don't have a car and when ds was born we initially had a cheap (around £40) car seat which was secured with the seat belt. We then bought a maxi cosi to replace it (about £100) because it could be clipped directly onto the buggy frame so we might go for a walk with ds in the sling pushing the buggy and we could get a cab home.

DeadGood Sat 14-May-16 07:08:44

We were the same as you OP and borrowed a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix from a friend. I'd recommend you borrow if you can, as your baby will outgrow a newborn seat within about a year.
NB the laws around seatbelt sin cans have either changed or are widely misunderstood - we brought our baby home in a minicab with no car seat - less than 5 min ride and we thought (though foolhardy) it was legal - but it isn't, unless the taxi has a partition. There's a page on the site.

whiteagle Sat 14-May-16 07:16:20

I would wait and see - i often used black cabs and if using a mclaren type of buggy would just lift the buggy ( with baby strapped in) into the back of the cab. When baby gets here get a seat that will clip into your buggy frame ( maxi cosi car seats for example are compatible with lots of buggies and that fits your fil car.

moggle Sat 14-May-16 08:01:17

Yes as Dead says it is ONLY black / Hackney cabs which you don't have to use a car seat in. The only exception for minicabs is the same as for normal cars - only in a genuine emergency.

mackoo0524 Sat 14-May-16 09:44:04

Thank you all for your replies!! grin It all makes a bit more sense now!

We're planning on getting the Babyzen Yoyo+ pram which is apparently compatible with 'most car seats'. Ideally I'd like to get one that fits onto the pram and can be attached to the car with just the seat belt...?? The Isofix sounds like a good idea too i should probably check with my stepdad to see if his car is Isofix-compatible

Kivvi, thanks for the detailed reply smile A minute or two to fit a car seat doesn't sound too bad! Think we can manage this... Would you mind telling me which model you've got?

Ilikesweetpeas Sat 14-May-16 22:05:45

I had a silver cross car seat and pram- very easy to fit the car seat into any car using the seatbelt. I think it's going to be easy enough when they are in a baby carrier type seat but trickier once they are in the next stage because they are heavy and don't go on a pram. You should be ok for 15 months or so!

Cupoftchaiagain Sat 14-May-16 22:13:56

We didn't have a car when we had our first. Our britax baby seat fitted most cars with seatbelt and clipped onto the pram chassis. It also came with an isofix base which we kept in my mum's car and made clipping it in and out of that a dream. I would make sure your car seat has a seat belt option if u r going to use it in lotsof different cars!

NicknameUsed Sat 14-May-16 22:23:17

Some hospitals won't let you take your baby home in a car without a car seat.

albertcampionscat Sun 15-May-16 15:11:08

Zone 2 London here too and I don't think we've ever used the car seat we bought. Some minicab firms will supply them, same goes for car hire firms, and as said above it's legal not to have one in a black cab. 99.9% of our journeys are on bicycle/foot/public transport.

One thing that I don't think is quite clear from previous posts re isofix. There are isofix hooks that modern cars are fitted with - this is not enough to use for an infant seat. You will still need to buy an isofix base that you attach to the isofix hooks, then you can click the car seat onto the base. Unless you will use it a lot and your step dad is happy to have one of his back seats permanently occupied by the isofix base I would not bother with it unless you have your own car and drive it frequently.
The maxi cosi cabriofix is relatively easy to fit with a seat belt so I think it is enough for your needs.

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