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Childminded children in cars - should they have a 3 point seatbelt or a lap belt?

28 replies

Chocol8 · 01/08/2005 23:15

Ds is 7 and just started with a new childminder today - he was worried about the lap belt and the childminder replied that these were legal.

I am uncomfortable about it as I have read that they are not that safe - can anyone shed any light on this please?

OP posts:

Janh · 01/08/2005 23:19

No, they're not at all safe for anybody, let alone children. No seatbelts at all used to be legal.

Does minder have any small children in car seats? If so they should use the lap belt for anchoring. If not, how many children is she carrying and who gets which belt?


Chocol8 · 01/08/2005 23:23

She has a big car like a range rover and has 7 children at full capacity. I think she has one babe, 3 are 3 or 4yrs and 3 are about 7 or 8yrs.

I have paid her forward for the whole holiday (nearly £600) and if I don't allow him to go out in the car, she will have to let him go as that means the others can't go out either.

This has been worrying me since he told me and I am very stressed about it. What can I do?

OP posts:

Fran1 · 01/08/2005 23:25

Is she really allowed that many children? how does she cope??


Janh · 01/08/2005 23:27


QueenOfQuotes · 01/08/2005 23:29

This is what RoSPA has to say about it

"Q: I have 3 children, but the middle rear passenger seat only has a lap belt. Should 1 child travel in the front seat with a 3-point belt even though there is an airbag?"

A: It is difficult to say conclusively which is the safer option and ultimately it will be a question of personal choice influenced by the age and size of your children and whether they are using child restraints.

It is safer for a child to use a 3-point belt than a lap-only belt but the rear passenger seats are safer than the front seat. Some child restraints (mostly group 1 seats) can be fitted using the lap belt only - check the manufacturers' fitting instructions. If you do have to put a child in the front seat, put the tallest/heaviest child in the front. If there is an airbag, make sure the passenger seat is rolled back as far as possible, that the child seat is very securely fitted and the child is securely held by the harness or seat belt.

If you do have to put a child in a seat with a lap belt, put the tallest/heaviest child in this seat, and make sure the lap belt is worn correctly - across the top of your child's thighs and around their hips, not across their stomach.

Under no cirumstances, put a rearward-facing baby seat in the front if there is a passenger airbag.


Janh · 01/08/2005 23:29

Are there side-facing seats in the back with lap-belts? That would be somewhat safer than front-facing but still not ideal. 7 does sound like a lot of kids for one minder in one car...

I don't know what you should do, Chocol8 - sorry -


QueenOfQuotes · 01/08/2005 23:29

lol JanH - while I was taking my time with that - you'd got the same thing.


Fran1 · 01/08/2005 23:30


you guys definitely spend too much time googling!


Pixiefish · 01/08/2005 23:31

The law's changing next year (not relevant for you now i know but definetly something to consider pointing out to childminder)

will be:

At the moment children over the age of 3 don?t have to use a child restraint. By May 2006 it will be illegal to let a child under 11 and less than 150cm (5ft) tall to travel without a car seat. Using an adult seatbelt before a child is sufficiently developed may put them at higher risk of internal injury.

i got that from here:


QueenOfQuotes · 01/08/2005 23:33

ooo wonder if it's then illegal for adults under 150cm to travel without a carseat! I'm scraping on the 'line' - just 150cm can just be sitting with my legs dangling over the side of a car seat


Chocol8 · 01/08/2005 23:34

I just went on to google and its telling me it has a virus and to check my computer - oh no!!!
Nothing coming up on Norton though...

Yes, not quite sure how she copes though I am sure she doesn't have all the children at once.

My ds absolutely loves it there and I would hate to take him away, but if the car is unsafe, I will have to. He obviously has a booster seat when in my car, but it doesn't look like ROSPA give any info on lap belts and boosters - do any of you clever people know?

Thanks for that JanH!

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QueenOfQuotes · 01/08/2005 23:36

I think it depends on the booster seat - some are designed for use with either lap or 3point belts, some only work with 3point.


Chocol8 · 01/08/2005 23:37

They don't have to use a restraint over 3yrs at the moment??? OMG - around here there was an article in the local rag about people being fined £20 on the spot for not belting their children up, which alot of people actually do around here!

This seems mad to me - if you have a seatbelt - why not use it!

OP posts:

Pixiefish · 01/08/2005 23:38


think you have to be under 11 years of AGE before this applies- think you're safe FOR NOW


QueenOfQuotes · 01/08/2005 23:38

don't have to use a child restraint (ie they should still have a seatbelt on but it doesn't have to be a car/booster seat)


misdee · 01/08/2005 23:39

child restraint means car seat. the belts have to be used.


Chocol8 · 01/08/2005 23:44

Hi Misdee - this whole thing is very confusing.

Although I have just learned that ds needs to be put in the back of the car as my new car has airbags - so worth asking for that alone.

Any suggestions on what to say/do please?

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katymac · 02/08/2005 08:25

NCMA's view on car safety is that the new regulations should be used even tho' they are not yet law. In their opinion, C/Mers should be seen to have taken every precaution.

I would ask if any of the car seats can be placed in the lap belt - as this is safer.

Do you ever let him in the lap belt at home?

Is he the largest child?

If he is the largest child then she is following the guidlines.

Hope this resolves easily (& soon)


Chocol8 · 02/08/2005 08:53

Thanks, no Katiemac - I never let him in the lap belt in our car - he is my only child and usually sits in the passenger seat next to me with a booster seat.

However, this morning I put him in the back because my car now has airbags and apparently it can maim or even kill a child if it goes off.

I agree the tallest child should be in the lap belt but her car, from what I can gather has more lap belts than 3 points...? I think he probably was the tallest of the children yesterday. Do you think I should give her my spare booster seat to use - with the lap belt - would that make it safer still?

I didn't mention it to her this morning because I want to get my facts straight first.

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badgerhead · 02/08/2005 08:55

I have a people carrier which has a lap belt in the middle, but I have a stage one seat that straps in there so don't usually have this problem. If I am out with my family & don't have the car seats in (my 2 dd's are 8, uses a booster seat & nearly 12) I will reluctantly sometimes let my eldest dd use the lap belt if we need to. I think that with your son at seven years old your cm is using her discretion, especially if he is one of the oldest children with her. perhaps you need to talk to your son to reassure him & explain how the belt should fit across his legs & if he is still unhappy carefully ask the cm if there was any other place in the car that your son could sit as he feels unhappy sitting with the lap belt.


Xena · 02/08/2005 09:09

I'm fairly sure that None of the booster seats that have no back to them can be used with a lap belt and that would be even more unsafe.

IMO it is safer for a child to wear a lap belt than a 3 point belt that cuts into their neck. I say that because I know a child who is to heavy for a booster seat and


katymac · 02/08/2005 09:16

My booster seat can be used with a lap belt (you might check your instructions.

I really would offer your spare booster....I'll see if I can find the article in Who Minds about car safety


Xena · 02/08/2005 09:20

What make KM? I would be interested for friend who has a Zafira that has a lap belt in the middle.


katymac · 02/08/2005 09:28

It's a cheap 7.99 one - don't know the make, sorry

Car seats are mentioned in the Summer 2004 issue of Who Minds - but only briefly - I can't find the article I'm remembering


Chocol8 · 02/08/2005 10:26

I did do as you suggested Badgerhead and told ds that as long as the belt goes over his lap, not his tummy, it would be safe.

He worries as it feels unusual after being used to a 3 point but may ask if there are any other seats available for him instead.

Besides this problem - she seems like an absolutely fantastic childminder.

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