Cleaning a car seat

Car seat expiry

How to store my seat

Second hand car seats

Loose items

Adding items to a car seat

Isn’t it all a bit overkill? You can’t do anything anymore…

It’s just another way to mum shame… stop telling me how to parent!

Cleaning a car seat

Always check your car seat manual for manufacturer approved ways of cleaning your car seat.

Although this may seem like a ‘silly’, ‘overkill’ step there’s a very good reason, chemicals can cause material degradation to speed up and can, in some cases, affect the safety of the seat and harness material.

This can also affect the life of the seat (Yes seats have an expiry… we will get to that in a minute).

Car seat expiry

I’m not making this up… Car seats expire.

Why? As with everything, material degrades over time. Particularly when it is exposed to temperature extremes from being sat in a car.

One minute its freezing overnight and the next the sun is shining full beam on it. And let’s not forget that we are constantly using them, maybe moving them, swapping cars, climbing in and out.

For this reason, most manufacturers give a life span for their seats. You can check directly with the manufacturer what the recommended life is for each type of seat and the manufacture date will be visible on the orange sticker on your car seat.

How to store my seat

When storing car seats there are a number of things you need to consider,

How long are you likely to store the seat?
Be sure to think about the manufacture date of the seat and the manufacturers expiry guidelines (see car seat expiry section for further details). Is the car seat still going to be within its recommended life when you get it back out?

Will the seasons be changing during the storage period? Places likes lofts and garages are susceptible to extreme temperature changes throughout the year which can affect the life of the materials.

Keeping a seat somewhere like a garage for a long period of time can bring the risk of dampness and mould, no matter how well packaged you think it is.

Where will it be?
If you have the seat stored in front of other things or in a busy area it runs the risk of being knocked about and bumped into. As with car accidents, impact to seats can cause invisible damage to a car seat and it is impossible to know what damage has been done. Make sure the seat is being stored somewhere it is not at risk of damage.

Is it likely to get dirty or dusty? Or maybe an area where it may get smokey? Cleaning car seat covers can be difficult, particularly to get things like mould and smoke will require vigorous cleaning which can be against manufacturers guidance due to the detrimental effects to the materials in the seat (see cleaning my car seat for more details).

Second hand car seats

A common question is whether second hand car seats are safe. The answer?… it is impossible to know.

If you are being offered a second hand car seat from a trusted friend or family member and you know it has been used correctly, stored and treated well and has never been involved in an accident then it may well be safe. However, you really have no way of knowing what a car seat has been through and how safe it is as you cannot see inside. For this reason, we would never recommend a second hand car seat.

A scenario I’ve heard of multiple times,
“My sister offered me her old car seat to use for my new baby, assuring me it was fine and never been involved in an accident. After looking into the seat I realised it was not a particularly well tested one so I respectfully declined and explained I wanted a safer one. My sister then went on to tell me this seat was indestructible and didn’t even crack when they dropped it whilst putting it in the loft… “
Did the sister lie? No. She just didn’t know that much about car seat safety and had not considered that this impact could damage the seat.

A question to ask yourself if you are considering taking a second hand seat

Do I trust this person with my child’s life?

Loose items

We are probably all guilty of this one. How many of us have random things floating around in the car? In a rush so you chuck your bag in the back? Boot not big enough for all the shopping? Child carried a toy out to the car with them? The iPad keeps them quiet for the journey?

Have you ever considered the dangers of loose items in the event of an accident?
In reality, loose items in the car can be incredibly dangerous. Consider travelling at 30mph with a loose plastic toy on the seat next to the child.

In the event of a collision this item is going to go for a fly at a high force. Now it might go straight out the windscreen, maybe it gets lost under the car seats, and maybe it goes straight into a passenger.

The rule in our house, if you wouldn’t be happy to throw it at somebody’s head, it can pose a danger in the car.

There are many options for securing these items, particularly the items that are needed for the journey. Consider an iPad holder attached to the seat (crash tested holders are available).

Adding items to a car seat

What can I add to my child’s car seat?
The short answer here is ‘nothing’. Only items specifically approved by the manufacturer for a specific seat should be considered as safe to add to a car seat.

For example, Axkid approve the use of the connect in their seats as they have been included in crash test. Generally, manufacturers do not approve the use of additional items, particularly chest clips.

This goes for adding items underneath the seat too. Car seat covers should only be used when approved by the manufacturer and only the specific approved item should be considered.

The addition of puppy pads for toilet training or travel sickness should not be considered unless specifically approved by your car seat manufacturer.

Isn’t it all a bit overkill? You can’t do anything anymore…

In a word… No! When you’ve never been affected by the consequences of poor car seat safety, it’s easy to think that it’s all a bit overkill.
“I was always forward facing”
“I didn’t even go in a car seat”
“when I was little I was just chucked in the car in the pram carrycot”

However, just because you have not been affected in the past, there is no less risk now.

A saying I hear a lot amongst the car seat safety community, and that I use daily, is “Know better, do better” and I don’t think there is a better way to say it.
In the past we have made decisions based on the knowledge we have. Well now that more information is available to us, why wouldn’t we choose to act in the safest way possible?

It’s just another way to mum shame… stop telling me how to parent!

NO NO NO NO NO!!!

First of all, parent shaming is never OK!
Secondly, that is not the aim of this campaign. It is not about parenting philosophies or the choices we make about our children. My mission is purely to educate and support parents to make the best and safest decisions possible for their circumstances.

I don’t want parents feeling defensive or embarrassed when talking to me about their current set up, their plans for their children or what they have done in the past. I want them to feel comfortable to talk to me, ask questions and come to me for support.

There is 100% no shaming at Bijou Baby, no matter what decisions are made.