As parents, one of thing things that can be hard to get your head around is car seat safety. There are laws, there are recommendations and then there are mums in your mother's group turning their children forward facing at six months, while others are still rear facing at three- years-old. We look at the laws, recommendations and why Type G car seats is the safest on the market.
With car seat safety there are basic laws and then there are recommendations to keep your child as safe as possible in the car. For example:
Law: Children must rear face in their car seat until they are six months old.
Recommendation: Children should rear face for as long as their seat allows, and you should never turn them before they reach the height marker at the very least. Extend rear facing has been proven to save lives so choose a seat with extended rear facing capabilities.
Law: Children must be harnessed until four when they can move into a booster seat and use the lap/sash belt.
Recommendation: Two seatbelts are better than one and children should be harnessed for as long as possible. A harness makes sure that the seat belts are positioned correctly and distribute pressure more evenly in the event of a car crash. They are also less likely to be put on by the child, which means they will be fastened correctly.
Law: Children are to be in a car seat/ booster seat until they are seven.
Recommendation: Children should remain in a booster until they are roughly 145cm tall. Now, this is pretty tall- I'm only 151cm! So this is definitely taller than the average seven-year-old. It's recommended that your child should be in a booster until their knees bend at the end of the car seat and their feet touch the floor.
So what are Type G car seats?
A Type G car seat is a seat that is harnessed all the way through. What makes it unique over other car seats that can be used until eight is that it doesn't convert to a traditional booster seat and use a lap/sash belt after the age of four. Instead, your child stays fully harnessed until at least eight (and preferably longer).
Most car seats on the market that can be used until your child is eight are known as Convertible Booster Seats, and they convert into a traditional booster with a lap/sash belt after your child is four. If you have purchased a car seat such as:
Britax Safe-n-Sound Maxi Lite or Regal
Infasecure Comfi, Romer, Rover, Racing Kid, Rally or Atlantis
Mother's Choice Tempo
Safety First Prime
These are all seats that convert to a lap/sash belt from four-years-old.
So which seat are Type G car seats?
Currently, there are only two on the market in Australia. Infasecure makes a 0-8 Type G car seat called the Grandeur, which can convert from rear facing to forward facing, and then remain harnessed until the child is around seven or eight.
Britax Safe-n-Sound makes a six month- 8 years seat called the Maxi Guard PRO. This is forward facing only and is harnessed until seven or eight.
Now just a little note on this. Car seats that are listed as six months + mean that they forward face only. This means that, according to the law, you can put your baby in them from six months. However, remember that we spoke earlier about extended rear facing? I wouldn't move a baby into a forward facing seat until at least 12 months if not 18 months (or even longer!)
We were lucky enough to be given a Britax Safe n Sound Maxi-Guard Pro to test out for ourselves.
Britax Safe-n-Sound Maxi Guard PRO Review
The first thing I did was get the seat installed properly down at Pearce's Child Restraints in Mona Vale. If you are on Sydney's Northern Beaches they are the best! While, legally, you don't have to have your seat fitted by an approved fitter and you can do it at home by yourself, I think the risk is too high- just have it fitted and know it's installed correctly.
While she fitted it, Lucy from Pearce's chatted to me about why the Maxi Guard PRO is her favourite car seat and the one she recommends to everyone. She told me that you don't want to progress to a booster any sooner than you have to. Often children are seated incorrectly in their boosters and the lap belt sits over the soft part of a child's stomach instead of across their hips. This can cause internal damage in a car accident.
She also told me that, when they progress to a lap/sash most children start buckling themselves in, but usually this means they aren't in firmly enough. They can also lean forward and loosen the belt.
At the end of the day, there is less margin of error in a harnessed seat, when buckled in by the parents.
Stand out features
One of the very best parts of the Maxi Guard PRO in my mind is the adjustable seatbelt attached to the head rest. No more threading and rethreading the seatbelts for different heights. This causes belt twists and means you need to remove the fitted seat to do it. On the Maxi Guard PRO, the seatbelts are connected to the headrest, which you click up and down easily with a little loop at the top.
For me, this means if I am putting my two-year-old nephew in the seat instead of my daughter who is nearly five, all it means is I need to click the headrest down and tighten the belts. It takes 10 seconds. The headrest just needs you to be able to slide your hand between the child's shoulder and the bottom of the headrest and you are good to go.
Lucy tells me that this function makes it the most popular seat for grandparents as well because they can put a child of almost any age in the seat with minimal adjustments.
Another little perk? There are rubber loops on each side where you can hook the buckles in while you get the child in and out which means less chance of twisting the straps. The cover is also fully removable, without taking the seat out. So if there is an emergency gastro attack you don't need to remove the seat, just the covers.
I've used many, many car seats in the past five years since I started this blog and I have to say, this is the easiest I've ever had. It hasn't tangled yet, the headrest is a breeze and Tully tells me it's, "sooo comfy and snuggly!" I also like that it has a bigger headrest than a standard booster because they are safer and better for nap time on long drives.
It's obviously not just me that loves it as the Maxi Guard PRO was just voted by reviewers at www.productreviews.com.au as the best car seat for 2016, with a five-star review.
If you want to check out the Safe-n-Sound Maxi Guard PRO you can find it here www.britax.com.au
To read more about Type G car seats and the KidSafe guidelines for car restraints visit www.kidsafe.com.au/crguidelines
To read about the legal requirements for car seats visit www.childcarseats.com.au/legal-requirements