Worryingly, many children are not secured properly in the car. This puts them and the other occupants of the car at risk in the event of sudden braking or a collision. However, it’s easy to make your child comfortable and safe.
Babies should be rear-facing. The muscles in their heads aren't yet strong enough to cope with abrupt movement. This rule applies until the child weighs 13kg or more. In Belgium, you are allowed to install the seat in the front (although the back seats are safer). However, if a 'shell' child seat is installed on the passenger seat, the airbag must be deactivated. This is often done with a button or twistable knob. If you are not able to deactivate the airbag, do not place your child in the front seat. The harness should hold the child securely, without being overtightened. There should be a small gap between the body and the harness attachment point. A 5-point harness is of course safer than a 3-point system.
Once your child weighs 13kg, they can sit in a forward-facing position. But the seat belt cannot be used straight away. From 13kg to 18kg, or from 80cm to 100cm, the seat must be fitted with a harness, which should be tightened without completely restricting the child. At this age, the seat belt must not yet be used to fasten the child. You should only use the seat belt as a restraint system for a child when they reach 18kg or 100cm. A belt guide will help you position the belt correctly, without rubbing the child’s neck. You are also allowed to use a booster seat, but a full seat is safer (thanks to the side protection).
Car seats sold today are generally fitted with an Isofix fitting. So, the best advice is not to buy a car seat without an Isofix fitting, and use this fitting to secure the seat to the car. It’s very easy to use. Simply slide the bars along the car’s integrated hooks. A click and a visual indication confirm that the seat is properly anchored to the vehicle. There cannot be too much play.
If the car is not equipped with an Isofix fitting point, the seat can still be installed with the seat belt. Read the instructions for use and install the seat belt so that it can securely hold the seat in the event of sudden braking or a collision. It should not be able to tilt or move too far away from the seat.
You should avoid placing the child in the car seat if they are wearing a thick coat, as this will limit the effectiveness of the seat belt or harness. In winter, it is possible to place a blanket over the harness or seat belt.