Car seat installation is one of those topics that makes even the most experienced parent nervous… especially so because there is so much at stake. To confuse matters even more, it’s not a case of ‘install one car seat and you can install them all’ because every car seat will vary slightly in the installation method. And then there is the choice between ISOFIX vs seat belt installation. We want to demystify car seat installation and give parents the knowledge and tools they need to install their Maxi-Cosi car seats with confidence. This isn’t something that is worth taking a risk on. So which should you choose - ISOFIX or car seat belt?
What is ISOFIX?
ISOFIX is a method of installing a convertible car seat using ISOFIX attachments that are built into the seats of your car. It is safe, secure and easy to follow the installation instructions. To install the car seat, you click the ISOFIX clips on your car seat into the attachments in your car. You then pull the straps on the car seat attachments until the indicator light on the attachment turns green. This indicates that you have installed the car seat correctly. If you do not pull the straps tight enough when installing the car seat, the indicator lights will stay red.
With an ISOFIX installation, you still use the tether strap attached to the anchor point in your car as you would with a car seat belt installation, however you do not use the car seat belt at all. It is important that you only use one installation method and to not combine the two as this can impact on the safety of the car seat.
Do all cars have Isofix?
While ISOFIX only landed in Australia in 2014, many modern cars already do have ISOFIX attachments… although this won’t be the case with all cars. To check if your car is ISOFIX compatible, the best thing to do is to check your car manual. If you are buying a new car before your baby arrives and would like to use ISOFIX installation, be sure to check the particular car you are buying first! If your car is not ISOFIX compatible, you will still be able to install your car seat using the seat belt installation method. The seat belt method is a universal method for installing car seats into any car. To use the ISOFIX method you will need both a car that is ISOFIX compatible and a car seat that has Isogo attachments.
Benefits of ISOFIX
It’s quite a sobering statistic that more than half of all car seats are installed incorrectly. That is a lot of babies and children travelling around in car seats that won’t perform the way they are supposed to in an accident. Despite a prevailing myth, it isn’t actually a legal requirement to have your car seat installed professionally in Australia. So, the more you can educate yourself on safe installation, the more confident you will be while transporting your most precious cargo. Many parents prefer ISOFIX because of how simple it is to install, with the indicator lights guiding you as to when you have the correct fitting.
Benefits of car seat belt installation
While ISOFIX certainly has its benefits, that isn’t to say that if you choose to install your car seats with a seat belt installation that you are putting your children in any danger. In fact, when installed correctly, following manufacturer instructions, seat belt fitted seats are very safe. One of the key benefits of a seat belt installation is that it is very easy to switch the seat between different cars. It doesn’t matter if the car you are moving to has ISOFIX fittings or not, you will be familiar with the seat belt installation and car ensure a secure installation.
If you do choose to go with a seat belt installation, make sure you avoid some of the common seat belt installation errors including:
- Not pulling the belt tight enough so the car seat is not secure (if you try moving the car seat side to side, it should not move more than 2.5cm)
- Twisting the seat belt, tether straps or harness straps
- Using the wrong belt path in a convertible car seat
- Not using the correct recline for the installation
ISOFIX vs seat belt - which do you choose?
Ultimately that is a question that only you as the parent can answer. At the end of the day, you need to have confidence in your newborn car seat installation so that the car seat can do what it is designed to do - keep your child safe while you are out and about in your car.
While ISOFIX is a simpler method of installation because of the in-built indicators, not all cars are ISOFIX compatible so you won’t be able to use the ISOFIX method in cars that don’t have ISOFIX fittings. The car seat belt method however can be used in any car, but if you are lacking in confidence you may not have the peace of mind you would like about how secure your installation is.
No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that both are perfectly safe, as long as they are installed correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
At Maxi-Cosi, we use the latest technology, including Air Protect™ to keep your little ones as safe as possible if you were to be involved in an accident. Our range is designed with comfort and safety in mind, giving you the peace of mind you need to get on with enjoying more of life’s little moments.
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