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Munchkin Seat

List-bro' "Greg" <mis@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> asks:

> My wife and I are expecting our child in May and have been very frustrated
> in finding a secure infant baby seat for our 1997 2.8 A4Q.  
> We just bought the "Century Smart Fit" infant seat.  When secured in place
> according to the manual, the seat if very loose.  Note:  I pulled the seat
> belt all the way out to active the locking mechanism in the seat belt.  The
> seat was so loose that if we got hit from a side or an angle, the seat
> would twist and turn all over the place.  I can not believe that there are
> baby seats out there like this.
> At first I thought it was due to the leather interior in our A4.  Since the
> base of the Infant seat was plastic it was sliding all over.  But then I
> tried it in my 1997 Volkswagen (non leather interior) and it did the same
> thing.
> If any body has a seat that they are happy with or can offer any help, I
> would greatly appreciate it.

I'm replying to the list in case there are others out there dealing 
with similar problems.  

I have two daughters, ages 8 and 9, and have dealt with this.  Lemme 
review some basics, hokay?

1)  Infant seats, child seats, and children **never** are placed in 
the right front seat of any vehicle with a passenger side air bag.

2)  Although the safest place for any child/seat or combination is 
the center rear seat, that placement can be difficult to work with.  
Often one has to use one side ot the other.

3)  Greg, HIGH marks to you!!  You realized that a LOOSE child seat 
is an UNSAFE child seat!!  Many people never figure this out until 
it's too late.  Some seats simply do NOT fit certain cars.  This is 
often due to the width of the seat base and that of the car.  But I 
think yours needs a different installation technique.  See 4 and 5 

4)  In Audis and may other cars which have what I call "free-run" 
belts, it is mandatory to use a locking clip on the seat belt in 
order to make it impossible for seat belt to slide once connected.  I 
suspect this is your problem.

5)  The technique I found most effective in installing a child seat 
with belt-locking clip is:

    - READ seat manual from cover to cover.  Twice!
    - Determine child seat placement, put seat in place.   
    - Install belt locking clip **BEFORE** connecting the belt.  Make 
       the belt a bit shorter than comfortable, because.....
    - When installing the belt over the child seat, use your weight to 
      press the seat down into the car cushions.  Then when you 
      connect the belt, you are actually holding the seat against 
      tension in the belt caused by the seat cushions.

6)  All seats should come with a locking clip provided.  You may want 
spare clips if you have more than one car.  We found that the Sears store 
had spares for sale.

7)  If the procedure in (5) does not work, you may indeed have to 
explore alternate models of child seats.  I can tell you from 
experience that having a detachable base is not a big deal - it's not 
that much different to install and remove the whole seat, once the 
clip is installed in the right place.

Feel free to email me if you want to chat about this.   Getting the 
right seat installation is very important.  I work with an Extension 
service' we produced a safety video program on the subject, but it does 
not go into great detail on the specific problem you are dealing 

Al Powell, Ph.D.                 Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843