Crash tests have shown car carrycots are putting babies at risk of serious injury or death

Which reports that carrycots for use in cars are putting babies at risk of serious injury, if not death, crash tests have shown.

The problem is that standards for child car seats (and these carrycots) are not high enough. To meet the compulsory standard (called ECE R44.03), a child seat must withstand a low-speed front crash, equivalent to around 30mph. There are no requirements for side-impact crashes.

Which? tests child seats to the more realistic standards used by safety body EuroNCAP when crash testing the safety of cars for adults. These simulate a 40mph head-on crash and a side impact.

"Based on our findings, manufacturers should stop promoting carrycots for use in cars unless they can prove babies would be safe in the more severe crashes that EuroNCAP use in their tests," according to Malcolm Coles, editor of Which?.

With a violent twist, both cot and crash-test dummy were catapulted forward

In the stricter tests Which? carried out, the Mamas & Papas Navetta carrycot virtually disintegrated in a front crash at about 40mph. It slid forward on the seat, visibly distorting, and, as it approached the seat edge, the cot body fractured, with one end becoming detached as the mounting points were ripped out. With a violent twist, both cot and crash-test dummy were catapulted forward and the cot body torn apart with the dummy barely held inside.

The Bebecar Carrycot Tracker did little better. In the front crash, the frame distorted badly, and in the side impact, it offered scant resistance as it slid across the seat into the door. Micro-seconds later, the dummy followed, crumpling like a Christmas paper chain, as if it had been held by its legs and dropped on its head.

The crash-test dummy records the forces of impact with special instruments. These show that a real baby would have sustained fractured ribs, limbs or skull - a chilling thought for any parent.

These carrycots are usually designed to be used in travel systems so that you can transport your baby from the car to the pram without taking them out of the cot. They also have the advantage that babies can lie flat in them. But, this convenience could be at the cost of your baby's life. Any group O or 0+ child seat is a much safer option but our Best Buys are the safest seats. (Click here for a free trial of Which? Online and to see the Best Buys)

Since our tests, Bebecar has withdrawn the Carrycot Tracker from sale in the UK. It told us that this was because it was 'not very popular with buyers' (although it remains on sale in other European countries).

Parents should avoid using in cars either of the carrycots we tested. They're potential deathtraps when used in this way.

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