Joie Stages short seat belt guide


The Joie Stages is a fab seat. It’s affordable, it has nice safety rating and it lasts from birth to about 7 years old (55 lb). It rear faces from birth to 18 kg (40 lb) which is around 4 years old and then after the child has outgrown it (by weight, because it’s quite tall in the shell) it turns into a High Back Booster (HBB) up to 25 kg (55 lb). In this mode the seat is quite awesome as well because it has a really nice and snug seat belt fit, which is very important.

Note! A child under the age of 4 has an underdeveloped pelvis and risks “submarining” in a HBB because a correct lap belt fit is difficult to get. The pelvis being underdeveloped means the iliac crest is too narrow to hold the belt in place. Please use car seats to their maximum before taking the next step up. One step up is one step down in safety!


Because the Joie Stages is installed very much like an infant car seat, it means that it takes up a bit more belt then other ERF seats. Far too often we hear about someone desperate for a Joie Stages, they come to the shop to try it in the car, and the shop assistant with dismay will tell them that the seat doesn’t fit the car because the seat belt is “too short”.
Sometimes this is true but you would be surprised to know that a lot of the time it does fit -you just need the correct install method.






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Download the PDF:




Put seat in the upright position (1) install the seat, then recline it to the correct recline for Rear Facing (4)


One of the simplest ways is option 2. Simply start out the install with the seat in the upright position, install the seat and then recline it fully to the correct recline, which is marked with a blue arrow and is recline nr 4.

Note! When installed rear facing the Stages must always be used on full recline! It is the only blue arrow (4) all the other reclines are marked with red arrows which indicates Forward Facing.





Putting weight on the seat by either using your knee, hands/arm/upper body anything really as long as it’s pushing the seat *down* into the car will help.


By putting weight on the car seat and pushing the car seat down into the car interior seat, you would be surprised over how much more seat belt you can pull. Pull super tight and while holding it tight, feed the seat belt slowing back into the inertia reel. This will guarantee a really nice and firm fit. This also works in both Forward facing and Rear facing.





When you check to see if  your car seat is fitted snugly, always remember that it is NOT at the top of the seat shell you check, but at the BOTTOM of the seat which is called “the belt path”. We would usually say “check the seat fitment at the belt path”.
This is especially important in Rear Facing car seats, but do also apply to Forward Facing.

I hope that armed with this information (and you can print out the PDF) you will be able to fit your Joie Stages when you thought you wouldn’t be able to!

Have a wonderful weekend and I am happy to announce that my FB page has a new section called “Car Seat Install Tricks”, if you have any more tips and tricks you would like to submit feel free to either PM me on Facebook or send me an email: erfmission AT gmail DOT com .

Have a great weekend friends! x


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Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, give-aways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breast feeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.

22 thoughts on “Joie Stages – ‘Too short seat-belt’ syndrome fixed (guide)

  1. Great diagrams. They really help to make the instructions clear. Kids car seats really are a pain. I’m not saying they are not vital. Of course they are, they serve a crucial purpose, and kids today are so much safer than previous generations when special seats were not obligatory. But what I find annoying is that they’re generally so fiddly. My second child is now 9, so just a few more years to go before she can travel without her car seat. Hurrah!

    • Hehe thank you for the positive feedback!

      Car seat can indeed be a pain!

      Frankly there should really just be a “one fits all” to make it simpler. hahha

      My oldest is 10 so he’s just on a cushion, but the other two are still in stage 1 seats.

  2. Having a correctly fitted seat-belt is so important!
    This is such a thorough and informative post, thank you for sharing! xx

  3. We struggled with our infant seat and getting the seat belt round – even getting pro testers to fit it. I ended up having to get a base for it (which actually was much easier with getting a baby in and out. But actually it did fit via the seat belt, it just needed a better order/technique.

    Good to know there’s a couple of things to look out for

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    • It can be a pain yeh. I remember that in our Citroen C5 we had this problem. It did fit, but it was much better using a base.

  4. What a thorough and informative post wow! Car seats have always been a pain for us the seat belt never seems to fit right on ours. We are always fiddling with it. So crucial to have it right. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
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    • Thank you so much!
      I’m so happy so many people are finding it helpful, it’s one of those things that can save a lot of pain hehe.
      This is a method that also works on infant seats.

  5. So grateful for this post, which has just enabled me to correctly fit the Stages in our Astra after being told it wouldn’t fit (screw you, Halfords!) – thank you

    • That’s wonderful to hear! Glad you found it useful and got it fitted now.
      Sadly I hear that a lot about Halfords.

  6. Ours is a 2004 ford focus, the model before isofix was standard. Donyou think this car seat will fit the space available?



    • It fits in some Focus and not others, all you can do is try it using the short seat belt method.
      You can also install it on a lesser recline, and then recline it fully once you have it installed.

  7. Word of warning.

    There are two different versions of the Stages seat (apparently).

    The earlier version (2012 and earlier) was rated by Which? (UK independent consumer association) as a “Do not buy” due to safety weaknesses in their extended testing (the seat did pass ECE R44/04, and generally any seat is better than no seat, although Which? have noted a couple of seats as “Stop using” in forward face mode).

    Later version of Stages seat has extensive mods which resolve the concerns, and I’m assuming the article here refers to the later model

  8. I know this is an older post, but does anyone have any info on using this method to fit the stages into a Nissan
    I am seeing mixed reviews online,some say the belts are too short and other posts say yes. The joie stages hand book also says it should fit, but the sales assistants in store had told me it doesn’t fit. Very confused.

    • I know what you mean. I know several Qashqai that fits it – and then I have had a few say they can’t do it. The trick is to use the method above, I’ve just added a video also showing how it’s done. And if you can you can also try and put in a less reclined position for the install to get the belt over – and then make sure you put it back on max recline once you have the belt on. It can be a bit fiddly to reach the reclining button on the seat as it’s flush against the seat – but I’ve done this several times with good end result.
      Hope that helps!

  9. Thanks. Just bought a joie stages (as it was on offer) to replace one that was stolen along with our car. And it looks like we will be buying a Qashqui. Hopefully I can get it to fit in the rear fitting position as don’t want to have to buy another seat. Will keep you posted.

  10. I was about to buy Joie Stages when I realized that the harness level was below my son’s shoulder level when I adjusted the headrest to suit his head’s height. The harness level should be at the same level or slightly higher from shoulder’s level for front facing..Does anyone know how to solve this?

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