You see them every now and then in the news or on online parenting forums: stories of infant Houdinis who repeatedly manage to unbuckle their car seat belts or wriggle free.

If your young child works out how to undo their car seat buckle, or slip out of their harness, it can be both frustrating and dangerous.

But, however hard you may try, it’s not always easy to talk your child out of it, especially if they’re too young to understand the potential consequences of being unsecured in the car.

So how can you deal with car seat escape artists?

Get the basics right

For a start, check they are in the right type of car seat and that it is fitted properly in the car. Also, be sure to upgrade their seat when the time is right.

Crucially, they must be strapped in properly. Remember that a harness should be quite tight and you should only be able to fit one or two fingers between your child's chest and harness.

Safety charity RoSPA also has the following recommendations to help prevent children undoing their harness:

Don’t alter the car seat

Don’t use any device which affects the working of a seat belt, a harness or a buckle, as it may reduce their effectiveness or make them difficult to undo in an emergency.

Talk to your child

Your child may simply not understand why they need to be strapped in. Explain to them why it’s important for them to be safely secured in their seat for the entire trip.

Set a good example

When you do up your own seat belt, show your child what you are doing and explain why. As well as setting a good example, little kids often love to do whatever the grown-ups are doing.  

Be patient

Do not start the car until you are sure that the child is securely strapped in.

One way to be sure that your child stays properly buckled up - particularly if you’re heading somewhere they are excited about - is to tell them that you can’t leave otherwise.

Pull over

If your child undoes the harness or wriggles out while you’re driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.

Explain again that the harness must be done up to save them from being hurt and do not start the car again until they are safely secured.

Distract them

Let your child take a toy, game or book into the car with them to keep them occupied.

If they continue with their escape attempts, then try one of these car games.

Also, the AA notes that having a raised seat increases your child’s field of view, creating more distraction from the buckle.

Sit in the back

If your child continues to attempt to escape, have another adult sit with them in the back of the car. This is probably a last resort, as it may not be practical for many everyday journeys.

Stay focused on the road

However hard it may get, as the driver, remember not to let yourself get distracted.

For more tips on happy, safe driving with kids in the back, see our Carguments guide, with tips from child psychologist Laverne Antrobus.