Having young children can be stressful for parents at the best of times. One of the more challenging experiences however, is when you need to bring your toddlers on a car journey. Long road trips or even short spins locally can mean a headache trying to keep your children comfortable. That’s why purchasing the right child seat for your car is very important. The more choice a parent has, the harder it can be to decide on a car seat. Founder of family travel brand The Stork Exchange and qualified child seat expert, Olivia Mai has a couple of tips to offer when faced with buying a child seat.
Before you buy:
Firstly, be guided by experts and go to a reputable shop, for example, Mothercare and Tony Kealy’s staff, are all trained in installing the different child seats they stock, and will be able to advise and install the seat for you. Know your child’s weight and height and familiarize yourself with the Road Safety Authority’s guidelines. Look at the car the child seat is to be installed in to. Does it have isofix anchor points (most cars do nowadays, but always check for the tab on the backseat of the car). Does it have tether strap points in the boot of the car? Is there a handbrake bank in the middle position of the back seat (which prevents you from using child seats with a ‘leg’ support)? Are there storage cabins under the floor in the back seat (again will prevent you from using child seats with safety legs). Consider the size of the car, how many car seats do you need to fit in the back? All of these will help to narrow down the options of child seat that you have.
Do some research online into the different brands. There are some great award winning child seat brands such as “Britax” and “Cybex”, whose engineering and crash testing go a lot further than EU legislation requires. While doing the research, consider your budget. Child seats don’t tend to be cheap, but they are well worth investing in. Over and above any other piece of equipment you will buy for your child, the child seat is a piece of safety equipment with the sole function of protecting your child in case of an accident. Rearward versus forward facing is a debate that continues in Ireland, but all the evidence points to rearward facing being far safer. In countries such as Australia, America, and Scandinavia it is far more common to have children rearward facing, up to 7 years in some cases… Ireland is behind in this race, with the average child being turned forward facing at between 10 and 12 months.
Booster cushions and high back boosters cover the same age and weight category, but a high back booster seat protects the child’s head, neck and spine, as well as correctly places the seat belt to protect the child’s internal organs. Enough said!. It is expected to last at least 6 years, compared with 2 years for a child seat and 1 year for an infant seat. Combination seats are seats that grow with your child and will often cover 2 or 3 age groups. If you are considering a combination seat, some do not have great recline options… another thing to consider if your baby likes to sleep in the car! Child seats that swivel are a dream for a parent – imagine lifting a bigger child into the seat and having to twist and lean forward with that weight. They are often more expensive but will save you in chiropractor’s fees and physio further down the road!
Make sure you chose the safest option available, a seat that is compatible with the car, the correct size for your child and where possible rearward facing. Lifestyle factors and pram compatibility come second to that. Be sure to follow the Stork Exchange and Olivia to keep up to date with all things car seat safety for your children.
These tips should save you a headache when you’ve landed the perfect seat for your child’s next road trip. Save yourself a further headache by getting a great value 2 year car insurance policy today. You can also make savings on our 2 year home insurance policy too. For promotions, discounts and news follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.