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Expert advice

06th Sep 2021

Extended car seat usage – what age will your kids stop?

Laura Cunningham

“Let safety guidelines, and not peer pressure, help you decide”

Many car seats are suitable for children roughly up to the age of four, depending on their size and weight. But there are seats available for children up to around seven years old, should you wish to keep them in a seat for longer.

There are parents who allow their kids to travel front-facing when they’re 15-months-old, and those who continue with rear facing for as long as possible.

These decisions are yours, but what does the law say?

As detailed by the RSA, these are the current legalities around child safety in cars in Ireland

Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers under 17 are appropriately restrained in the vehicle.

All children under 150cms in height or 36kgs (79lbs) in weight must use a child restraint system (CRS) such as a car seat or booster cushion, suitable for their height and weight, while travelling in a car or goods vehicle.

Although it is advised that children should always travel in the back of the car, away from active airbags and the dashboard, there is no law against children sitting in the front seat, as long as they are using the right child restraint for their height and weight. However, it is illegal to use a rearward-facing child car seat in a passenger seat protected by an airbag and there is now a penalty for doing so of at least 3 penalty points.

Taxi drivers are exempt from supplying child car seats.

If you decide on extended car seat usage, what do you do when your kid is no longer a pre-schooler and all their friends have left their ‘baby seat’ far behind?

One mother is urging parents to let safety guidelines and your gut, and not peer pressure, help you decide.

He has been teased for being in a ‘baby seat’ from his friends at school this past term.

On her Paging Fun Mums Facebook page, Australian mother Louise Thomsen said: “Here is a photo of my 7-year-old on a long road trip we took over the school holidays. He has been teased for being in a ‘baby seat’ from his friends at school this past term. No parent wants their child to experience ridicule BUT the statistics speak for themselves regarding children & approved car seats…especially when they fall asleep in their seats.”

Globally, road traffic accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury among young people and, according to the RSA, correct safety measures have the power to “dramatically impact” those statistics.

If you’re unsure about what’s the safest option for your child, you’ll find more information here and here or contact the manufacturers directly.

Above all, consider your kid’s height and weight, and not their age, when deciding on your car setup.

As for peer pressure from other kids, and other adults, should you choose to go your own way? I guess we just need to teach our kids that staying safe is cool.