The new car seat safety guidelines are here and this is what you need to know
Ensuring your children’s car seats are fitted correctly is the law and it could save your child’s life.
March is Car Safety Month, so HerFamily spoke to the car seat experts at Mothercare to find out exactly what parents need to know about car seat safety, rear facing car seats, and the latest EU legislation.
So, what is the new EU Legislation and how does it affect parents in Ireland?
The new EU legislation regarding booster cushions doesn't apply in Ireland. However, the current recommendations state that a high back booster seat should be used for as long as possible to offer as much support as possible to your child’s head, neck and spine. As best practice Mothercare no longer stock booster cushions, but if you are thinking of using one they should only be considered after your child reaches 22kgs.
What exactly is ISOFIX?
ISOFIX is the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. It defines standard attachment points to be manufactured into cars, enabling compliant child safety seats to be quickly and safely secured. ISOFIX is an alternative to securing the seat with seat belts.
How do I know if my child is in the correct seat?
This is based on the height of the child - age is just a guide. With proper training a car seat expert should be able to spot if the child is the correct height for their seat. Any child under 150cm should be in a seat - that's usually at around 11 years of age.
How do I know if my child's car seat has been fitted correctly?
In an infant carrier, a simple push down on the top of the seat will check if it is correctly fitted. If you have any doubts you can get your car seats checked free of charge in any of our stores.
What is i-size and why does it matter?
I-size is the EU standard for increased child safety. It provides improved protection from side and front impact and much better protection for the head and neck. Rearward facing is mandatory for babies up to 15 months and length classification is provided to make it easier for parents to select the right seat.
What about extended rearward facing car seats?
Extended rearward facing car seats (ERFs) are car seats that stay facing the rear of the car for longer than infant carriers. There are now seats available that can remain rearward facing up to 18kg and then others up to 25kg. Some of these seats also have height restrictions, but each car seat is different and the weight and height restrictions need to be looked at with your child in mind.
Are there safety benefits to keeping my child rearward facing for longer?
When a child is forward facing and a frontal collision occurs the child is flung forward in the seat, being caught by the harness. This puts stress on the neck, the spine, and the internal organs. Your little one's body is obviously very different to an adult's, with his or her head being approximately 25% of its bodyweight. Our adult heads are around 6% of our body weight.
In a forward facing seat, a child’s shoulders and body are held back by the harness. But the neck and head are thrown forward when in a frontal collision which places force on the undeveloped head, neck and spine. In a rear facing seat, the child's head and neck are forced back into the seat.
Things to remember when selecting a car seat
The height and age of your child
Remember that a correctly fitting car seat is measured by your child’s height - age is just a guide. If you are at all unsure, bring your child to a store to get him or her measured against a wall chart.
Your car type
As well as compatibility with your child, the seat needs to be compatible with your car! Unfortunately, not every seat matches every car.
More often than not as a child grows, so does a family and parents end up with more than one car seat or booster seat in their car. Both are equally as important and need to be fitted correctly. You should never buy a carseat second-hand, you don't know its history and the seat could be seriously damaged without any visible damage.
If the seat will be changed between two cars, it’s best to use an ISOFIX system so the seat will just slot into place. Many cars now have built in ISOFIX.
Different types of car seats
Babies grow rapidly and as their weight and height changes, so too does the need for a safe and comfortable car seat.
Infant car seat
An infant car seat is suitable from birth to 29lbs, approximately up to 12 to 15 months. They are rearward facing, lightweight and portable, with a carry handle. Many models are compatible with ISOFIX bases.
Combination car seat
A combination seat is suitable from birth to 40lbs, approximately up to 4 years. It is to be used rearward facing from birth to 20lbs and forward facing from 20lbs to 40lbs. The seat has an integral harness and is secured with an adult seatbelt.
Forward facing car seat
Suitable from 20lbs to 40lbs, approximately 9 months to 4 years, the forward facing car seat is adjustable to various recline positions. Many models are compatible with ISOFIX or an ISOFIX base.
High back booster with a harness
Suitable from 20lbs to 79lbs, approximately 9 months to 11 years. The high back booster with integrated harness is forward facing and uses an integral harness from 20-22lbs and is used with a vehicle belt from 33-79lbs.
High back booster without a harness
Suitable from 33lbs to 79lbs, approximately 4 to 11 years, the high back booster without harness is forward facing, secured with an adult seatbelt only and most models come with ISOFIX attachments.
Suitable from 33lbs to 79lbs, approximately 4 to 11 years, the booster seat is forward facing, secured by an adult seat belt and is a very useful back up option for grandparent’s car or unexpected situations.
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