Finding it difficult to pick a car seat? We've answered all your questions here
ISOFIX? ERF? i-Size?
If you are currently in the process of looking for a car seat, whether you are pregnant and buying your very first one, or your baby has outgrown their first car seat and needs the next size up, there is no denying that when it comes to car seats, the lingo alone can be enough to make anyone feel totally and utterly clueless.
However, to help you out, we paid a visit to Mothercare to chat with their highly trained Car Seat Experts, and luckily, they were more than willing to help answer all our questions – and explains what all those letters and numbers really do mean:
For instance, here are some of the most frequently asked questions mums and dad come to Mothercare's Car Seat Experts with:
What is the EU Legislation and will it affect me?
What is i-size?
Why ERF? (Extended Rear Facing Car Seats)
What is ISOFIX?
The EU Legislation
EU Legislation regarding Booster Cushions will not apply in Ireland. However, it is recommended that a high back booster seat is used to offer support to the child’s head, neck and spine and a booster cushion should only be considered after the child reaches 22kgs.
I-Size is the EU standard for increased child safety. It provided improved protection for side and front impact and much better protection for the head and neck. Rearward facing is mandatory for up to 36kg. Length classification is provided to make it easier for parents to select the right seat.
About Extended Rearward Facing (ERF):
What does ERF mean? Extended Rearward Facing.
This in short means that a car seat can stay facing the rear of the car for longer than an infant carrier. There are now seats that can remain rearward facing up to 18kg and then others up to 25kg. Some of these seats also have height restrictions, each car seat is different and the weight and height restrictions need to be reviewed.
What are the safety benefits to keep a 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 very different from that of an adult, with its head being approx. 25 percent of its body weight. In an adult, our heads are around 6 percent of our body weight. Their neck and vertebrae are also underdeveloped.
In a forward-facing seat, a child’s shoulders and body are held back by the harness but neck and head area are thrown forward when in a frontal collision which places force on the undeveloped head, neck and spine.
In a rear-facing position collision, the whole back of child is absorbing the impact of the forward collision. The little one's head and neck are forced back into the seat.
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.
This is based on the weight first and foremost then 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.
In an infant carrier, a simple push down on the top of the seat will check if it is correctly fitted. If a parent or guardian has any doubts they can get their car seats checked free of charge in all Mothercare stores.
Other things to remember and consider when buying a car set
Height and weight of the child
A correctly fitting car seat is measured by a child’s height and weight. If you are unsure, bring your child to the store to get it measured against the wall chart.
As well as compatibility with your child, the seat needs to be compatible with your car. Mothercare has a full list of automobiles and can match the seat to your child and car.
As the child grows, so does the family and parents often have more than one car seat or booster seat in the car. Both are equally as important and need to be fitted correctly. Never buy a car seat second hand. You do not know the history and the seat could be seriously damaged without any visibility of damage.
If the seat will be changed between cars, it's useful to use an ISOFIX system whereby the seat will slot into place. Some cars have built-in ISOFIX.
Here’s a note on different types of car seats:
A baby grows rapidly and as their weight and height changes, hence the need for a safe and comfortable car seat.