Running The Stork Exchange has made me so much more aware of child car seat safety and how important it is to install a seat correctly. I get asked a tonne of questions by customers, especially as car seats vary hugely from country to country. We’ve attended numerous training workshops with Britax and Maxi Cosi so here’s a few pointers I’ve picked up along the way that I’d like to share.
- Forward Vs Rearward facing?
Rearward facing wins hands down. In Ireland we tend to turn our children around at 13kg (approximately 12 months). In many countries, such as Scandinavia, it is possible to get rearward facing seats up to the age of 4 years. In Ireland however the seats are not easily available or affordable but hopefully this trend will catch on and become standard throughout Europe. Forward facing seats are very safe too, so long as they are installed correctly.
- Isofix Vs Seatbelt?
Believe it or not, they are both equally as safe as the other, so long as they are installed correctly. The main advantage of Isofix is that it is easier to install correctly than a car seat installed with a seat belt, but in both cases it’s best to follow the instructions and guides provided to the letter.
- Chest Clips
…are legal in America and illegal in Ireland and many European countries. Invented and used to prevent “Houdini Junior” breaking out of the harness whilst driving, but if in an accident they can cause severe injuries to the chest area. A solution is to always make sure the harness is tight against your child’s chest, you shouldn’t be able to put more than a finger between the harness and your child’s chest.
- Booster Cushion Vs Highback Booster
Seatbelts are triggered by weight, and children are not heavy enough to trigger the seatbelt which is why we put them in car seats. If you are using a booster cushion your child is heavy enough to trigger the seatbelt. However, the advantage of a high back booster seat (which is available up to 36kg / 12 years of age) is that it has added side impact, head and back protection – so where is the debate?
- Pinch and Wiggle…
One of my customers told me this little trick, to make sure the seat and your child are installed correctly. Pinch the harness to see if it’s tight enough, if you can pinch more than an inch, that’s not good (is it ever!) so tighten it again. Once installed and with the child inside, try wiggling the seat forwards and backwards, with your left hand (if your right handed or your right hand if you’re left handed). The seat shouldn’t move too much either way, and if it does, tighten it again!