I was asked to write a post for Blue Insurance on buying the perfect child seat for your car. Given that we are trained every year by Britax and install seats in a huge range of cars, we’ve picked up a few nuggets we are happy to share.
Having young children can be stressful for parents at the best of times. One of the more challenging experiences however, is choosing the car seat for your child, and your car. Car seats are the only piece of equipment with a sole function of safety. 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. Aside from the RSA guidelines, we’ve added a couple of tips that we’ve learned through our training with Britax.
Before you buy: Some questions to ask before shopping.
Firstly, be guided by experts and go to a reputable shop such as Tony Kealy’s. Staff there are 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. 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 (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 of the back seat? Are there storage cabins under the floor in the back seat? These would 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 child seat you can buy.
Shopping Around On-Line:
Do some research online into the different child seat brands. There are some great award winning child seat brands such as “Britax” and “Cybex”, whose engineering and crash testing goes further than EU legislation requires. Consider your budget. Child seats aren’t cheap, but they are 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. 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, even 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. However, a high back booster seat protects the child’s head, neck and spine, as well as correctly positioning the seat belt. 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. 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 should always come second to that.
This piece is adapted from a blog posted by Blue Insurance with our help. Check out their deals on car and home insurance to see how much you can save. You can also find great value policies on Blue’s other successful brands such as Multitrip.com, Backpacker Travel Insurance, GadgetInsurance.com and PetInsurance.ie.