How to Buy The Perfect Child Seat For Your Car

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.

 

High back booster seat
Image courtesy of Britax: High Back Booster

 

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.

isofix child seat
Image courtesy of Britax: Does your car have isofix anchors?

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.

Features: 

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!

Extended Rearward Facing Car Seat
Image Courtesy of Britax: Extended Rearward Facing Car Seats are safer.

Final Points:

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 InsuranceGadgetInsurance.com and PetInsurance.ie.

Egg hunts: 5 of our favourites

Easter, in kids eyes, is all about the chocolate…. and oh boy, the Easter bunny knows how to deliver this Easter break! There are some great family events on and egg hunts to keep even the serious chocoholics happy throughout the (long) Easter holidays! Ditch the diet and have some fun – you can always invent your own egg hunts at home, but here are a few good ones that are organised in Dublin. Continue reading Egg hunts: 5 of our favourites

6 Tips for Traveling through Dublin Airport with Kids this Christmas.

Since setting up shop at Dublin Airport, the things I’ve noticed that as a regular passenger I never knew before, and as a parent of small children would definitely want to know….here are some of the more useful ones.photo

1.There is a children’s play area (Terminal 1, Level 3 landside and both terminals have small playareas airside) Essentially a small soft play frame, with seating for adults, coffee shop and McDonalds, baby changing and toilets nearby. Kids have had a play and stretched their legs, nappies are changed, hungry tummies are satisfied and parent remains sane!

2. There is a “family lane” through Departures wide enough to fit a buggy, which allows you and your family a bit of space away from the madness of the security queues. Effectively like your own Fastrack channel, look out for the small signs with a picture of a buggy on them.

3. The DAA offer concierge services, ideal for those traveling alone with children who need an extra pair of hands to get through the airport. It works both ways – you can be met at the air bridge or at Departures and helped with whatever you need. (FYI, this service is also available for elderly or infirmed who might need help or the use of a wheelchair.) See www.dublinairport.com for details, Oh and Stork Exchange customers receive a discount so holler if you need the code!

large.Terminal-2_1012937-sharpened

4. The ‘Lounge Service’ offered by DAA Services is worth considering if you have time to kill before a flight. It’s away from the madness of airside shopping, it has a separate playroom for children with toys and games etc, and access to the lounge bar, which is stocked with juices, drinks and light buffet snacks. Likewise holler for a discount code!
5. If you are hiring a car, the car rental yards are a shuttle bus away and not the most child friendly. You can request to collect your car at the terminal – some car rental companies will charge a fee, others won’t but if you argue you’ve lots of bags and children and would greatly appreciate the extra customer service etc…Otherwise, it would be very sensible to send one parent to rental queues and one up to the playarea mentioned above with the kids…
6. I will put my hands up now and declare I have a vested interest here ….BUT equipment such as prams and car seats are at risk of damage if checked into an aircraft hold… Be very careful, especially with car seats, as damage done might not be automatically apparent. On arrival remove the car seat cover and check for any cracks or signs of stress in the frame of your car seat. If you have to choose between what equipment to c, pick the pram, at least it’ll be obvious if it’s damaged.

5 Family Events in Dublin this December

reindeer

It’s gearing up to be a very busy season this year… there are Christmas markets and Grotto’s galore but here are 5 events which look particularly magical. Share with friends.

 

  • Phoenix Park Christmas Express Train. Phoenix Park have a fantastic event’s calendar planned throughout December: take the Christmas Express Train and while sipping on hot chocolate chugga-chugga choo choo your way through the park, past the live animal crib, past Santa’s reindeers and feel free to sing your way along…apparently the driver loves it! Arrive at the christmas market – Santa will be there for those who would like to visit. Book early, visit phoenixpark.ie for details.

Christmas Train

 

 

  • Farmleigh House deserves a blog in itself, there is so much happening there this December. Lots of good old fashioned Christmas events, like storytelling, christmas carols, Punch and Judy shows, puppet shows, christmas markets… lots of events planned around weekend dates especially. Download their Christmas Programme at www.farmleigh.ie/events .

Farmleigh Market

  • Panto – it’s kind of a must-do in Dublin, and virtually every theatre has one on – Peter Pan at The Gaiety, Aladin at the Olympia, Cinderella is a busy lady this Christmas being at both The Helix and The Cheerios Panto at The Tivoli. For those who would like something a little bit different however, The Ark present ‘A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing’ described as a music show that explores the magic and mystery of winter.
  • Imaginosity Children’s Museum – have organised a Christmas Programme that includes face painting, Grinch story performances, Elf on the Shelf storytime and lots more. As always with Imaginosity it is wise to book in advance. Further details on their website.

first

  • The Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin always have a lovely children’s programme and this Christmas is no exception. Workshops on how to make eco friendly christmas cards, Christmas Markets, music and carol singing – this coming Saturday 14th looks especially festive. See botanicalgardens.ie for more details.

4 Alternative presents kids will love and their parents will thank you for!

Not that I am dropping any hints or anything, the good samaritan that I am is sharing what I consider as very cool, really practical alternative Christmas gifts … Plus if you’re traveling home for Christmas they won’t take up any space in your luggage!

dublin monkey
1. Dublin Zoo Membership
Gives a year’s entry for free and is definitely a real winner in terms of savings and scores high on the rescue card for bored children.
Individual €112 (Pass Holder + 2 children / Pass Holder + 1 Adult) or
Family €168 (Pass Holder Pass holder + 3 Adults, or Pass holder + 2 Adults + 2 Children, or Pass holder + 1 Adult + 4 Children, or Pass holder + 6 Children)
2. Imaginosity Membership
Starting from €100 for a family of two for six months the Children’s Museum not only offers holders unlimited admission, but also discounts at the gift shop, on parties and seasonal camps, plus extra free passes to bring friends, plus newsletters. Total winner for the rainy day option, which, let’s be honest, we get a lot of here.
3. Tayto Park Membership

tayto park
€130 for a year’s membership for 2 Adult + 2 Kids, and with so much to do for all age groups at Tayto Park, what’s not to love!

4. Easons Magazine Subscriptions

Starting at €58 for titles like National Geograhic for Children, a year’s subscription to a magazine is like getting a present in the post every month! There are loads of titles to choose from too, so you are sure to find something for everyone.

And two gifts they won’t thank you for…

drumkit
1. Drum kit – of any size or for any age group, that is just cruel!
2. Plasticine or maula or anything that ends up in a clumpy mess and walked into your carpet!

Diluting Santa

 

santa-claus

I feel like a bit of a Scrooge here, but I’m gonna blog it anyway… Don’t you think having Santa on every street corner waters down the magic and makes him a little bit less believable? Last year my kids saw Santa four times before Christmas and the awful thing was that three of those four occasions were beyond my control. The creche, the school, and the supermarket all invited Santa to come visit. By the time we actually brought them “to see Santa”, any sense of awe and wonder was gone and really the kids were just waiting for their present. My daughter didn’t even cry… aren’t all kids supposed to cry when they see Santa, so overwhelmed are they by it all?

I suppose it does support the ‘you’d better be good, Santa is watching’ argument, given his omnipresence it certainly feels that way. It’s like the way Hallmarks has sucked Valentine’s Day dry of romance, but worse, because Valentine’s Day never had the magic to begin with. The ubiquitous Grotto commercializes an already commercialized holiday by taking away the expectation of Santa, the mystery of Santa, the scary, magic of Santa and replacing it with the expectation of sitting on some bearded guy’s knee and getting a present. And on the subject of beards… isn’t there some sort of Santa School, where to qualify you at least have to have a genuine white beard? Most of these pretenders are at best a fire hazard.

Well meaning as they are, I don’t want the creche or school inviting Santa to see the kids, or the supermarket or the shopping centres. Ba humbug as I know I sound, I am going to keep my kids away from all things Grotto this year, in an effort to bring back some of the magic of Christmas… maybe we’ll visit some reindeers instead. End of Rant!

Dublin Airport Family Services

So many of you were looking for information on assistance available at Dublin Airport, that I did a bit of investigating and I think you’ll be happy with what I’ve found…

1. Family Lane and Seating Areas Airside
So the good news is, there is a  ‘Family Lane’ to get through security in terminal 1. With a lane wide enough for a buggy to fit through and separate from the other passengers queueing to get through security in Terminal 1 who needs Fastrack?! These lanes are specifically for families with small children and cost nothing!
There are also new seating areas which are suitable for children – in terminal 1 it is beside Starbucks, with lots of space for children to play, a couple of toys, soft (fun) seating, RTE Junior on a big screen etc.
2. DAA Lounge Service (with Family Rooms)
I am so excited about this little life saver – both terminals have lounge areas with separate family rooms, where toddlers can play or tantrum to their heart’s content without disturbing fellow travellers! You pay €19.95 per person (no kiddie rates I’m afraid), but this does allow you access to the family room, and a self-service style kitchen stocked with juices, soft beverages, teas, coffees and two alcoholic drinks per adult and snacks such as fruit, croissants and cereals at breakfast, soup, crackers and cheeses at lunch etc. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of air side and the family room, while small, is clean, safe and virtually soundproof. It has a highchair, TV with kiddie videos (think Peppa Pig etc) toys, baby changing facilities etc. Sooooo worth considering if you’re early for your flight, or your flight is delayed. You can pre-book the lounge or pay at the door …all in all it’s a very nice way to get your holiday off to a stress free start.