buying a child car seat
Safety

Buying a child car seat

When choosing a new child car seat, make sure that it fits in your car (or cars, if you use it in more than one) and is suitable for the height and weight of your child.

The RSA advises asking the following questions before purchasing a car seat:

1. Is the child car seat suitable for my child?

It is very important to make sure that the child car seat is suitable for your child’s weight and height. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines on each car seat.

2. Is the child car seat suitable for the type of car I drive?

The shape of car seats, the length of seat belts and the position of seatbelt anchor points are different in different cars. So, not all child seats fit all cars. For instance, the seatbelt in a particular car may be too short to go around a particular child seat.

Make sure you check that the child seat you buy will fit in your car and that it will fit in all the seat positions you intend to use it (for example, the back passenger side, the third row in people carrier, and so on). The manufacturer’s instructions should help you fit the child car seat. However, when you buy it, it is always best to have it fitted by an expert, and to be shown how to fit it correctly yourself.

3. Did I get expert advice when I was choosing the car seat?

Make sure you get advice from a child car seat expert retailer or the RSA child car seat expert. Some retailers know more than others about suitable options of child car seats. An expert will be able to advise you on which type of car seat is suitable for your child’s height and weight. You should also choose a retailer who can expertly fit the child car seat into your car to make sure it is a suitable match. They should also show you how the child car seat should be fitted into your car.

4. Does the seat I’ve chosen meet the correct EU standard?

Check that the seat you are buying meets the EU standard R4403 /04 or i-SIZE (Regulation 129). If it does, you should see a yellow or orange sticker with an ‘E’ mark and weight guidelines on the seat.

5. Are the instructions easy to understand and follow?

Make sure the child car seat comes with an instruction manual. Try to have the car seat fitted into the car before you buy it. Ask the expert to show you how to fit the car seat. If this is not possible, you should make sure that there is an easy-to follow instruction manual with the seat and that you fully understand it.

buying a child car seat

6. Did I think about airbags?

It is very dangerous and an offence to place a rearwardfacing child car seat in the front seat if the front seat is protected by an active frontal airbag. Make sure the child seat can be fitted in the back.

7. Does my car have back seats?

While it is recommended that children travel in the back seat away from airbags and the dashboard, if you must place the child car seat in the front, make sure that the seat is appropriate to the child’s weight and height. A rearward-facing child car seat must not be used in the front seat where there is an active airbag. Remember to choose the biggest and strongest child to go in the front.

Think carefully about driving with a child in the front seat – even in the forward position. You must make sure that the passenger seat is rolled back as far away from the dashboard as possible. This could help to reduce the severity of injuries that may be caused to your child if the airbag is released. Remember – airbags are designed for adults. A child, even in a child car seat, does not replicate the typical position of an adult in the passenger seat.

8. Does my car have the ISOFIX or i-Size system?

Check if your vehicle(s) has an ISOFIX (see below for an explanation of i-Size) system suitable for the seat. Ask whether an additional top tether on the seat is needed for extra stability. A top tether is connected to the top of the child car seat and is attached to extra anchor points in the car – for example, in the boot.

Some seats have a ‘foot’ that extends to the vehicle floor for stability. If this is the case, check that it does not rest on the cover of an underfloor compartment as this may be unsafe. www.rsa.ie

Car seat rules

All children under 150cm in height or 36kg (79lb) in weight must use a child restraint system (CRS) suitable for their height and weight while travelling in a car or goods vehicle (other than a taxi). An example of a CRS would be a child car seat or booster cushion.

buying a child car seat

Rear-facing child car seats must not be used in passenger seats protected by an active frontal airbag. An airbag which deploys (opens up) in front of a rearward-facing child car seat can cause serious injury or even death if there is a collision.

Mum’s tip

“Safety and price were my two main factors in choosing a pushchair. The best value for money was in a travel system instead of buying a buggy and car seat separately. I also didn’t want to pay an over the top price. I wanted something I knew would be safe to use that would last. I bought gender neutral colours to ensure that I can use it again.” – Hannah Boylan

Check it fits

How do I know if the child car seat is fitted correctly? Once you have followed the instructions on how to fit the child car seat, it is easy to test if it is fitted correctly. The child car seat should sit firmly on the back seat with no forward or sideways movement when tested. You can simply push the seat to test this, or you can fasten the harness straps and pull it from the centre as if to exert a similar force a child would in the event of heavy braking.

If you are in any doubt, you should visit the Road Safety Authority Child Car Seat Checking Service – Check it Fits www.rsa.ie/checkitfits

What is i-Size?

i-Size is a European standard ‘Regulation 129’ which was introduced in Ireland in September 2014. The key benefits of i-Size seats are that they can be fitted like ISOFIX seats and they provide increased support for the child’s head and neck and they provide better side-impact protection in the event of collisions. An i-SIZE seat also allows your child to stay rear-facing for much longer (up to 15 months in a rearward-facing baby seat).

The categories of these seats is based on height and size rather than height and weight. Both i-Size (Regulation 129) and Regulation R4403/04 (referred to earlier under ‘Law’) are both legal for use and will run alongside each other until the R4403/04 is phased out. However, this is expected to take several years to complete.

More like this:

Choosing the right pushchair for baby
Top information for using public transport with baby
Best baby travel products

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….