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Choosing Your Child’s Car Seat

With your new baby you are instantly confronted with bewildering decisions about what is best for your baby which nappies, bottles, clothes, prams, strollers or bedding.

One of the must-haves is your baby car seat – it is crucially important to get it right for the safety of your baby. Geraldine Herbert of guides you through some of the key points.

Choosing the car seat

It is a legal requirement to have a car seat for any child under the age of 12, or below 135cm in height. The determining factor when choosing a car seat is the weight and height of your child, not the age. You should continue to use a car seat until the child has completely grown out of it, rather than when he reaches a certain age. Child car seats are divided into categories according to the height, weight and age. These correspond broadly to different age groups but, as mentioned above, it is the weight of your child that is the most significant factor when deciding what type of child seat to use.

Key features to look for

  • Group 0+ (from birth to 13kg) are designed for babies from birth to approximately 12 months. This seat must be rear-facing with head support
  • Group 1 (from 9-18kg) are suitable for children from nine months to four years
  • Group 2/3 (from 15-36kg) seats are high-backed booster seats suitable for four- to eleven-year-olds
  • Group 3 (from 22-36kg) are booster seats suitable for six- to eleven-year-olds

Ensure that the seat has a minimum of a three-point safety harness, but ideally a five-point restraint. Forward-facing car seats are designed for small children who are above 9kg (20lbs) and usually around nine months and above. However, the latest safety advice suggests rear-facing car seats offer children more protection in a collision than the more common forward-facing type. A British Medical Journal article in 2009 concluded that it was safer for children to remain in rear-facing seats until they were four years of age. However, finding rear-facing seat for toddlers is not easy as they are not as common in Ireland, despite being widely available in other countries.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is an international standard that uses a system of in-built mounts to fit a child restraint to a car seat. It is by far the safest way to ensure your car seat is securely fitted, as it vastly reduces the chance of your child's car seat being incorrectly installed. ISOFIX was introduced in 1999, but it did not become a standard feature in cars until 2006 – so if your car is pre-2006, you must check that you have ISOFIX points.

Installing a car seat

The key to safety is fitting the seat properly. When you purchase the car seat, get a trained member of staff to fit it into your car. Continue to check the fit regularly. If you must put a car seat in the front of the car, ensure the airbag is turned off – never fit a car seat where there is an active airbag.
Always ask AXA! AXA are Ireland’s largest motor insurer with great deals for eumom members. We have a special arrangement with Halfords with 15% off car seats, as well as great advice and fitting if needs be. Remember, it’s not what you drive, it’s who you drive!

About the Author

eumom team 


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