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Forward Facing, Isofix, Boosters – A Guide to Car Seats

A car seat is the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your child.
It’s easy to forget, with everything you need to remember and juggle and consider, that the car seat is a piece of safety equipment, its sole purpose to protect your baby and or child in the event of an accident. Running The Stork Exchange has made me so much more aware of child 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:

 

Forward VS Rearward facing?

 

Forward facing seats are fine, so long as they are installed correctly but Rearward Facing in terms of safety wins’ hands down. In Ireland we tend to turn our children around at 13kg (approximately 12 months) but in many countries, such as Scandinavia, it is possible to get rearward facing seats up to the age of 4 years and longer. The tide is turning here however with the introduction of more and more brands offering rearward for longer at various different price points. Rearward facing is the future, even Volvo have designed a car with the back seats all rearward facing.

 

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

 

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... but so would not being properly restrained in the car seat. 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? One customer told me that while not “illegal” you can no longer buy booster cushions in shops.

 

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 you're 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! Feel free to get in touch with us at The Stork Exchange if you’re looking for any travel tips or advice. Read more about our Travel Expert here.
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About the Author

I’m Olivia Mai, founder of The Stork Exchange and Mum to two small children. My third baby is the one I leave at home when I go on holidays, it’s called The Stork Exchange and it’s my little business. It is a children's equipment hire service that offers everything from child car seats, prams, buggies, cots and highchairs, to monitors, booster seats, buggy boards and pram bags. I started The Stork Exchange with my husband four years ago after a bad experience on holidays abroad with my kids. Fast forward four years and we now have two shops, one at Dublin Airport and one in Shannon. We work closely with a number of airlines and car rental companies and have spent three years developing our product range. That’s a lot of products to trail -- safety, durability and ease of use are top priorities. I constantly get asked questions by parents about travelling with kids -- what equipment to bring, what not to bring, what’s allowed by airlines, what’s not. Being at the airport day in day out means I am pretty close to it all and as a result have built up loads of knowledge, tips and nuggets of practical and useful info about the do’s and don’t of travelling with children. I also learn from the experience of other Mums and Dads. It’s great to be able to share this advice to help make the journey and holiday a bit smoother and easier for other parents. Want to get in touch? Email me at olivia@thestorkexchange.ie or call 087 255 8702 Check out my website and social channels at the icons above.

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