How To Fit A Child's Car Seat
Take The Hassle Out Of Fitting A Car Seat
Research has shown that 3 out of 4 child car seats are fitted incorrectly. This means that if fitted incorrectly, your child could have little or no protection in the event of a crash. Below we take a look at some of the important things you should consider when fitting or buying a child car seat.
It’s the law
Since 2006 it has been mandatory for all children up to 150cms in height to be restrained in an appropriate child restraint. Child restraints are otherwise known as, child car seats, booster seats or booster cushions and are a requirement for any child under the age of 3 years. Children over 3 but under 150cms in height and weighing less than 36kg must use a child seat appropriate for their height and weight when travelling in a car. All car seats must be in accordance with EU standards.
Before purchasing your car seat it is important to check the following:
- Ensure that the seat is compatible for your child and your car. Most people assume that car seats are universal however this is not always the case. If you are unsure about the compatibility you can check with the retailer or manufacturer.
- Make sure the restraint is suitable for your child’s weight and size.
- Restraints should be approved to the latest standard (currently UNECE regulation 44.04).
- Check your vehicle handbook to see if your car has an ISOFIX system. It may be a safer way to fit a car seat but only where the system is the correct category and size.
Some questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a car seat are:
- Can you fit and adjust the seat easily?
- Are the buckles easy for you to close but difficult for your child to open?
- Is your child comfortable in the seat?
- Can it be easily cleaned or covers removed?
As all children are different, car seats and restraints are generally tested by weight rather than child, age or size. But in general child restraints belong to one or more of the following car seat categories:
- Infant carrier (Group 0 and 0+) – up to 10kg (birth to 6-9 months) or up to 13kg (birth to 12-15 months)
- Child seats (Group 1) – 9 to 18kg (approx. 9 months to 4 years)
- Booster seats (Group 2 and 3) – 15-25kg (approx. 4-6 years)
- Booster cushions (Group 3) – 22-36kg (approx. 6-11 years)
It’s worth noting that, for safety reasons, children should stay rear facing for as long as possible. Rearward facing seats better support children’s necks and heads from whiplash type injuries. You should only transition your child from a rearward facing seat to a forward facing one when they are over the maximum weight for the seat as outlined by the manufacturer or when their eye level is in line with the top of the seat. It is possible to buy extended rear facing car seats that are suitable for children up to 25 kgs (55 lbs).
The car seat you choose should conform to the UN standard, ECE Regulation 44.03, or a later version of the standard, 44.04, or new i-Size (Regulation 129). Be sure to check for the ‘E’ mark label on the restraint before you buy.
Remember to -
- Check your child's weight in kilograms before you shop for a restraint;
- Check the child seat manufacturer's instructions carefully. It's important to ensure that the seat is suitable for your child and compatible with your car;
- Weigh your child regularly as he or she grows. This way you can tell when you should buy the next seat. In practice, the child will probably grow too big for the seat before exceeding its weight limit;
- Don't be too eager to move children up into the next larger restraint, generally, a big child in a small restraint will be safer than a small child in a large restraint;
- Don't rely on the upper age limit printed on the packaging. Some children may outgrow a seat faster than you think; and
- Never use a rearward facing child car seat in the front passenger seat that is fitted with an active airbag.
Check it Fits
Most retailers will show you how to correctly install and fit your car seat to both your car and your child. But if in doubt the RSA (Road Safety Authority) run a free ‘check it fits’ service throughout the country. For details on this service check out http://www.rsa.ie/checkitfits.
Can A Child Sit In The Front Of A Car?
You should always have your child ride in the back of the car as this is the safest place for them to be in the event of a crash. Having your child ride in the front seat could have disastrous consequences. If an airbag is deployed when a child is travelling up front in a rear facing car seat, it could result in death. If you are caught driving with a rear-facing car seat in your passenger seat without the airbag switched off, you could be given at least three penalty points on your driving licence.
Can A Child Sit In The Front Seat With A Booster?
Children should sit in the back seats of a car, in a position in which you can see them through your rear view mirror at all times, as this is safer in the event of an accident.
Are Babies Allowed In The Front Seat Of A Car?
Babies should be placed in a suitable carrier in the rear of the car to keep them as safe as possible. As mentioned above, it is illegal to drive with a baby or young child in a rearward facing carrier in the front seat of a vehicle with airbags active.
Are Booster Seats As Safe As Car Seats?
Once a child reaches a certain age or weight, it is likely they will outgrow their car seats. When this happens, booster seats and cushions actually become safer to use than a car seat that has become too small. Your child should move from a car seat to a booster seat when they reach the correct age and/or weight listed in guidelines above.
As regular seat belts are designed for adults and not children, booster seats are designed to lift children up higher in their seat to ensure the belt lies naturally across the strong bones of the chest and pelvis rather than the tummy, neck or head. This improved positioning helps to ensure the belt does its job correctly in the event of a crash.
Remember, if you are involved in a traffic accident, make sure you report it straight away to your car insurance provider.Always check that your child car seat or booster is intact and does not need to be replaced with a new one.
Can A Child Wear A Coat In A Car Seat?
Different weather conditions dictate what your child will be wearing. However, what you might not have considered is that what your child is wearing could affect how you correctly use your child seat. If, for example, it is winter and your child is wearing a bulky coat, you need to ensure that when you place your child in their seat, you are not putting them at risk because of their coat. A good test is to place your child in their car child seat with their coat on and then put on their safety belts and harness. Now take off their coat and see how much space there is between them and the belt. If the belt is loose then this means that the child will not get the full support of the belt if there were an incident where the belt was needed. This will highlight the importance of always making sure the belts and harnesses are correctly fitted depending on what your child is wearing.
Although it is important to ensure the safety of your child, it is just as important to make sure that you're protected in the unfortunate event of an accident. We like to help our customers in whatever way possible, especially when it comes to finding them the right deal on their car insurance. So give us a call today on 01 400 3400 and we can compare a number insurers to find you the right policy. Otherwise get a Quick Quote above to see how much you can save.