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Dear Driver: What do I need to know when buying child seats?

Got a motoring question or looking for some advice? We’re here to help.

Image: Shutterstock/Dmitry Kalinovsky

Got a question? Need advice? Submit your queries to melanie@thejournal.ie.

THIS WEEK, A reader asks

What do I need to know when buying child seats?

The answer:

The law states that until they reach 150cm or 36kg – generally 11-13 years old – all children must use a child car seat appropriate to their weight and height.

According to the AA Motoring Trust, using the correct seat for children can reduce injuries by a factor of 90-95 per cent for rear-facing seats and 60 per cent for forward-facing seats.

Drivers have a legal responsibility to make sure that all passengers under the age of 17 are in the correct seat, booster seat, booster cushion or are buckled up while inside the car.

Source: Newspress

You therefore need to make sure that whatever child seat system you purchase meets EU child safety laws.

All seats sold in Ireland must meet EU standards UN ECE Regulation 4403/04 or Regulation 129, which can be identified by an orange label with the ‘E’ mark.

Fitting System

Source: Par Securange, Britax, chicco — Securange, Britax, chicco, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Check if your car has ISOFIX fittings or if you need to buy a child restraint system that uses seat belts.

If your child travels in other vehicles frequently, you should also check what fittings are in those cars and buy a child seat that you can move between them.

ISOFIX is extremely safe and reduces the risk of incorrect installation… but not all cars have ISOFIX.

Child Seat Groups

Child seats are categorised according to the weight of the child. There are four main groups as well as convertible seats that cover more than one group. These are:

 

  • Group 0: rearward facing baby seat to be used from birth to 10kg
  • Group 0+: rearward facing baby seat to be used from birth to 13kg
  • Group 1: rearward or forward facing child seat to be used from 9kg to 18kg
  • Group 1, 2, 3: high-back booster seat with removable harness to be used from 9kg to 36kg
  • Group 2: high-back booster seat without harness to be used from 15kg to 25kg
  • Group 2, 3: high-back booster seat without harness to be used from 15kg to 36kg
  • Group 3: booster cushion to be used from 22kg to 36kg

 

i-Size Seats

Source: Newspress

i-Size is a European standard of seats that can be fitted to most ISOFIX points. i-Size standard seats meet enhanced performance and safety criteria for systems designed to be used from birth to 105cm (roughly four years of age).

i-Size standard is based on the child’s height and size not weight and age. These seats allow children to stay in rear-facing seats until they are at least 15 months old as rear-facing seats give better protection than forward-facing seats. i-Size seats give extra support to the child’s head and neck and provide better side-impact protection.

Try It Out For Size

Source: City of Oak Ridge Twitter

When buying a car seat, it’s well worth taking your car along to the shop and getting expert advice from the shop workers. Take the seat to your car and fit it there and then following the instructions and the advice of the expert.

Make sure the seat fits properly and that you can easily fit it and remove it yourself. Then, fit your child in the seat and make sure your child sits snugly and securely. (Make sure your child isn’t wearing any bulky coats when you place them in the seat.)

If the shop won’t let you fit the seat to your car before buying, either find another shop that will, or fit your child into the seat in the shop and then get the assistant to show you all the parts of the seat and how each of them work and how they will work in your car.

READ: How to protect your car’s paintwork in the long term >

READ: Ten things you need to know about the Toyota GT86 >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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