Three key questions to help you get best the car seat for your child
It is vital you devote a lot of time and attention to picking the right seat for your little passengers in event of a crash
Children are one of the most precious cargoes we can carry in our cars, and they depend on us to make sure they are protected.
Choosing a child car seat can be overwhelming, particularly for new parents, who sometimes find themselves thrust into a whirlwind of information overload.
But a car seat is one of the most important things you'll buy for your child. While the pram, cot, clothes and all the other things are important, a child car seat is something that could save a life.
Whether it's the first seat you've bought or not, there are three main questions to remember:
1. Is the seat appropriate for my child's height/weight/ size?
2. Is the seat appropriate for the car?
3. Is it fitted according to manufacturer instructions?
These questions deserve priority over whether the car seat fits onto the chassis of your pram or the colour of the seat.
Choosing a retailer is really important too.
You're looking for someone who can advise you and, critically, someone who is trained to fit the seat into your car and show you how to fit it yourself.
There are so many little things that can affect how safely a seat will fit.
Simple things like longer buckles, shorter seatbelts, higher ISOFIX points, sport-shaped seats and underfloor storage areas are only a few of the most common issues.
We come across these and many more in the 30,000-plus seats we've checked at our mobile child car seat checking service, Check It Fits.
This is a free service that travels nationwide.
These little things highlight the importance of having the seat physically fitted into your car before you purchase.
When you've chosen the retailer, you need to allow time to visit the store.
Buying a child seat is not something you should do in a hurry.
While you can easily buy one online, the advantages of visiting the retailer mean you can test your child in the seat, test the seat in your car and, importantly, be shown how to fit it correctly.
A rear-facing child car seat is up to five times safer than a forward-facing one in a crash.
In a rear-facing seat, the crash forces are spread over a larger area and the seat itself absorbs some forces.
However, more crash forces are applied to the child's body in a forward-facing seat.
Rear-facing seats are available up to 25kg, so it's best to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible.
Some of these seats may need slightly more attention when fitting them, so it's all the more important to visit the retailer in person.
But even when you've chosen the seat and it's been expertly fitted, your responsibility doesn't end there.
You should regularly check the fitting of the seat to the car - ISOFIX indicators, seatbelt guides, clamps, handle position. Watch for seatbelt slack and unbuckled seatbelts to ensure that the fit is tight.
You should regularly check the fitting of the child in the seat: weight and height, head restraint, shoulder harness height, wedges and inserts.
Try not to have your child wear a bulky jacket, because it can affect how snugly the harness fits and in turn increase the risk of injury in a crash.
As adults our job is to protect children if they are travelling in a car, so we must give this the time it deserves and constantly check our children are travelling safely.
Things can happen in the blink of an eye and it can be the difference between a minor bump or scratch and a life-altering injury - or worse.
Visit www.checkitfits.ie for more information.