It’s one of the most magical moments in your life; some even describe it as their biggest achievement, so it’s hardly surprising that we want to make sure our babies are safe.
As a parent you want to protect your child, because after all, it’s not how safe you drive, but how other motorists behave on the road. It’s essential to choose a car seat that you know will protect your infant against any type of accident.
The general consensus is to use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, this is normally up to 9 months depending on the weight and height of your child. However, this is set to change later this year and increase to 15 months.
Remember that you must not use a rear-facing child seat on a passenger seat where there is an active passenger airbag fitted. The close proximity of the child’s head to the airbag could result in severe injury or death if the bag is triggered in an accident.
Baby Seats – early on
Your newborn baby will not be able to support his or her head until about six weeks and won’t be able sit up until much later. This is why child seats for the youngest children are all rear-facing, designed to support the head, neck and back evenly.
Your baby’s car seat could save their life, so it’s really important that you do your research. Buying the most expensive product on the market, might not necessarily offer the best protection, or fit in with your lifestyle needs, so don’t rush the process and choose wisely. When buying always make sure you only purchase an EU-approved baby seat, these have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and never buy from the internet unless it’s a trusted site. You should also never buy secondhand unless you personally know that the seat is functional, has no wear and tear, and has never been involved in any kind of accident.
Be prepared to discuss different options with the retailer, as it will help them choose and fit the right seat for your family needs. Think about the cars used by grandparents and child minders; will they use your seat?
Baby Seats – Isofix mounting
You need to know whether the cars you most commonly use have Isofix mounts, or whether you’ll need a seat that can be fitted with a seatbelt. If you’re not sure what an Isofix mount is, check your car handbook.
If you have a relatively new car, it’s likely to have Isofix mounting points. This is the standard system for all new cars and seat manufacturers, designed to make installing your child safety seat quick and easy.
Many parents worry about fitting their car seat correctly, but with Isofix you simply ‘click in’ a compatible car safety seat to mounting points in the vehicle, rather than fiddling with seat belts.
If you have more than one child consider that fitting two or more child car seats in a car can be difficult, so be prepared to mention the other children you transport regularly, when speaking to the shop assistant.
Baby Seats – Get Advice From a Trained Fitter
Before you drive down to your local retailer, call and see if they have a fitting service, so you can be sure to get valuable help from their trained child car seat fitter. This will enable you can choose a suitable seat and they can show you how to fit it properly.
If you are struggling to find a retailer that offer this kind of service, then some local councils hold regular car seat fitting clinics where you can get the fitting of your seat checked by trained fitters, so it’s worth contacting them to take advantage of this free service.
And finally make sure you personally have at least one go at installing the car seat yourself, preferably with the help of an expert, before you buy.