Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The importance of choosing the correct car seat

The first car seat I ever had was a gift from a friend. It was eleven whole years ago now and it began a long and varied affair with them.

I loved that car seat - it was such a simple design, safe, easy to use - it stayed with me for over four years as my daughter's brothers arrived and took her place in it.

Our next car seat wasn't such a hit. Expensive, top of the range, it's safety record was impeccable. But it was so ridiculously hard to install that I often sat sweaty and tearful in the back of the car as yet again I tried to figure out where exactly the seatbelt slipped through and what the hell those red clips did. Moving the shoulder straps was equally as bad. Like a version of the krypton factor with the added complications of only having had 2.5 hours sleep all night, a toddler trying to scale your back and a baby screaming. Let's not go back there.

I'm quite sure that more than once I had that car sear installed incorrectly, meaning that the safest seat in the world became a hazard.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Choosing the right car seat for your child means not only knowing their weight and height at each stage, but also whether the chosen seat is appropriate for your particular car. I remember being completely flummoxed by the terms and sizes available in those early years. Forward facing, rear facing, measurements in kgs, measurements in lbs, isofix, boosters...*head melts*

I spent my first six years of motherhood in a constant sleep deprived state and all I wanted was someone to look at my child, look at my car and say - 'Get this type. Install it this way. Now off you go'. It never happened though.

But now it can.


RSA (Road Safety Authority) have been running a really fantastic programme called 'Check it Fits' all over Ireland for the last few years. Launched in 2013 Check it Fits is an entirely free national child car seat checking service. Aimed at both parents and guardians of children up to approx age 12, anyone can go along to their mobile checkpoints to have the fitting of their car seat assessed. The team of experienced car seat experts will check the fitting and appropriateness of the seat for both the child and the car.


The mobile unit travels around Ireland continually, visiting approx 3 venues per week, doing over 50 checks a day. Each check takes approx 10 - 15 minutes. To find your next local Check it Fits date and location you can go to RSA on Facebook will also keep you updated.


Seeing the statistics provided by the RSA in relation to these checks you can immediately see why they are so important. Like me many parents and guardians are confused when it comes to choosing, fitting and overseeing child car seats. From over 7500 checks carried out by RSA a shocking 82% had incorrectly fitted or applied car seats. And of those a terrifying 75% were major installation errors.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

I wonder how many of us are right now driving around with our children in car seats that we fully believe to be safe and secure but are in fact death traps.

So the moral of the story is - get your car seat checked by a professional as soon as possible. It saves lives. It could save your child's life.

End of lecture.

Disclosure: I am working in collaboration with RSA for a series of posts on the importance of child car seats and the correct use of them. If you have any queries or concerns that you would like to raise on the matter please feel free to contact me and I will pass them over to RSA. 

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