Car Travelling Safely with Children
With travel restrictions being lifted, we can now start thinking about going on long car journeys again.
So how can you keep your child safely installed and occupied in the car?
Car Seat Check
Firstly, as many of us have not been using the car much, it is important to check that your child still fits in their car seat and that is it not outgrown.
The orange label on the side of a car seat details the weight / height limit. Check the car seat manual also, which will indicate these limits. If you have lost the car seat manual, they are available to download online, just ensure that it is the relevant manual for your model car seat. Alternatively, you can contact the manufacturer to confirm with them.
Check the car seat(s) installation. The car seat manual will detail how to install correctly, and car seat manufacturers have installation videos online. You should also refer to your retailer to check the installation with them, it is one of the services that we provide to all Rearfacing.ie customers.
Re car seat harness position the general rule is: for rear facing car seats the harness needs to be level with or just below shoulders and for forward facing car seats the harness or seat belt needs to be level with or just above the shoulders. Please refer to your car seat manual as this is a general rule only.
Remember "tight is right" when it comes to car seat harnesses, to allow the harness to do their job properly.
Legally a child in Ireland needs to use a car seat until they reach either 36kg or 150cm (on average 11/12 years old).
If you are not sure when a car seat is outgrown or want to check your car seat install just contact us.
Using aftermarket products with a car seat, unless manufactured by a car seat company and crash tested, is not advisable. This includes toys used on infant carrier handle, car seat inserts, harness covers, head holders, shoulder belt cushions, cup holders.
The rule of thumb for toys or play items in a car is that if it something that you would not be comfortable throwing towards your child then don't use it in a car. So soft-sided and lightweight toys / books whenever possible that are age appropriate.
See some ideas below:
Our kids don't go anywhere without a football but this needs to be in the boot along with other items that cannot be safely stored in the glove box, centre console, cup holders or other storage compartments.
This is important as loose objects inside a car have the potential to become dangerous projectiles if you brake quickly or are in a collision. The force of gravity when a car decelerates violently can mean than a loose object packs 20 times the force that it would normally.
If you have a hatchback or estate car invest in a cargo net, tie down straps or similar to keep the items in the back safe. When travelling with pets in a car, they need to be safely restrained in a pet carrier also. Overall a quick clear out of unnecessary items and securing loose items in a car will help protect from projectiles.
If you wish your child to use an iPad or Tablet in the car, the Axkid Premium Seat Protector with iPad / Tablet holder for rear facing car seats and the Axkid iPad / Tablet Holder for forward facing car seats are crash tested.
These allow a child to safely view an iPad / tablet without these becoming a potential projectile in an accident. There are remotes that can be purchased to use with iPads / tablets that allow them to be used handsfree so for an older child these would be useful to allow them to choose what they want to watch. If using a DVD player attached to the headrest of the driver or front passenger seat please ensure that it is crash tested.
Car Seat Breaks / Eating
For a newborn baby, it is advised to limit car journeys to 30 minutes at a time. This is because babies and very young children can experience breathing problems if placed in a seated or scrunched position for too long.
The general advice is that older babies and children should sit / sleep in their car seat for no more than two hours at a time. So it is important to plan regular stops of at least 15 minutes when travelling long journeys with children. For babies, it is best they get to lie flat during these breaks so bringing along a large blanket will allow babies to stretch out.
The time limits above also include time in a car seat outside of a car, for example when using an infant carrier on a travel system. If you know your baby is going to be in the travel system for a longer period, use a carrycot or lie-flat seat rather than the car seat.
These car seat breaks allow safe eating also. While driving / travelling you are unable to constantly observe for any potential choking. It is very difficult for you to assist your child if they are choking in a moving car and every second counts. Additionally, there is the increased risk of accidents happening if you’re craning around to offer your child a snack.
If you are not sure if your child still fits their car seat, if it is installed correctly or are looking for a new car seat just contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 087 054 3886. We stock baby, toddler and older child High Back Booster seats and have the largest range of rear facing cars seats in Ireland. Our mission is Kids Travelling Safer so we would be more than happy to help.
Happy and safe travelling!