Choosing the right car seat for your child is a huge decision and can be very stressful. I spent a lot of time researching car seats, safety tests and reviews. Unfortunately though the decision ultimately lies with two factors, which seat will fit In your car securely and secondly which seat your child is happy to sit in. If the child is unhappy and likely to escape from the restraints then it doesn't really matter how safe the seat is, it won't be safe for your child if they do climb out. We recently had to move Griffin up to the next stage car seat. He was using his first seat which was a group 0+ which can take upto 13kg weight. Griffin only weighed 9.5kg at the time but had become too tall for the shoulder straps. I took him to the shop so they could check him in his seat and they confirmed that he needed to move up to group 1.
We made three separate trips to the shops, each time we spent quite a few hours trying Griffin in the car seats and trying the seats in our car. The problem we had was that Griffin hated harnesses and would manage to escape from them all. Griffin also wanted to be forward facing and became quite upset when sat in a rear facing seat. I found this to be very stressful and upsetting as I felt that we would never find a car seat he was happy with. Ultimately the safest seat for a child under four is rear facing, which is what I was hoping to buy. We did well to keep him rear facing in his Group 0+ seat for 17 months really, but he was ready to turn around now so we had no choice other than to buy a forward facing seat. We then started to research car seats with a safety impact cushion instead of a traditional five point harness. Because these seats are still quite new and the market is still dominated by five point harnesses, the thought of not having a harness terrified me. However, I researched the seats with a safety impact cushion thoroughly and actually found that they are better for the child on impact as they reduce the strain on a child's neck when they are thrown forwards. I did come across a video that was released showing a crash test with a safety impact cushion car seat and the car rolling over. This video put me off the seats straight away, however when discussing this with a car seat expert in the shop, she talked me through the video and how the tests hadn't been performed accurately. We fitted Griffin in the seat properly and could clearly see he wasn't going to slide out in the rare event of the car possibly rolling over. After talking to the sales person at great length I was fully reassured, then seeing how happy and comfortable Griffin was when fastened into the seat confirmed my decision.
We purchased a seat that has a safety impact cushion and this is secured in place using the seatbelt in the car. We allowed the sales person to install the seat and help us to fasten Griffin in for the first time so that we were confident that he was fastened in safely and correctly. Griffin loves his new seat, he always lifts his arms up so that I can slide the cushion into place without been asked. I feel happier that he is safe, happy and comfortable. Car journeys are so much more relaxed now.
I have listed below a few tips that I have learnt along the way for when choosing a car seat:
• Do your research before visiting the shops
• Always check a car seat in your car before buying
• Always check your child in a car seat before buying
• Always ask the shop assistant to help install your new car seat and to show you how to fasten it properly
• If you buy online then take your seat to your local fire station or a shop that sells car seats and have it checked to ensure it is fitted correctly
• Try to buy a car seat with detachable covers that are machine washable
I hope this helps if you are currently looking for a new car seat or will be in the near future.