When Sam Faiers shared a video of her 11-month-old baby giggling in his car seat, she received a barrage of comments. But though many of her fans were quick to comment on the cuteness of her tot, others were more interested in criticising the reality star’s car-seat safety.
Uploading a short clip of her son, Paul, laughing in his swivel car seat, the 25-year-old mum quickly drew comments from some followers who assumed the car was moving and therefore claimed the position of the car seat wasn’t safe.
“The car seat is not safe like that,” one woman wrote. “It needs to face the back when the harness is in use and the car is moving. The car seat wouldn’t withstand the impact in an accident facing the side.”
“Sam – using the car seat like this is not safe,” another added. “The swivel is only to help get the child in and out. It has to be clicked into place once the child had been restrained and the car is moving.”
But it wasn’t long before other commentators stepped in to defend Sam by pointing out that the car wasn’t in fact moving but parked up at the time the video was taken.
“She is a mother and knows what she is doing. The car is clearly not moving so I don’t see a problem with it just for a few seconds to take a video,” one wrote.
Aside from the fact this is yet another example of the mum-shaming Sam often experiences via social media, the debate raises another relevant point about car-seat safety and how parents often find the topic confusing.
While most parents wouldn’t dream of putting a baby, toddler or child in a car without some sort of car seat, there is confusion over the type of car seat that needs to be used for each specific age.
New research by consumer website Confused.com has revealed that 66% of parents don’t fully understand the right height, age and weight regulations when it comes to their children’s car seats.
“It is so important for parents and families to understand and stick to the official legislation on child seats as this will ultimately mean their child is in a car seat that offers the correct restraint system and protection,” explains Danielle Slater, Halfords’ car seat expert.
“Whilst most parents realise that they need a car seat that is right for their child, many might not understand that they also need to ensure the car seat is right for their car.”
Danielle believes that the confusion parents are feeling stems from the increased focus on children’s car seat-safety, which has lead to parents feeling overwhelmed with information.
“With such a rapid increase in the focus put on child seat safety in the last 5 years, there is more information than ever before and it can sometimes feel overwhelming,” she says. “It’s not surprising therefore that research from our Parent Panel reveals that 65 per cent of parents think that the current rules on car seat use are confusing. It is our aim to help reassure and guide any customers who may feel confused or overwhelmed by all of this information.”
So what is the current legislation?
“There are currently 2 regulations running in parallel (R129, R44 04/i-Size), parents need to consider age, weight and possibly height, and there is now an array of fitting methods available – from belted to isofix.”
Just to add to the confusion changes in booster seat regulation for older children is soon to be implemented.
Currently, children weighing as little as 15kg – around three-years-old – are allowed to travel in cars while sitting on a backless booster seat.
Regulations state they must stay in them until they are 12-years-old but experts have claimed the seat is unsuitable for younger children and as a result new guidelines are being introduced.
Under the new rules, backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg.
“Our research shows that a huge 86% of parents are not confident on what the changes will mean for them, so there is clearly a lot of confusion around the issue,” explains Danielle Slater.
“The amendment to current child seat legislation is happening early next year and will come into force in March. There are two key things to remember about the new change: 1) Cushion boosters will not be banned, rather, their weight banding will change 2) The change will only impact any brand new styles of cushion boosters that are manufactured. Currently, a child can legally use a cushion booster from 15kg – 36kg. From March next year, new booster cushions on the market will only be approved for children from 22kg (approximately 125cm) – 36kg.”
The alternative to cushion boosters is high-back boosters, which according to experts like Danielle, offer much better side impact protection.
“Here at Halfords we already recommend that children use high-back boosters until they are at least 22kg,” she says.
If you’re unsure about the new rules or indeed have any concerns about child seat safety in general Danielle recommends getting expert advice.
“There is a lot of helpful information out there to provide support for parents and families wishing to get up to speed with the new rules, but the best thing for parents to do is to speak to an expert if they are at all concerned about their child’s safety when travelling.”
But there are some key points that can help families stay car-seat safe.
“Parents needs to remember that their child needs to stay in a car seat of some form until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall (150cm in Ireland),” she continues.
“The next thing they need to know is how much their child weighs, so that they can make sure that the product that they’re using is correct. Remember that if you are using an i-Size product you will need to know your child’s height to perform the same checks. Each car seat will have on it what weight or height of child it is suitable for, so it’s best to check the product and the instruction manual and check with your retailer. Always remember to check the fit of your car seat before every use.”
Halfords are currently running their Safer Seat Campaign throughout 2016. For more information on this and other car seat advice visit their website.
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