The Complete Guide to Fitting Child Car Seats

To be effective, a child car seat needs to be fitted properly, but research shows that in three out of four cases parents are getting it wrong. That means in a high number of instances, if you’re involved in a crash, your child will not be properly protected.

Clearly, this is unacceptable, so what do you need to do when you’re buying or fitting a child car seat?

child car seat
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What does the law say?

Since 2006, the law states that all children measuring up to 150cm and under the age of three have to be restrained in an appropriate child car seat. Children aged three or over who are under 150cm and weigh less than 36kg must also be restrained in a child seat, or a booster seat that meets EU standards.

Safety checks

Remember, not all car seats are the same, so before you buy one, make sure you check the seat is compatible with your car and is suitable for your child. Double check that the restraint is right for your child’s size and weight and that it meets the latest safety standards, namely UNECE reg. 44.04.

Does your car have a ISOFIX system? If so, this can make it easier to install the car seat and attach it securely to the car frame. Also ensure you understand how the seat works and you know how to fit and adjust the seat as required. Is it a comfortable seat for the little one, and how easy is it to remove the covers for cleaning? Are the buckles secure, or are they too easily opened by small hands?

Your child’s weight

Child seats are categorised according to weight, as follows:

Group 0 and 0+ are infant carriers, for children aged six to nine months, up to 10kg, or those aged 12 to 15 months and weighing up to 13kg
Group 1 are child seats, for infants aged nine months to four years and weighing nine to 18 kg
Group 2 and 3 are known as booster seats and are for children aged four to six years, weighing 15 to 25 kg
Group 3 booster cushions are for children from six to 11 years, weighing 22 to 36 kg

Need some help?

Be sure you check your child’s weight before buying a car seat and remember to weigh them regularly as they grow so you know when to buy the next size of seat. If you’re in any doubt about how to install a child car seat, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) offers a free ‘check it fits’ service in Ireland. For details on this service, check out https://www.rsa.ie/checkitfits.