Friday, 8 May 2015

Carseat Laws

At the beginning of April, there was a bit of a fuss about new carseat laws. Statements released by various official bodies were worded confusingly and caused a lot of concern amongst parents of young children.

It had a tidal wave effect on the company I work for as a result. We ended up doing Live Chats with customers with staff answering enquiries about it from first thing in the morning til last thing at night, and still more enquiries were coming in from panicked customers thinking that their product was no longer legal.

In July 2013 a new standard was introduced for carseats and carseat bases used for transporting children up to 105cm (approx. four years old) This standard is known as iSize. Maxi-Cosi helped develop and define the regulation for longer and safer rearward travel, which is found to be safest for babies up to the age of fifteen months (it is recommended to continue rear facing for as long as possible for optimum protection) This standard was then ratified in April 2015, formerly known as the standard R129, and this is where the confusion began.

Official bodies released statements regarding R129 / iSize, stating that From April 2015 the new law was in effect and all babies must travel rear facing until 15 months old. Customers were concerned – their carseat didn’t offer enough space for this / their babies were younger than 15 months old and were already forward facing, what did this mean for them? Maxi-Cosi took to social media to reassure their customers as quickly as possible.

The iSize standard rules about your baby rearfacing til 15 months only apply if you are using an iSize standard product (such as Maxi-Cosi 2wayPearl & 2wayFix combination / PebblePlus & 2wayFix combination or AxissFix) If you are using these products, you must comply with iSize law and your child must remain rear facing until at least 15 months old (though longer is preferred and can be continued with 2wayPearl until 105cm and AxissFix until 87cm)

What is iSize?

The older regulation R44-04 remains a relevant law / standard. There must be a period of time to phase out one regulation and phase in the replacement. This amount of time is anticipated to be many years – if your child is currently in an R44-04 standard carseat, this is fine and remains legal. If you are using these products, you comply with R44-04 standard law. This means that a Group 0+ infant carrier must be used rear facing only to a maximum of 13kg / Group 1 toddler seat is suitable from 9-18kg. If you’re unsure on the guidelines for the model carseat you have, contact the manufacturer with a photo of the orange and white label on the back of the product – this will tell them all they need to know about the item, and they can provide you with any information you may need about the standard it meets, the way it must be fitted for correct use, and the weight limit suitability.

Parents whose vehicles do not have IsoFix points are unable to use iSize standard products – part of the legislation regarding iSize is that fitting is done by IsoFix. This is because IsoFix is easier to fit correctly than when using a 3 point seatbelt. A carseat or base fitted with seatbelt is just as safe in an accident if it is fitted and used correctly. However an IsoFix fitted unit is easier to fit correctly, which makes it simpler to use and less likely to be incorrectly fitted. The cost of iSize standard products is also currently quite high in comparison to units that meet R44-04 standard – this is a reflection of the cost the manufacturers have gone to in order to have test centres available for them to test their products to iSize standard and ensure it passes with flying colours. iSize crash testing is a lot more in depth than the R44-04 standard so you can be sure this product will protect your precious cargo.

 Rear facing and comfortable in Vauxhall Corsa aged 3.5 yrs

I used Maxi-Cosi 2wayPearl and 2wayFix base for J in my parents vehicles (I don’t have IsoFix in my car) He was always rear facing when he used this combination – in a Vauxhall Insignia and in a Vauxhall Corsa. Despite being a very tall child, J was always comfortable rear facing and never once did he have a strop or argument about getting in rear facing. It was more awkward for him to climb in himself from the same side the seat was on, but he would happily climb in the opposite side (after taking his shoes off) and climb into the carseat without issue. In the Corsa we removed the headrest from the back seat as otherwise it blocked his view – we didn’t need to move the front passenger seat so there was no loss of leg room for that passenger, and almost every time he went anywhere in the Corsa using this combination he fell asleep. He’d cross his legs in front of him as he got taller, but despite hitting the 105cm maximum height the week before his fourth birthday I could still get him in it rear facing and be comfortable. In the Insignia again there was no need for the front passenger seat to be moved so no loss of leg room for the passenger but it was more awkward to get him into the seat due to the angle of the sloped roof on the Insignia – it left him with limited head room when he was getting into or out of the carseat, though this occurs whether forward or rear facing.

When people say their child is too tall for rear facing I always think of how comfy J was in his 2wayPearl all that time – children are a lot more flexible than adults, and it’s more natural for them to sit with their legs crossed in this way – they do it at school sitting on the carpet after all, J does it at home watching the telly, so why do people think it will be so uncomfortable to do it in a carseat?

Apart from that, to perhaps sound brutal but I’m being honest, I’d rather a broken ankle than a dead child, or a child with a broken neck or serious back injuries. Forward facing babies before they are physically able to withstand the force of an impact is a huge risk. Chances are the baby will be absolutely fine, as long as you never have an accident, but that’s a big risk to take. The idea of iSize is to take away the guesswork and judgement of people tempted to forward face too early and instead of a weight which the child may reach at a much younger age than it’s peers, it’s better to provide an age as a cut-off point and say this is the minimum. It makes things clearer, easier to understand, and unable to be misinterpreted.

iSize is the way of the future, but we’re a long way off it becoming commonplace yet – then again, look how far we’ve come in the last 20 years? People argue that their baby was OK, they were OK, with how things used to be. Well, that’s great. But look at the numbers of babies who weren’t OK with how things used to be. The babies we lost because society then didn’t know about things we know about now. When my mum was a baby she didn’t use a carseat – but then you’re talking about a time before there were so many cars on the road; the cars that were there were driving more slowly. Still accidents happened, but we know now that we can prevent babies becoming fatally injured in a car accident, why would we not want to do that, if we can? Regardless of whether they “prefer to be forward facing” (yes, I’ve heard that six months old can even voice their opinions on this matter!) My son prefers to eat cake and not vegetables, but do I allow him? No, because I know as his parent it is more important for him to eat his vegetables than it is to eat cake. So I have to put up with the moaning and the temper tantrum of getting him to do one thing instead of the other because I am his mum and it is up to me to look after him as best I can do. Whether that’s eating his veggies or travelling in a rear facing carseat, it will happen because it is my job to take care of him.

For the moment, iSize is an option you can choose to use if you want to. Would I recommend it? Of course. It’s the safest possible option. However, I know it’s not for everyone – I don’t have IsoFix in my car, so I can’t use these new style seats, I know I’m not the only mum in that position. The point is, be informed about your choices, be informed about what is available and what changes are being introduced and be informed about the products you buy and use for your children. At the end of the day they are your children to look after the best you can do.

Peace, Love & Safe Travelling,

Mummy P

X x x x

I was not paid by Maxi-Cosi to write this blog piece. All words, opinions and statements made are entirely my own and are in no way a reflection or record of statement of fact made by Maxi-Cosi. 

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