Cost ‘no guarantee of baby car seat safety’

PARENTS could end up paying more than €200 for car seats which only offer the same or worse protection to their child than a seat which costs less than €70.

Consumer Choice magazine tested 13 different car seats for their safety, weight, comfort and ease of installation and gave them percentage scores.

The results proved cost did not necessarily guarantee the best seat. For example, the 3kg Hauck Zero Plus buggy was given four stars for its safety, its design and fastening buckle, and three stars for its fitting into the car and its instruction manual. Overall, Consumer Choice gave it 70%. That buggy costs €69.

Yet, the €220 4kg Mutsy Traveller, while given four stars for its design and its fastening buckle, was only given three stars for safety, the way it fitted into the car and its instruction manual. Overall, the consumer watchdog only gave it 49%. It was particularly concerned at the risk to the child in the event of a side crash, giving the car seat only two stars for that area.

The most popular car seat for newborns was the Romer Baby Safe Plus Isofix which scored five stars for safety, seat design and the way it was fitted into the car. Consumer Choice gave the product a score of 80%.

“The Romer Baby Safe Plus Isofix will be available from June 2008 at an estimated cost of €199, but the test results impressed Consumer Choice so much that we decided to include it,” said the magazine. “And the good news is that even the seats that aren’t quite up to Choice Buy standards performed satisfactorily in the safety tests.”

Consumer Choice offered a number of tips to parents for buying and installing a child car seat including:

* Make sure you have selected a seat from the correct group according to the weight of your child.

* It is not advisable to buy a second-hand car seat, as you may not know the history of the seat and it may already have been in a crash.

* Try the seat in your car before you buy to make sure that it fits correctly.

* Child car seats should be fitted in the back of the car if possible. If this is not possible push the front seat back as far as possible. Remember a rearward-facing child car seat must never be used in the front passenger seat of cars with an active airbag.


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