Safety while driving is always a huge concern for any parent, particularly a new one. Buckling up is something not taken seriously enough, and the amount of poorly secured children ‘floating’ around in cars on our roads is alarming.
We took a lot of time choosing our seats and knowing how sensitive kids can be to different types, lead us to getting 2 different ones in each of our vehicles.
Noah loves his daddy’s seat a bit more than his mum’s. The Sirona Cybex has him in a more seated position which with his wind and tummy issues, keeps him much happier. The swivel function allows us to sit him in it facing towards the door, and swing him around to the rear facing position. The seat in my car is great, it slots directly into the stroller which makes being out and about really easy, but it usually involves me removing the entire seat, or placing him in at an angle – which isn’t ideal.
I often drive down Sheikh Zayed Road and look in horror at the cars with kids seated between the driver and passenger, or on laps in the back seat. Traffic laws in other countries are stricter, but recent changes to the law in the UAE, is welcomed and should aid safer travel on our roads.
Know the law!
The UAE Traffic Law (1-July-2017) prohibits children under the age of 10 (and below 145 centimeters) to sit in the front seat and it mandates child seats for children up to the age of four years. The new regulations require car seats sold in the UAE to pass crash tests as well as have proper labeling and classifications for different age groups and weight categories. The new regulations also require manufacturers to supply handbooks along with the seats that will provide clear instructions on the installation of the seat. Retailers are required to demonstrate the installation procedure to their customers.
Sadly the statistics speak for themselves. Traffic accidents are the UAE’s Number One Infant Killer, with more than 62% of infant mortality caused by some form of accident involving a car. This is not surprising, when apparently only 2% of infants in the UAE are actually retrained in a proper car safety seat.
Here is some info on getting the right seat for your child’s needs:
Weight-based car seats
Your baby will need to be in a rear-facing car seat until he weighs more than 9kg. However, there’s no need to move him to a new seat as soon as he reaches this weight. In fact, it’s safest for him to stay rear-facing for as long as possible. You only need a new seat when the top of your baby’s head is level with the top of the seat, this is a big change, since before this new regulation babies were turned front facing from 9 months onwards.
When your baby reaches 15kg to 25kg, he can use a child booster seat instead of a baby seat. And once he’s over 22kg, he can use a booster cushion.
Height-based car seats
These new seats are known as i-Size seats, and can only be used in cars with Isofix points (Check your car manufacturer, if the Isofix is installed). If you choose this type of seat, your baby will need to be rear-facing until he’s over 15 months. After that, you can use any i-Size seat that’s appropriate for his height.
Whichever type you choose, never put a rear-facing seat in the front of your car if it has an active airbag. Even for forward-facing seats, check that it’s safe to use them with your car’s airbag before putting them up front.
Find out from your car’s handbook, or the manufacturer, how far the bag inflates, and make sure the car’s seat is as far back from the dashboard as possible. Only put your child in the front if you have no other choice.
Car Seat Groups
There are different categories of car seats suitable for different age ranges. Those that meet European safety regulations will have an E and 44.03/44.04 or .03/.04 on the label, meaning they meet European safety regulations. They’ll also show the group number, or weight range of child, for which it is designed. The new i-Size seats are slightly different, as explained below.
Weight ranges may vary from one manufacturer to another, but they tend to follow these guidelines:
- Group 0 and Group 0+: rear-facing infant carriers for children up to 10kg and up to 13kg respectively (from birth to nine or 12 months).
- Group 1: child seats for children 9kg to 18kg (about nine months to four years).
- Group 2 and 3: Full booster seats and cushions for children from 15kg to 25kg (about three and half years to six years) and from 22kg and up to 36kg (about six years to 12 years). Many models in these groups can be modified to accommodate your child as he grows.
Installation can be the trickiest and most important part of child car safety. Andrew usually handles this department, but particularly with the isofix seats, installation can be frustrating but also the difference between life saving and life endangering. Some seats have built in battery indicators to tell you when the seat is installed accurately, and when baby is placed in accurately, while others have ‘click to secure’ functions to let you know when the seat is fitted securely. All seats come with instruction manuals, that should be kept in the car at all times in case of any problems or installation concerns.
Here’s what daddy had to say about car seats and installation:
For anyone who has battled with the installation of a traditional car seat, then you will understand my reluctance when asked to install a seat for our newborn son.
I was so surprised with how easy it is now with the new ISO-fix system of the (model). After a quick check of the instruction, it barely took longer than putting on your own seat belt. The base fastens quickly into 2 clips hidden in your car’s rear seat and the front stabilizer extends onto the floor. It really is that easy.
Like many modern car seats, the (model) can be fixed rear or forward facing depending on the child’s age. However one of the great features is that also swings into a side facing position for easy access. Once you start transferring a sleeping baby in and out of the seat, you will appreciate the convenience of not having to lift them across sideways. It also lets you check they are straight and secure when you place them in the seat. It then easily swings back into position ready for travel.
Car seats are only safe when properly fitted and the installation system of the (model) ensures this can be done quickly and easily.
If you’re looking at getting the swivel like we have, below is an easy to follow video to help you get the seated fitted, and start your fun journeys with bub in no time.
The Cyber seat at Mamas & Papas but they are available globally.
Shop our (Cyber Sirona Car Seat in Happy Black) seat here: