Mystery Shopping – ‘Mothercare’ #1

Yesterday I decided that while I was in Milton Keynes to get some bits and pieces I would do “Mystery-shopping” at Mothercare.

They have just released a new catalogue, they even have five extended rear facing seats available for purchase now! (And one coming out in October!) If not in store, then you can find them online, or the store can order you one in! Mothercare is now stocking:

 

Now, before I start on my review on this particular store, I would like to quote what the catalogue promises me I will receive when I visit a MC store (p.163):

  1. Car seats are divided into groups and it is your child’s weight, not age, that matters. Weigh your child before visiting a Mothercare store so we can help you select correct car seat.
  2. Ensure you are clear on the benefits of keeping your child rearward-facing for as long as possible. There are a number of options once your child is ready to move into a Group 1 car seat and our car seat experts will give you all the information you need to make this decision.
  3. The make and model of your car is also important, if there are multiple cars that the car seat will be used in ensure this is communicated to our experts.
  4. Our car seat experts will demonstrate how to fit  your chosen car seat and ensure that  you are clear on the features and how to use them, leaving you confident on how to use the seat safely when you leave our stores.
  5. If you have an ISOFIX car safety seat and ISOFIX mounts in your car, you can minimise the risk of installation errors when securing your child car seat. ISOFIX is the standard system for all new cars and seat manufacturers, designed to make installing your safety seat quick and easy. With ISOFIX you simply ‘plug in’ a compatible car safety seat to mounting points in the car

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A Clueless customer..

I entered the shop with my two children who are 11 months and 33 months. I approached one of the staff letting her know I was looking for car seats for my two children. I can only assume this person was the ‘car seat specialist’ MC promises me will handle the car seat questions etc. As this is a Mystery shopping adventure, I acted as if I had no idea about car seats. 🙂

Our conversation started with something like this…:

Me: “Hi! I’m looking for car seats?”

Expert: “Yes! Right this way. Who is it for?”

Me: “Her, and Him. :D” (pointing at the kids)

Expert: “I see. This is what I can recommend for her (points to the Group 2/3 and Group 3 seats). How much does she weigh?”

Me: “Around 14KG, maybe 15 depending on what she’s wearing and if she’s stuffed! 😀 hehe “

Expert: “Oh! You can take the harness away then in 1KG and then just use the car seat belt. She would be fine with that.”

Now, before I continue, I would like to point out the things that bother me, and the things that she failed to do.

First of all, she should have asked me some very important things, and that is;

  • What car am I driving?
  • How old the children are and what seats they are currently in?
  • And if they have outgrown their current seat.
  • Am I interested in ISOFIX or belted

 

If she had asked those things, she would have had a much wider perspective and instead of jumping to High Back Boosters (which all of them were) she might have hopefully given me some other more appropriate choices. She also focused too much on weight! We have to remember that even if weight is important, because you should never use a seat after the weight limit has been reached, neither should you use a seat without your child being the minimum weight limit, but also it’s very important to remember when the fusing of the spinal cord starts and finishes <<check here for more on that >>, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to rear face as long as possible! And that has all to do with age.

Child maturity is also something to consider. Even if I had no options for a normal G1/G2 car seat, there is just no way a child as young as 2,5-3 years old will be able to sit properly in a booster using only the car’s seat belt! So the advise she had currently given me, could actually be fatal for my child should we be involved in an accident. A HBB (high back booster) should not be used by a child under 4 years old, and even then, 4 is set as a minimum. Don’t be afraid to wait as long as possible and until your child has fully outgrown his or her current car seat. Remember that for each step up in Group, it is a step down in safety. Changing group in car seats should not be a milestone you look forward to. 😦

Let us continue on to the conversation regarding the youngest…

Me: “What about for this dude? :)” (pointing to my son)

Expert: “How much does he weigh?”

Me: “Around 12kg give or take. :)”

Expert: “OK, then he’ll definitely go fine in one of these. ” (points to the Group 1 section, and one car seat that was Group 123)

Me: “Are these all forward facing ones?”

Expert: “Yes, these are all forward facing. How is he in he’s infant seat? Has he’s head reached the top?”

Me: “Yes, it’s JUST there now.”

Expert: “OK, yes then you definitely want to be looking at upgrading.”

Me: “Yeh! 😀 Oh! Are there any rear facing ones?”

Expert: “Yes, buuut we only have one (incorrect!) aaand it’s £300! (said with a face as if she ate a lemon…) And we don’t stock it in store, you’ll have to order it online.”

Me: “OK…So! You recommend a booster seat for her then?”

Expert: “Yes, and like I said once she hit’s 15kg you can stop using the harness and go over to seatbelt. :)”

Me: “Is there a specific age for booster?”

Expert: “Yes, 4 years. But KG is the most important thing.”

Me: “Oh..but she turns only 3 in January. :(“

Expert: “Oh! Well then I would go for a harnessed booster, and then when she hit’s 15kg mark, you can take it out. :)”

Me: “OK, thank you for your help! 😀 Could you please just show me what seats you recommend? So I could check them out at home? :)”

Expert: “Ofc! :)” (she gets the catalog and quickly puts a ring on a few of them and hands it over..)

Me: “Are there any sort of…what’s it called…safety difference on the seats? Like..cheap vs. more expensive?”

Expert: “No, they have all passed the same testing. :)”

Me: “OK! Bye! :)”

So…what was wrong with this consultation?

As with my daughter, she never asked how old my son is. He is 11 months old and though a little ‘tank’ he is far too young to forward face. Obviously this is not common knowledge to everyone, I have come to realize that, but a ‘trained car seat expert’ of Mothercare is supposed to know this. So that was very disappointing.

The second thing is that she never once mentioned rear facing as an option for either him or my 2,5 year old, but she should at least have let me know about it regarding him. She was also incorrect in regard to how many seats they have. Mothercare have, as I stated further up, no less then five extended rear facing car seats. So not just the one she was referring to.

Further on she was correct about the four year old approx. age for a booster seat, though personally I think this is still far too young, which is why you invest in a seat that will last until your child is at an actual booster age, which is more around 5, and if you can stretch it even further, I would say 6. But even after learning my daughters age, she still told me to use it as a booster once she hit 15kg!

15kg is the minimum weight for the car’s seat belt to actually lock up and work properly in an accident/sudden stop etc. Minimum! Ideally then you go for maximum, and maximum kg for a harness in a HBB is 18kg, except for two seats currently on the market that have a forward facing harness up to 25kg and those are the Britax Two Way Elite and the Britax Xtensafix.

The recommended car seats she gave me…

These are the boosters she recommended for my daughter who is 2,5 years old:

 

These are the car seats she recommended for my son who is 11 months old:

 

All forward facing. 😦

Lastly, she was incorrect in her statement that there was no safety difference between the car seats because “they all passed the same test”. Yes they did all pass the same ECE regulation test, but that’s a crappy test and Team Tex is only scraping by in it! There are more then one test, there are a total of 4 tests actually…
Let me quote Rear Facing Toddlers in her Car Seat Myth no. 2

 

536785_320665908077265_1193237818_n

Car Seat Myth No. 2

** ALL CAR SEATS HAVE PASSED THE SAME TESTS, SO THEY ARE ALL AS SAFE AS EACH OTHER **

All car seats that are sold and used in Europe have to display a (usually orange) sticker, to show that they conform to the European Standard ECE R44/04. This is the bare minimum that all seats have to pass. The test includes a frontal impact at 32mph, a rear impact at 18mph and a 360º roll-over at 2-5 degrees per second. It also looks at things like seat belt routing, instructions, buckle, warning labels, etc. It does not include a side impact test.
Stiftung Warentest is a German consumer organisation, similar to Which? in the UK. And the ADAC is Europe’s largest motoring organisation, equivalent to the UK’s AA and RAC. Their tests include a frontal impact at 40mph and an 18mph side impact. However, only 50% of the Stiftung Warentest and ADAC’s overall score is based on how the seat performs in crash tests. The other 50% goes to user friendliness. So even though a seat may be very safe, it can still get a low score if they decide it is difficult to install for example, or if the cover is hard to remove.
The Swedish Plus Test is the strictest car seat test in the world and the only one to measure the loads that the child’s neck is subjected to during a crash. In a forward facing seat the loads on the child’s neck will always be higher than the safe minimum, so only rear facing car seats can pass the Plus Test.
When choosing a new seat for your child try to avoid the cheaper brands that have only passed the barest minimum. When it comes to car seats, you really do get what you pay for.

All in all I was very disappointed and I left the store terrified of what I could have walked out with had I actually known nothing what so ever about car seats. 😦
I’m disappointed that this store obviously can not have had proper up to date training for their staff regarding extended rear facing and it’s benefits.
The ill advice I received on several questions is not good at all. The fact that this person didn’t even mention ERF to me at all before I asked and the face she pulled is to me concerning.

As a closing point I wish to share a couple of videos, maybe by seeing them, it will help you understand why we fight so hard for extended rear facing and harnessing to the max.

 

 

Children are not little adults. They are tiny, their bones are immature. They are not able to sit secured in the car as if they were an adult. Don’t be in a rush to “upgrade” their car seats, and even worse, don’t think for a second that your child of “7” does not need one.

The law states that all children must travel in the car in an appropriate restraint until they are either 12 years old, or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Failing to do so can result in a £500 on the spot fine.

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“ThumbsUP! THURSDAY” #2

thumb-up-for-ThursdayI mentioned in my last Thursday post that I was going to start doing this every week. I would like to introduce to you “ThumbsUP! Thursday” which is what the Thursday retailer post is going to be called. It might also be a “ThumbsDOWN” at some point… we’ll see how we get on. 😉
This week’s Thursday is a few day’s late because of the Joie Stages precautionary recall of a few of their seats, but better late then never right?

This weeks retailer was unknown to me until yesterday, and I am happy to announce to you….

7651558My precious cargo .. is a retailer who are specialists in extended rear facing car seats for children up to 18 kg (approx. 4  years) or 25kg (approx 6 years).
They are based in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

This retailer can offer you car seats from BeSafe, Klippan & Axxkid, expert advice (one of their staff is ” a qualified and practicing physiotherapist with experience of assessing posture and seating for disabled children and also of working with people with spinal cord injuries.”) and their website is full of excellent factual links and information!
And photos! You know how I love photos! 😉

A quote for their website that made me huggle them some more:

“Rear facing is 5x safer for young children, so why aren’t more UK parents choosing this option?
From our experience, it’s because awareness of rear facing in the UK is low, and because availability of these seats is limited. We created My Precious Cargo to fill this gap. We provide expert knowledge to assist you in choosing a rear facing seat that is correct for your vehicle and for your child, and we aim to increase awareness of the safety benefits of keeping your toddler rear facing.
We offer viewings and demonstrations of our range of rear facing seats on an appointment basis, and are also here to answer any questions you may have about rear facing.  Contact us, we’d love to hear from you.”

Congratulations My Precious Cargo Limited!!!

Approved

My Retailer List

Continue reading

Thursday – Online Retailer Recommendation!

I’ve decided to start a weekly recommendation of retailers!

Every Thursday I will make a post on a retailer I have either just found and want to recommend, or it can be an old one I already have on my list. 🙂
I’ll be pondering about a name for this tradition as well, feel free to post a comment with a name you think would be awesome for this tradition! Something like…. “Awesome Thursday” as an example. Anything you can think of that you think would have a nice ring to it. 🙂 It would need to have Thursday in it, that’s all I have as a rule. :)You can either e-mail me your best names or you can post it in the comment section below.

Now lets get cracki’n! Continue reading

Group 1 seats!

“IS there a difference in testing and quality?”
A reblogg of a friend of mine’s exelent information post on Group 1 seats and the difference between ALL the testing that we do here in Europe. She also brilliantly explains why, in car seats as with a lot of other products, you really do get what you pay for, and cheap is not necessarily good. 🙂

Working with Parents

MCaxiss

 

Weight: 9-18kg

Height: Top of ears level with top of seat

Direction of travel: Front or rear facing

Fitment: Seat belt or ISOfix

Other options: Impact shield

Introduction

A group 1 car seat is designed to restrain a child in the event of an impact.  They normally have a 5-point harness and are designed to hold the child in the seat and spread the force through the shoulder straps, hip and crotch straps.  It is law for every child to be restrained in the car in a suitable child restraint and there are very few exceptions.

Exceptions:

Taxi

Emergency journey (not shops or school!)

In both cases the child must the wear the adult seat belt, if available.

Why are there such big price differences?

This is such a common question and a valid one too.  Why would you pay £200 for a seat when you can get one…

View original post 2,314 more words

And Then There Was i-Size!

I must apologize for not posting too much these days, I have so much I want to write about. 
Thinking of it I should really try putting up more drafts when I have time, and then have them publish then and then! hehe
It’s just the summer time isn’t it? We don’t have time to sit much inside in this nice warm weather, but I still feel bad for not posting in a while. 🙂
Buuut..what can you do when the sun is shining and your melting away in 30C? ^^

As you all (who follow me anyway hehe) know, I went to the Maxi Cosi iSize event. 🙂
It was FUN. I learned a great deal, had a nice chat to people and I got a sneak peak on iSize. Super exited!

So what is iSize and what does it mean?

The following pictures and information is taken from the i-Size brochure I was given at the meeting: (Text in bold are my own.)

iSize is a new legislation that increases the safety level of children in cars and will extend rearward facing travel and promote the use of IsoFix as a new European standard. It wad enforced on 9th July 2013, while the current standard ECE R44/04 will remain in effect for all other child car seats until 2018.

This legislation makes rearward facing travelling mandatory up to 15 months old for i-Size products. The standard ensures a better protection at higher forces in the case of frontal and side collisions and a better protecttion of head and neck. i-Size also moves to a length classification for choosing the right car seat instead of weight.
i-Size also promotes IsoFix, which has less chance of being incorrectly used than belted car seats.

Why do we need new rules?

Child safety has been evolving over time. The number of child fatalities has decreased but car accidents are still the leading cause of child deaths.

week
Many parents move their baby to the next stage car seat at around 9 months because either their child is too heavy to carry in a group 0+ car seat or the baby’s feet stick out of the seat shell. Also, the current law accepts 9kg for group 1, but this is not the safest way of travelling!

The head and neck are the most vulnerable during a crash.

head

A child’s spine does not begin to fuse until approx 3 years of age, and is not done fusing until approx 6 years old, one of the main reasons to RF as long as possible. The head in proportion to the body is quite heavy and large, accounting for 25% of their body weight, while an adult’s head only takes up 6%.
The developmental rate of the skeleton is the same in any child no matter how heavy or tall they are, meaning your one year old may look 2 years old or be the size of a two year old, but inside, he’s skeletal build is no where near. 

9391069

The human spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, seven cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (upper back) and five lumbar (lower back) vertebrae.
The photo shows the vertebrae of a one year-old on the left, and those of a six year-old on the right. In a one year-old each vertebra consists of three pieces of bone which are connected by cartilage.
The picture on the left shows where in the body these bones are located.
The bones in the neck of a small child are not developed enough to protect the spinal cord. When they are involved in a car crash in a forward facing car seat, the weight of the head combined with the immature skeleton, can cause the spinal cord to stretch up to two inches. If it stretches just half an inch it will snap. This is known as internal decapitation and causes paralysis or death.
Phto and text credit: http://www.rearfacingtoddlers.com

In Conclution…

It is safer to travel rearward facing longer and to use IsoFix (make no mistake, belted is just as safe as long as it is correctly installed, but to make things easier i-Size has, as mentioned, decided to focus on IsoFix as this is simpler) Maxi – Cosi’s involvement on the i-Size legislation will improve the compatibility between car seats and cars with the support leg. It will be supporting all regulating organisations such as GRSP and CLEPA. Plus, Maxi-Cosi have been involved in measuring and defining new sizing classifications (3D child project).

* * *

27

What do  the numbers say?

People hate the numbers. How many times haven’t you heard the line; “Back in the day…” or “When I was young..” “…and I’m FINE!”?
I imagine that if more people knew the actual numbers maybe they wouldn’t use these phrases. Fact of the matter is that we didn’t know as much  then as we do know, or…we did some places (see Sweden), but the rest of the world I imagine had a hard time thinking that just ‘Søta Bror’ would know more then a fair share of other excellent researchers right?

Well, let me show you the numbers dated from 1999 to 2008:

statistickExcuse the small finger prints. xD I have a small person who grabbed it hehe. 

Another important thing, and one of the reasons why i-Size is choosing to focus on IsoFix is as I stated previously, that it’s simpler to install. Though it ofc. happens that they are wrongly installed! BUT it IS simpler.

Have a look at this cake that shows fatalities related to the car seat use: (this is not based on RF, but car seat use in general):

roundThe numbers are quite shocking aren’t they? 😦

 

injuries

As we can see, the head and neck have the highest percentage of injury in a frontal collision.
We can also see that in a side impact collision, the head injury is still on the highest percentage followed by chest.
I am therefore very glad the new i-Size makes side impact testing mandatory!
Some car seats are in fact side impact tested, but this is not something covered in ECE R44/04 ‘s testing to get approved.

* * *

I have now tried to cover everything on i-Size, but if  you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to write it in a comment below, or on my face book page  –> https://www.facebook.com/ErfMission if you like this blog, I would love for you to hit the “Like” button on the page. 🙂

And as a quick “sum it up” :

i-size.keyfacts

Have a wonderful weekend and I shall see you all later! 🙂

BeSafe – Baby

Not too long ago I decided to try and switch the kids around in the car. 🙂
As a result, Caitlyn ended up in the ‘Joie’ , and Henry ended up in the ‘BeSafe’.

So this is now how they look in the car, all happy and jolly. 🙂

changeofscenery

The ‘BeSafe’ is higher up then the ‘Joie’, so Henry can see more as he’s still quite short and small.
It doesn’t recline as nice though, so I’m still unsure if this is a temporary thing, or if I’ll switch them back the way there were, but atm they are very happy with the change. hehe
And let’s face it, a change of scenery is often nice to have!

Henrybesafe

And as always I can see him clear as day! 😉

Henrymirror

One of the reasons why I take a lot of pictures of the kids showing how good space they have and such, and that I can in fact see them, is because this is one of the main concerns people who are not custom to ERF will ask questions about.
By showing pictures like this, I can hopefully help you relax and understand that ERF children are in fact very happy, safe and have tons of space in their car seats. 🙂

By the way, Rear Facing Toddlers has put up a FB page! Run over and give them a “Like”! She deserves it!

Joie Stages – A Toddler’s Point of View!

So recently I decided to switch the little ones around, putting Henry (9 mo) in the ‘BeSafe’ and Caitlyn Anabelle (29 mo) in the ‘Joie’, and see how that would work out. 🙂

I wanted to see how much room she would have, just to give me a clue really, I’ve seen a lot of questions about having a toddler in the ‘Joie’ so I thought it was about time I could show you how it looks in our Citroen C5.

Caitlynjoie2

 As you can see, she fits really well. 😀
Legs all over the place dangling off or on, she couldn’t make up her mind on where to have them. haha
Personally I think she likes the angle of the seat. It seams to be more reclined and far deeper then the ‘BeSafe’.

I previously posted Henry in the ‘Joie’, so you can see a comparison.

All in all I think it works very well!

//Q: Do you have any pictures of your toddler in the ‘Joie’? 🙂