The Horror Of Car Seat Shopping - The M Word

The Horror Of Car Seat Shopping

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It seemed like an easy enough task. I wanted to buy the next car seat for my 9 and a half month old baby boy. So on a bit of a whim, it must be said, my husband and myself popped off to a well known baby store on Saturday afternoon to do a bit of a recce and maybe come home with a seat too.

Oh how naïve we were.

Let me start by saying we hadn’t done a whole heap of research before we left, which on reflection may not have been a good thing. Yes, I realised there would be more than one type of car seat to choose from. I was vaguely aware of the different group stages of car seat and the whole rearward/forward facing debate, and I knew they’d have various different features, but honestly I was not prepared for sheer number of possibilities on offer.

And that was only the half of it.

The store itself was complete Bedlam. I mean this was Sunday afternoon in the Ikea Kitchen planning area levels of crowd carnage. Think a humongous queue waiting to chat to a staff member about car seats, coupled with haggard parents and bored kids running riot in and out of everyone’s legs, babas in arms crying hysterically (okay maybe that was just my baby!) but you get the picture.

Had I missed something? Maybe there was some kind of car seat sale on and we just hadn’t realised? Yes that must be it, right? Nope.

‘Nah it’s always like this at the weekend.’ one of the staff members told me as she sauntered by on her way to the pram area that was also packed with soon-to-be-parents.

I don’t know what it is about car seats that gives me a mental block, but I couldn’t remember pram or stroller shopping being this hard.

And there were plenty of options and brands on offer there too. I think it’s the fact that a car seat is just so important and I felt under pressure to pick the safest one, that was also comfortable and would last him a while. Surely that would narrow the field down, right?


Myself and my husband stood in front of the three tier high wall of car seats like a pair of very confused deer in headlights, as we literally scratched our heads over the massive choice on offer.

Does there really have to be so many? I thought to myself. As we looked at each other blankly. Apparently there does.

‘Now you could go for this Merlin seat with its 360° rotating seat and 3 recline positions.’ I heard the sales woman chatting to another pair of very intent looking parents. Yes, I thought to myself, that sounds good. I’ll piggy back on this pitch and get the inside scoop because we could be here for hours if we wait for our turn to chat to the expert.

‘Extended rear facing is much safer for your child until their neck muscles are fully developed,’ she went on. Yes, okay definitely extended rear facing then, I mentally nodded in agreement.

‘However, while this seat can go forward or back, it doesn’t have the side swivel so you might want to consider this Opal seat instead.’ Damn, I thought, okay well swivel sounds good, we need a seat that swivels.

‘This seat won the RSA award for best side impact protection, however this one is quite heavy, so if you need to change this from car to car it might not be the best option for your back,’ she giggled. Rats! I hadn’t even thought about the rigmarole of having to change the seat from car to car, I sighed.

‘Now this Sonic seat is a group 1,2,3 and this one as you can see comes in a hot pink and black motif, and has a built in cup holder and speakers in the headrest, there also an option to attach a snack tray.’  Cup holder? Speakers? Snack tray? My baby boy still hasn’t gotten to grips with a sippy cup yet, so I don’t think cup holder is top of my agenda, I thought to myself as I listened to her pitch on this next car seat.

FFS! I just want a car seat that’s safe, comfortable and will last my baby until he is around four, is that too much to ask?! I mentally yelled to myself.

I went back to my husband and my baby boy, who were both looking pretty miserable at this stage still waiting in the horde of a queue of parents and kids, and I realised we were way out of our depth.

I think we should go,’ I said to him.

Really?’ His face lit up like a Christmas tree and we agreed we’d go home and do some serious research before we came back. Next time we’d come at opening time to beat the queue!


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Niamh O'Reilly
Niamh O'Reilly
A full time feature and copy writer, Niamh is a dog-mad, shoe-obsessed, movie-buff, with a curious penchant for politics. Up until her son arrived in December 2016, she’d never changed a nappy, made a bottle or even held a baby for more than 5 minutes without it unleashing what she refers to as ‘the death roar’. Completely unprepared for this momentous change in her life, she’s now trying to navigate the brand new world of motherhood with honesty, grace, love and humour. You can also catch her writing about her journey over at