Parenting

Carseats are not just for babies {#CarseatFullstop}

I recall reading in baby books many moons ago that if you did not have a car seat at the hospital, they would not allow you to go home with your baby. #CarseatFullstop I thought. When my eldest was born, my husband had one job….to come and pick us up with a car seat at the hospital. The man was so excited and went to buy gifts for the baby and I, and totally forgot to bring the car seat. I was so angry! As the nurse escorted us to the car, my heart was beating at 100 miles a minute (hopefully it was wearing a seatbelt). I was worried we’d be caught out and not allowed to leave with our baby! In vain though, because she totally let us take our baby home without a car seat.

We made it home safely, me clutching my newborn and just praying nothing would happen. Everyday after that though, Addison was in her car seat. She HATED her car seat, but I believe in #CarseatFull stop when it comes to babies and toddlers.

Did you know that car passenger deaths are the fourth leading cause of death in children in South Africa?

Once Addison was around 9 months old, we went car seat shopping and we bought her a forward facing car seat. She was in it until she was about 3yrs old. Once she was 3 or 4, she moved to a cushion type booster seat. I sound like a pretty responsible mom hey? My blood boils when I see babies on their moms laps on the front seats of a car. Or a toddler standing on the backseat of the car, because this responsible mom knows that kids up to at least age 3 should be in a car seat!

Did you know that in South Africa, it is illegal to travel in a car with a child under 3 years old not strapped into an approved child safety seat?

My husband, Joshua and I were driving to the Spar, probably about 500m away from our house, just up the road.

Did you know that the majority of car accidents happen close to home – one study shows 52% within 8km and 77% within 25km? So “just up the road” means nothing.

Joshua, was sitting on the back seat and REFUSED to strap himself in, which is a bit unlike him. I literally argued with him all the way telling him he needed to put his seat belt on. We were basically in Spar’s parking lot when my husband braked suddenly. Joshua went flying into the back of the driver’s seat and ended up on the floor. He was furious (at us!!), and I was thinking…well that serves you right! Now you know…if only you had your seat belt on, that would not have happened Joshua!!!

Except that, a seat belt is actually not enough for my really skinny now 5-year-old. Neither is the cushion type booster seat that I thought was a good buy. Carseats are not just for babies and kids under 3yrs old. 

Did you know that a car seat belt is designed to be used by an adult male over 1.5m tall? On a child, a seat belt sits over their 2 most vulnerable points – the neck/throat and the belly area containing all the vital organs. The seat belt becomes a definitive threat to a child who isn’t using a booster seat to protect them from it.

Since becoming aware of the #CarseatFullstop campaign, I am trying to find suitable booster seats for both of my older kids, as I now realise that even my 8yr old should be in a booster seat.

What should you know? 

  1. You should never ever forward-face a child under 13kgs or 1 year’s old.
  2. A child should be rear-facing for as long as their car seat (and your finances) allows.
  3. If at all possible, you should invest in a car seat that can rear-face until at least 18kgs (between 3 and 4 years old).
  4. You can currently purchase one approved car seat in South Africa that allows for rear-facing up to 25kgs, which is between 5 and 6 years old.
  5. Once a child outgrows the 5-point harness toddler seat, they should be moved to a full back booster seat with side impact protection until they are over 1.5m tall or over 36kgs (you need to ensure that the car seat you buy allows for this)

I was literally doing everything wrong! As Maya Angelou once said: ‘When we know better, we do better.’

Please consider donating any second-hand carseats that your kids have outgrown to Wheel Well. Wheel Well, run by Peggie Mars, holds the Car Seat for Kids campaign annually in October. They collect second-hand car seats in any condition and clean and refurbish the seats that can be made safe. Those that cannot be safely used are disposed of. There are parents that can’t afford this vital investment new. That used seat can be the difference between life and death for a less fortunate child. Any donations can be dropped off at any Renault dealership or get in touch with Wheel Well here.

With statistics saying that up to 93% of people aren’t strapping in their kids… We ALL know somebody who is adding to that number.

Share this article and any #CarseatFullstop article that you see on social media.  Send it to your friends with kids. You have the power to save a little life. Please. This is such an important topic, we can make a change.

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5 thoughts on “Carseats are not just for babies {#CarseatFullstop}”

  1. Such an important topic and so under-stressed in parenting circles, this has also happened to us. It ended with Emma going to emergency because we were just ignorant. Even at her age – she should be in a booster. Scary! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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