By: Natasha Archary
Picking a car seat
This is the first car seat you will ever own as a parent. It’s the one you take your baby home from the hospital in. Most prams/strollers today come with the babyseat as a detachable unit. This is then strapped, rear-facing onto the backseat. If you don’t have a stroller or pram unit, the group 1 babyseat can then be purchased separately.
Rear-facing car seats are designed to spread the impact of the force over the larger back area of the seat. As opposed to impacting the baby’s under-developed neck. It’s also important to never use a blanket to cover the baby before securing the harness. Blankets can create slack between the harness, which could cause the straps to loosen on impact, with the baby being ejected from the seat. Strap your baby into the seat securely and then tuck the blanket into place once your baby is strapped in.
A rear-facing babyseat is used from birth until the baby is around 13 kg, usually around 12 months.
Most rear facing group car seats have the option of converting into a stage 2 forward-facing seat. It all sounds very technical but I assure you, it’s worth understanding. A car seat should be rear-facing for as long as possible. But you can install the car seat facing forward from about 9kg upwards. Once your child’s legs become restricted in the rear-facing position. Forward-facing cars eats can be adjusted to offer a comfortable decline, which will still support your child’s neck when they fall asleep during travel. Stage 2 seats can be used from 13 kg until 18 kgs.
A child who is 18 kgs and up, will need a stage 3 car seat. This is a higher backed seat, to offer the child a more upright seated position during travel. Stage 3 seats can be used from four years upwards. Seats can be adjusted, reclined or straightened depending on duration of travel. If your child needs to sleep while you’re travelling you will need to recline a few degrees. The stage 3 seat, supports the child’s spine, neck and gives your child enough leg room.
There are also booster seats and cushions to convert your stage 2 seat into a stage 3. Depending on the brand of car seat you have. Most give you this option, but some do not and a new seat will need to be purchased. Researching brands and the conversion possibilities might seem tedious but it could save you money whilst still giving you peace of mind.
Yes, it may be “less stressful” to let your child do as he pleases and give in so you avoid temper tantrums while you’re driving. But it’s not safe. It makes you a negligent parent. Even if you’re just driving up the road to the garage, you should be strapping your child into a car seat. It also means you’re less distracted as a driver and can focus better on the road, rather than dealing with an unrestrained and crabby child.
I have never had an issue with strapping my child into his car seat. I simply enforced the rule from a young age, tell him repeatedly why it’s important and if there were tantrums, have dealt with them. But I never give in to his demands to be free roaming in the backseat while I drive.
As a parent, it’s our duty to protect our little people as best we can. Don’t be irresponsible and think that you’ll never be involved in a crash and your child will be fine as long as you’re a safe driver. Take the time, have the patience and enforce that your child be strapped into a car seat EVERY time you get into the car, regardless of how far or fast you’ll be going.