A parent’s life can generally be divided into two phases: BB (Before Baby) and AB (After Baby). Going on an extended road trip BB is as simple as getting into the car. Literally. But, as new parents quickly discover, even going to the shops can be daunting. Besides packing all the supplies, including that third set of clothes just in case, you are also faced with the task of keeping your precious bundle of joy safe on the road.
Luckily, investing in a good car seat goes a long way to give you peace of mind. Here are a few points to consider when choosing a seat for your child:
Rear- versus forward-facing
The general consensus is that it is better to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, or at least until they are 2 years old or weighs 10 kg or more. If you are involved in an accident, a rear-facing car seat will offer your child the best protection for their head, neck, and spine.
Your child’s size and age
There are three basic types of car seats, each designed to protect a specific age and size of child. It is important that you switch to another car seat once your child reaches the maximum weight or height for their current seat.
Infant car seat: As the name suggests, this type of car seat is designed for infants up to the age of around 2. These car seats often come with a stroller, and thus double as carriers. An infant car seat can only be used in the rear-facing position.
Infant-toddler car seat: Also called a convertible seat, these can be used as rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers or front-facing seats for older children.
Booster seat: There are two types of booster seats – with and without backs. These may be used once a child is big enough to be restrained with the car’s built-in seatbelt only (around 4 years or older). Choosing to use a booster with or without a back will depend on your child’s height and what is most comfortable.
No matter what type of seat your child uses, the best place for it is the back seat.
According to Car Insurance, placing the seat in the left-rear passenger seat is the best option as this will allow you to remove your child from the seat quickly in a dangerous situation. If your car doesn’t have a back seat, make sure that the air bag on the passenger side is switched off. Air bags release with immense force and can seriously injure a small child. Remember: a car seat is only effective when used correctly. Always ensure that your child’s seat is secure before setting off.