car seats suck
Heart matters

Car seats suck

Yeah yeah yeah, I hear you. If you don’t strap your kid in, you’re basically the worst kind of parent in the world. But the truth is that car seats suck. They are an inconveniencing pain in the neck. I am not best friends with the idea behind having to lug this thing around from car to car, just to make sure that my child is safe during the two minutes that it takes to drive from our house to the shop. If you’re a pro-car seats “I love my car seat soo friggen much” mom, good for you. This post is not for you. This post is for the rest of us, who think that car seats suck.

Look, I may be a tad bit dramatic (give or take a soap box or two) but I’ve been feeling especially overwhelmed since the addition of our newest baby. I mean, in my mommy bubble, car seats seem to be sucking even more lately, now that we have to have TWO installed. Kari will be turning three soon, and since baby Jo‘s arrival, there is little to no back seat space if both kiddies are strapped in. Oh, shall I remind you that when Seth is over, we have to make sure that all four of our kids are secure, when we’re travelling? It’s extremely fun.

I feel like getting from point A to point B is hard enough – with a crying baby, bored two year old and teenage son who wants to know “are we there yet”. Why must you make my life even more difficult, car seat?

But ‘mom-who-hates-car-seats’, just like you, I feel the mom guilt too. You know? That nagging feeling in the back of your mind that rebukes you for hating car seats because it could mean the life or death of your little child. We know that car seats are needed. Doesn’t mean we think it sucks less. And that’s why I am posting this today. Because I want you – ‘mom-who-has-a-lot-on-her-plate-already’ – to know that I hear you. I feel your pain. Nope, you are not a failure for hating the fact that you need to strap your kid in. You are not a loser mom, for detesting every single minute of having to lug your toddler’s car seat from one car to the other. Nope. You are human. And you are a super star for doing the right thing. We need to keep encouraging each other (hey, me too, yo!) to push on because yes, car seats suck. But seeing your kid fly through the windscreen of your car will suck considerably more.

#CarseatFullstop has been doing an excellent job at educating parents (like me) who find the inconvenience of car seats well… inconvenient. I’ve learnt so much and found myself a little bit more enlightened and inspired with regards to making sure my kids are strapped in. Because the truth is that whether you and I like it or not, there are more cars on the road. So that means there are more drivers on the road… and guess what, they are out of your control. So, whether you’re the best driver in the world, you cannot control the speed of your fellow road user, or his state of mind etc. The road is just not as safe as it was yesteryear.

So let’s decide that today will be day one. No judgies. You didn’t strap your kid in yesterday. That’s okay. Today is a new today. Look, no matter how we look at it, your kid needs to be strapped in. How about we hold each other accountable, and make sure that our kids are secure, in their car seats, each time that we travel? I can do that. Can you?

Some car seat facts that I’ve learnt through #CarseatFullstop:

1. Car passenger deaths are the fourth leading cause of death in children in South
2. Every child from birth until roughly 12 years old needs a car seat or booster seat to
be safe in a crash.
3. The latest research says that 93% of children in South Africa that need to be in a
car seat to be safe in a crash, are not in car seats.
4. A car seat belt is designed to be used by an adult male over 1.5m tall.
5. A car seat belt’s job is to distribute the force of a crash to the body’s strongest points – mid-shoulder, chest and pelvis.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. A baby needs to be in a rear-facing infant seat until they are 13kgs or their head is
more than 1 inch from the top of the seat back. This is usually around 1 year’s old.
9. At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with
any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters (a second
story balcony) onto concrete.
10. The carry handle of an infant seat has a secondary purpose. When installing the
seat, you should pull the handle towards the backrest of the seat to create a “roll
cage” effect.
11. You should never buckle two children up in one seatbelt. The children could kill or
seriously injure one another in a crash or sudden stop. A car seat belt has also
only been crash-tested with one person, so there is no way to tell if or how it might
function with two.
12. 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.
13. Rear-facing car seats are far safer for developing bodies than forward facing car. They spread the force of a crash over the larger area of the back, as
opposed to the force being taken by the underdeveloped neck when the
proportionally big head of a smaller child is thrown forward.
14. . A bulky jacket, jersey or blanket underneath the car seat harness can create a
lot of slack between the harness and your child when the force from the crash
compresses the material. This can lead to your child being ejected. You should
rather place the blanket or jacket over the child once they are secured in the
15. You can currently purchase one approved car seat in South Africa that allows for
rear-facing up to 25kgs, which is between 4 and 6 years old.

For more information, please follow #CarseatFullstop on social media and please feel free to share their posts to encourage others to follow along too.
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