You probably think that your baby is safe from the moment she’s buckled up, but these common mistakes may compromise her car seat’s function.
Only 15% of South Africans strap their children in car seats, according to #CarSeatFullStop, a national car seat awareness campaign. It’s a horrifying statistic, but equally frightening is the thought that your little one might not be entirely safe, even if she is buckled up.
Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:
- Buying a second-hand seat. We know that children’s paraphernalia is pricey, and while it makes sense to save on prams or cots, you can’t take a chance with car seats – you just never know if parts are missing. What’s more, car seats are said to have an expiry date.
- Installing it yourself. Before you argue that you’ve read the manual, consider that many problems with car seats have been caused by incorrect installation. While you’re paying for the car seat, ask one of the store assistants to assemble and install it – it’s worth the extra five minutes.
- The harness is too loose. Ever experienced whiplash? It’s not pleasant – so imagine what it would feel like for your baby to accelerate forward at great speed. This is what happens if her harness is too loose. Make sure it is tight enough to fit only one finger between her collarbone and the strap.
- Switching to a forward-facing seat too soon. We all know the pain of hearing a child screaming from the back seat, a problem many moms solve by changing the view – after all, who wants to stare at the back of a chair while you drive? But the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children remain in rear-facing seats until they’re two.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.