Please be seated… car seat-ed

Just Ella Bella


Eleanor Douglas-Meyers is a crafty mom from Uitenhage who writes about DIY, parenting, natural hair care, fashion, food and fun on her blog JustEllaBella


Driving home from work yesterday, I saw two kids standing on the back seat of a car, an infant on his mother’s lap on the front seat of another car and a child standing between (I assume) his parents’ seats.

I remember how my dad (even when I was young and car seats weren’t common place) would shout at us if any of us tried that.

“If this car stops you will go flying through the windscreen, land on the road and then people will ride over you, do you want that? Sit down and buckle up!” Harsh? Yes. True? Yes again.

It’s so dangerous not to be buckled up. In fact, in South Africa, it is illegal to travel in a car with a child under three years old not strapped into an approved child safety seat.

I get so nervous when I see kids not buckled up, especially since I read that car passenger death in children is the fourth leading cause of unnatural deaths in South Africa.

With this in mind, I chatted to Mandy Lee Miller of the national car seat awareness campaign #CarseatFullstop for tips on how to choose a car seat.

She explained that there are three stages of car seats: the infant, toddler and child booster seat.

Your infant seat should be used from birth up to 13kg, or until their head is more than 1 inch (about 2.5cm) below the top of the headrest, when the headrest is in its highest position.

Toddler car seats should be used from the time your child is 13kg until they are at least 18kg, or the weight specified with the Y on the orange sticker on the side of the seat.

The child booster seat is used between 15kg and 36kg (four to 10/12 years old).The back rest of the high-backed booster seat should provide “wings” that offer side impact protection, protecting the child’s head and neck.

There are a few tips that are relevant – no matter which stage your child is in.

  • Consult your car’s manual. Check if your car has ISOFIX anchors. An ISOFIX car seat cannot be used without it. Check where the recommended positioning of a car seat is in your car.
  • Try your child in the seat in your car before making your purchase. Check if your seat belt is long enough to install the seat correctly. With rear-facing seats, ensure that there is sufficient space between the seat and the front seat to allow safe installation. Check where the belts sit when threaded through the booster seat guides on your child.
  • Always follow the installation instructions in the car seat manual. An incorrectly installed car seat is NOT safe.
  • The car seat harness should not have any twists when fastened. It is only tight enough when you cannot pinch the fabric of the belt between your fingers at all.
  • Your child should never wear a bulky jacket, jersey or blanket under the harness. Place the blanket or jacket over the secured harness.
  • Do not use any belt positioner, cover, insert, pillow or other product that is not sold with the seat by the manufacturer. If it hasn’t been crash-tested with the seat your child is in, it could stop the seat from doing its job.

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