Some of my earliest childhood memories are of going with my cousins to the theatre or on other outings during the holiday period, and when I say going with my cousins I literally mean going with them, all together, 8 of us piled into my mom’s or gran’s car!
There would be the driver (usually my gran), then my mom and I on her lap in the passenger seat and then 5 of my cousins squashed like sardines in the back seat. My cousins and I were all aged between 6 and 12. This was in the 1980’s.
Today being a mother of 2, I would NEVER even consider a) putting that many people in my car and b) putting small children in my car without car seats and booster seats, in fact I wont even drive around the block without my precious cargo secured in car seats and my line of thinking has become the generally accepted norm in my circle of friends and wider community.
Times have changed, drivers and roads have changed so let’s unpack this subject and go back to the time when car seats where first introduced and why they have become vital.
But before we get into the history of car seats take a look at this video to give you a reality check.
Originally the car seat was introduced back in the 1930’s to restrict children from moving around in vehicles. It had no safety purpose at that stage.
In the 1940’s the car seat resembled a metal box and lifted the child sightly so they could see out of the window. Again, no emphasis was placed on safety rather more on convenience, meaning that families and especially mothers could now take to the town with their little ones in tow.
The baby car bed – Something that makes my hair stand on end as you can identify with why this would not be such a good idea. . .
Think of car collision, baby being flung out, side impact dangers. The list of possible things that could go wrong with this are endless!
It was only in the 1960’s that car seats started to be seen as a safety accessory, yet many people did not see the benefits of this item.
Car seats were now fixed using the car seat belts (not that many cars even had seat belts). Another redesign of the car seat resulted in this poorly thought out death trap – if the driver of the vehicle put on brakes the baby would be flung forward and bang their head on the metal steering wheel or guard rail.
1968 saw the “Tot Guard” from the Ford Motor Company
This had a padded area intended to protect the child’s face if flung forward in a collision.
Looks more like a giant feeding chair to me.
The 70’s car seats have some features which can be recognised in our modern day car seats such as the seat belts, head and side impact protection. In 1973, General Motors introduced the Infant Love Seat and Child Love Seat which started focusing on why you would want to protect your child.
In America car seats were now required to be affixed with a seat belt to the car chair and that the actual car seat had to have a seat belt to hold in the baby.
No crash testing at this stage was required.
How comfortable does this look? Not!!!
Fully padded complete with that very popular 1980’s brown colour.
In 1985 the first child passenger safety laws were passed requiring all children under a certain age to be affixed in a car seat. This notion was first passed in America and the rest of the world started to follow.
As numbers on the roads worldwide increased and with the ignorance that speed kills, car seat safety campaigns were introduced worldwide.
Although much safer systems were designed, including the latch system whereby top and lower anchors resulting in the improved stability of the seat, comfort was not really a priority
At this stage many car manufacturers and baby product manufacturers started to manufacture their own car seats in this seen to be very lucrative market.
Brilliant car seat safety campaigns became commonly used to promote child safety.
Today car seat safety has become a very serious topic with car seats being seen as a priority and a law in many countries.
In fact in South Africa many hospitals will not let you take your baby home unless it has been secured in a car seat.
Its one thing to have a car seat, but another thing to understand how to correctly install the car seat and the different age and weight categories of your child in terms of selecting a car seat.
Some car seats even come with an expiry date!!!!
Super Stylish car seats are a must backed by safety!
Although car seat safety is on the rise, booster seat usage for kids between the ages of 8-12 is decreasing, meaning that people are not seeing the need to secure their big little people and unfortunately the consequences of a child who is involved in a collision and is not secured properly can be fatal.
In South Africa
In 2015 The Minister of Transport introduced a new regulation to the National Road Traffic Act whereby officially as of 1 May 2015, all children under three-years-old will have to be strapped into a car seat when travelling in a car.
We picked up this really informative and summarised article on all the SA laws regarding car seats courtesy of Arrive Alive: https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Car-Seats-for-Kids-and-Road-Safety-in-South-Africa
Many initiatives have been launched in SA to get car seats donated to those that are unable to afford car seats. Just one such is Wheel Well.
With prices of car seats starting from R264 up to R10 000, you have a wide selection to suit your requirements.
One car seat manufacturer in South Africa that we love is Maxi-Cosi, because of their car seats safety systems and features including convenience and comfort.
Maxi-Cosi’s slogan is “We Carry The Future” and using the latest technology they are always one step ahead of others in this baby goods sector.
They also have so many options depending on your lifestyle, budget and requirements.
Take a look at how serious they are about safety and why they can claim that they “carry the future”.
We all go through those traumatic moments when your baby/child is screaming because they don’t want to go in their car seat or be strapped in, but the safety of your child should be a non-negotiable and your priority to protect your child should be higher than getting to anywhere on time no matter what the occasion is.
Rather let your child/baby spend 10 minutes of having a melt down and crying fit which is soon forgotten, than you living your life with regret and a deceased or impaired child.
You only get one shot at being a parent to a child – Don’t mess it up!