Last year, it sort of took me by surprise when I collaborated on the #CarseatFullstop campaign and learnt that car seats were almost a controversial topic and that there are parents who didn’t see the importance of using a car seat. In fact, despite it being law that every child under the age of 3 is restrained in a car seat, The Automobile Association conducted an informal observational survey to find out how many children were actually in car seats and found that less than 7% of children in cars were using car seats.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what possible reasons parents could have, for not correctly restraining their children in a moving vehicle, and while I still struggle to understand why anyone would risk the lives of their children, I came to the conclusion that there are 2 main reasons; knowledge and finances.
Before working on the campaign, my understanding of car seats was very limited. I mean, if I had to break it down, I knew that my child needed to be restrained and that’s about it. I had no idea what I should be looking for in a car seat, what testing I should be checking for, or when I should be changing my child from rear-facing to forward facing. If I think back to the first time that we bought a car seat, the salesman at the baby store didn’t even know how the car seat clipped into the pram that it came with, never mind what he should be telling me to ensure the safety of my child. I am ashamed to admit it but I was unknowingly doing a lot of things wrong – I was naïve, ignorant and thinking that simply buckling my kid up was enough, was, in fact, my biggest mistake.
When we had Axl, I was 20-years old and my salary at the time was about R800/ week, so buying luxury items was out of the question. In fact, most of our baby shopping was either from Gumtree or buying the cheapest option available at the store. Our car seat at the time was part of a travel system and was significantly cheaper than any other on the market – we didn’t think much of it, we just thought that we got a great deal and were happy that our kid would be buckled up.
So, hear me when I say, I get it! I get the budget concerns, I get that you don’t always have all the information available to you and very often, it feels like you don’t have much of a choice. In fact, I often feel guilty for partnering with the #CarseatFullstop campaign because I am the furtherst thing from a perfect parent. I am the mom to a 3-year old and am constantly realizing how many things I suck at, like understanding car seats and all the dangers I could avoid; my child’s straps have been twisted, my kid has worn a thick jacket under his seat belt, I changed over to a forward-facing car seat far too soon, and I am even guilty of having Axl on my lap a few times. I mess up all the time.
But with my second child on the way, here’s something I am very proud to have learnt along this journey and my best piece of advice for you as a parent; you can push your child in a R200 pram, and dress them in the cheapest onesies and no one will judge you, but if it is one thing you should invest in, it is car seat safety.
As part of The Mom’s Guide, Maxi-Cosi South Africa and #CarseatFullstop have partnered with me to share the importance of car seat safety and what you should really be looking for in a car seat. I have had a few meetings with the team at Maxi-Cosi and what truly inspired my partnership with them is that their primary focus isn’t about getting everyone to buy THEIR car seat, but more about having EVERY CHILD IN A CAR SEAT. I have learnt a wealth of knowledge chatting to their team and love their passion for safety – it has become quite contagious, really!
A few things that I have learnt during these meetings have truly stuck out to me. I am not like Mandy, who is the founder of #CarseatFullstop – she understands all the stats and important info, but me? I need it broken down in simple terms that my tired pregnant brain can comprehend.
“In South Africa, car passenger deaths are the 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in children, but a car seat reduces the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.”
It was during one of these meetings that I learnt about the testing phase, and why the price differs from your typical entrance level car seat versus something from brands like Maxi-Cosi. You see, South Africa follows European safety standards and all the products that are sold here, are required to pass the minimum standard testing (look for an orange approval label on your car seat).
This test only covers your BASIC SAFETY requirements. But brands like Maxi-Cosi carry out additional tests on all aspects of their car seats by performing independent tests. These tests cover frontal impact AND side impact, and while the standard testing for frontal collisions is 50 km/h Maxi-Cosi perform tests at 70 km/h. I think what stands out the most is that 40% of car accidents are side-impact, yet most car seats aren’t being put through this testing so without even realizing it, we may very well be putting our children at risk despite our best efforts.
For more information on Maxi-Cosi’s extensive testing, see here.
Like I am sure most of you, I have also looked at car seats which boast the convenience of growing with your child. I mean, car seats are expensive so why not invest in one that has the ability to keep your child safe for up to 7 years – that’s surely a winner, right? Well, not exactly. If you look at it from a practical standpoint, a 7-year old and a newborn have a more than noticeable difference in size. So how can a car seat that is going to keep your 7-year old safe, keep your tiny newborn safe? Most of these car seats have lots and lots of padding, which makes your newborn look really snug and comfy, but in the event of an accident – it provides little to no safety. That’s why car seats have the different stages and why each one is just as important as the rest.
I can only imagine that I will continue to learn more about car seat safety, especially now as I am about to welcome my second son. My aim is to share that knowledge with you so that together we can protect our children. So be sure to keep an out for more blog posts about car seats, travel system and new things I have learnt about car seat safety!
If you’d like to get involved, it is as simple as sharing and talking more about this campaign. #CarseatFullstop encourages each and every one of you to make a difference by simply sharing their message with your friends through social media, in person or even by displaying the bumper sticker on your own car. You never know who might see it and how many little lives you could be saving by taking a minute to share.
Head over to Maxi-Cosi to learn more about their products, extensive testing, how to install and clean their car seat and what makes their commitment to cars seat safety truly something to admire. You can also follow Maxi-Cosi on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to stay up to date with the latest innovations, take part in competitions and learn more about their incredible commitment to car seat safety.
Be sure to check out #CarseatFullstop for more information, tips, and advice on choosing the right car seat, how to install them and see why the campaign has the support of award-winning local parenting bloggers, media, and brands. You can also follow #CarseatFullstop on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.