Nothing beats a road trip with your child across the country, exploring its rugged beauty that comprises mountain views, hilly roads, and perfect weather for cruises by the beach. Such road trips could potentially create stronger bonds and unforgettable memories that will surely occupy quite a space in our memory bank. As with any road trip adventure, safety is key. Especially when it comes to children. This week, as we continue to celebrate Mother’s Day, we’d like to shed light on the importance of child car seats, as well as offer tips that will turn your mom-and-baby trip from exhausting and nerve-racking to a more relaxed and fun-filled one.
As of March, new traffic laws have been enforced in Oman, and one of the laws that made headlines was the one that involved installing child car seats, which are now compulsory for children under the age of four.
Installing a car seat is not about being a law-abiding citizen, it’s an absolute necessity. As a mom, the safety of your little ones will always be your number one priority, and it will also make your grocery store rides, school pick-ups, and even long weekend getaways stress-free. So, let’s get down to some important tips that will ensure the safety of your little one.
Use an appropriate seat
Picking a suitable seat ensures the utmost safety of your child. Whether it’s a quick trip to the mall or a long drive to see grandma, an appropriate child car seat can make a difference not only in terms of safety, but also for overall comfort. For infants, you must buy a rear-facing seat. After 12 months, you can replace it with a front-facing one. It’s advisable to keep using rear-facing seats, as they are the safest in case of accidents. Also, double check with a technician when installing the seat to ensure it’s compatible with your car/s, as some seats come in a variety of sizes that are designed only for SUVs.
Check the seat before leaving home
Make it a habit to check your child seat before leaving the house. Be on the lookout for any cracks, fraying of seatbelts, and ripped or torn padding. The seat is designed to function as a package; therefore, any fault in the construction might affect its ability to safeguard your child.
Install properly and buckle up
Some seats may have complicated features; if this is the case, ensure someone experienced is there for a quick demonstration. Alternatively, you can follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to properly install seats and strap seatbelts. Your mission doesn’t end after placing your kid on the seat, you need to make sure the seats are perfectly fastened, and continue to check on them from time-to-time as you travel. Do not use the car’s regular seat belts until the shoulder strap runs across the shoulder and not the neck.
Always use the back seat
It’s a common rule that children under the age of 12 must ride in the back. Why, you ask? Back seats are as safe as car safety goes. They are the best bet to ensure your child remains unharmed in case of an accident, as most car crashes impact the front part of the vehicle. Also, it’s much easier to keep an eye on your kid from the rear-view mirror rather than turning your head multiple times while driving.
Place the seat in the centre
Now that we are on the same page with placing the seat in the back, we can go a step further and place the child seat in the centre. Doing so ensures that the child won’t get a direct hit in case of a collision. If you happen to have three little ones, your oldest will be the least protected. Therefore, he or she doesn’t get the centre seat. Make sure to double check the seatbelts and car seat straps, as the seat is likely to move if not well-fastened.
Replace and never borrow seats
Child car seats are similar to other items you purchase; they have an expiration date. Most seats are made of plastic, which is a material that gets rigid as it ages. If your seat has passed the six- to eight-year date, or has been misused, you need to get it replaced. Also, never borrow a car seat or buy a second-hand one for your child; child seats that are brand new work as a better option to guard your baby. If the seat is not as strong as it should be, how would you expect it to handle a car crash?
Don’t dump the booster too soon
Boosters are used for children who are at least four years old, or weigh more than 18 kilos. These seats serve as a way to literally boost the position of the child to sit properly and be buckled up. Some mothers decide to get rid of the booster too soon, not knowing that its sole goal is to keep the belt perfectly positioned on the child’s body, so that it will stay in place (across the lap) during accidents. Buying a booster also depends on other factors, such as height. Consult your brand or the manual for an appropriate decision.
Keep your child still
Maintaining a statue-like position may be a struggle, especially for hyperactive children, but you have to make sure they remain seated the whole time. No free passes or free-reign-in-the-car should be allowed, as they may end up distracting you, the driver. This may also result in an injury to your child when you brake.