Having the right car restraint can protect your infant or toddler from car-related injuries. Here are some points to consider when selecting the appropriate one for your car.
In Singapore it is mandatory for anyone below the height of 1.35m to be secured with an appropriate restraint, booster seat, or adjustable seatbelt while travelling in a vehicle.
(For practical reasons, taxis are exempt from this requirement; however, children under 1.35m in height must ride in the back to mitigate injury risk in the event of an accident.) Regulations aside, not ensuring your child is properly restrained can severely compromise his or her safety.
According to a 2002 Traffic Police campaign in Singapore that advocated the importance of belting up, a properly fitted child restraint system can reduce fatal injuries by up to 75% and serious injuries by 67%. When installed properly, a child car seat ensures your child is not thrown around in the vehicle during sudden manoeuvres. A normal seat belt may not work the way it does for an adult, as a child can easily slip through the seat belt.
INFANT-ONLY CAR SEAT
For babies up to nine months old, it is advised that they be placed in a rear-facing infant capsule in the back seat. Infant-only car seats are usually lighter in weight and designed to be portable. Infant carriers are convenient because the seat can be removed from the car without having to unstrap, and possibly awaken, a sleeping baby. The car seat base remains strapped into the vehicle; the carrier simply snaps in and out of the base. Another advantage is that infant-only seats can be easily attached to a stroller base. So when sourcing for an infant carrier, you may wish to look for one compatible with your stroller.
CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
Typically, a convertible car seat is used once your child outgrows his infant car seat. The good thing about convertible seats is that they can be installed as either a rear- or forward-facing seat. However, it is advisable for toddlers up to four years old to be buckled in a rear-facing seat in the back for the best protection.
CAR SEATS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
Once your child has outgrown the requirements of a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing seat with a harness can be used until he reaches the height and weight limit. He should then transition to a belt-positioning booster with lap/shoulder belt in the car. As children need head support, use a high-back booster if the car has a low backseat. A backless booster can be used if the car’s seat has a headrest. In general, boosters are recommended until your child exceeds 1.4m in height. When this happens and he is able to pass the five-step test — usually between nine to 12 years of age — he is ready to use the seatbelt on its own.