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Friday, October 26, 2012

Keeping Kids in Car Seats

Car seats are not required in the Philippines.  Plus, because they are expensive, they rarely get included in baby registries nor do parents include them in must-have lists for babies.  N and E started using their car seats as soon as we got discharged from the hospital.
keeping kids entertained with
We started with a Chicco Keyfit infant basket.  It was huge, heavy and sturdy.  N used it until about 14 months.  At that time, the recommendations were that you can switch baby from rear facing to front facing when they turn 1 year old so we purchased a Mothercare Advance SP for her.   Her Keyfit basket was passed on to her cousin then subsequently to her cousin's cousin.
When E arrived, the Chicco Keyfit was passed on to him.  E is still using it - although at 10 months, he is slowly outgrowing it.  We have a spare Britax Boulevard ready for E.  However, my problem with the Britax is that it needs a tether to be rear-facing.  I have yet to find the tethers for our cars.  Trivia:  Did you know that car seats have expiration dates? You can check your car seat's expiry date on the label that's usually stuck on the side of the seat or in the inner label. Our Keyfit was manufactured in 2007 and has a 6 year life.  So it is good until 2013 and by that time, E will be in the Britax.  Read this link to learn why car seats have expiration dates.
a Spinkie Little Friends Squeakie Toy
In anchoring car seats, it is also important to remember that there are safe positions to put them.  The center rear seat is said to be the safest place because it is the farthest from the sides of the vehicle (where impact is most likely to occur).  Since I have 2 kids, I placed the most vulnerable child - E in the middle while N goes to the side. We also did it this way because N listens when we tell her not to play with the windows while E tries to push the buttons or pulls the door lever whenever he has a chance to do so.
Instead of purchasing car seats, some people act as their children's car seat or have yaya seat the child on their laps.  However, according to this Crash Test Packet used in a mechanical engineering dynamics course at the University of Utah, "[o]ne of the most dangerous places in a car for a child is on the lap or in the arms of an adult.  Children can be crushed by adults in a collision, and/or may not be restrained properly by an adult."
and an Isabel Rag Doll
Keeping kids in car seats is no easy task.  I think all kids have a built-in hate to be restrained in their car seats.  With N, we endured car crying and did all sorts of distractions to keep her in her car seat when she was younger.  She got used to it and now, whenever we get on the car, she immediately gets on her seat puts on the shoulder straps and waits for an adult to strap her in.  I have also noticed that when N does not ride in a car seat (e.g. we ride with my siblings or with friends), she is restless and always moves around in the vehicle! She also fiddles with everything.
With E, we are still in the crying session period - there are times when he forgets that he is in the car seat but there are times when he simply refuses to be distracted and just cries and cries ....!  So, yes, I take him out, comfort him but put him back again when he settles down. It also helps that we bring books and toys for the kids to keep them busy.  We also keep an adult at the back with the kids.  So if I drive, yaya sits at the back with the 2 kids and no one sits beside me in front.  If you don't have a yaya, one alternative is to provide a "fake seatmate" for your child by strapping in a doll or stuffed toy beside him/her.
 Some argue that because people drive slowly here, there is no need for car seats.  Yes, people drive slower and we do not have freeways.  But we have more aggressive drivers than defensive drivers.  So consider that before you exclude car seats from your registry or shopping list for baby.
Final note - as much as I love babywearing, I will emphasize that baby carriers are NOT replacement for car seats.

*Thank you to Mothering Earthlings for the knick knacks to keep N and E busy in their car seats! ;)

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