101 on baby car seats in Singapore

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What are the common mistakes made by new parents when it comes to keeping baby safe on the road? Read on to find out about the right fit, installation, correct usage and more.

Car seats are not an accessory ─ they are the law. And for good reason. Car seats save lives. As a new parent you may be wondering what the laws for car seats are in Singapore. That’s simple. The law states:

  • All adults and kids below the height of 1.35m should be securely fastened in a government approved car seat, booster seat or approved adjustable seat belt/child restraint when traveling in a vehicle. Any drivers who transport passengers otherwise will be fined $120 SGD and will receive 3 demerit points on their driving license.
  • Taxi drivers are exempt, as they cannot be reasonably expected to carry a variety of different child seats and restraints. Parents taking a taxi should bring a seat or take all precautions to keep their children seated quietly for the entire ride. Children or persons below the height of 1.35m shall only ride in the rear of the taxis.
  • Children under 8 who are too large for a car seat may use a booster seat. The seat must boost the child to the height at which they can use adult seat belts safely and securely.

Source: Singapore Police Force

The right seat

The right car seat does not depend on brand, price, colour or even amenities. The right car seat is one that if fits your child, is installed correctly and used every single time your child travels by car.

Fit

When it comes to fit,  age, weight and height restrictions should be strictly adhered to. If you are trying to squeeze your 1-year-old into an infant seat, you are not only causing discomfort to your child, you are endangering their life. Once your child reaches between 25 and 30 pounds or is sitting on their own for extended periods of time, they need to be moved from an infant seat to a convertible seat.

The seat belt or harness of the seat (no matter what seat it is) should be adjusted to fit snugly over the shoulders without pinching. The harness should ALWAYS be at or slightly below your baby’s shoulder level - NEVER above. Most car seats will also have a clip on the harness. The clip should come between the nipples and the sternum. This helps to keep baby from slumping forward and from being pitched forward in the event of an accident. The crotch strap should be snug, but not cutting into their leg or crotch area.

When wearing a seat belt, the shoulder component of the belt should go over the torso (and not across the face or neck) and the lap component of the belt should ride across the lap (and not across the abdomen).

If your infant is still very young, you may need to use an insert or roll lightweight blankets to place at either side of the infant and between the infant and the crotch strap.

NOTE: Use only inserts that are made for your seat.

Installation

Each car seat comes with a set of installation instructions that are compatible with a number of different styles of automobiles. Follow these instructions explicitly. Even the most expensive car seat is a worthless car seat if not installed correctly.

Infant seats usually come with a base that is secured to the car seat with the seat itself being clipped in place when being used for transport. It is imperative that you check the base’s fit frequently to make sure it hasn’t worked lose. And it goes without saying that to check and double check a proper connection between base and seat should become second nature to you in a very short time.

Another important factor in installing infant AND rear facing convertible seats is to place the seat at a 45 degree angle. This helps to keep an infant from pitching forward, helps the baby to breathe normally while in the seat and works to prevent severe injuries to a baby in the event of an accident.

Convertible seats will most likely be fastened by inserting the car’s seat belt through the back portion of the seat (if front facing) or by securing it through the base if rear facing. When front facing, the seat will also have a hook or clip located on the back top portion of the seat. This is to be used to add extra security should the vehicle come to a sudden stop.

As for booster seats, the seat needs to be used according to manufacturer’s directions and should be used only by children who can sit in the seat with the seatbelt and shoulder harnesses correctly in place.

Use correctly

The best car seat money can buy--even one that is installed properly is not worth anything if you don’t use it correctly. Using your car seat correctly means you take the time to buckle every buckle, clip every clip and adjust each strap to fit properly. Using your car seat correctly means you move the harness to the appropriate position as your baby grows (but not too soon), adjust the size of the harness and crotch strap to fit when bulkier or lighter clothing is worn and you follow the weight and size guidelines for rear vs. forward facing seats and the graduation from a car seat to a booster seat.

Why take the risk

No one is going to argue the fact that there are times when car seats are a big pain in the you-know-where. But they are also the thing that protects our most priceless treasures. So why would anyone be willing to take the risk of bringing harm to their child by getting lazy when it comes to car seats? I’m sure I don’t know.

Here are related articles:

Can your child sit in the front seat of a car?

Child Safety: Buckle up!

Child safety in the car