Child Car Seats: Everything You Need to Know

child car seat(Photo Credit: Young Parents)

So, you have just gotten a car for the convenience of bringing your child and a stroller around easily. But, are you forgetting one important item? Namely, a child car seat.

A child car seat is not only important, it’s mandatory. As of 2012, it is required by law for a child under the height of 1.35m to use a Child Restraint System (CRS) while in a car.

If caught without one, first-timer offenders can expect a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or a jail term not longer than three months. Repeat offenders can expect double the fine and jail time. Do also note that body carriers are not considered as a CRS.

It is clear that the authorities are taking child safety in vehicles very seriously, and therefore, you should too.

As parents, the first step you should take is to set a good example for your child. For instance, wearing your seat belt regardless of where you are seated in the car and how short the trip is. Children pick up habits from their parents very quickly at a young age. Therefore, it is important that they pick up the right safety habits.

Choosing the Right Child Seat

different car child seats(Photo Credit: Which)

In Singapore, there are four main types of child seats available. There are the rear-facing child seat, the forward-facing child seat, the booster child seat with a backrest, and the booster child seat without a backrest.

Do note that the booster child seat without a backrest, while legal, is often unadvisable for parents to use. This is because it does not offer much in terms of protection from side impact. Such child seats are usually favoured for its portability and lightness.

Children grow really fast, and parents must be proactive in swapping out their CRS for another one better suited to their child’s size.

rear facing child car seat(Photo Credit: Which)

Another concern is choosing between a front-facing and back-facing child seat for your kid. It is highly recommended for babies up to approximately 15 months to be in a rear-facing child seat. The reason? The child’s head will be better protected and supported as their necks and spines are not well formed yet.

Front-facing child seats do have their benefits too. They offer greater protection to the back and internal organs, making them the preferred CRS for older toddlers.

Installing Your Child Seat

ISOFIX LATCH child car seats(Photo Credit: AA Singapore)

After selecting the appropriate CRS, the next step would be to install it in your car. In the event of an accident, a properly installed CRS could mean the difference between life and death for your child.

The two most common systems for installing child seats are ISOFIX and LATCH. Please refer to the graphic above for instructions on how to install a child seat properly using both systems.

As far as car installation goes, the rear seats are generally recommended and favoured, with the middle being the safest spot. The middle seat is furthest away from any side impact on the car and debris from a crash.

If you insist on installing the CRS in the front seat, which is the least safest spot, you should deactivate the airbag for the safety of your child. Airbags have a lot of pressurised air in them and can bring a lot of harm to a small child when activated in a crash.

Fastening Your Child In

Motorist Fastening Your Child In
(Photo Credit: Sunday Times Driving)

After installing the CRS, you now need to know how to fasten your child in properly. There are two different methods depending on whether the CRS comes with or without a harness.

For child seats with harnesses, make sure that it fits your kid comfortably while being tight enough to be effective. The protectors should be positioned properly, and you need to ensure there are not twists or knots on the harness. The top straps need to be either at the same height or just under your child’s shoulders. Finally, the waist straps need to be as low on your child’s lap as possible.

For child seats without harnesses, you will have to use the car’s seat belt to secure your child into the seat. The belt needs to pass through the top anchor point of the backrest, on top of your child’s shoulder. It should also never touch your child’s neck or underarms.

The second (horizontal) point of the seat should be secured around your child’s pelvis instead of the abdomen. The seat belt should also be tight, but still comfortable with no knots or twists on it.

Still deciding on which child seat to buy for your child? Over at the Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS), they are concerned with the safety of you and your child. Their AAShop offers a wide range of approved child seats, along with some accessories. If you join AA Singapore as a member today, you will be able to enjoy discounts on the car seats and other travel-related products that they sell!

This article was created for AAS Academy.

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Read more: The Complete Guide to Childproofing Your Car


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