How To Keep Your Child In Their Car Seat
Come January 2020, the Malaysian authorities have made it compulsory for kids in cars to be strapped into safety seats (better late than never). But parents know that children are not born rule-abiding citizens and don’t always do what is good for them and are little Houdinis who are always wriggling out of their car seat harness, thinking it is amusing. If you are a parent who is all ready to strap your child in, here are a few easy tips to ease your child into their in-car throne.
1. Get them involved
If your child has started to develop a sense of autonomy, giving them choices could give them a sense of control over the situation and, therefore, they’d be more willing to be in it. All of the “choices”, of course, lead to them being buckled up in the car seat. For example, “Do you want to climb into your seat or do you want me to lift you up?” or “Do you want Mummy or Daddy to help you buckle up?”. If your child is a bit older, you could involve them in selecting their “special seat” at the store.
2. Make sure that they are comfortable
Even adults can feel uncomfortable if seated for long periods in the car. Do not try to add your own padding or pillows to the car seat as they may compromise its effectiveness; instead, look for child car seats that come with in-built padding to maximise comfort.
Don’t keep the harness strap loose even though you’re concerned your child is uncomfortable—it doesn’t have to be tight but it does have to be snug to be effective. Get the strap to be “just right” by pinching it between your fingers and tightening it if there is access material.
Adjust the straps and chest clip to the correct positions. For a rear-facing seat, the points where the straps are attached to the car seat must be at or below your child’s shoulder. For a front-facing seat, they must be at or below your child’s shoulder. This not only correctly positions your child in the seat for comfort, but it also ensures that they are better protected in the event of an accident. For a clearer description on how to adjust the straps, click here.
3. Make buckling up a practice for ALL occupants
Children watch and imitate the behaviours of others. If the adults do not wear their seatbelts, you could be sending mix messages to your child when they have to buckle in but others do not.
You could do a little chant before every journey: “Is Mummy buckled in? Is Daddy buckled in? Is Little Timmy buckled in? Okay! Let’s go!” Also, if there is any passenger who is not buckled in, the car is “magically” unable to move.
4. Car-only toys and snacks
Distraction is, of course, one of the greatest parenting tools there is and also effective when it comes to stopping your child from fidgeting in the car seat. Introduce toys and even snacks that they can enjoy only when they are in the car.
Note that toys can become flying projectiles during a collision, so stick to plushies and cloth books.
5. The button-down shirt trick
If your child’s fingers are not so deft with buttons yet, this trick by CarSeatLady could be what you need up your sleeve: put your child in a button-down shirt, jacket or cardigan; strap them in properly whilst the clothing is unbuttoned; and then button up over the harness.
6. Use a buckle guard
If you can’t get your child to stop unbuckling themself—and they seem to think doing that mid-journey is very funny—then an aftermarket add-on buckle guard could be an option. Think of it as child lock for the seatbelt.
Hah! Try to get yourself out of that one.