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I’ve seen my share of tragic road accidents and have known several people who have had serious accidents in Brunei. I am therefore a stickler when it comes to car safety for my child. As a mother, the very thought of my child being in a serious car accident almost brings me to tears. The thought of my child being hurt or worse because I failed to take simple steps to protect them… well that would send me over the edge. If a child is not properly restrained during a car accident, even a minor one, the consequences can be life changing.
In 2016, the Royal Brunei Police force recorded 3375 road accidents in Brunei, and from January to the 22nd February of this year there were four cases of road accident fatalities, including that of a 13-year-old girl. In a crash at just 50km/h, a child not wearing a seatbelt or using a child car seat would be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and, quite possibly, seriously injuring or even killing other people inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be ejected from the car through one of the windows.
The car iPad holder that saved my sanity
Now it wasn’t easy for me to get my daughter to sit in a car seat. From a very young age, she hated the car seat with a vengeance. She would scream and cry to the point where she couldn’t breathe. Once, when I was stuck in traffic, I had to pull over by the side of the road to try and calm her down enough so she could breathe and we could continue our journey. It really made me hate leaving the house and so we rarely went out. I had tried everything but nothing helped. That was until I had my mother make an iPad holder for the seat that things completely changed and now she loves getting into the car so that she can watch The Wiggles (though she gets bored fairly quickly). At the time I was completely against screen time for my daughter (though I’m not so anymore) but I made the compromise for her safety and I don’t regret that for one second.
I did think twice about writing this article. I didn’t want to come across like I’m judging others or that I’m trying to lecture them. But I thought, if this blog post would convince just one person, to buy one car seat, for one child, it would be worth it. I know for many parents it might just be a lack of knowledge of car safety guidelines. For others, it might be the cost of the car seat. In this post, I will outline the general car safety guidelines, what kind of car seat you need and where you can find the cheapest ones.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for all children (in the US). The use of car seats reduce the risk of injury by 71% to 82% and reduce the risk of death by 28% in comparison to children in seat belts alone. All children under 12 years old should always be in the back seat of the car. Children should be buckled into a child appropriate car seat.
Here are the types of car seats on the market:
- Infant car seat- I like to call these “bucket seats” and they are usually made to be taken in and out of the car with the baby inside. These car seats are rear facing only and can only be used until your child is 12 months old (or until they reach the height and weight limits which generally could be up to 18 months maximum)
- Convertible car seat- a convertible car seat is meant to stay in your car for longer periods. It can accommodate the child over a wide variety of ages and usually support newborns as well (some even convert to a booster seat for older kids but these are generally more expensive). These car seats can be rear as well as forward facing.
- Booster seat- this is generally for older children who are at least 5 and up (once they outgrow the forward facing car seat).
It is recommended that kids stay in a rear facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old or until they reach the upper weight and height limit of their seat. A rear facing car seat should never ever be used in the front seat in a car that had airbags on the passenger side.
If budget is a concern for you, I would recommend skipping the infant car seat and going straight to a convertible car seat. Even though infant car seats are often much cheaper, the convertible car seat will last your child longer. Make sure that the car seat can accommodate newborns too in order to extend the use of the car seat.
The cheapest car seats
Car seats are sold at a variety of physical stores and Instagram stores. Generally the Instagram stores sell car seats imported from the US and Europe so these tend to be more expensive. The cheapest convertible car seat that I have been able to find in Brunei is at Hua Ho for the price of $129.99. At the next tier are convertible car seats are in the range of $189.99.
The general rule is that all car seats have an expiry date which is typically found at the bottom of the car seat. It is also recommended that car seats be changed should you get into an accident (even if it doesn't appear that the car seat is affected). With that being said, if finances are very tight for you, I would still recommend buying a secondhand car seat rather than not having a car seat at all. Car seats are often listed on local buy and sell Facebook groups (if you need help finding them do reach out to us) for significantly cheaper than the market price.
Do you know of somewhere to buy even cheaper convertible car seats? If so, sound-off in the comments below or reach out to me directly.
$129.99 convertable car seats at Hua Ho