I was asked what I wanted as a gift when I was pregnant. I said a car seat for my baby. This was five years ago, before the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act was enacted.
At the time, there were so many things I didn’t know about child car seats. What I knew about them was limited to what was available in the malls and what the salesperson could tell me.
My ignorance became glaringly clear when I posted a photo of my then 2-week-old baby in the car seat. Well-meaning parents commented on the photo and told me that my baby was too small for it.
When you are a parent who’s trying very hard to do everything for your child, such comments sting. It feels like criticism.
But one parent actually took the time to send me a personal message. She told me that my child needed a booster seat on top of the car seat to avoid suffocation and injury from the seatbelt. She also said that I could use another car seat appropriate for my child’s age.
That was when I started researching about car seats and how to properly use them. For example, the harness needs to lay flat on the child’s shoulders.
Because I couldn’t afford to get another accessory for my child that I knew she would only use for a few months, I decided to improvise. I would “wear” her through my Tula carrier and I was the one who wore the seatbelt while we sat in the back of the car. This practice is not standard and I do not advise others to follow suit. But at the time, when there was no law, we did the best we could.
This is how I wish the implementation of Child Safety in Motor Vehicles was approached. Instead of imposing it immediately on already cash-strapped parents, they should’ve done a proper campaign on the importance of car seats.
Visual explanations will be very effective to emphasize their need. Believe me, seeing toddler-sized dummies fly through the windshield is terrifying. It’s an effective way to make anyone a safety believer.
Another reason that got fellow parents incensed was the thought that they could only buy from specific manufacturers. What they should have been told is that there are standards to car seats.
Parents should be guided on what is appropriate for their child’s age and size, and what to look for when they are buying car seats for the first time.
While buying secondhand is an option, there are still guidelines to follow. Car seats have an expiration because safety standards change all the time.
This is also an opportunity to address other issues, like how families with more than three children can set up their car.
I hope the Land Transportation Office could disseminate enough information and that the implementation of the law is postponed.
What parents with bigger children do not need is to be told to get a bigger car, because it is insensitive and uncalled for. Jokes are inappropriate when something as important as child’s safety is the issue.