Concerned about car safety but unsure how to safely transport your kid without a cumbersome car seat? We have some ideas…
In taxi-filled Singapore, car safety weighs heavily on our minds. When babies are infants it’s fairly easy to click them in and out of cars and strollers, but as they get bigger, car seats get heavier and more cumbersome and far less portable. While taxis in Singapore (except for private hire cars like Uber and Grab Taxi which both now have solutions to this) technically don’t require any sort of travel restraint (other than a seat belt), any safety-minded mama would want to know about suitable options for small kids on the go.
Our family is lucky enough to have a car, which means 99% of the time my 18-month-old is ready to rock in her convertible car seat (currently rear-facing, but can eventually switch to forward-facing). I’ll admit that when traveling to the airport I’ve sometimes worn her in a carrier and then strapped both of us in with the same seatbelt – figuring it’s better for her to be somewhat secure than completely unrestrained. According to popular US blog and car safety authority The Car Seat Lady, however, I am badly mistaken: Baby-wearing in cars is dangerous and completely ineffective. Studies in both Australia and the US have found that the force of a crash can cause babies to fly out of carriers (which themselves can even rip apart on impact), while in other cases whiplash can cause the parent’s head to strike baby with incredible force. It’s actually slightly better to strap a child into their own seat belt than to wear them or strap them in to your lap. Far from ideal, just slightly less bad.
So what safe options are out there for toddlers? Because honestly, neither my helper nor I can schlep the convertible car seat with us everywhere we go. Booster seats are still too big (they’re generally for kids 18kg and up).
I recently heard about The RideSafer Travel Vest and, upon discovering that it’s suitable for kids 3 years old + and weighing over 13.6kg /30 pounds and up, became intrigued. From a safety perspective, the minimum weight limit is not relevant – it’s the age that’s most important as this is the most accurate indicator of the child’s musculoskeletal strength. While the RideSafer is always safer than regular booster seats and certainly safer than nothing at all, just because your toddler is over 13.6kg doesn’t mean they’re ready for the vest – it’s always best to keep kids in age-appropriate harnessed car seats like the Cosco Scenera NEXT or Urban Kanga.
Designed by a father and former paramedic who saw the devastating effects of far too many car crashes, the vest is a lightweight “safety restraint” that correctly positions a vehicle’s seatbelt over the child while keeping their center of gravity low so as to improve crash dynamics. It also repositions the belt onto a child’s lap to help protect their tiny organs.
The RideSafer Vest meets or exceeds all U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards. The latest model is the RideSafer Delight ($229 – 249). It has an adjustable shoulder belt and shoulder strap length enabling optimal fit as your child grows.
So what are the major benefits of the RideSafer Vest? It’s lightweight for travel (less than 700 grams) and enables parents to fit 3 kids across in a backseat provided you have shoulder seat belts (which is virtually impossible with 3 car seats or even some big conventional booster seats). The Ridesafer vest also:
- Features in-build energy management which helps to dissipate crash forces in an accident across a greater area than just the adult seat belt (as with a conventional booster seat).
- Has an optional tether strap which significantly reduces forward and side movement of your child’s head during an accident – thus lessening the risk of head injury.
- Gen4 design allows for increased airflow – perfect for Singapore’s weather.
Maggie adored the vest (she looked like a little astronaut when she put it on – I think it’s designed that way on purpose) and she proceeded to parade around the apartment for half an hour before we left to actually catch our taxi. In the taxi, it was easy to loop the safety belt through the designated hooks, and it stayed securely tight when strapped across her lap (while also not cutting into her since the lap band is nicely padded).
So, faced with the options of doing nothing, buying a travel car seat that would only take up space in our apartment, or opting for this booster that fits my daughter, I will happily go the RideSafer route because car safety is priceless.