Car seat mistakes you didn’t know you were making

You probably think that your baby is safe from the moment she’s buckled up, but these common mistakes may compromise her car seat’s function.

Did you know that only 15% of South Africans strap their children in car seats, according to #CarSeatFullStop, a national car seat awareness campaign? The thought that your little one might not be entirely safe, even if she is buckled up, is incredibly worrying.

Here are 6 common car seat mistakes to watch out for:  

Buying a second-hand seat

We know that children’s paraphernalia is pricey, and while it makes sense to save on prams or cots, you can’t take a chance with car seats – you just never know if parts are missing. What’s more, car seats are said to have an expiry date and you also don’t know whether or not the one you are buying has been in an accident. That being said, if you have no other choice but to buy a second-hand seat, get in touch with Wheel Well who will hook you up with a safe second-hand car seat.  

Incorrect installation

Before you argue that you’ve read the manual, consider that many problems with car seats have been caused by incorrect installation. While you’re paying for the car seat, ask one of the store assistants to assemble and install it – it’s worth the extra five minutes.  

The harness is too loose

Ever experienced whiplash? It’s not pleasant – so imagine what it would feel like for your baby to accelerate forward at great speed. This is what happens if her harness is too loose. Make sure it is tight enough to fit only one finger between her collarbone and the strap.  

Switching to a forward-facing seat too soon

We all know the pain of hearing a child screaming from the back seat, a problem many moms solve by changing the view – after all, who wants to stare at the back of a chair while you drive? But the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children remain in rear-facing seats until they’re two.  

Using an infant car seat on the front passenger seat in a car with airbags

If you’re in an accident and the airbag deploys, it can result in serious injury in your child and even death. Only use the front passenger seat if you have no other choice and ensure the front airbag is off.  

Adding extras like a pillow or blanket

Car seats are tested with just the car seat in question. If you add accessories you may be tampering with the safety of the seat. Adding an insert won’t harm your child, but bundling her in jackets and blankets can be harmful in an accident. The extra bulk compresses in an accident and the harness becomes loose. Rather cover your baby with a light blanket after you’ve buckled her into her seat.  


I'm an experienced writer, sub-editor, and media & public relations specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the media industry – across digital, print, TV, and radio. I earned a diploma in Journalism and Print Media from leading institution, Damelin College, with distinctions (Journalism And Print Media, Media Studies, Technical English And Communications, South African Studies, African & International Studies, Technology in Journalism, Journalism II & Practical Journalism). I also hold a qualification in Investigative Journalism from Print Media SA, First Aid Training from St John’s Ambulance, as well as certificates in Learning to Write Marketing Copy, Planning a Career in User Experience, and Writing a Compelling Blog Post.
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