If you don’t have your own car, travelling with kids in Bangkok can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re hiring a car or relying on taxis to get around. From a safety perspective, you need to have a quality car seat that fits them just right. With that in mind, here are five tips to ensure your little ones are buckled up safely.
1. Don’t carry your children on your lap
No matter how short your journey, it’s simply too dangerous to carry your children on your lap. Even with your arms wrapped tightly around them, there’s just no way you’ll be able to hold onto them in the event of a crash. A 4.5 kilo (10 pound) child in a 50 kilometre per hour collision equates to around 200 kilograms of force. To put that perspective, that’s more than a three kilo bowling ball being dropped from a third floor window. Suffice to say, putting them in a car seat is essential.
2. Call a cab
While more and more taxis in Bangkok have seat belts, some still don’t. So if you hail a taxi on the street, you’re rolling the dice as to what you’ll get. To be sure, get a GrabTaxi so you know you’ll be getting a vehicle fitted with seat belts. With a toddler in tow, it’s also a much safer option than trying to wave down a taxi from a busy street. It also goes without saying that tuk tuks (while undoubtedly fun) are really not a good idea with little ones.
If renting a car in Bangkok, an increasing number of the big rental companies now offer car seats as an add-on service. Check on their availability and reserve a car seat in advance as they would be on a first come-first served basis. If you only need to rent a car seat, turn to Tiny Tots, a baby equipment rental company that provides a local delivery service (they also have a counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport).
3. Use a rear-facing car seat (for as long as possible)
Unlike a front-facing car seat, a rear-facing seat spreads the impact of a crash across the largest possible surface area. And the risk of injury is significantly reduced. In fact, the rear-facing position reduces the risk of injury by 500%. You shouldn’t transition to a front-facing seat until your child is 2 years old. So as long as they still fit their seat, it’s best to keep them in the rear-facing position for as long as possible.
4. Keep straps snug
Your kids might want a bit more wriggle room (especially on longer trips), but their safety straps should always be snug – without being excessively tight. Check out this video for a step-by-step guide on how to buckle your child in safely.
5. Guides for school-aged children
When your child exceeds the height and weight limit of a forward-facing car seat, you can move them on to a belt-positioning booster seat. As children grow, such seats can be heavy and cumbersome to tote around. There are some portable options now available in Bangkok for toddlers (ages 4+), such as the compact mifold. The BubbleBum travel inflatable booster seat is also a good option; it can be ordered online from a Singapore-based supplier that offers free worldwide shipping.
When children are old enough or large enough to have a seat belt that fits them just right, you can progress to a lap-and-shoulder seat belt in the back seat. Even when they’re able to travel without a booster seat, your children should only sit in the front seat when they’re 13 years old.