#CarseatFullstop Life Tangents

Is the alternative my child dying?

Being who I am (not understanding the point of judging other people), the whole “mommy wars” debate generally annoys me. You do what you do, if you believe it’s best for your child. Of course I have opinions on these things… But I don’t feel like there is any need for me “share” (aggressively push) those opinions onto other parents. I have a simple rule that you can use to make these decisions easier for you. Ask yourself, “is the alternative my child dying?”


You want a “natural” birth? You think having a c-section makes a woman less of a mother? I have an opinion on that for sure, but I will shrug and walk away. If you are lucky enough to have no complications… I wish you a quick and painless natural birth.

Before deciding on having a natural birth, did you ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?

If the answer is yes, or even a percentage chance of yes, my shrug may turn into a b**chslap. You are being an idiot. Get your child into this world in the safest way you can… That is your job as a mother.

(*Due to misunderstanding on this section, and since it is NOT the topic of this article; I am absolutely pro-natural childbirth, I am aware that there are doctors who “push” c-sections unneccesarily, my comment and the associated b**chslap are under the assumption that you have chosen a doctor for this journey that you trust completely to do what is right for you and your baby.)

And to those other parents (and -ick- non-parents) with an opinion on how another woman’s child comes into this world – unless you are THAT WOMAN’S doctor and have 100% knowledge that the decision she makes will lead to her child dying – seriously, WTAF is wrong with you?! STFU!

What brings this rather unlike-me ragey rant on? Car seats.

Yes, you heard me right. I have always been furious on seeing small children standing or jumping around in cars; too scared to hoot or yell out the window at them, because what if that is the thing that causes them to shift focus for a millisecond and kill their child.

Let me give you a hint as to how this plays out – USE A FREAKING CAR SEAT! Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? THE ANSWER IS YES.

Is the alternative?

I am ashamed to say that I assumed that most families that don’t use car seats were from poorer households that either couldn’t afford a car set or might not be educated enough to understand the ramifications of their 3 year old standing between the front seats on the way to school, or a mom sitting on the front seat of a car with her baby in her arms – my blood literally runs cold at the thought. I was so incredibly biased with that assumption.

In the last 2 months, I have seen more of this outside the very expensive nursery school my child attends, with cars worth close to R1m – NO car seats! Toddlers jumping on the back seats, and climbing over to the front seats. Babies in their mother’s arms in the front seat. In moving cars. This is not a financial decision. This is not a result of lack of education – these parents are doctors, lawyers, accountants, business owners. So WHAT is the issue?

Some cold hard statistics from Arrive Alive

THIS one is the one that plays itself on repeat as I watch these parents zipping down the very narrow road leading to the school, the same road that parents walk holding the hands of small children or carrying babies. You are a parent of a toddler – you know how fast they can move; what if one of the kids dashes in front of your car with your children unrestrained in your car? You will have to stop, or at least try to.

Answer – At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters (19 feet) onto concrete. CONCRETE.

Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?

Question – would you throw your child out of a second story window onto a concrete pavement? That would be slightly less that the 6 metres. And, what are the chances that you will be driving at 40km per hour?

The 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in our country is car passenger deaths in children (Medical Research Council). Not to mention all the children that are seriously injured or disabled on a daily basis. The Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone, treats approximately 20 children for injuries in car crashes every single month.

And yet national statistics show that 84% of children in South Africa travel in cars without even wearing seatbelts.

Car seats (child restraints) reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 % for infants, and 54 % for toddlers.

They quite literally save lives. So ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? YES, the alternative to strapping your most precious person, your baby, into a carseat for ANY reason, could very likely be your child dying.

Let’s clear something up – It is not ever safe to hold your baby in your arms or a child on your lap in a car. You might really believe you will be able to hold onto your child. But physics research has shown that passengers have less than half a second to react in a collision or sudden stop. You might think that putting the seatbelt over you and your child covers that eventuality…

When a car crashes or suddenly stops, the body takes on the weight of the speed you were travelling multiplied by your actual weight. If your baby weighs 10 kg, and you are driving at 60km per hour, when you hit something your baby will take on the weight of 600kg. No adult will be able to hold onto that baby or child. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite possibly seriously injuring (or even killing) anyone else inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be thrown from the car through one of the windows – straight through that plated glass.

And the seatbelt? If there is a crash, your baby or child could be crushed to death. The force against your child will be the equivalent to 30 adults, each weighing 50 kg (or an entire rugby team) standing on top of your child.

Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?

LEGALLY speaking, YOU as the driver are fully responsible and legally obligated to make sure that any children in your car are buckled up in a car seat or with a seatbelt. YOU as the adult are guilty of a criminal offence if you let a child younger than 14 years old travel unrestrained in your car.

This isn’t some nitpicky law put together by big business to stifle your rights!

This is a measure to try and stop your child dying!

The fact that your child cries in their carseat is irrelevant.

That your child screams enough to distract you while driving is irrelevant…

The fact that you were in too much of a rush to fight with your stroppy toddler and get him in the chair you do have, is irrelevant.

The fact that you were “just popping to the shops” is irrelevant.

That you have never had an accident is irrelevant…

The fact that you drive safely when your child is in the car is irrelevant.

Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? #CarseatFullstop


Is the alternative your child dying


34 replies on “Is the alternative my child dying?”

[…] If your baby weighs 10 kg, and you’re driving 60km per hour, when you hit something your baby will take on the weight of 600kg. No person will be able to hold onto that baby or child. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle. Not only will they injure themselves, they’ll quite possibly seriously injure (or even kill) anyone else inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be thrown from the car through one of the windows – straight through that glass. Read the full article here: Is the alternative my child dying? […]

You hit the nail on the head! This freaks to out!

Driving to school and in front of me is a car with a toddler standing on the front seat. It is very sweet as you can see he is talking and explaining to his daddy… And daddy is talking and gesturing back… BUT DAMN IT MAN… make sure your kid is seated safely and strapped in. It is not difficult!

I can’t even. Two young guys, a dad and an uncle, getting into a car at the shcool the other afternoon. The uncle laughing his ass of saying to the little one (about 18 months old) – Uncle X is going to hold you all the way home and his arms will be your seatbelt. I had to physically restrain myself from literally punching him in his stupid happy face.

Hi Mandy

A very well written piece. I am a mom of teenage girls. At the time of them growing up, there wasn’t such a huge drive to get babies & toddlers into car seats. I managed to get through the car seat for them as babies and as you said – a struggle but very well worth it.

Unfortunately, so many parents do not seem to think of the safety of their children or for that matter the safety of other children. I agree with you that it angers me too when I see kids hanging out of windows, leaning against car doors etc. The excuse parents make is ‘ don’t worry the door is locked’. They fail to realise that it is locked mechanically and that the mechanism could fail and your precious little one could fall from the moving car.

I daily see the total disregard for the laws of the road where the lives of children as well as adults are put at risk. These parents have only one thing on their minds – GET MY CHILD TO SCHOOL AT WHATEVER COST. GET AS CLOSE TO THE SCHOOL AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE EVEN IF SPACE OR THE LAW OF THE ROAD DOES NOT ALLOW FOR IT.

How about our schools start educating parents too in this regard as well as everyday human life skills. After all, we as parents is the 1st teacher to our children and everything we do will remain with them for the rest of their lives. SO YES, when you next place your child into your car (in the car-seat) consider other road users too and STOP the aggression and haste.

I am sure you will agree that this is a topic which could go on and on for some time. Here’s hoping that your article will have a successful impact on all parents/drivers transporting children on a daily basis.

Thank you so much Shaakirah. SO many good points well made! My plan is to do exactly that, to educate parents so they can educate their kids. I hope I find as much support in the rest of the community as I have with you. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Mxx

I also prefer to stay out of the ‘mommy wars’ and try not judge other parent’s decisions, unless it’s against the law or puts their child in direct danger. I have met people who appear completely sane, school teachers, loving parents and then watch them drive away with their tot hanging out the window of the backseat – what!? Boggles the mind. My other ‘judgy mom’ moments are regarding pool covers and texting while driving. You may be happy to wipe your own family out, but I’m trying to keep my kids safe on the roads.

I think that’s the rub my friend – being a parent is HARD and when you as a mom are having to make difficult decisions every day to keep your family safe and then somebody else who can’t be arsed comes along and puts your whole family in jeapordy. I just can’t get my head around it!

You may need to look a bit more into the c-section vs natural birth debate prior to b**ch slapping anyone. SA has by far the highest c-section rate in the world, by at least double the second placed country if I recall correctly. In developed countries they only do a c-section if there is an actual medical risk to the baby, so it is incredibly rare. An actual medical necessity in a developed country vs SA doing it for convenience. SA delivers around 70% of babies via c-section, when on private medical aid, compared to the global average of 18% and the WHO recommended average of 15%. This begs a couple of questions then: are developed countries, who have the best hospital care and doctors, negligent, and why is it significant that private medical aid members’ c-section births are so high. The answer is that in SA they drum up the risk of natural birth in order to scare people into a c-section for one primary reason: money. For one, it costs the medical aid less if you have a c-section as opposed to natural. Secondly, and most importantly, the insurance costs are insanely high on doctors who deliver babies because of the risk of lawsuits. It costs R300 000 per year to insure a doctor in case of litigation resulting from a natural birth. So ultimately, they scare you into a c-section to save on insurance premiums…

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment. I am always particularly interested when a man has an opinion on a woman’s body and her decisions about it.

Perhaps, before launching into a lecture, you should have done a smidge of research on this blog. I am actually pro-natural birth, even after having to have a c-section myself. And the facts you have quoted were used in a post all of my own (given to me by a doctor himself) before having my baby here So yes, I am very aware of the stats you felt compelled to share on a post that was only 1% on the topic of birth choices. I generally find that defensiveness like your stems from somewhere.

Anyway. As I have said a number of times over the years of this blog, you need to choose the doctor you take this journey into motherhood with carefully; thorough research and finding out from the get-go what their stance on natural versus c-section birth is – most are quite open about it, and if not, there are plenty of resources available to you online to do a little reading or ask for input from other moms who have dealt with them. You choose the doctor that you can trust with your health and the life of your child. And if that doctor – the one you have chosen – tells you your child’s life is in danger and you, with a complete lack of medical knowledge, choose to fight that advice – my b**tchslap is very much still on offer.

Now Bob, do you have anything to add on the actual topic of this article?

I’m sorry but your response to bob sounds extremely defensive whether you opted for a c section or had to have one due to safety of the baby. I can tell you the most of my friends have elective c sections which is perfect
And I am very pro choice. I personally wanted natural as my body experienced the changes (getting ready for natural) as all our bodies do
When pregnant and I felt why go through all of that and not try experience natural – it’s like
Running a Race, all the pain and uncomfortability and not
Try and cross the finish line (MY personal feelings) more and more gynae are not doing deliveries due to the insurance so Bob makes a great point. By pushing c section the doctor can then arrange all their appointments which bring in the cash.
I was with one gynae and her queue was ridiculous and we had to wait way past our appointment time, 10 minute scan R700 bucks later. She took one look at me and said my hips to small for natural??!! My mother had me a twin natural and she is half my size, the doctor Can only make that decision a few weeks before your due date. So please
Don’t tell me that they don’t push c sections in this country and that they don’t tell their patients natural is more dangerous.

Claire, I apologise if you feel my response was defensive. It was not. I simply pointed out that I in actual fact agree with him, and you, and that I am aware that there are doctors who do this. And that because of this, it is even more important that women take the time to select the right doctor for them – which I assume you did when faced with that very small minded doctor. And that if you have a doctor you trust, which I assume when “push comes to shove” you do, if the whole way through your pregnancy they have said they are pro natural and then say your baby’s life is in danger, you take their medical opinion instead of your own or others less educated opinion, as fact. I know c-section rates are appaling in this country, I was devastated to not have the natural birth I wanted, but I 100% believe that if you are going against the medical advice of a doctor you trust – you are being an idiot and recklessly endangering the life of your child.

What was perhaps percevied as defensiveness was my irritation that the overriding topic of this article is being hijacked over something that has already been pointed out to be my own opinion as well.

I wish it were as easy as simply trusting the doctor. Reason being is that we do not know their underlying motivations i.e. does your choice in the matter motivate the doctor, or does the extra money earned doing 5 c-sections in the time it takes to do one natural coupled with a R300k per year saving on insurance premiums motivate them. Does he/she want to drive a BMW or a Porsche… Based on South Africa’s c-section stats, I’d bet on the latter. If the risks are so high then surely there must be data that supports this position, such as very high deaths/complications during natural delivery in developed countries. There aren’t. In fact, in many developed countries, with the very best medical care, electing to have a cesarean is not even an option: you cannot choose to have one, it will only happen in an actual medical emergency. The facts unfortunately show that trust in the doctors here might be misplaced in terms of them respecting a mother’s choice and doing what is best for her.

The only reason I singled out your comment was because you passed judgement on others on the basis of a straw man i.e. natural birth is risky and thus anyone going that route is an idiot. As for the rest of your article, I completely agree: b**chslap away. It boggles my mind when I see a mother driving with a toddler jumping around, unbuckled, on the passenger seat, or any seat for that matter. If I told such a person that they’re wrong, would I still be mansplaining though? 😛

YES YES and YES!!!!!!!!! No excuse or ‘what-if’ could ever justify you NOT putting your child in a car seat! If you don’t have one, the make sure they are buckled up with a seatbelt!!!!! Non-negotiable. Thanks for the article!

Thanks for your message Michelle! I am so glad there are people who agree! When you see all these little kids standing and playing in cars, you really begin to wonder if you are the only one who even KNOWS let alone cares. It is so reassuring to read comments like yours!

With you here. I’ve reached the conclusion that people who don’t put their kids in car seats don’t love their kids as much as they claim. If you really wanted what was best for your kid, you’d have a car seat.

My kid once asked at the creche why she has to sit in a car seat, but so-and-so doesn’t need to. I straightforward said it was because so-and-so’s parents doesn’t love her as much as I love you.

I love you! I love you with my whole heart, because everything you wrote resonates deeply! On this frontier of the mommy war, I will fight beside you.

Oh my god Mandy-Lee Miller I want to hug you through my screen. This!! This is exactly how I feel. I got goosebumps reading this. Thank you for writing it. I’ll be sharing the shit out of this. Xx

Thank you love. That’s what is needed – sharing! so people actually get it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.