Everything you need to know about car seats for kids in Singapore

Lionel Kong

Never had to think about this until now you have a baby on the way? Here’s all you need to know about the legalities and fitment of baby carriers and child seats into your car


If you’re just about to embark on this whole parenthood thing and have suddenly realised that you need a baby seat for your car, we have all that you need to know right here. Don’t even think about just carrying a baby in your arms in a moving car. Not only is having an unrestrained baby or toddler in a vehicle extremely dangerous, it is also illegal in Singapore.

The law requires anyone below the height of 1.35m to be secured within an appropriate booster seat while in a car. Under the Road Traffic Act, drivers and passengers found not using a seatbelt or appropriate restraints could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both.

A car in motion may seem like a very secure place, but as anyone who has ever been involved in an accident can tell you, a crash turns this all on its head. In a crash at 45 km/h, an adult back-seat passenger without a seatbelt is thrown in the direction of impact with the force of more than three tons. Imagine what would happen to an unsecured child.

A 2017 study conducted by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore found that out of 2,468 road traffic injury patients seen in Singapore paediatric emergency departments that year, 51 percent involved children who were unrestrained in vehicles at the time of the accident. Considering how safe Singapore is perceived to be, this is a shocking figure.

The majority of the other injuries were from pedestrian and bicycle accidents, so unrestrained children in cars play a very large part in this statistic.

Why babies and children need child seats

Babies and toddlers under two years old are extremely vulnerable because their skeletons have not yet fully fused together and muscles are not yet at full strength. It’s important to realise that children are not simply smaller versions of adult bodies. For the best protection in a moving vehicle, they need to be seated in a properly supportive seat.

Doting grandparents may want to cuddle and carry a baby during a car journey, stating that “that’s how we did it in our day”. Some may even reject the idea of a child seat as being ‘overprotective’. Make your case by stating that it is illegal for a child to be unsecured in a car. No human being has the reaction time and strength to hold on to a baby in the event of an accident in a modern car. The force of a sudden stop will turn a 7kg baby into a 35kg mini-human torpedo going through the window in a 35km/h crash.

Even worse, a baby can get crushed between an adult body and the safety belt or dashboard. The risks simply aren’t worth it. 

Young children unbuckled and moving freely about the backseat of the car are another no-go. The excuse may be that the children are restless, but any parent who has conditioned a toddler to be receptive of staying seated in a child seat will tell you that early training is the answer to that.

By law, the deciding factor of when a child can do without a child or booster seat is determined by height, not weight. This is because shorter children risk being strangled by an adult seatbelt if it is not positioned at the right height relative to their bodies. The lower height limit of riding without a booster seat according to Singaporean law is 1.35m.

Next: The child seat options you can choose from

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About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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