In an ideal world we’d all have our kids safely ensconced in a car seat in our SUV as we blissfully glide around the island. For those of us unwilling to sell an organ to enjoy the luxury of car ownership in Singapore, we regularly suffer varying levels of torture at the hands of our little ones’ as they simultaneously use a taxi as their own personal trampoline park, and wind the windows up and down in an attempt to do a Houdini-esque escape. And now that Uber and Grab are required to refuse passengers with children without booster seats the whole business has got even trickier! (Check out our in-depth story on everything you need to know about car safety and taxi travel in Singapore with kids to beef up on the topic). If only all trips could be made with a lightweight stroller on the bus. But, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to your child’s safety vs taking a risk for the sake of convenience. To help you out, we’ve got the lowdown on the Singapore rules and regulations on child restraints, the best options on the market from car seats to the Ride Safer Vest and new mifold portable booster seat that everyone’s talking about, and some helpful tips to help you survive your daily commute.
Car safety law in Singapore
All jokes aside, there’s good reason why it’s the law in Singapore for kids under 1.35m (irrespective of age) to be restrained with car seat, booster seat or adjustable seatbelt. Taxi trips (except Uber or Grab) are exempt from child safety seat obligations for practicality reasons, but the law does quite sensibly provide that kids under 1.35m must ride in the rear seat. If you’ve ever succumbed to whacking on a baby Bjorn carrier and then wearing a seatbelt thinking it’s a good option, then it’s time to wise up and commit to your child’s safety. This short vid from The Car Seat Lady is an unsettling reminder.
The best buys
Okay, so we’re all on the same page that a car restraint is in order for those inevitable taxi rides. Question is which one, and where to get it? The type of seat you ultimately choose will depend on the age and size of your child.
From birth and for toddlers
Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix (for infants)
For the tiny tots (0-1yr), the Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix rear-facing car seat can’t be beaten. It protects their little necks from side impact and comes with handy accessories that will click directly in to most leading brand pram frames (like Bugaboo and Quinny). Extra handy for not disturbing slumbering babies so you can enjoy that well deserved latte in peace on arrival. It retails at Singapore stockist Baby Hyperstore for $299.
The Cosco Scenera NEXT (from birth and ideal for toddlers up to 18kg)
This is a top pick with mums as you can use it from birth, is rear-facing (proven to be a safer option that forward-facing) and is the lightest option at just 3kg – ticking all the boxes for us for a taxi-friendly toddler seat. It’s compatible with several prams, so you don’t have to lug it around (or check out some of the hacks parents are using for the Bee and Yoyo). Our verdict? It’s the best solution so far for the tricky stage when your child has outgrown the infant car seat but too small for the Ride Safer Vest or mifold. Get the Cosco Scenera NEXT from Taxi Baby from $239.
Combi Coccoro (for children 10kg-18kg)
The Combi Coccoro is a fabulous portable car seat for your precious cargo. It attaches to many different strollers (such as Mountain Buggy and Graco) and is lined with 3D mesh and cooling fabric, just perfect for the searing Singapore weather. It’s the perfect combo of sturdy and lightweight. Available online for $389 from Portjunior.
IMMI Go (recommended from two years)
This folding car seat is a great option for mums on the go and is the seat of choice for UberFAMILY. It’s suitable for little ones once they outgrow their infant car seat, is forward facing and has a super-safe five-point harness. Simply fold it up and stash it in the bottom of your pram once you reach your destination – it only weighs 5kg. This nifty seat will last you right up until your junior taxi goer is ready to travel sans car seat. It retails for $440 and is available from Taxi Baby.
Diono Radian RXT (from birth)
Another option that comes with free carrying case is the Diono Radian RXT convertible car seat. It has rear facing, front facing, booster seat and plane seat capability so is a one-stop-op for travelling needs from day dot to 8 yrs. The steel frame makes it extra robust but a little on the heavy side. Snap it up online from $560.
For the bigger kids
For the child ready to graduate to a booster seat, the Trunki BoostApak is a stellar option for busy mums. It will last them from toddler right through to age 11, has space for their travelling essentials, and also zips up to a backpack. Cool colours too! Buy on Pupsik Studio for $107.
mifold (ages 4+)
If you haven’t heard about the mifold yet, this brilliant redesign of the booster seat for kids age four and up is small enough to carry in your bag and is super easy to set up (our kids have already figured it out). And for parents with three kids above four who need to fit the whole gang in the back seat, the compact mifold finally solves the ‘three across’ dilemma. The mifold is approved by Singapore Traffic Police, but is also certified to European crash test standards. It retails for $99 with bag.
Ride Safer Travel Vest (ages 3+)
The Ride Safer Travel Vest is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of bulk, weighing-in at a featherlite 500g. It’s the go-to-restraint for savvy taxi-taking parents in Singapore. For little travellers over 3 yrs (or weighing 13kg+), it can be whipped on while flagging a cab and secured in a jiffy with a seatbelt once you’ve jumped in. It’s obviously not as secure as a car seat, but is still a safe option. Available from Mothercare, Taxi Baby and Kid on the Move for RRP $229.
For those that simply can’t get their head around compromising on safety for functionality, then the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate is an option to consider. It’s essentially a trolley to transport a standard car seat. It’s easy to use, lightweight and easy to stash away but it’s a bit clunky to use. Think of it more as an accessory at a cheap cheap US$75 from Amazon.
Book a car seat equipped taxi
If you’re not keen on forking out for a child restraint of your own, consider getting on first name terms with a car seat enabled Singapore taxi driver. They may be as rare as hen’s teeth, but they do exist. The prices can be a little hard to swallow, but on the upside you won’t have to schlepp around your car seat. Here are a few potential candidates you’ll want on speed dial (but call in advance with your requirements): Sun Transfers, Sixt Limousine Services. If your child is age four and up, we love the new Grab Family service: these private cars are all equipped with one mifold, so you can travel safely with your kid!
Top taxi tips for kids
So you’ve selected your safety device of choice, now it’s all about using it to the best of its ability. First of all, read all the instructions and do a dry run to make sure you know how to install it correctly. Most baby gear seems to be designed to be parent proof so take your time (and a swig of wine).
Once you’ve ordered the cab and you’re waiting the requisite two to five minutes for the cab to arrive (bless this country and its readily available taxis), prepare said instrument of restraint. Don the harness or unzip that backpack so you’re all ready to slip through the seatbelt. Leave the taxi door wide open until you’re all sorted to avoid taxi uncle zooming off mid-click. Where at all possible, sit next to your little buddy. And if all else fails, consider taking public transport – the kids will love a bus or MRT ride!
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