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Child Car Seat History - In Pictures

A short history of the evolution of child car seat that has had a hilariously awkward start. Enjoy this take on Car Seat History.
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Car Seat HistoryĀ is fascinating and oftentimes hilarious

At phil&teds weā€™re parents too, so we understand the challenges faced in the parenting day. One of these challenges is choosing the correct car seat for your infant. This article will give you a short history of the evolution of child car seat that has had a hilariously awkward start. Enjoy this take on Car Seat History.Ā 

car harness for children

Way back in the day there were no regulations

Car seatĀ manufacture and safety testing processes became regulated in 1971. What you see sold on the shelves today is a culmination of continually improved testing methods courtesy of regulatory advances. Nowadays,Ā there are a large variety of seats that have been tested to a number of different safety standards. At phil&teds we have seats that adhere to three standards: ECE R44/04, AS/NZ 1754 and the FMVSS 213. We will detail the differences between these standards in a different post. Today weā€™re going to talk about the wacky contraptions our parents, and their parents used to put us into. Weā€™re not promoting the use of these seats. Weā€™re comparing the older models of seats that have been available to what is available now.

car seat history

When child car seat technology was in its infancy, car seats were used as restraints for the children ā€“ not as safety devices. The thinking was this:Ā "What could be more annoying than a toddler roaming around on the back (or front) seat?"Ā That was literally the problem. A toddler would sit still for about 30 seconds before it would start playing on the back seat. For context -Ā it wasn't until the 1960's when seat-belts became mandatory in all motor vehicles!

Car Seat History from pre-1930 & the 40ā€™s

Large scale child car seat manufacture began in the early 1930s. TheĀ car seats purpose was not to ensure the safety of children. It was simply to bring the child to a heightĀ where they could see.

Ā car seat history - booster seat

The 'Bunny Bear' company produced the first widely distributed car seat in 1933. This seat sits within todayā€™s description of ā€˜a booster seatā€™. It draped across the back of a bench seat, as were the seats of the day. car seat history VW

The problems the Bunny Bear company solved were two-fold:

  1. Restraining the child
  2. Raising the child so they could see

Ā Ā car-seat-history-VW-576x1024

There were many other restraints available such as the above child harness sold by Volkswagen.

1950ā€™s and beyond

Before 1960, physicians made up a large portion of peopleĀ to have safety belts in their vehicles. This was purely because they had to deal with the ever increasing amount of crash victims. Their seat belts were homemade or sourced from a motor mechanic. It wasnā€™t until 1955 that Volvo innovated by offering seat belt systems as a standard safety addition to their cars.

The course of Car Seat History changes with seat belt innovation

The early 1960s saw some great advances in car seat technology that stemmed from seat belt technology. In 1962, 2 inventors: Leonard Rivkin and Jean Ames both independently developed car seat designs that used the vehicles seat belt. Jean Ames was a Briton, who created a seat that rear faced, not too dissimilar from a modern design. Leonard Rivkin was a Colorado man who made a forward facing seat that used a metal frame. Both designs seeded an idea that then became the benchmark for car seat design ā€“ safety. An example of a mass-produced car seat with an emphasis on safety was 1968ā€™s ā€œTot-Guardā€ made by the Ford Motor Company. It was aĀ plastic chairĀ that had a padded area in front of the child's face and acted as a cushion upon impact.

car-seat-history-1968-ford-tot-guard

It wasnā€™t until car seat safety regulations were passed in theĀ 1971 beforeĀ all companies began to focus solely on safety.

The 2000's and beyond

Car seat safety in the 2000s has never been better. All car seats available around the world now adhere to rigorous testing and quality assurance processes. There are even third party safety assurances by companies such as CREP, ADAC andĀ Stiftung Warentest that ensure seats areĀ as safe as they can be.

Now that build quality of seats is at an all-time high, you must ensure the seat is installed properly

According to an NZ Police and Plunket survey of child car seats, 85% are still incorrectly installed. When you purchase your car seat, be sure to check all resources available online and consult a retailer to help fit the seat. If in doubt, please people, remember to visit a Certified Car Seat Restraint Technician and have your seat checked.

Click here to view alpha, our infant car seat

Ā  Please comment on this post with pictures of your antique car seats. We'd love to see what else is out there. Danny Shu

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