By Chhavi Banswal
The first practical automobile was put into mass production in the 1800s, but it was only a century later that the first baby car seat appeared. One would think that anxious parents, gripped by the fear for their child’s safety would have led to the invention. But that was not the case. The first ever child safety seat, invented in 1933, was actually designed to keep children immobile or ‘contained’ during a car ride. Made of cloth, it could hang on the passenger seat with hooks. However, it offered no safety features and was known to unhook during a crash, going right through the windscreen.
While no breakthroughs were made on this front for decades, the year 1962 was a milestone, with two unique safety-enabled designs proposed in two different countries. The one designed by Briton Jean Ames featured a Y-strap, facing rearward; the other, by American Len Rivkin, had a metal frame that surrounded the child buckled into the seat. These two designs sparked the revolution in child safety seat designs, which has brought us where we are today.
Back in the 1930s, parents would think twice before shelling out $2-$3 for a child safety seat. These days the cost can go even beyond $1200. Some car seats are even fitted with cutting-edge technology like ‘Sensorsafe’ to remind the parents their child is still buckled in. Going a step further, a Latvian military-grade vehicle manufacturer has custom-designed the world’s most expensive child safety seat, upholstered in gold plated crocodile skin, with the back made from kevlar, making it bulletproof! The cost of the car seat is so high that the company refused to make it public.
The evolution of child safety seats is truly a story of rags to riches.