Baby on Board! – by Bernadette A Adjei

 

A driver or passenger on our roads must have seen this sign on the window or back glass of a private car, saloon or four wheel at one point or the other “Baby on Board” mostly in yellow and black. Or one may have seen its variations, “Princess on Board” in pink colour, “Prince on Board” in blue! I have often wondered the interpretation the car owner wants other road users to put to this sign. Shall I attempt my own interpretation?

I have often assumed that it means that the driver of the car has an infant in the car, and the baby might apparently be in a baby car seat. The use of car seats in Ghana receives no strict regulation and although upon purchase of a new car seat some instructions may be attached, there is also a big market of second hand car seats, the use of which are left to the buyers’ imagination.

I had thought that “Baby on Board” is a warning to other drivers to approach the bearer of the sign with care, no loud honking, no unnecessary crossings and basically consideration for the driver. I must add that this sign is often seen on cars driven by women.

 

Prior to motherhood hitting me, I was impatient with distracted driver/moms who had screaming children in the car and who tended to turn and look into the back seat as they drove or were wont to brake the car without warning.

So perhaps for this category of driver, the sign is notice to the whole world that “expect anything from us”, including a book or socks flying out of the car window at any moment!

It is sometimes distressing to see children standing on the front seat, in the bridge between the front and the back seat or on the back seat. On some occasion, a driver/mom or dad may be seen HOLDING an infant as they drove. That to me is the height of irresponsibility. For the sake of safety and sanity, children should be strapped in to car seats. When upon discharge from hospital a child is transported home in a car seat and subsequently a trip in the car is done in a car seat, a habit is formed. The children learn that being in the car is synonymous to be strapped in a seat. It helps when treats, toys and books and of course bottles of water are kept in the car to keep the child entertained and refreshed. It goes for messier cars, but that may be the way for you till the children are older!

 

For parents who make a daily trip with children, I must admit having a cranky and fretting child in the car as you drive is no picnic. But there are solutions to this; preparation for the trip by feeding the baby is a big plus, the parent can look out for “cool spots”, – a place along the route where there are some trees, a seat and parking where mom can stop, change diapers and feed the child. A place with a shaded compound with trees preferably – a school or a church can provide ideal spots. Driver /mom can rest for about 30 minutes refresh the children and continue the trip.

 

As the baby grows older, a trip with him/her is easier. But until then, whilst “Baby on Board” may give some considerations from other road users, the driver can also do some of the little things suggested above to make the trip easier and safer for our little princes and princesses and for us all!

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