If your upcoming vacation or weekend away with the family involves a trip or two in a golf cart, you might be wondering if your baby will be able to ride along – or is it a better idea to take the stroller and walk?
Parents can take their babies on golf carts; there are no real risks involved except in the event of an accident. The chances of a baby sustaining injuries from a golf cart ride will depend on how the driver handles the vehicle.
As with any vehicle, golf carts can be dangerous to infants and toddlers; there are many things you must consider before taking your baby along for a ride, but with the proper measures, it can be done safely.
Is It Dangerous To Take Your Baby On Golf Cart?
It is generally safe to take a baby on a golf cart; however, parents should remember that infants younger than six months would need special care to keep their heads from flopping all over the place. But keep in mind that children of all ages are at risk for injuries. Always use a seatbelt if available and you can also use a car seat just like in a vehicle.
Can A Bumpy Ride In A Golf Cart Cause Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Abusive Head Trauma, known to most parents as Shaken Baby Syndrome, is primarily the result of child abuse and is not caused by minor bumps, shakes, or vibrations. Babies develop this syndrome when shaken with violent force or hit against a hard surface.
According to Kids Health, Abusive Head Trauma can cause various neurological disorders and, in some cases, can be fatal for the child. Parents should note that extreme force is used in cases like this and that day-to-day events are unlikely to cause any damage.
So even if the ride is a little bumpy, your baby most likely is not at risk for this syndrome. Still, you should drive slowly and not perform any reckless maneuvers while your baby rides in the cart.
Taking a baby on a golf cart only remains safe as long as parents see to that safety; there is still a risk of head injuries if your baby suffers a blow to the head. Parents should always be mindful of any possible dangers when using recreational vehicles (we’ll provide more information below).
Should Babies Be In Car Seats On A Golf Cart?
It might make perfect sense to place your baby in the car seat for maximum neck and head protection when you ride a golf cart, but how safe would it be?
The first issue with putting a car seat in a golf cart is that there isn’t a way to secure the seat to the cart safely unless your golf cart has seat belts. Many golf carts don’t have them, but if you own the cart, or the cart is street legal, it may have seatbelts, or you can install them.
According to the Juveniles Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA), using car seats on any recreational vehicle is against the manufacturer’s instructions. Car seats have not undergone safety testing for use in golf carts, and there is no guarantee that your baby will be safer just because they are in a device that is supposed to keep them safe.
JPMA advises parents to only use products according to the manufacturer’s instructions because the products have only been cleared as safe in those specific circumstances and for use in vehicles with the proper attachment systems.
Potential Golf Cart Injuries In Children
Parents only want their kids to be safe and happy, but sometimes innocent fun can quickly end up with a trip to the emergency room. According to PubMed, children are most at risk for sustaining injuries related to golf carts, especially traumatic brain injuries.
The University of Michigan Health says that most head injuries to children below three years old appear to be minor and should heal just fine on their own. However, if the injury is severe, you’ll need to immediately take your baby to the doctor.
The University lists the following symptoms to keep an eye out for if your infant or toddler might have fallen from the vehicle or bumped their heads hard against the framework of the cart.
- Loss of consciousness
- Unstable walking
- Difficulty talking
- Dilated or blown pupils
- Sudden vision problems
It is harder to establish symptoms for infants or toddlers to ensure there are no critical internal injuries; take your child to the doctor when they suffer a hard blow to the head or fall from the golf cart.
Apart from traumatic brain injuries, babies and children can also suffer injuries like broken arms or legs when falling from the cart. Another article about the dangers of golf carts calls for better safety regulations to diminish these risks.
Measures To Keep Babies and Children Safe On Golf Carts
Always keep to slow speed and when possible, only use the golf track or pavement. Avoid steep hills or uneven terrains that might call for sudden braking or swerving. Never operate any vehicle, recreation or otherwise, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or strong medications; this will reduce your reaction time and cause an accident.
Take care not to overload the cart; if you are a large family, make sure you get the correct cart size to accommodate everyone safely. Make sure that nothing – including limbs – sticks out from the cart that might get caught on something as you drive past.
Keep babies below twelve months secured to your chest while supporting their necks and heads; you might want to look into wrap carriers for infants. Toddlers will be safe in your lap as long as you keep a good hold on them, and children above the age of five can sit between the parents.
Whether your child is five days or five years old, always keep them secured in your arms, on your lap, or in a seatbelt close next to you when driving in a golf cart. Always keep a slow and steady pace and avoid going over uneven or dangerous terrains. If you have any negative feelings, forgo the golf cart, and take your baby for a walk in the stroller instead.