Did You Have a Carseat When You Were a Kid?

Updated on September 30, 2013
K.F. asks from Carmel, CA
46 answers

So many questions are sparking other questions in my mind this morning.

I am 45 years old and not only did I NEVER use a carseat as a child I had never even seen one until maybe 15-20 years ago. Now granted, I wasn't exactly in the baby set in my early 20's so I probably missed their arrival but I am sure no one I knew used them when I was a child.

In fact when I was a kid we didn't even use seatbelts. We had VW vans and bugs most of my childhood and we'd crawl all over the seats lounging and bouncing around. We even rode in what we called the Pokey, the tiny, scratchy space behind the back seat of a bug. Real safe in a rear end collision right? That was my experience of California in the 70's and early 80's.

Just curious what others experiences are. How old are you and did you use a car seat or seatbelt when you were a child?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Great answers...now I'm feeling nostalgic. I love those free wheeling memories but am grateful for the safety of my family more. We really just didn't know any better back then.

I remember my Dad letting me shift for him from the passenger seat and then when I was older learning to drive the bug on the field behind our Middle School, it's now a beautiful softball complex. When I tell my girls that story they are in awe. I'm trying to remember the last time I drove a stick and I'm missing my Dad. He always made me feel like nothing could hurt me as long as he was there, seatbelt or not.

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

No car seats, no seat belts and rode around in the back of pickup trucks.
I made it out okay but a lot of people didn't. I had not one, but TWO aunts get ejected through the front windshield in car accidents. One was killed instantly (left three kids behind) and the other's face was scarred for life (regular glass did a whole lot more damage than the safety glass they have now.)
Yet another reason the "good old days" weren't so good!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I'm 42. I have no recollection of ever having been strapped into a carseat. I DO remember kneeling on the backseat of the car, facing out the rear window and making faces at the car behind us.

As a parent, however, I've been religious about carseats for my kids and seat belts for the adults. It's a small easy thing to do, why not just do it?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I am 43 and was brought home in my mothers arms, and when she went out I was put onto the seat next to her (yes in the front with no infant carrier). I don't even think they had them back then. I never wore a seatbelt until my mid 20's (1995 or so).

When my youngest sister was born in 84, I think my mom had an infant carrier but once she was one or so no car seat after that. We grew up in NJ and there were no distracting gadgets (including cup holders) in the cars either. Most people paid attention to their driving since the steering, brakes and most transmissions were manual.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

Had to text my mom, but yes...she used them with all 3. I remember being in a booster until I was about 7-8. I am 31.

Since it's been proven that FAR LESS children are injured and die since carseats, I don't know what people are complaining about. Most accidents happen within 5 minutes of leaving your destination. It's a big deal, no matter how people try to sweep it under the rug.


Seriously? People just spew nonsense. It's NOTHING like winning the lottery. That analogy is idiotic. The odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are ONE in 108.

Well, I guess those that think it's nonsense can take the chance. I bet they won't, which proves the "astronomical" odds really don't matter...do they? Because, people with actual common sense, wouldn't take the risk with a child. A negligent parent or caregiver would take the chance, but then again...they probably don't have common sense to begin with.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Yeah, it's amazing we survived our childhood - I'm 51.
We didn't use seat belts till we were in college and there were no child seats when I was a child.
My Mom says she'd just wrap me up in a blanket and put me on the floor of the back seat of the car when I was an infant.

But if you WERE in an auto accident back then, you were much more likely to die or suffer serious injury.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that these safety technologies (seat belts, child seats and airbags) saved an estimated 328,551 lives from 1960 through 2002.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

There weren't car seats when I was a child (I'm 52) and I didn't regularly use a seat belt until I was in my 20s. My brother and I drove an old pickup around the pasture with him running the pedals and me kneeling on the seat and steering - we were both under age 10. My siblings and I were taken on several vacations riding in the back of a pickup camper and we loved it. My dad hauled us down the highway to the county fair riding in the open bed of a pickup. We piled 7 or 8 of us in a Camaro when we were teenagers, sitting on laps.

I'm still alive to talk about it, but not everyone is. Children (and adults) did die because of lack of safety restraints, so they aren't around to tell their stories. A group of young people I knew from work decided to pile into a station wagon and do a road trip vacation. Several were sleeping on the floor in the back when they had a crash and everyone in the back was killed (broken necks).

Car seats, seat belts, and air bags are all good things.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sure did, and I used a booster when I was older because I was small and even though it was not legally required, my mother felt it was SAFER so she kept me in it. Absofrigginlutely did I sit in a car seat and when I did not, we were in seatbelts that were properly adjusted (no putting the shoulder restraint behind me) or Mom wouldn't start the car. I'm in my mid-30s.

My DH is a little older, but he was in a car seat (seen pictures) and his father installed seatbelts in the car before they were standard. Everybody buckled up.

You never saw a car seat til 20 years ago? My sister is also in her 30s and rode in a car seat. The first "car seats" weren't even for safety. They were to put the baby somewhere. They later became concerned about the safety of small passengers and the following years have provided us increasingly safer seats.

My uncle is a long haul trucker. He was tearing up telling me about an accident. Someone was yakking on her phone and she and her three babies hit his truck, flipped and ended up in a ditch. She is paralyzed and thankfully her kids were restrained and were able to be removed from the SUV without major injury.

Regardless of whether or not I did anything stupid as a kid, my kid will be in her seat.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

No carseat or seatbelt, and yes I was in the "Pokey" too. Its a wonder we all survived. But truth be told, I was in the car when I was ten with my two younger cousins and my Aunt had an accident where she had to stop rather suddenly and my little cousins tongue got ripped in half and was dangling. He had to go to ER for tongue stitches. Gruesome! I yearn sometimes for the old days but not for this part. Love those car seats!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Nope. We also never used seat belts until my sister was born. I was 5. But my mom just held my sister in her arms in the front seat while my father drove.. Or she put the "Baby carrier" in the front seat with us. Not belted in, just sitting there.

If all 4 of us were in the car. I either sat in the back seat or I would stand on the floor board in the back seat and have my chin resting over to the front so we could all talk.

I remember kids used to sleep across the back of the car in the back window.

My husbands family had station wagons with the rear facing seats. No seat belts and remember the crank down windows back there? Yes, he said they would be back there on their knees or standing back there, so they could wave to the cars behind them..

I also recall being about 5 and riding in the back of my grandfathers pick up truck on a quilt with an older cousin (12) all the way to San Antonio.. It took about an hour to get there back then.. Yep, going 75 mph..
This was of course when the hwy speed limit was 75 mph.. I loved it!

We lived dangerously.. Ignorance is bliss.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Nope, no seatbelts either, went all the way across the country in the back of a station wagon.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

I'm 46 and never used one. We rode in the back of pickups all the time. Us little kids rode in the front seat of cars all the time with no restraint on. I remember being in the back of my uncle's giant buicks - the ones with the bench seats- and about 7 of us kids could fit back there, lol! I do remember some sort of pouch my brother was in, which was some kind of sling that just strapped over the back of the front seat. I recall riding in my mom's lap in the front seat when I was really little. We had one car that had a fold down backseat, so it could be a regular back seat, a bench, or fold flat. Many times I just laid in the back on that flat fold out. Once we took a trip a few states away and I laid down on the back seat to sleep and my brother laid across the back floor. You could open back windows all the way then too. There were lap belts in the cars, but I don't remember any one ever using them. It became law to use them in the 80's when I first started to drive. Until the law came into effect, we still did not use them. Then, I remember people putting them on because of the law, but putting the shoulder part behind them. Now, after the law, I became an avid wearer, still am, and never ever let my kids travel without being in the proper seat or restraint.

ETA: Just remembered sitting in my dad's lap "driving", and frequently sitting on the middle console in the front as well. Yikes!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I am 44 yo and had a car seat and then a booster seat. My mom and dad also would not drive any of my friends until everyone had their seat belts on. I guess my parents were ahead of their time😊

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I'm 47 and never had a car seat or wore a seatbelt as a kid. I remember clearly standing in the back of my mother's Impala hauling over the railroad tracks. Fixed up mini trucks were all the rage when I was a teenager and we all rode in the back. My first car when I was 16 was a 1969 VW Bug...no seatbelts. I didn't have seatbelts until college.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I am 44 and I did have a little booster seat that was positioned on the bench between the driver and passenger in the front. No straps - just a little bucket with legs that hooked over the back of the bench.

I remember it primarily because when I was old enough to sit in the back (not because I wasn't allowed in the front for safety, but because I had older siblings who called dibs), I remember the imprint of the metal hooks on the back of the front bench. We had seat belts, but usually the coveted position after the front was the way back, where you could roll around.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I am almost 40 and remember my first car seat from when I was a pre-schooler (probably 4 or 5). It was black and I think it was made out of styrofoam (at least that is what I remember) and it had an orange "table" that the belt went through. No belts or harness.
My sister is a few years younger and rode in a bassinet next to me that could be clicked into the seat belt.
We were never allowed to ride unbuckled. Ever.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

No. Neither. They weren't mandatory.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Didn't read the other answers, but this is a fact when we were kids in the 60's and 70's there were fewer cars on the road. Most families only owned 1 car. Cars were made of steel not plastic so when an accident occurred it was just that a (dent). No a fender bender can be a total collision. And my oldest is 26 and I have a sister 34 and they both had carseats. And your right some kids didn't ride in seats in the 70's and then again your wrong. My cousin was a 6 month old in a car what should have been a minor accident became a life a death struggle for him. My uncle was 19 at the time and was thrown out of the car (died from head trauma) so seat belts are a MAJOR issue in my home and always have been. I wore a seat belt from the first day I drove.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on

54 here...and NEVER a car seat...or a seatbelt as akiddo.

In fact, I remember as a third grader at 'rome AFB' (now closed) the military trying to IMPLEMENT a seat belt policy. If ya got 'caught' wearing one on base...$5!! woo hoo!

**my family was NEVER 'caught'**

I also remember MANY a trip across states 'sleeping' on the back 'ledge' of our car...and MANY fights over who was stuck sitting in the middle of the back seat where the 'hump' was.

It sometimes makes me wonder how so many people 'my age' managed to survive...

But still...all my kiddos buckle up...and prior to that, were in appropriate car seats.

Times change.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I am 43, and we did not have car seats when I was a child. We had car beds to keep baby from rolling off the seat onto the floor if mom didn't feel like holding the baby, but it was more like a Moses basket. We loved to ride in the cargo space of a station wagon or a hatchback car. Seat belts became mandatory about two years after I got my drivers licence. I am glad that seat belts and car seats are available and in use today, but I still don't think riding in a car without a car seat on occasion is a huge risk, just because of the odds of having an accident the one time there wasn't a car seat are like the odds of winning the lottery. I've never won the lottery.

ETA: The odds of dying in a car accident may be 1 in 108, but what are the odds that a child who rides in a car seat 364 days of the year will die in a car accident on the one day she doesn't ride in a car seat? Pretty astronomical...but yes, some people do spew nonsense...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm almost 43. When I was a baby, I am pretty sure they had some sort of carseat for me; there are pictures of me in one. I'm not sure if it was an infant seat or not.

My own parents were fairly lax about seatbelts and such until I was about eight or so. I don't know if there was new information presented, but they started becoming more strict about seatbelts. My little brother, born in 1979, had a carseat when we were growing up. He was in it until he was five. Our son has just now at 6.5 grown out of his Britax marathon. Because we walked to preschool/school, he never got any flak from friends about what sort of seat he was in. He's now in a booster that a friend gave us; we'll be getting him a better one soon, because I want more protection for him, esp. for his head and neck.

I think it is fun to be nostalgic about those things, riding in the backs of pickups out in the open air, stuff like that, but I also remember that we didn't have as many people on the road as we do now, such an incredibly high number of distracted drivers. When we are crossing the main intersection on the way to my son's school, I see an inordinate amount of people texting while stopped or fiddling with their phones and not really paying attention. The world has changed dramatically since we were kids in the 70s or even the 80s. Many people have cell phones now. SUVs are huge and we have a little Honda. I want to make sure we do what we can do to be as safe as reasonably possible, so if we do have an accident, we all get through it alive.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Heck cars were not invented when I was young lol! We actually had seatbelts in the 1957 DeSoto. My Dad was in the car business and had them installed. They were like airline belts. We were the only ones in my neighborhood with them. All my kids had carseats (oldest 38) but compared to today's seats they were useless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am pushing 40 and none of us were put in carseats and I have lived in California my entire life.

I do remember climbing all over our station wagon on cross country trips and being drugged with Dramamine for those long roadies. As if John Denver and Neil Diamond were not enough to put us in a coma:)

Took a pill before we left the house...and whammo..the next thing we knew was waking up at the Grand Canyon...or Aunt Marge's in Nevada.

Times are different...there are more laws and rules to keep us safe. Laws and rules for just about everything we do. Some I say are good..some I say are not so good. I am more Libertarian minded...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

45, no car seat. They did make me use the seat belt which did not have any shoulder part. Come to think of it, neither did theirs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I remember all of us kids having so much fun piling into the back of the station wagon (behind the seats) with our pillows and goofing off back there while our parents drove. No car seats.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

53 and no, nobody I ever knew back then had them.

I sat in my mom's lap sometimes. Dad stopped short one day and I chipped my front tooth.

I stood right behind my Dad and used to tell him how spongie it was back there. I jumped up and down showing him. Later, he looked under the seat and found it had rusted out, with only the carpet holding me up.

My niece, in her early twenties at the time, thought she would wait till she got out on the main road from the tiny back road she was on, to put on her seatbelt. Her tire clipped the gravel on the side of that road and jerked the car off an embankment and turned over. She almost died that day.

I live in a big, busy city. I never left the driveway without a car seat or seat belts on everybody. Thank God for common sense and seatbelts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

No never! One of my first memories as a toddler was laying in the floorboard of my mom's huge Monte Carlo on a cold winter morning. She'd turn the heat on and it was soooo warm and cozy down there! My mom also said that on the ride home after I was born, my grandmother held me the whole way home in the backseat. Granted this was the late 70s. :)
My father had a truck and I remember him letting me ride in the back when I was about 6 or 7. That was SO much fun! As a matter of fact, he had the truck for a while and I don't even think it had seat belts. If it did, they were pushed down under the seat.
So I guess, no, I didn't wear a seat belt until I was taking driver's ed in the early 90s when it became law.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I probably did as a baby, but I can remember standing/sitting in the front seat with my mom driving. I remember on several occasions where if she had to stop quickly she would put her arm in front of me to avoid me falling. Like that would do any good in a car accident!
My girls on the other had have been in a car seat since day one, and my oldest was in a booster until last year. She is very tiny and the seat belt did not fit correctly. It was her first year in middle school (6th grade) and she was still in a booster. She finally hit a growth spurt so the seat belt fits correctly which means she no longer sits in a booster! My almost 8 year old is still in a booster, and my six year old is still in hers. I refuse to let my kids be in a car without being in a booster seat or being buckled in properly. God gave me these girls to love and protect, and I'm doing everything I can to make sure I do what God expects me to do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

So old, I never used a seat belt either. I rode backwards in the back seat facing the drivers behind us. That was great when dad had to slam on the brakes, as there was nothing to hold on to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm 36. I rode in a car seat as a child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I stood in the backseat most of the time, there were no seat belts back there and I wanted to see out. I can remember laying in the back window to take a nap so my brother and sister could have more room in the seat.

I held my daughter on my left shoulder while using my right to drive and manage the radio or 8 track. I'd lay her with her feet towards my and her head close to the passenger door when she got a little bigger and was asleep. My daughter stood in the seat next to me when she was probably 2 or 3. Women my age all had the same reflex, hit the brakes and raise our right arm to keep the kids from hitting the dash.

My years in child care taught me a lot about car seats but seriously, until we had our first grandson I had never bought one and couldn't understand my daughters insistence on having one that cost so much money!

Times have changed and for good reasons.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Hehe, we were just talking about this a couple weeks ago. When my sister & I were growing up (I'm 38, she's 36) we rode in the back of a cargo van.

There was a bench bolted onto the floor of the van w/seat belts if we were sitting.

But at night, on the way home from grandparents or other events, there was a mattress in the back, with a huge bolster pillow up against the bench, so that we could sleep, & if Dad had to hit the brakes, hopefully the pillow would keep us from flying into the front.

When we got a bit older, Mom had a station wagon... best place to be was loose in the big back compartment, waving at the traffic behind us!

Ahhh.... those were the good old days... T. ;-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Nope, I was 17 when they passed a seatbelt law. I remember getting thrown around in the backseat.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

There were car seats when I was a kid, BUT they weren't really car seats. They were more of along the lines of a place to put the kid. They weren't about safety at all, and no, my mom never used one. We rode in the back, climbed over seats, and basically had a free for all so long as we weren't to loud.

Now I had my kid at 19, and they did have the bigger boxy car seats, and then the following year, when I had my DD, infant carriers came out.

Oh and I'm 42.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Back in the day they didn't have carseats or seatbelts, but those who got in an accident would die. I know a woman who lost her two kids.

As a kid, I would have died if I were in an accident. We had lap belts!
And I had a carseat but not as an infant.
We also had a shield booster which would have rearranged by organs in a collision. You know, I saw a shield careat the other day (not a new design, an old seat!) and I feel bad for that kid.



answers from Dallas on

I'm 52 years young and my sister and I did not have car seats or seatbelts. We pretty much played around all over the place! We are very lucky that we weren't in an accident! It is so scary to think about it now. I had my son bolted in the car and was still afraid something terrible would happen.


answers from Hartford on

I'm 38 and my mom says that out of convenience they used a car seat. They didn't make me wear a seat belt when I got older unless it kept me from pestering them, and didn't FORCE me to wear a seat belt for every ride until it was a law.

So by the time I became a parent in 2000 it was a law to use infant car seats and booster seats and seat belts. Hospitals wouldn't even let parents leave the hospital without a properly installed car seat in 2000. I remember we had ours installed, but got help from our local police department's traffic officer that specialized in installing car seats and teaching people how to install them properly.


answers from Chicago on

I am in my early 30's and I had a car seat. My older sisters did not, but they are 10yrs older than I and they had just come out, but were not required according to my mom. My parents had one with me because it was a "keeping up with the Jones'" kind of thing. I can not remember ever being in a car with out a seatbelt, but I also saw a few accidents when I was young where people were gravely injured or dead due to no seatbelts growing up. When you see someone fly out of the windshield from a collision in front of your house at 7 it puts things into perspective. Now, I also remember riding in the front seat around 7 or 8, but that was before air bags too.

One thing I do recall that was done but not so safe when we went on a big road trip was that my sister slept in the "trunk" area of the Bronco.


answers from Huntington on

I have photos of me as a baby in a very flimsy "car seat" or baby carrier. I was born in 1981. Honestly, I remember putting dolls in that thing at age 8 or so and I cannot imagine someone carrying a baby around with the handle. It was really lightweight.
I had 4 younger brothers and I do remember them being in a front facing car seat at least, till they were three or four. But we certainly did not do the booster seats that are now required till age 8 or 9. We all were diligent about wearing our seatbelts day to day BUT when we went on vacation, the kids all rode in the bed of the truck. It had a shell and a mattress. We regularly drove about 3 hours through the mountains to our family cabin. I do not remember my parents being worried about safety (or maybe they were, but convenience won out) but I do remember they got pulled over once and us kids kept knocking on the window to try to find out why we stopped. My parents were so mad!



answers from Chicago on

I'm 55 years old and didn't have one, but I remember my little sister (born in 1964) having a car seat. There wasn't much security to it, no belts or anything, I think it was mostly to keep her from roaming around the car.


answers from Houston on

No car seat. My daddy would have thought that they would rip the vinyl seats.


answers from Seattle on

I grew up in Southern California in the late 70's and 80's. We (my 4 brothers and I) ALL were in car seats and wore our seatbelts. All of us.



answers from Miami on

I'm older than you and no, there weren't car seats around when I was a child. There also weren't as many cars on the road and people didn't really wear seatbelts. My sister ran into a tree as a new driver and our 5 year old sister was in the passenger seat. It's a miracle they both lived through it. I don't remember when our cars started having seatbelts. I'm so grateful for better safety in cars nowadays.



answers from Houston on

I did not use a carseat, but I always wore my seatbelt, even when my parents did not. I always wanted to wear a seatbelt. My younger brother did not ride in a carseat until he was a toddler. At that point, it was still optional, I think. He would get out and sit on the floor. I am 39 and a half years old.


answers from San Francisco on

I'm 36, and I was in a pull-over carseat, and my sisters used the "newer" 5-point restraint seats. I was never allowed to crawl around the car; we always had seat belts when we were by law allowed out of our car seats.



answers from Atlanta on

I'm 32, and never used one either! lol My parents said they bought 2 different styles, and I guess I learned to wiggle my way out of both. Mom said she used to worry about me choking myself on the straps so they finally just said forget it. After that someone always rode in the backseat with me. Good question!



answers from Los Angeles on

First of all, my mom drove a VW bug back in the early 80's when she only had us 3 oldest kids. I don't remember ever being in a car seat but its possible I was in one. I am 35. I am pretty sure my sister who came 5 years later had a carseat. But my mom does talk about how they never had carseats before that, we'd just be held on laps as babies.

It is family legend that my cousin's cousin, same exact age as me, survived a car accident as a baby by flying out the open window of the car (from being unrestrained in his mom's lap) and through the open window of another car, and without a scratch. I know this sounds crazy but its been sworn up and down to me that it was true (1978 or 1979 this would have been).

In the later 80's we had a big brown VW van that we all lovingly called the hippie mobile. We would pile all kinds of kids and friends in there, but I do remember having to be somewhat conscious about seatbelts. I also remember a person occasionally riding on the floor.

By the time my mom had her last two kids in 1989, car seats were definitely in the works and a law. But only up to age 2 or 3 I think. I know by pre-school they were just chilling in regular seats. They are 23 now. We had much more sensible cars by then too, the HippieMobile had met its demise as a sigalert on the 5 freeway.

As a teenager in the 90's, I remember my girl scout leader sometimes driving her big suburban around with an infant in her lap. I thought this was so scandalous because car seats were definitely the norm by then! She was a Mormon lady with 10 kids and a huge car. She once drove us all the way to camping in Newport from LA (1 hour of freeway) with her newborn at the breast.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions