Baby on Board signs – Hazard or lifesaver?

Baby on board signs are a true Marmite – you either love them, or hate them. I used to be in the hate camp, but I think that’s about to change.

I always used to roll my eyes at ‘Little princess on board’ or ‘Daddy’s little dude’ signs stuck to the back window of the car in front.

Not only did I see them as unnecessarily blocking the rear view but they also have a certain bubble wrap factor to them…

As if I’m suddenly going to stop my apparent erratic and unsafe bumper car driving and give them more space because of their bundle of joy on board. I just don’t think they work for that purpose! That’s why I’ve never owned one.

baby on board signs - hazard or lifesaver

What baby on board signs are really for

But, I’ve recently learnt that this isn’t the main reason behind baby on board signs. The reason is actually one of safety for emergency services to indicate a car that may have a child on board who can’t help themselves to get out or who may be trapped.

If a sign is found in a car that’s been in an accident, then the emergency services are obliged to search for the child. So, that means that this little sign can save your child’s life.

As you can imagine, if the child wasn’t actually in the car in the first place then this can waste a significant amount of time and resource that could otherwise be used to help other injured people.

So, the advice for using baby on board signs is to take it out when the baby isn’t in the car – simple.

This may seem like an annoyance, but let’s think of it this way: If your other half was in the car alone and needed help, would you want the paramedics to be scrambling after a non-existent child, or to be helping them?

Think of it more as putting on a seatbelt. When they first introduced seatbelts, it was seen as an unnecessary inconvenience, but we know they save lives and now we don’t even think twice about this little action and is second nature when we get in and out of the car.

Research by,  a car rental company, has found that 99% of parents surveyed who use Baby on Board signs didn’t know their real use, with only 1% removing the sign when the child wasn’t in the back.

That’s shocking.

Novelty signs – the cause?

I’m not quite sure where we lost track of the real meaning of these signs, but I personally think it has something to do with novelty baby on board signs.

Cute as some of them may be, I think they have detracted away from an official warning sign to our current understanding of them being a ‘keep clear, I have a baby, cotton-candy world of smugness’ sign.

More needs to be done by road safety charities to raise awareness of this issue and hopefully parents like me will be more inclined to purchase one as a safety item that could save a child’s life if used properly.

Story source: Ambulance Today

Comments 41

  1. I didn’t know this – great post.We don’t have a sign and never have had one. Very interesting read ! #bigfatlinky

  2. I had no idea they actually served a purpose. Like you I thought they were for smug parents so I refused to get one. I might have to follow your lead reading this though. Might be time to join that 1% #bigfatlinky

  3. I always thought the signs were just a novelty along the lines of dashboard ornaments. I think the real purpose behind them is a good idea, but if only 1% of the population know to remove them when baby isn’t on board it could waste a lot of time as you point out. #bigfatlinky

  4. I’ve got one for when I finally get a car but it’s not a novelty one, it’s a child on board one and it’ll only be in the car when she is. I loathe the tacky novelty ones and I myself would be agitated if I thought someone assumed my driving altered under different situations, when I’ve driven I’ve always driven safely and valued every life but I want to think that if I were involved in a crash then it might save a life if my child were not immediately visible or had been thrown from the car etc. #BigFatLinky

  5. Interesting post, I hadn’t really thought about the need to take the sign out each time. We don’t have a sign but may get one now!

  6. I never knew the true reason for the signs, it makes sense now! I really have had a bit of hatred for these signs before. But if used correctly they can save your little one’s life! How cool.

  7. I completely agree that the novelty signs have diluted the signs’ purpose. I didn’t even know the real reason until a couple of years ago. I COMPLETELY resisted getting a “Twins on Board” sign, in part because I felt it would make us a target. Some people have such a creepy obsession with twins, especially identical female twins! Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

    1. I can imagine the creepy obsession that people can have with twins, I bet they nearly explode. It’s bad enough when strangers ask about Georgia in the middle of the street. Must be a lot worse with Twins! x

  8. I hated those signs but then someone said it was because women would be rescued unconscious and wake up in hospital and ask where their baby was…and no one had searched for the baby thrown clear of the wreck. Of course, now that no one takes them off, they’re probably irrelevant…but still better than nothing, I guess. #FortheloveofBlog

  9. I’d heard before about the safety reasons but I can’t imagine many people do actually take them out when they’ve not got the kids with them. I know I would have forgotten! #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. I completely agree. My sister-in-law had a terrible, life changing accident which squashed her car beyond recognition (she was ok after a month in hospital). The ambulance saw her baby on board sign and child car seat mangled in the car and spent a long time looking for my niece. Luckily she was at home safe. All in all, a terrible time but until then, I hadn’t really appreciated the importance of these signs. Great post. #fortheloveofblog

  11. I am friends with a paramedic who actually says that they are not a requirement: thanks to Isofix technology (and general EU laws on car seats) they are not needed as now pretty much all kids ride in a car seat and if you have a sign you probably use a seat- if there is any evidence of a child in the car they will search (ie the car seat and/or toys). He really dislikes them because they waste time if in a child free car but the scenario where a child has not been found because one wasn’t there has never happened with a car seat in the car. He showed me A post by Kicks Count (which cites the same 2015 article from the ambulance news blog) ) points out that many emergency serviices personnel “don’t know” what they are for: if they don’t, because its not part of their excellent training, they aren’t functioning to protect anyone and carry the risk of delay if wrongly used. #fortheloveofblog

  12. I didn’t know this! It makes perfect sense though. I bought my, most definitely novelty sign, because it was one of those silly little things I was super excited about when I was pregnant. Better to focus on daft signs than the pushing a baby out thing, obvs. Now he’s older I probably don’t even need it, he’s certainly not a baby anymore (sobs) #fortheloveofBLOG

  13. I knew what the signs were for as we had them when my girls were babies – what I didn’t know that I should’ve actually have taken it off if they weren’t in the car. Thanks for clearing that up – luckily I no longer have babies – lol.#fortheloveofblog

  14. I akwaya saw the reason for such a sign but I am an over worrier! It is the other types of sign that annoy me. The ones insulting you. What the hell! So brave inside your car driving away!! #fortheloveBLOG

  15. We had one as we knew the reason that the signs were invented and figured they could be helpful if the worst ever happened. But now it’s been high-jacked and turned into a novelty they’re probably less useful.

  16. I do believe that most of these signs are ignored now by the emergency services as like you say, only 1% of people remove them and there are far too many novelty ones that it defeats the object. Good idea though originally. #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. Hi, I agree with you that they are like marmite but I had no idea that they were designed to help the emergency services. Thanks for sharing this info #FortheloveofBLOG

  18. I’d never thought of what would happen if there was an accident and one of us was driving without the kids in the car… That’s a really good point. #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. Great post that highlights something I’ve discussed on a few occasions. I did have two police officers tell me once that the signs aren’t a good idea, and reason they gave was quite sinister. Don’t display that you have a baby in the back because you could be targeted by those who steal babies. The thought of that possibility blew my mind!

  20. We had a bunny rabbit one but sadly it kept falling off. I think they are a good idea if there’s a child involved. However, I’ve seen some people with them in their cars drive crazily on the road. #fortheloveofBLOG

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