True Gripes: Stickers? How infantile

Announcing there's a baby on board is a pointless thing to do
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The Independent Culture
OK, I confess, as a new parent I, too, have bored my immediate circle with tales of Junior's unique and extraordinary behaviour: the way that said child's ears so resemble Great Uncle Alfred's, his amazing control of the yoghurt spoon, and so on.

However, not even in my most hormone-crazed moments did I find it necessary to declare my new-found parenthood to following traffic - no "Baby on Board" sticker on my back window.

Perhaps the single most irritating car accessory since Garfield, Baby on Board stickers are now one of Mothercare's best-selling products. They appear to cross boundaries: I've seen Saab Turbos with them as well as second-hand Datsun Cherrys. They have also crossed the Channel: Bebe en Bord. Last week I spotted a rather sad example - a homemade paper strip lying flat on the back shelf of a parked Skoda. I noticed it only because I was walking past at the time.

So, apart from declaring smugly to an uncaring world that the car's owner has had carnal relations at least once, what exactly are these things for? You can already tell whether there's a child in the car: the driver meanders down the slow lane while turning round every other minute to gesticulate at an apparent void.

One new parent rather weakly explained that perhaps other drivers would treat her more considerately. Well, I'm afraid it has exactly the reverse effect on me, even as I lean over to stuff a banana in my darling child's screaming gob. If it were not for my no-claims bonus ... These ghastly things originated in America, where, I grudgingly concede, there is some point to them. There have been reported instances of emergency crews arriving at accidents and not realising that there were babies hidden beneaththe wreckage of those huge American cars. How they'd spot a 4in by 4in sticker rather than a squalling baby beats me.

As of next year, Mothercare will carry warnings on its packaging: if you're involved in an accident, remove the sticker if there is no child in the car. Seems logical enough.

I tried out the babies-in-wreckage theory on the London Ambulance Service. Unsurprisingly, it does not have an official line on Baby on Board stickers; however, it did point out rather succinctly that in an emergency it would rely on its training to locate injured children rather than stickers. I for one am somewhat heartened by that.

So, the next time I entertain murderous thoughts about drivers of cars with Baby on Board stickers, I can do so with impunity. At least the children will be rescued.

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