Driving with a baby on board can seem daunting in those early months. Is your little one strapped in correctly? Are they facing the right way? Will their seat slide around? For first-time parents heading to the delivery room, they know that when they leave they’ll be taking with them the most precious package of their lives. The car ride home from the hospital is often a baby’s very first experience in a car. It’s important to get baby car seat safety right before your little one arrives on the scene. Below, we’ve listed the most essential things to remember to keep your baby safe in their car seat so you can be fully informed when it matters the most.
Stay away from second-hand.
Many parents with a little one on the way will be looking to save the pennies in any way they can, which sometimes includes buying second-hand essentials. Yet when it comes to your baby’s car seat, try to steer clear of hand-me-downs. Unless you are accepting a car seat with instructions from a close friend or family member, and you know its history, you should always opt to buy brand new. Why? A number of good reasons. Without knowing its history, it’s impossible to tell if a car seat has previously been involved in a car accident and whether it is hiding any unseen damage. As well as this, it may not have all of its original parts or instructions, which are vital for proper operation. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so do your research, find the right one for your car and buy brand new.
Make sure it is rear-facing.
Love to see your baby’s face in the mirror on a long car journey? Whilst this might seem the best way to keep an eye on your precious cargo, having their car seat facing towards your driver's seat could actually put them in danger. This is because a rear-facing car seat provides greater protection in the event of an accident, keeping their head, neck and spine fully aligned. It is best to use a rear-facing car seat for as long as your baby fits into it. And this doesn’t only apply to young babies. As your child grows, don’t be concerned when their legs start to bend at the knees, touching the back seat - this will not harm them. Until they reach the highest height or weight allowed by the carrier, it’s a good idea to keep them in it. If you can, avoid placing the car seat on the front passenger side - this can be extremely dangerous due to the airbag. Your baby will be safer situated in the back, and there are baby mirrors that you can install on the car seat that will help you have the visibility you want.
Dress your baby in thin clothing.
Keeping your baby warm, especially in the winter, is of great importance, especially when you’re having a day out and about. But although you’ll be eager to keep them wrapped up in a cute winter jacket, make sure you take it off before placing them in their car seat. Bulky clothing, albeit great for keeping their temperature up, can actually compress during a crash and leave the straps of the car seat too loose to keep your baby in place, increasing the risk of injury. Instead, grab a blanket that you can wrap around them after they’re well harnessed in, tucking in the sides just up to the armpits. This is the safest way to keep your baby warm and cosy, and you can simply pop all their layers back on once you’ve reached your destination.
Make sure they are securely strapped in.
Manufacturer's instructions will have detailed information about how to properly and securely strap your baby into their car seat, so make sure you read them carefully to really familiarise yourself with the proper operation. Some retailers may also offer demonstrations in store - so be sure to ask if you want to see it in person! As a rule of thumb, harnesses should be tight enough on the child that you can just fit two fingers flat between the child and the strap, with your fingers lying flat against their collarbone. You should ensure that the harness sits at the right height too, the straps being level with the tops of your child's shoulders.
Think about others who will transport your child.
It’s always OK to ask for help, especially with a newborn baby. Sometimes that help comes in the form of regular childcare or help with transportation, which means that others might be taking your baby in their car too. It is therefore very important that anyone who will be having your baby in their car, for whatever reason, is aware of these car seat basics too. And not every car seat will fit in every car - when you are choosing the right seat for you and your family, have a think about the different cars it might need to fit into and take that into consideration when you make your choice.
We hope you’ve found these car seat tips helpful and that you feel confident about how to keep your baby safe on your car journeys. Take a look at our full range of baby bean bags and accessories for ways to keep them safe and cosy at home as well as out and about!