Having a baby, especially your first baby can be overwhelming. You are responsible for this precious little life and everyone is throwing instructions at you regarding what’s right and wrong. Parents will find their own rhythms as they get to know their new bundle of joy. However, it’s important to be informed on how to care for your child and ensure their safety. People harp on the importance of reading all the pregnancy books, but you also need to read what comes next! Things like hopping into your car now require more preparation as you have to ensure your baby travels safely with you. Purchasing the right car seat and learning how to use it correctly is crucial. So, here we help parents ensure their baby will be completely safe in the car.
Know the Law
Know the car safety laws, driving safety tips, and the appropriate car seat restraints in your local area. In the US, the law dictates that a child under the age of 8 is required to be seated in a child passenger safety restraint system, followed by a highback booster seat. Children over the age of 8 are only permitted to use the vehicle seat belt if the restraints fit properly.
Make Sure the Seat Fits Properly
Your baby grows quickly within the first year and you’d be surprised how quickly they outgrow their baby car seat. All children’s weight and height differ, so you’ll plan your baby’s transition out of a forward-facing car seat with a harness when the time is right for them. The following step should be to upgrade your car seat for a booster seat with a belt. You should not opt for a backless booster seat until the child has passed the height and weight requirements for a booster seat. Only when the child can be fully supported by the vehicle’s seat belt can you give up the booster.
Remove Items from the Car Seat
In order to ensure your child is safe in the restraint system, make sure there is nothing increasing the distance between your child and the harness. Don’t place blankets, toys, or other clothing items under your child. Remove all items from the seat before buckling up your child. You can place blankets over the harness straps and put toys within their reach on either side.
Child Should Remain in Car Seat When Vehicle is in Motion
Do not attempt to move your child from the seat while the car is moving. If there is any need to attend to your child, make sure you park safely first and come to your child’s aid. Hearing your baby cry can be difficult and distracting; however, they are safer when you can give them your full attention once the car has stopped.
Follow Seat Belt Restrictions
There are clear seat belt restrictions that you must follow even when your child is old enough to give up the booster seat. Do not increase risks by having a single seat belt support two children or putting a child on your lap and have the seat belt strap over both of you. This is dangerous and the seat belt restrictions are there for a reason.
Use Child Safety Locks
Child safety locks are available for both the doors and windows to ensure your child’s safety while you are driving. Activate the locks straight away; don’t wait until your child is old enough to reach for the door. Children evolve quickly and are curious about their surroundings. They will attempt to touch and feel objects, so you want to ensure they’re not in harm’s way. It’s your job to prevent their fingers from getting trapped in windows or the car door opening.
Never Leave Your Baby Unattended
That quick stop where you run in and grab an item from your local store can be the same amount of time it takes for your baby to be in distress. Never leave your baby in the car without supervision, even if they are securely strapped in and child locks are activated.
No matter how young your child is, there are many safety hazards to look out for. Keep everything but their toys, pacifiers, and blankets out of reach. This means storing your keys away and having no loose items in the glove compartment that can fly over during a sudden stop. Teach your older children to be respectful in the car so as not to distract the driver and monitor their behavior to prevent them from fighting in the backseat that can lead to injury. Have water and games or coloring books on hand, and praise them for keeping their seatbelt on at all times.