Now you have a new baby, safety in the car is likely to be top of your priority list.
The idea of taking your baby out in a car might be daunting, but there are steps you can take to maximize safety.
You must follow up-to-date guidelines and recommendations to keep your baby safe.
There are plenty of old wives’ tales and outdated advice out there to confuse you, so we’ve compiled this list of advice and ways to keep your baby safe in the car.
Whether you’re making a long-distance cross-country journey to visit family, or simply driving to your local supermarket, you’ll want to make sure your baby is as safe as can be.
10 top tips: ways to keep your baby safe in the car
We’ve compiled this list of ten ways to ensure your baby is safe in the car. It includes a mix of products you can buy and things you can do to increase car safety.
Use this article as a checklist to ensure your baby is safe and secure during car journeys.
Keep reading to find out how you can keep your baby safe in the car.
#1: Avoid secondhand car seats
Experts advise against using secondhand car seats. If a car seat has been in an accident, it’s no longer considered safe for use.
You must know the entire history of your baby’s car seat, and the only way to be sure of this is to buy new.
Without knowing the seat’s entire history, you can’t be sure if the product has been recalled or needs to be replaced.
As with cot mattresses, infant car seats are products you should always buy brand new.
#2: Buy a car seat you can trust
The car seat is one of the most crucial safety purchases you will make for your baby. First, you need to make sure the car seat you choose is compatible with your car.
The Joie Armour FX Car Seat is a quality car seat you can trust. Suitable from newborn to 4 years, the Joie Armour FX Car Seat grows with your baby.
The smart looking seat was designed with safety in mind. The deep and supportive headrest offers maximum head protection in the event of an impact. The car seat’s GuardSurround™ system offers extra kinetic energy absorption in a side impact.
The Joie Armour FX Car Seat is suitable rearward-facing from birth to approximately 30 months. It is suitable forward-facing from around 12 months to 4 years. With various recline positions, you can be sure the seat will be comfortable for your baby, even on long journeys.
The seat is easy to install. There are two systems of installation: you can use ISOFIX with a top tether, which is an internationally standardized car seat fitting system that limits the risk of installing the seat incorrectly; alternatively, the Joie Armour FX Car Seat can be installed using the vehicle’s 3-point seat belt.
#3: Have the seat installed by a professional
Your baby’s car seat is only safe if it’s correctly installed. If you’re nervous about making a mistake, you can hire a professional to install the car seat for you.
Many stores that sell car seats also offer a professional installation service. Alternatively, your local fire department might be able to help.
#4: Install the car seat in the rear middle seat
The safest place for your baby seat is in the rear middle seat of your car. This seat provides added protection from side impacts and keeps your baby away from airbags.
If it’s possible to install your baby seat in this position, it is the best option for your child’s safety.
It might not always be possible, however, especially if you have other child seats to fit in the car.
#5: Tighten the straps
When you place your baby in the seat, the harness needs to be fastened tightly around your baby. In the event of a crash, the harness should be tight enough to keep your baby safely in place.
Once your child is strapped in, try to pinch the strap between your thumb and forefinger. If you can’t pinch the harness, you’re good to go. If you can, the harness needs further tightening.
#6: Dress your baby appropriately
You should remove your baby’s winter coat, pram suit, or bulky layers before placing the baby in the car seat.
Although it can feel like extra work, it’s worth taking the extra time to remove these bulky clothes before placing your baby in the seat.
Thick extra layers of clothing might not allow the harness to be tight enough to keep your baby safe in the event of a collision. If you’re worried about your baby being cold or waking up when you remove this layer, remember it’s a small price to pay to keep your baby safe if you’re involved in a car accident.
#7: Use a baby mirror in your car
To keep an eye on your baby, you can install a baby mirror in the back seat of your car. It usually fits over the back headrest and allows you to see your baby in the rear-facing seat.
A mirror will allow you to see your baby and give you peace of mind during car journeys.
If you see your baby has slumped forward, stop the car and reposition your baby to ensure the airway is clear. Also, check the harness is securely fastened; this will prevent your baby from slipping down in the seat.
#8: Stop for regular breaks
Most car seat manufacturers recommend infants spend a maximum of two hours in the car seat at any one time. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions for your car seat.
If you’re making a long journey, it’s important to stop regularly so your baby spends some time out of the car seat. This ensures infants are not sitting for long periods of time in the same position, which can put a strain on their spine and restrict airflow to their lungs.
Even if babies are sleeping, they should always be removed from the car seat at the end of a journey. The saying ‘Never wake a sleeping baby’ doesn’t apply here.
#9: Keep up to date with your car
Have your car serviced annually to make sure it’s a safe vehicle to transport your baby. In addition, keep an eye on your car’s overall health so you can enjoy stress-free journeys with your baby.
A trusted mechanic will be able to keep your car running smoothly and prevent problems before they arise. It also pays to have a membership with your local roadside assistance, in case you need help.
#10: Drive safely
Um, duh! This feels like a given but many people still feel certain rules don’t apply to them.
Keep distractions away from the driving seat and keep your eyes on the road. Always follow laws about phone use while driving.
If your baby is a passenger in somebody else’s car, make sure you are confident the person drives as safely as you would.
The basics of car seat safety
- Your baby should be in the correct car seat for your baby’s height and weight. Check the manufacturer’s instruction manual to make sure your baby is the right size for the seat. Keep a note of when you’ll need to move your baby up to the next size seat
- Keep your baby rear-facing for as long as possible. Rear-facing seats can significantly reduce the risk of injury in a crash
- The seat must be correctly installed in the car. This is something you’ll need to pay close attention to when moving the seat between vehicles. If others will be moving the seat between vehicles regularly, make sure they’re familiar with how to do it safely
- Check the harness each time you travel to make sure it’s tight enough to keep your baby safe
- Get into the habit of double-checking your baby is safely strapped in before beginning your journey.