7 tips to keep your baby safe in the car
Welcoming a baby into the world comes with a lot of firsts — the first breath, the first snuggle, the first time you realise you’re responsible for a small human.
There’ll be many more firsts, but the first car trip is one you’ll definitely want to prep for.
Car seat safety tips
1) Ensure the baby seat is the correct size for your baby
Car seats keep your baby safe, so finding the right one is essential. Babies under 6 months should sit in a rear-facing infant restraint. Though, since each baby grows at their own pace, age is just a rough guideline. Height and weight are better indicators of a proper fit.
Infants should graduate from baby seats when they outgrow the maximum height and weight requirements of the restraint. The Royal Children’s Hospital suggests you hold off on that upgrade until then.
2) The baby seat should be rear-facing
Nothing excites new parents more than the idea of seeing their bub’s smiling face in the rearview mirror. But be patient! For now, your baby should be tucked in a rear-facing restraint and stay there until they outgrow it. You won’t see your bub’s cute face, but they’ll be safer in an accident. A rear-facing seat cradles a baby’s fragile head, neck and torso, and youngins need that extra support.
To be extra vigilant, we recommend comparing safety ratings before you commit to a carrier. Browse Childcarseats.com.au to compare your fave models. All seats on the site comply with the Australian standard and have a safety and convenience rating.
3) Install the baby seat correctly
Family members love to pass down nuggets of baby-rearing advice, but trust us; baby seat installation shouldn’t be one of ‘em. Infant carriers are constantly improving, and old set-up methods can become outdated.
It’s also smart to practise setting up the baby seat before your bundle of joy arrives. Between feeds, nappy changes, and choosing just the right insta-ready selfies, bringing a baby into the world can be overwhelming. Having the baby seat ready to go means you’ll have one fewer thing to worry about.
Alternatively, you can also arrange for a professional to install your baby seat, so you have peace of mind that it’s correctly fitted for your precious cargo to ride in.
4) Securely fasten harness straps
Babies in rear-facing seats should have the harness strap at or below their shoulders. Make sure there’s no twists in the straps. The harness should also be well-fitted — you shouldn’t be able to pinch any webbing between your fingers at your child’s shoulders. Your baby should always be snug as a bug in a rug, even if you’re just taking a quick ride around the block to rock ‘em to sleep.
5) Remove potential hazards
Be wary of things that could accidentally cover your baby’s face. Your child may look precious laying there with their blankets and teddies, but those items could quickly become hazards with an unforeseen jolt. As a driver, you can’t keep an eye on your backseat baby, so it’s best to stay safe and keep any loose items like toys or blankets out of the baby seat. Sorry bub!
6) Take a break every two hours
Babies shouldn’t spend more than two hours in their infant seat. Take regular breaks when driving long distances to avoid extended strain on their spine.
7) Drive safely
Having a little person on board is a good incentive to be extra cautious on the road. Try to avoid sudden jerks so your baby can get some uninterrupted sleep. It’s also important for C-section mummies to avoid the driver’s seat until your doctor gives you the all-clear, which is usually around 6 weeks post-op. You want to make sure your wound has healed so you can brake without sharp pains. Giving birth can make you feel superhuman, but go easy on yourself.
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