One classic new parent experience is walking down to the parking lot, newborn baby in hand, to drive them home for the first time. They look so tiny in their car seat, and you don’t want to even go above 20 miles per hour on the ride home. That way, there’s no chance they’ll be in danger. This protective impulse is strong, and there are some safety pointers you must learn to implement well. To learn more about best practices for keeping your baby safe in the car, read our helpful guide.
Car Seat Safety
An essential aspect of car safety is knowing just how to set up a car seat for your baby. First, you should be clear on where in the car a seat can go. Don’t put a car seat in the front seat, but rather put it in the center back seat—that’s the safest option, assuming your car allows for it. After that, make sure you know how to set up a seat and its harness. Babies and toddlers up to two years old should have rear-facing seats to best protect them. Then, secure the seat with a latch, and if that’s not possible, secure it with a seatbelt. Make sure there is nothing between your baby and their harness, and that it fits snugly and at or below their shoulders. Keep tabs on this as they grow, too; you’ll need to adjust the harness often. Your car and car seat will of course vary, so refer to instructions included with your seat to be sure you’re doing things right. And if you want hands-on practice, there are programs offered for training new parents on car seat installation.
Another way to keep your baby safe in the car is to make sure your car is in good shape. You may have installed your car seat perfectly, but you don’t want to test it with an accident or other car-related issue. One baseline tip is to vigilantly maintain your tires to keep you from risking a collision or being stuck roadside with your baby. Tire rubber is used up as you drive, so making sure the pressure is up and the tread has enough depth can save you a scare. Don’t let other maintenance tasks fall by the wayside either—address engine repairs, test your battery, and make sure your air conditioning and heating is functional.
Don’t Leave Them Alone
It may be hard to imagine, but there is also a risk that you go about your routine and simply forget to remove your baby from the car. This can expose them to extreme heat or cold depending on the season and is sadly responsible for many children’s deaths every year. Assign yourself a mental checklist for every time you leave the car and be aware that, when your routine changes, your baby is more likely to slip your mind. That way, you can keep baby safe even when something changes in your day.