Congratulations on the birth of your new little one. While many think that baby-proofing a car means little more than properly installing a car seat, there’s a lot more to making sure your baby is safe while on the road with you.
Adjusting the Car Seat
Of course, the car seat is critical. First you need to make sure that the seat you have fits your child. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for weight and size. Newborns are usually fastened into a car seat that is facing the rear and the seat gets turned around, facing front, once they reach a certain height and weight. The seat needs to be securely fastened into the car following manufacturer guidelines.
Children should be fastened into their car seats without wearing bulky coats or blankets, as this can make the straps loose. Put your child into the seat first, adjusting the straps properly, and then cover your child with a blanket or put the coat on backwards, over the straps, until you reach your destination.
Watching Your Child without Distraction
Regardless of the position of the car seat, you’ll need to be able to keep an eye on your little one without taking yours eyes off of the road by turning around. When the car seat is facing the back of the car, you’ll want to mount a safety mirror in the back, facing your baby. This will allow you to look in your rear view mirror to see the baby in the other mirror without physically turning around.
Use the Childproof Locks
Childproof car and window locks may seem inconvenient when you have adult visitors riding in your car, but they are great for keeping young, explorative children safe. Even while in a car seat, a baby or toddler’s wandering hands may be able to eventually reach window and door locks and handles. The automatic childproof locks will make it impossible for a child to accidentally unlock or open the back doors of the car from the inside.
Depending on the age of your car, you may also be able to lock the windows from your front seat, making them controllable only from the front panels and not from the panels on the back doors. These are excellent safety mechanisms you will find useful for years to come.
Clean Out the Back Seat
We get it. Your car was your car while you were adults without children and anything could end up in the back seat area. Now’s the time to clean that area out, getting rid of anything your child’s wandering hands might be able to reach or grab. Car care supplies, oil, cleaning solutions, dirty rags, tools, and other items should all be moved to the trunk or back storage area. Children should always ride in a clean, safe backseat.
Driving means you can’t entertain your child, so make sure you have age-appropriate distractions on hand to keep your little one busy. You can’t take your eyes off the road to deal with general crying or entertainment needs. Pacifiers, simple toys, rattles and hanging mobile devices will keep babies occupied. Older babies and toddlers can be kept occupied with a portable DVD player or more advanced hand-held games. Try to limit hand-held items to those that will not break apart into small pieces or cause a choking hazard.
You’ll need to think about your car differently now, just as you think differently about your home’s interior. Just a few simple changes and actions will ensure your baby is safe while riding in the car with you.