Of course it goes without saying to never leave your baby alone in the car but there are other important steps to take to make sure your baby is safe at all times when on the road.
Car Seat Safety
When baby is travelling with you in the car, it’s all about car seat safety. Before buying a new car seat for your new bub or using a hand-me-down, always check that the car seat is approved and is properly installed. For the first two years, car seats should be rear-facing, preferably in the middle of the back seat as this is the safest. Never let your baby ride up front with you, especially in a car with airbags.
The latest research into car seat safety confirms that you shouldn’t travel for extended periods of time with a baby in the car. While cars can be a wonderful last ditch effort for exhausted parents to soothe their baby into sleep, the research shows that while car seats are needed for getting baby from point A to B safely, they should never be used for longer periods of time. A study (October 2016) funded by the Lullaby Trust and conducted by an NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Southampton found that as well as being in a scrunched up position, the movement of the car while travelling has an impact on babies in car seats. The study showed that movement and an upright position of 40 degrees, significantly increased heart and respiratory rates and decreased oxygen saturation.
According to Dr Renu Arya, consultant Paediatrician of the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, “Parents should not stop using car safety seats to transport their infants. Infants must be protected in moving vehicles and UK law requires car seats to be used whenever infants travel in cars. However, our findings support the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) guidelines, that infant car seats should not be used as a routine infant sleep environment.”
Inspect Your Vehicle
Do you know how well your car model fairs in a crash? Probably not. Check your cars safety ratings online before going for a ride with your new born. If you’re after a new family car then make sure to select a model with the highest possible safety ratings to ensure baby’s care. If you’re looking at a used car, then check the UCSR (used car safety ratings) before buying, to ensure your family’s safety in the event of an accident. While cars are becoming safer and safer it’s not a good idea to assume that just because your car is new or a luxury model that it’s as safe as an older or more economic model so always do your homework first and check safety ratings.
Other Do’s and Don’ts
While inspecting your car, carefully installing the safety seat and not driving for more than 2 hours at a time with baby are all important, there are still a few other just as important factors to consider when driving with a baby. Of course, these should all be followed whether driving with an infant or not, but it’s important that over-tired parents don’t forget these basic rules:
- Never drive when you’re too tired, if you’re feeling drained, take a break and rest before moving on
- Maintain your vehicle to avoid break downs and costly repairs
- And of course, stick to the road rules to ensure you and baby are as safe as can be on the road