Your first car journey with your newborn can be a frightening experience. You are just coming terms with parenthood, sleepless nights and the various colours of baby poo, when you have to bundle your precious baby into their car seat and take them on their first journey. Whether it’s taking your little one home from the hospital, or popping to your local shops, try to make your first trip as stress-free as possible with our 5 top safety tips:
Absolutely top of the list is ensuring that you are using the correct car seat for your little one (if you are unsure take a look at the chart below), and that you install it correctly. Follow the instructions closely, making sure the car straps are placed correctly and tightly. You may want to have a few practice goes before the actual journey, adding a screaming baby into the mix on your first attempt may be a tad too ambitious. A car seat with an ISOFIX base also makes this process a bit easier and less back breaking!
Legally, the Group 0+/1 seats (the correct Group for a newborn) must face the rear of the car, and if you place the seat in the front passenger seat you must disable the air bags.
|Car seat groups|
|Seat group||Weight range||Approximate age range|
|Group 0+/1||0-18kg (0-40lb)||From birth to 4 and a half years|
|Group 1||9-18kg (20-40lb)||About 9 months to 4 and a half years|
|Group 2/3||15-36kg (33lb-5st 9lb)||About 3 years to 12 years|
Please bear in mind that on your first car journey you or your partner may have given birth very, very recently. If possible, the non-recently birthed person should drive, but if there is no choice then make sure you/they are rested (as much as one can be with a newborn), relaxed and not on any strong medication that can make driving dangerous. If you feel at all nervous then order a taxi, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Prepare Your Newborn
If your baby is crying whilst in the car, then this may affect your ability to drive calmly and safely. Before you head off ensure your baby is fed, nappy changed and they are wearing appropriate clothing for the journey – this will limit the chance of them crying. Obviously, newborns do sometimes just cry for no discernible reason, and if this does happen whilst you are driving then stay calm and focused, find somewhere safe to stop and soothe your baby. When you and your baby are ready, start your journey again.
Strap Them In
Sounds simple enough but it is amazing what little sleep and a newborn baby bubble can do to your brain. Before you put your baby in the car remove any bulky cardigans or coats. Place them in the car seat, strap them in and pull the seat belt as tight as it will go.
In Your Line of Vision
If you are driving alone, it can be very disconcerting not being able to see your little one, especially if they are abnormally quiet. Buy a car seat mirror, this attaches in front of your baby’s face, so you can see their reflection and check they are okay.