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8 Tips for Driving Safely with Baby

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Having your children in the car brings safety awareness to the next level. To help you be the safest mom you can be, we've got 8 tips on how to make sure your child is as protected as possible while you're driving--from choosing the right car seat to making sure all choking hazards are tucked away and more.

1. Have the Right Car Seat

a mom putting her baby in a car seat

There are many types and styles of car seats so it can be tricky to choose which seat is right for you. Infant seats, convertibles, full-sized boosters, and backless boosters are readily available at box stores and baby stores. Choose a seat that is right for the size of your child, has good safety ratings, and fits properly into your car. Not all seats are designed to fit all cars, so ask if you can have a test installation before buying a seat.

2. Don't Give Baby Toys or Food in the Car

a baby in a car seat

In order to be as safe as possible, it's best to avoid having loose toys in the car. In the case of an accident, toys can become dangerous projectiles capable of seriously injuring anyone in the car. Any food can potentially be a choking hazard, and bottles can also be dangerous projectiles. Even with a back seat mirror, you can't keep an eye on your child at all times. Unless somebody is riding in the back seat, give snacks or bottles before you leave, or pull into a parking lot or side street to give your baby the attention necessary to be completely safe.

3. Register Your Car Seat

a first class envelope

When you buy your car seat there will be a postcard to fill out and/or a web address listed so that you can register your seat. While it's tempting to ignore yet another piece of paper, it's important that you take the time to register with the manufacturer. If there is a recall on the seat you will find out quickly from the company if you need to replace the seat or have it repaired in any way before continuing its use—which is much better than finding out after an accident.

4. Install a Mirror

a car seat mirror

When you're driving and baby is alone in the back seat, it can be difficult to figure out what some noises (or lack of noise) can mean. By installing a back seat mirror this one sold at Amazon. You can have an easy view on back seat goings on. While you may be tempted to pull over occasionally to make sure everything is OK back there, a mirror will help you get where you need to go with better peace of mind.

5. Have the Car Seat's Installation Checked

a mom taking out a car seat from the car

Call your local fire or police department to find out where their car seat checkpoint is located. Many public safety departments offer free installation and safety checks. You can also search HERE for a certified car seat technician in your afrea. If you can't find a local technician, or you can't make it to one of their clinics, follow this self-check listed at safekids.org.

6. Make Certain that Belts and Clips are Positioned Correctly

a baby sitting in a car seat

When your child is rear-facing, shoulder straps should be at, or slightly below, their shoulders. Forward-facing children's straps should be at, or slightly above, their shoulders. The clip should be placed at about armpit height. If there is too much slack (if you can pinch the belt), or the height of the belts are incorrect, this will allow too much movement and cause potential injury in a crash. Orbit  Baby offers free diagrams and in-depth explanations of strap positioning safety in case you are uncertain of your belt positioning.

7. Be Certain that Your Car Seat Isn't Damaged or Expired

a car accident

Many people are unaware that car seats come with an expiration. Check your owner's manual to find the position of the manufacturer's production date sticker. If the date is six or more years ago, it's time to replace the seat. Styrofoam and plastics break down and crack over time making seats less safe as they age. Regularly inspect seats for cracks or visible defects, as six years is only an estimate.

If you are ever in a moderate (or worse) crash—even if your child was not in the car—always replace the seat before letting your child ride in the car again. While the seat may look OK, the seat's safety has been compromised.

8. Rear-Face as Long as Possible

a baby sitting in a car seat

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their specifications on car seat safety. This included recommending that all children rear-face until at least age two, or until they reach the maximum height or weight for the car seat. While it's understandable that most parents look forward to new milestones, it's not optimal to turn your baby on their first birthday like previously thought.

 
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