If you have small children, there are probably multiple times a day when they put themselves in danger (maybe multiple times an hour!). It’s stressful raising kids, that much is clear. One place that you shouldn’t have to worry as much is in the car. If you have a proper car seat and the right attitude, you can make it through your errands and road trips like a champ.
The main reason you shouldn’t have as much stress in an automobile is because your child is in a car seat. They are restrained and usually don’t get into as much troublesome situations. They still whine and complain a lot, but their safety shouldn’t be as compromised as when they’re free to roam.
Since driving is inherently slightly dangerous by its nature, you need to make sure you’ve clearly reviewed your options when it comes to the device that will save your child’s life in the event of an accident. This is heavy stuff, but the more time you spend before you ever get into the car, the less worried you’ll be. Johnson and Lundgreen, who are car accident attorneys, have often said that improper use of a child car seat is the number one predictor of injury in an collision involving a child.
There are a million articles out there on selecting a car seat that you can look at, but I’ll share some advice later on that makes the decision much easier. How old is your child and how much do they weigh? Once your new baby comes into the world they are assigned a car seat, but many times they quickly grow out of them. There are options for car seats that “grow with the child” with minimal changes as the child gets bigger. The number one advice I would give is to ask your pediatrician. Their recommendations will have much less bias since they don’t work for companies selling these seats. They’ll fill you in on the brands and who tends to have the best safety ratings.
Even if you have a top-rated car seat and everything seems to be in place, there are still more actions to take to ensure safety. The first thing is to carefully read the manuals associated with the car seat you choose. Most are pretty easy to set up, but occasionally there’ll be a car seat that isn’t tight enough in the car. It should be level, rear-facing, and extremely tight against the seat. There shouldn’t be wiggle room.
This goes for the restraints on your child as well. Obviously you don’t want to squeeze them too tight, but for most new parents, it’s usually the opposite problem. They don’t pull the straps tight enough, which can be problematic. The chest buckle should be high and tight, to the point where you can put two fingers behind it and still feel pressure. If you can pull it away and it feels loose at all, you need to keep tightening it.
The other thing to be wary of is becoming distracted due to your child crying. We all know “super moms”, but it’s never a good idea to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel to tend to your child. Pull over to the side of the road if there’s something that the child needs, otherwise, hold strong. A few minutes of hearing your baby cry is much better than putting them at risk by becoming distracted while on the road.
Hopefully you will never experience anything traumatic while driving with your child, but if so, following these suggestions will leave you more safe and prepared.