When you have a baby, your life changes forever. One of the major changes in your life is how you drive and protect baby from the outside world. Even when your child grows up, you’re still protecting them – right up to the moment you hand them the car keys so that they can drive themselves around.
Here’s how to keep them safe in the car from teething to teen.
Use a Real Car Seat That Is Safe!
Car seats are designed to protect small passengers. That’s why these seats from Bed Bath And Beyond cost so much – they’re built for the specific needs of a child. Don’t cheap out and buy a used car seat. You don’t know the history of the seat and if it’s been in a car accident, it’s not longer safe to use and you won’t even know it. As a mom of 3, I can tell you that car seats aren’t something you want to mess around with. Your baby is so fragile that an improperly-designed or faulty seat could seriously injure or kill your child in a car crash. Don’t risk it.
Keep Baby Warm, Even When You Have The Heat On
Always wrap baby up when you bring them to the car but resist the urge to leave that puffy coat or snowsuit on them when you put them in the car seat. Puffy, bulky coats and snowsuits make car seats unsafe and safety straps can become infective in a car crash as the cushioning in the coat compresses. Never put padding behind the car seat or in the seat behind baby. While you might think this provides cushioning and warmth, it actually weakens and defeats the inherently safe design of the car seat. Instead, put a warm blanket over the child or put their coat on backwards after they are securely strapped into the car seat.
Use Rear-Facing From Birth to 12 Months
You should always situate baby to be rear-facing, even once you think they are old enough to face forward. Rear facing is proven to be 5 times safer than forward facing and protects baby in the event of a crash. The rear-facing orientation provides maximum protection for most crash scenarios.
Face Forward After Age 3
You can orient baby to be front-facing after age 3, but only if they’ve grown to a point where it becomes impractical for rear-facing orientation. In general, front-facing is only acceptable when the baby’s weight has exceeded the maximum allowed by the car seat manufacturer or when he or she reaches the top height limit for the seat. Read more about when you should switch to forward-facing and please don’t be in a hurry to do so!
Forward Facing From 4 to 7 Years
Forward-facing is generally necessary for children ages 4 to 7. Once you position the car seat towards the front, you must use a harness and tether. Convertible car seats like the Diono Radian RXT will keep your child safe from birth up till the point they need a booster seat, saving you the most amount of money.
Using A Booster Seat
Once your child outgrows the car seat, it’s time for a booster seat. Check the car seat and booster regulations in your state. We recommend keeping your child in a car seat until the reach the car seat’s max weight/height before switching to a booster. When you do make the switch, we recommend the Clek Oobr Booster Seat.
When It’s Time To Ditch The Booster
Eventually, even the booster seat will become unnecessary. Usually, kids aren’t ready to switch from a booster seat to the car seat belts until they are over 4′ 9″ tall and are at least 8 years old. At this point, it’s time to transition to the manufacturer’s seating with a 3-point harness (seatbelt).
Protecting Your Teen
When it’s time to hand over the keys, and let your teenager experience what it’s like to drive for the first time, the precautionary principle rules. Don’t let your teenager drive unless or until they prove themselves responsible.
Consider enrolling them into a driver’s education class, and then monitoring them closely when they get behind the wheel. It’s almost impossible for the child to study traffic safety too much, but don’t forget that nothing replaces experience behind the wheel.
There will come a time when you have to nudge your son or daughter out of the nest. But, you don’t have to do it until you’re confident that they can fly – or drive, as the case may be.