While you're likely on cloud nine after the birth of your new son or daughter, the thought of bringing home your precious bundle of joy may be a bit terrifying and overwhelming. Of course, you've likely heard nightmare stories about babies getting in harm's way of moving vehicles, and you're worried something may go wrong with your newborn.
While it's normal to be apprehensive as a new parent, you can help settle your nerves and anxiety with the right information and preparation. Here are a few things you need to know about car safety with a baby:
To provide safe transportation for your newborn, one of the most important considerations for your vehicle is a car seat. Like it or not, there's a lot to know about properly installing and placing your loved one in a car seat, so be sure to carefully follow all manufacturer directions. Mayo Clinic has provided a few tips for your baby's car seat as well as a few common mistakes parents typically make:
- Install a car seat in the back seat of your vehicle to avoid the danger of an air bag deploying in your baby's face during an accident. If it's a good fit, the rear-facing car seat should be installed more toward the middle.
- Ensure the car seat is secure, with no more than an inch of movement in any direction when you grab it from the bottom.
- Double check that the car seat's chest clip rests evenly with your child's armpits and doesn't have any slack or twists.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for reclining the car seat at the correct angle to ensure your baby's head doesn't flop forward.
- Be sure to remove any bulky outerwear, such as a winter coat, to make sure the harness fits snugly.
You likely wear sunglasses while driving to ward off the sun's glare from coming through your windshield. If the sun bothers your eyes and skin while you're driving, think about what it could be doing to your baby's sensitive eyes. With that in mind, check to see how much sunlight is coming through your vehicle's rear windows when installing a new car seat. If too much light is coming in, you may want to opt for dark-tinted windows, or at least put up a rear-window shade.
Providing a smooth ride home is especially important to avoid or limit fussiness, particularly if you're using the car's motion to get your little one to sleep. To provide a safe, comfortable experience for yourself and your baby, make sure to install new tires on your vehicle for better peace of mind.
You'll also want to ensure your car's tires are properly inflated according to your owner's manual and that the tread is in good shape. If it's time to replace any old tires, purchase ones with deep treads and which can handle all types of weather conditions. Additionally, make sure you splurge for tires with the latest technology to protect from heat buildup and accidental pops.
Heating and Cooling
No matter how long you plan to run a quick errand, you should never — under any circumstance — leave your child alone in your car. Infants have a high risk of overheating, because their bodies are not equipped to deal with high temperatures. Plus, they can't express to you when they're feeling too warm.
Even on a mild day, temperatures inside a locked car can reach well over 100 degrees. To avoid putting your baby at risk, make sure your vehicle's heating and cooling systems are in good, working order. You also should develop a plan — perhaps keep something you need in the backseat and "look before you lock" — to make sure you never accidentally leave your baby in a hot or cold vehicle. In the end, accident or not, your lack of attention could prove fatal for your loved one.