With all of the preparations for a new baby, one can often get overlooked but is absolutely critical: making sure your car is ready for travel with the baby. Considering that the hospital probably won’t let you leave with your new bundle of joy until they have confirmed that you have a car seat in which to transport your precious cargo, read up on what you need to do.
1) Pick the right car seat. Just as kids grow, so do car seats. Since you are starting with the smallest human, you need to get the car seat that is designed specifically for babies. Most car seats for infants are rated based upon the weight of the child. The ideal car seat for infants is one that is solely for infants, ideally up to 30 pounds. Consumer Reports publishes an excellent guide each year comparing car seats for safety and reliability.
2) Get the right car seat. If you’re tempted to purchase a used car seat, be very careful. Car seats have expiration dates, or at the very least will list the date of manufacture to which you should add six years to determine the useful life of the seat. There are very good reasons why car seats have expiration dates, too, including the fact that technology and standards are constantly evolving, materials break down – especially the material designed to absorb the shock, there is no telling how an older car seat will do in an accident, and there are always recalls going on. As a car accident lawyer recommends, even if you are purchasing a car seat that is brand new, make a note of the manufacture date to ensure that it is not too far in the past.
3) Install the car seat the right way. Most car seats for infants use a base that is tethered to the car upon which the car seat is then placed and locked. They are particularly useful when running errands with baby and you don’t want to constantly get them in and out of the car seat. Many infant car seats are also now designed to fit into strollers to make taking a baby anywhere that much easier. It is still vitally important to have the base installed correctly. Many state and local police departments offer free car seat installation and may even check to see if your car seat is subject to a recall.
4) Install the car seat the right way, part 2. In addition to getting the base correctly installed, it is critical that the baby and the car seat are in the car in the rear-facing position. This means that baby’s feet are up against the back of the back seat and their head is up against the back of the front seat. Rear facing has been shown to be much safer in accidents and many states now require that all infants under the age of one ride rear facing.
With some preparation and research, you can easily get your car ready to chauffeur around your newest addition to the family.