Car safety with your toddler

As Baby gets bigger, so do the list of things you need to do to keep them safe, inside of the car and out. For the most part, the way to keep Baby safe when the two of you are driving around town is just about the same as what you do to keep yourself safe in the car – buckle up, follow traffic laws, and make way for any ducklings that cross your path. Like in so many situations, though, there are a few Baby-specific safety tips that could help the two of you get from point A to point B safe and sound.

Rear-facing seat 

As much as it may have you missing the sight of Baby’s smiling face as you travel, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends continuing to use a rear-facing car seat either until the age of 2, or until the child passes the height and weight limits for the seat.


Every time Baby gets back into the car-seat-saddle, it’s important for the harness to be used correctly to hold them firmly and safely. This means fastening the harness until it’s snug but not too tight, and not buckling Baby in wearing bulky clothes or puffy coats, which can get in the way of letting the straps do their jobs.

Accessorize wisely

Baby may not be big on packing light yet, or on the delayed gratification of waiting until you park the car to get what they want. This could mean that Baby has a whole set of toys they bring with them in the car, and that as they have gotten more and more comfortable with solids, they may have started to ask for snacks on-the-go. It’s important for toys-on-the-go not to be able to roll, since if Baby loses track of them, these toys could roll under the pedals of the car. If you’re thinking about offering snacks in the car, it’s important to be especially aware of choking hazards – puffs and crackers are great mobile snacks, since they’ll melt in a child’s mouth instead of getting stuck.

Use your power

Both as a parent and as the driver. Driver-controlled safety locks are also called child-locks for a reason, and you can help to keep Baby safe by keeping any doors and windows they can reach locked down.

Palpable presence

The most important part of Baby’s safety in the car, just like the most important part of Baby’s safety out in the rest of the world, is your presence and supervision, and the presence and supervision of any of their other caregivers. Even if the car is stopped, even if you’re sure the temperature is stable, even if it’s only for a second, never leaving Baby alone in the car is a crucial part of their car safety.

  • “AAP Updates Recommendation on Car Seats.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, March 21 2011. Web.

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