baby in car seat in car
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7 car seat rules for a smooth ride

Seating Baby in an uncomfortable throne before hitting the open road can turn a family spin through the country into a symphony of squealing. With a little luck, these seven car seat suggestions can help keep travel a little bit quieter.

  1. Soft is safe
    When shopping for a car seat, think about all the accumulated hours that Baby will be spending in it. Most babies are happiest in seats that are soft. Stiff leather can get painfully sticky and hot during humid weather, and rougher fabrics may irritate their skin. It’s also important not to put a blanket under Baby in a car seat or under the straps, since this can lead to overheating.
  2. Watch those straps!
    Think about happens when part of your sock bunches up inside your shoe during a walk or run – after awhile, your foot starts to blister. Twisted car seat straps can cause similar pain for Baby. So when you buckle them in, make sure all of those straps are looking straight and flat.
  3. Cover up that buckle
    If it’s a scorching day, you’ll want to shield the car seat buckles with a piece of fabric or, better yet, a padded buckle cover. Not only will this lower the risk of Baby being burned if the buckle becomes too hot from the sun, but it can also prevent ambitious babies from unfastening the buckle altogether!
  4. Check your position
    Every car is different when it comes to air vent placement. Before you strap Baby into their seat for a drive, make sure you haven’t put the seat directly in the path of the car’s ventilation system. Too much hot or cold air will make it impossible for them to fully relax.
  5. Create an atmosphere
    Baby’s car seat is sufficiently secured. You’re ready to hit the road, but you still need to strap them in without triggering a meltdown. One great way to improve the odds of an outburst-free baby loading is to start the car before buckling them in. This way, the air conditioning system gets a chance to bring the car’s internal temperature to a more comfortable level. You’ll also avoid startling Baby with the sudden growl of an engine VROOM-ing to life.
  6. Eyes in the back of your head
    You don’t have eyes everywhere, and those rear-facing car seats can make keeping an eye on Baby tricky, but a car-mounted mirror or two can give the illusion that you’re all-seeing – and help you make sure that Baby is happy and healthy all through your car trip without having to twist around at an awkward angle. This is only a good idea if it won’t tempt you to take your eyes off the road when that’s where they need to be, though – road safety with Baby in the car is Baby‘s safety, even if they ask you to direct your attention at them instead.
  7. Safety first, second, last
    Car seats should always be correctly installed, recommended for your child’s weight group, and facing in the right direction, which, until Baby is at least 2, is facing the rear of the car. Food and toys may be a nice distraction while Baby is in the car, but they could also present a choking hazard or, for soft toys when they are very young, a suffocation risk. And even the safest of car seats is no replacement for your supervision.

  • “Car Seats: Information for Families.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, July 8 2017. Retrieved October 25 2017.
  • “Car Seat Safety: Newborn to 2 Years.” CHOP. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Retrieved October 25 2017. 

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