There are thousands of nerve-wracking things about being a new mom. You have an endless list of questions that runs through your head during any given day or hour that can be overwhelming. “Is my baby eating enough? Is he overtired? Is this smell normal?”
Perhaps one of the greatest concerns a new mom, or any parent for that matter, faces when it comes to their child is the question of vehicle safety. Since road crashes are the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S., it’s no wonder parents may feel apprehensive about keeping their children safe in the car. Following the below guidelines on child passenger safety can help to both minimize the likelihood of an accident while increasing the chances that, even if an accident occurs, your little one will remain safe.
Find the Right Car Seats
Finding the right car seat and making sure that it is properly installed is one of the first ways to ensure young children remain safe in the car. There are several resources available to new parents to assist them in doing so. Fire departments often have certified technicians who can provide free car seat safety inspections as well as help with car seat installation and answer any questions you may have. Children should also ride in car seats until they are big enough to ensure that a seat belt fits them correctly.
Make Sure Children Buckle Up
Whether in a car seat or riding in the car, children should always be properly belted in. For infants and children still in car seats, this means making sure the straps are snug. It is also advised to never to have any type of extra clothing or padding in between the child and car seat straps, as it could make the car seat less effective. Instead, it’s better to wrap a blanket around your little one after they have been securely buckled in.
Engage Child Safety Locks
Child safety locks are a great built-in way of protecting children in vehicles. These locks prevent children from being able to purposefully or accidentally open a car door—a feature that’s especially important when the car is in motion. Always make sure child safety locks are on before hitting the road to prevent unnecessary distractions and safety concerns while driving.
Stay Calm & Focused
With the radio, cell phones, and road signs already offering enough distractions to drivers, adding a fussy child into the mix can feel overwhelming. Children can cry, fight with each other, or make messes in cars, which can distract you from the road. If your child is old enough, teach them the importance of car safety and behaving while in the car. For example, teaching them that it’s not ok to throw things, to stay buckled in, and ask politely and calmly if they need something.
Of course, children aren’t always predictable, so in the event that you have to address an incident like a spilled cup or a breakdown, don’t overreact. The key to ensuring the safety of you and your child while driving is to stay calm and try not to stress. Keep your eyes on the road and if needed, pull over in a safe location and place the car in park before attempting to address the situation.