Tips on Evaluating Your Car for New Parents

You’ve never been more excited (and a little panicked)—you’re having your first baby! You have a crib, clothes, and all the items your new son or daughter will need to be happy and safe at home... but you may not be prepared enough for those outings with the baby in your car.

Expectant Parents Should Look for These Child Safety Car Issues

While many parents run out and buy a minivan before the first child arrives, there’s no reason to scrap your old car just yet. While nearly any vehicle can be “baby-proofed,” there are many things that could pose potential danger to your little one or make the drive more difficult. If you’re not sure you need to buy a new car (at least until a sibling is on the way), consider the following problems:

  • Storage space. Children need a lot of luggage, even for day trips. Place common items in the trunk, including a stroller, diaper bag, collapsible play yard, as well as items you and your partner will need throughout the day. When packing is done, get behind the wheel to make sure you can still see out the back window.
  • Car seat trouble. Some smaller and older car models do not properly accommodate car seats. If you already have a car seat, check your dealer’s instructions on how to install it—and take note of the instructions for booster seats as your child grows.
  • In-and-out difficulties. Use your baby seat to do a “dry run” of a daily trip: buckling your child safely into the car, setting off, parking, and getting you and the baby out. A reliable test will involve adding a weight (20 pounds or so) for detachable seats, or using a doll to practice buckling the child in (and out) of an installed seat.
  • Back seat issues. Get in the back of your car. Is the sunlight from the rear window too bright for your child’s car seat? Are the door locks easy to reach? Are any seat belts missing or broken? Are there any broken or sharp pieces of plastic? Does the door strike the child’s car seat when it closes?
  • Check your doors. Space may not be an issue for some sedans or hatchbacks, but longer doors can make getting a baby out of the back seat much more difficult especially in parking lots. If your car is a two-door model, practice parking next to another car and removing the car seat; if it can’t be done without door dings, you may need to upgrade the car.

Is there something you wish you had known before your first baby arrived? Leave a comment below to give parents more child-safety tips to make their little ones safer and happier.

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