Soon-to-be mamas, keep your little one safe for every journey with these tips on choosing the perfect car seat and fitting it correctly
If you have a car and plan to drive with your baby, you need to buy a car seat. Your baby must always be in their car seat, including when you bring them home from the hospital.
WHAT’S THE LAW?
It’s the most precious time of your life. We get it, and don’t want to rain on your parade, that’s why we are here to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. That means following the law and making sure your baby is safe. In the UK the latest law states that until your baby is 15 months old, they must be in a rear-facing car seat when travelling in a car, however, Joie experts recommend keeping your child rear-facing until 4 years old. If you have an airbag in the front seat of your car, you should put the car seat in the back. If you’d like to keep an eye on your little one on the road, ask another adult to sit in the back next to your baby.
Now that we have the scary bits out of the way, welcome to the world of shopping for your baby. Yes, it can be overwhelming – the sheer quantity of products out there can be daunting. We’re here to share our tips and pointers to help you travel in style, comfort and, above all else, safety.
CAN I BORROW A CAR SEAT OR BUY SECOND HAND?
Avoid borrowing a car seat or buying one second hand. You need to be absolutely sure it has not been in a car accident and it doesn’t have any wear and tear. Old car seats may not have all their parts, including the instructions – and you will need these to ensure you fit the seat properly.
There are many affordable options on the market like the superlight i-Snug from Joie. It pairs perfectly with their 3-in-1 pushchair, so you don’t need to buy any kit to attach it to the pushchair frame. Easy. Plus, Joie instruction manuals are available online in case you lose the paperwork.
LYING FLAT IS BEST
Studies suggest that it’s best for babies to lay flat. Some car seats allow for this like the i-Level by Joie. It’s our favourite because not only does it convert to a flat reclining position in your car, but for those who lack storage space it also fits onto many pushchairs.
As your baby grows, you will need to adjust the harness so it fits properly. Sometimes this can be a little fiddly, often it requires you to take the seat out of the car entirely. Joie makes car seats with multi-height headrest and harness systems that adjust simultaneously and don’t require any re-threading.
PEACE OF MIND
When you’re shopping for a car seat you will come across various standards and names (R44, R129 & I-size). They’re not as complicated as they seem, and they’re there to tell you the standard the seat is made to. i-Size is a European-wide car seat regulation which aims to make seats safer and simpler, and it’s the latest one, so the one you need to know about. One of the benefits of i-Size is that it ensures that the seat protects your little one from side impact. All of Joie’s car seats have undergone enhanced testing during development, so they’re a failsafe option when it comes to choosing yours.
WHAT IS A FIVE-POINT-HARNESS?
When you’re shopping for your baby’s first car seat, you’ll come across the term ‘five-point harness’. All this is referring to is the straps that hold your baby in place: one over each shoulder, one round on each side of the baby, and one between their legs, which all click into a secure plug usually over the baby’s tummy or nappy.
- Keep all the literature that comes with anything you buy for your baby. It can be helpful to have it all in the same place, even if you feel certain you won’t need it again.
- Ensure every adult who’s likely to look after your baby knows how to use all of the necessary products. It can be really helpful to create a checklist for this purpose. It’s the kind of thing that will give you peace of mind when you’re not with your baby.
- The first time you tell someone how to use the items, show them how, and make sure you feel confident that they have mastered it. If you decide to hire a nanny, show them how to install and remove the car seat, and ask them to show you that they can do it. You might worry that you’re being patronising, but it’s completely worth it and your nanny will understand.
- Allow time for getting in and out of cars, especially at first. You don’t want to feel rushed when ensuring your baby is strapped in safely.
- Don’t travel with your child wearing a coat when strapped into its car seat. The coat can create a large gap between the straps and the child’s body. In the instance of a collision, the harness isn’t close enough to the child to properly restrain them. To keep your children safe in the car, remove their coats and jackets and pull the harness tight enough that you can just get two fingers between your child and the straps, then place a blanket or their coat over their legs.