The world is a big place to explore for little ones, full of nooks and crannies to poke, prod, climb, and let’s face it, chew. At times it can feel like keeping your kids safe is a full-time job. If you're a new parent, you're likely still learning the ropes when it comes to child safety. Luckily, childproofing your car is one of the easier safety upgrades you will have to navigate.
Step one is finding a safe car that will suit your needs. Once you’ve checked that box, it’s time to make the interior of your car as safe as possible. You’re a parent, so you’re probably not surprised by all of the dangers that can arise in such a small space, but there are 4 simple ways you can make it safer for little ones.
CHILD SAFETY LOCKS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
This might seem like a no brainer, but for new parents who are running on minimal sleep, don’t let this important step slip past you. While you likely won’t need this feature for newborns, once your child reaches toddler age he or she might get curious about how the doors and windows work on the car. It’s important to enable the child safety features at the start of your drive, before you have doors opening while driving on the highway.
Child safety locks are typically fairly easy to enable. For most cars, the rear door safety locks can be located on the inside of the car door. Don’t forget to enable the lock for each door, even if your child typically sits on one side of the car. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Window safety controls are most commonly found on the driver's side window controls. With the push of a button, you can potentially save your kids’ small fingers from being caught in a rolling window.
CAR SEAT ETIQUETTE 101
Safety locks may be step one of kid-proofing on four wheels, but if there is one lesson to learn, it’s that car seats are crucial. These life-saving devices can help keep your precious cargo safe in the event of an accident but can be tricky to install and learn how to use properly. There truly is an art to mastering the car seat, but here are the top three things you need to be aware of:
- There are several different types of car seats. Each one is based on your child’s age and size. To maximize safety, keep your child in a car seat for as long as they fit within the manufacturer's requirements for height and weight. When they grow out of that seat you can then upgrade them to the next. The latest research suggests parents keep children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, at least until age 2.
- Once you’ve installed your car seat, you might wonder if you handled the process correctly. Have a trained car seat technician inspect the seat to ensure that everything is all set before you strap your child in. Most technicians will inspect it free of charge and even help you install it altogether if you don’t know where to start.
- Car seats have many do’s and don’ts. Do tighten your kid’s harness, it should be nice and snug, but don’t strap your child into a car seat wearing their coat. Take the time to learn all of the intricacies of the device by reading the owner’s manual provided with your car seat.
Seatbelts are known to keep all of us safe, but can sometimes actually pose a threat to young kids. Loose seatbelts in the car can become dangerous to a bored child in the car. They can get entangled in the dangling strap, which can lead to injuries. To avoid this, make sure all of the seatbelts in your car are either out of reach or locked down.
As they get older, start talking with your kids about the importance of wearing a seatbelt. If they learn about the benefits early on, they are more likely to see seatbelts as a necessity and not a toy.
KEEP AN EYE OUT
At the end of the day, there is no better way to protect your kids than keeping an eye on them. When you’re driving this can be a dangerous proposition, so check up on them when it’s safe to do so. If your car doesn’t have a backseat mirror, think about purchasing one so you can always glance to see what your kids are up to.
Another thing to always keep in mind is that kids can get anxious in the car. Always have a few fun activities in your back pocket to keep them engaged throughout your journey. Things like a sing-a-long or car naming game are not only a great way to bond with your kids but can also help them feel more secure.
This article was created in partnership with True Car.