Road trips with children, long or short can be very stressful. There have been numerous times where I have just wanted to turn the radio up full blast to cancel out the high pitched sobbing from the back seat and the familiar sounds of those five words ‘Are we nearly there yet?!’.
Joking aside, one thing I cannot stress enough when traveling with babies, toddlers and children is the importance of car safety. I did a lot of research before Katie was born and I couldn’t believe that seatbelts weren’t actually a legal requirement for rear-seat passengers in the UK until 1987 and even more shocking was that laws requiring children to use special car seats weren’t introduced until 2006! Thank goodness they were!
If you are expecting your first child is important to buy a car seat before they are born so you can drive them home safely. It is also a good idea to practice fitting the seat so that when the time comes it’s stress-free, as you are naturally going to be very tired and emotional from the birth. After I had Katie I was an emotional wreck for the first few months and the slightest thing would set me off!
My advice would be to buy a new car seat and not second-hand as you cannot be certain of its history. For all you know it could have been damaged in an accident, missing parts and may not even fit your car. Obviously if your friends and family have one that they can pass on, that’s a different story.
Here are some key facts to get started:
1. Children must use a rear-facing seat until the they are 15 months old. Make sure you deactivate any airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat and never fit a car seat in side-facing seats.
2. Only seats approved by the EU are legal in the UK: look out for the label with a capital ‘E’ in a circle.
3. Make sure your car seat is suitable for your child’s weight and height. Height-based child seats are called i-Size seats and weight-based child seats offer a range of options: 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.
4. Don’t buy the first car seat you see, compare on different websites to make sure you are happy with your purchase. Websites like “Which?” have conducted numerous tests and can provide useful recommendations.
5. If you can, try and put your child in the rear of the car, as it’s safer.
6. When your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and you will be able to mount their car seat facing forward.
7. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before fitting the car seat for the first time. If you aren’t sure as the retail staff to show you. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I had to ask for help in the shop I bought Katie’s from. It put my mind at rest that I was doing it correctly.
8. Make sure your child is comfortable. Our Slumbersac Travel Wraps, available from newborn to 3 years, in 2.5 tog are suitable for use all-year round and are perfect for car journeys! They are compatible with all makes of car seats (and pushchairs), comply with global car safety regulations and are so simple to use! They feature two back openings and a vent allowing the seatbelt straps to fit your baby securely and safely inside the bag. They also feature non-scratch reinforced velcro for opening and closing the wrap, meaning your baby can be placed in and out easily. The outer pocket also features a tab for attaching your baby's favourite soother, so you don’t have to worry about them dropping it and screaming blue murder! Check out our Travel Wrap video below!
9. Keeping your child entertained whilst traveling may avoid distracting screams from the back seat and those dreaded five words I mentioned at the start of my blog! Our SlumberTag baby comforters provide hours of entertainment - babies are fascinated by the different colour labels and they are super-soft too, providing comfort whilst on the move.
10. Allow extra time for your journey as you may well need to stop for feeding, nappy changes and some well needed fresh air! You will be much less stressed if you accept the journey may take longer than usual.
I hope you have found this blog useful. If in doubt please refer to the governments website, which clearly states the rules and regulations for car seats.
Wishing you all safe and happy travels…
Travel Wrap Video