At the MAPFRE FOUNDATION we recommend that you have prepared everything you might need before the birth since you will need them as soon as you leave hospital on your first journey home together.
The very first baby seat you will require is from the Group 0, for newborn babies up to 10kg in weight or Group0+ (up to 13kg). At the beginning you can decide whether to use a basket (check the instruction manual whether they are approved for the car) or a baby seat. If you should you decide on the first option, look for one with a harness in the form of a “Y”, which offers the best protection for your baby in a lateral collision. Baby seats commonly referred to as maxi-cosi, usually have a harness with 5 fixing points. (2 on the shoulders, 2 over the pelvis and another between the legs) and for many parents they are a practical option. Whichever you choose the safety of the baby comes first so get some good advice and buy a good quality seat that is approved and certified . Not all seats offer the best protection.
When travelling with the baby in a car there are 4 key points to remember at all times:
- Use the child restraint system always even on short journeys.
- New born babies (the same as those up to one year old or that weight under 10kgs) must NEVER travel facing forward. In a head-on collision they could suffer serious neck injuries. The seats facing forward are much safer for 3 to 4 year olds. They should be used whenever possible.
- If you have to carry the baby seat in the front passenger seat facing backwards disconnect the airbag. Since the airbag fires at 200km/hr. it would hit the baby seat it could be very dangerous for the baby. Find out how to disconnect it in your car owner’s manual, or seek information from your car dealership or the manufacturer.
Remember that as the child grows you must change the seat for one suited to its weight and height. The head should never be above the backrest of the seat. You can then look at different types of child seats according to the baby’s weight.
It is also very important to regulate the temperature in the vehicle so that the baby isn’t too cold or too hot. In winter the car doesn’t start to warm up until the engine has been running for a while. To warm up the car quickly adjust the heater to high and switch on the air recirculation. Once it has warmed up adjust the temperature to 20 to 21º and switch off the recirculation. Take into account that the baby seat wraps around the baby to maintain the temperature, don’t wrap them in too many clothes. Don’t sit the baby or the child in the seat wearing thick clothing as their harness or seatbelt might not be a snug fit: dress them in light clothing which allows you to fasten them into their belt of harness properly and then cover them in a blanket or a coat.
To be able to keep an eye on the baby without taking your eyes off the road, a surveillance mirror may be an idea. This saves you from having to continually turn your head while the baby still can be watched. The mirror should be light and firmly positioned in the car (for example on a back head rest) and not directly in front of the baby incase it fell off onto them during braking or in a collision.
And as always with children, try to stay calm. If the baby starts to cry or complains a lot it is better to stop the car somewhere safe and see to them or even take them out or the seat for a little while for a rest (don’t not forget to fasten them in correctly before renewing your journey) Check what could be bothering them before setting off, too hot, too cold the harness is too tight or perhaps thirst. Once you solve the problem everyone continues calmer and much safer.