As we have seen earlier you are required by law to use a CRS (child restraining system) to provide maximum safety. Although the baby may be tiny you must NEVER travel with it in your arms if the car suddenly brakes or is in an accident the baby could be squashed causing serious injury.
How to seat the baby
First of all you should at your maternity nurse or pediatrician whether you need to take any special precautions when travelling in a car. You need to know whether or not the baby should be lying down in an approved basket or whether it can use a maxi-cosi baby seat, in the baby is semi-reclining and facing backwards.
Further more it is important that you ensure that the seat is properly installed and firmly fixed to the vehicle. Normally this would be using the car seatbelt to fix it to the car seat or the ISOFIX system. If using the first system, the car seatbelt, make sure you follow the guidelines issued by the manufacturer of the child seat, ensuring that the seatbelt is never in direct contact with the baby, still far too delicate for it to be rubbing against its body.
To seat the baby in a seat that faces backwards ensure that its bottom is firmly supported in the seat so that the whole back is supported by the backrest and the baby cannot slide down the seat. In this position the straps (over the shoulders, both sides and between the legs) incorporated in the seat will not be uncomfortable
Next is to fasten the various safety straps, harnesses and seatbelts on the child seat. (The type that holds the baby in its basket or seat). Normally there are two buckles at chest height and at the waist. To close the buckles you may need to consult the instructions or at least try it a couple of times before seating the baby. This is very important since the safety features are worthless if they are not correctly adjusted and locked. The baby should not be able to move around in the seat so you must tighten the belts or the harness as much as you can, obviously without it being too tight so the baby can’t breathe. A good way of measuring the gap between the belt and the body is with two fingers, any looser then tighten it up.
The biggest dangers for premature babies are respiratory problems such as the appearance of apneas, bradycardia, hypoxemia and breathing deficiency. The apneas are small pauses in breathing of less than 20 seconds, and depending in their frequency and duration can be of serious risk to their health.
Placing the child in a backward facing seat with its back too upright can increase the possibility of breathing problems. On the other hand the seat being backward facing much better protection to the head and neck in a head-on collision. We would advise you to seek medical advice from your pediatrician as to how the baby should travel (lying down, in a basket or semi-upright in a maxi-cosi facing backwards) and of course taking into account the advice offered by the manufacturer of the CRS.
At the MAPFRE FOUNDATION we recommend that you consult a pediatrician is the baby shows sings of respiratory problems. If the baby doesn’t have such problems, it is best to get medical advice to confirm whether the baby can travel in a backward facing seat or should be using the latest generation of carrycots and be lying down.
Finally, what is most important to the child’s safety is to be able to adapt the various mechanisms and devices to suit a particular situation. Where a premature baby is involved it is vital that you get medical advice from your pediatrician.