Do you have everything ready for when the baby arrives? We tend to think about the cot, the pram, the clothes the baby need's during his/her first days of life, everything you need while in hospital but, we often forget or do not prepare properly for one of the most important moments: how is our baby going to travel for the first time by car and how is he/she going to travel for now on?
THE MOST APPROPRIATE CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEM
Have you thought about the child restraint system your baby needs? Do not forget they must always travel in an approved child seat adapted to their weight and height. By approved we mean that it must comply with one of the current standards in force: the R44/04 and the R-219. The first is based on the child's weight and the second is based on the height. Furthermore, there are substantial differences that we list below. For example, car seats approved by the R-129 have passed a side crash tests. These are usually installed with Isofix anchors (important to avoid mistakes). This is the approval standard that will gradually replace the R44-04.
We know that buying a child restraint can be a daunting task. At Fundación MAPFRE we help you ‘Choose your car seat’. Here we show you the different CRS that you can find on the market as your child grows. In this case we refer to new born babies. So we need to choose a CRS 0, 0+ or from 40 to 85 cm. These are much safer than baby carriages, that should only be used in certain cases if the baby has special needs.
We remind you that we can find evolving child seats on the market, that is, the same child restraint system for all stages of a child's life. However, these are not the most appropriate. The needs of a 1 year old child are different from the needs of a 6 year old. We should change CRS as the child grows older. This way, the child seat changes as he/she grows and supports and protects the most important body parts.
All babies should travel in a semi-lying down position, this is especially important for premature babies. Therefore, child restraint systems for the youngest group, such as 0 and 0+, have reducers. These reducers are designed for babies from their first trip and up to a maximum weight and height usually indicated by the manufacturer. With this system they will travel in a more horizontal and secure position, as it provides enhanced ergonomics. The baby must always travel facing backwards for the first 15 months. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using car seats that allow the child to travel facing backwards for as long as possible and up to a minimum of 4 years old.
So that you have no doubts about it, when buying a child restraint system, we recommend that you go to a specialized shop where they will be able to advise you and answer all your questions. They will also be able to check the compatibility of your car with the car seat and recommend how to install it correctly. Here are some tips to choose a CRS.
Of course, avoid second-hand child restraint systems. Why? We do not know how it has been used, if it is in good condition, if it has been involved in any accident or sudden braking that may have altered its components and therefore, its protection. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that car seats have a useful life, which is usually about 6 years.
Once the most appropriate car seat has been chosen, practice installing the car seat properly. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. This way, when the time comes to use it, you will already know how and you will not make any mistakes.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE BABY IS ARRIVING?
If the time has come to give birth, stay calm. Gather everything you have prepared for the hospital.
When traveling by car, do not forget to wear a seat belt. It is still very important. Of course, no driving. You must travel as the co-pilot with the necessary space between the dashboard and your seat. In fact it is best if you travel in the back for more safety. Beat in mind that the front passenger airbag can be dangerous and that being pregnant, especially in the last months of pregnancy, there is less space due to the larger belly. You must sit as far away from the dashboard as possible.
Remember how to put on your seat belt: the lap strap should sit just below the abdomen and just above the hip bones. The shoulder strap should pass over the middle area of the sternum and collar bone, without lying too close to the neck and between the breasts. It is important that the shoulder strap does not lie directly across the tummy or one of the breasts, nor under the arm or the underarm.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL?
You must never leave the hospital or get in the car with your new born baby without the appropriate child restraint system. We should never travel with the child in our arms. As we indicated earlier, the CRS must have been previously installed. It must be bought in advance and taken to the hospital for this first, and all subsequent, trips.
As mentioned before, recline the chair appropriately. In the case of new born babies, this inclination must be greater. Remember they do not have strength in their back or neck.
The child seat must be installed on the rear seats and preferably on the middle seat. However, if this seat does not have Isofix anchors but the car seat does, it is best to place it on the rear right-hand seat, behind the co-pilot. Here we look at which seat is the most suitable for fitting a CRS on and why.
You can obviously ask any questions you may have to the medical staff or your midwife, and place the baby in the car seat in light clothing. Remember that bulky clothing stops us from correctly fastening the harness. It is best to keep the vehicle at the right temperature so your child does not need to wear any extra layers. If we are going to use in a winter sleeping bag in his/her car seat, we need to follow the car manufacturer's recommendations.
Likewise, we have a section with recommendations for children with different disabilities and their journeys by car.
Finally, from Fundación MAPFRE we offer you this guide 'Safe babies and children in the car: car seats', which has the support of the Federación de Asociaciones de Matronas de España (Federation of Spanish Midwives' Associations) (FAME).