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Best tips for babies and cars, and what they don't tell you

Combining babies and cars may seem easy, but it's far from it.

They say babies don’t come with instructions, well here’s six things every new parent should know before hitting the road with a baby on board.

No.6 - Bright idea

Where’s the interior light situated in your car? You’ll soon find out when you’re trying to strap your child in for the first time at night. Chances are the light is located in the headlining above the dashboard, which is perfect if you’re sitting up front reading. This not so perfect when it’s as dark as a mine shaft in the back and you’re desperately trying to find your child’s mouth with your fingers so that you can then push a dummy into it to stop the crying.

No.5 - More money doesn’t always mean more safe

You may think spending more on a car seat or capsule is going to buy you one that’s safer. If you do your research right, you’ll save money and buy a safe seat or capsule. The website is an initiative of the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) and rates capsules and seats out of five stars for protection offered and ease of use. Study up so that you can walk into the shop and know what you want and avoid being talked into a pricier model.

No.4 - Not so simple

Being a new parent is like being in a science experiment – you’re surviving on next to no sleep and even the simplest tasks can seem impossible. The harness straps in baby capsules and car seats can twist and then working out how the clasp then fits into the buckle properly can become frustrating. There’s an impulse to rush when your child is upset, but this often makes matters worse. Take your time and untwist the strap from the top above your bub’s shoulder first – the rest will unravel and the clasp will click into place. 

No.3 - Practice while you can

You’ve bought the baby capsule, now all you need to do is wait for the baby to arrive, right? Nope. Bringing the baby home from hospital should not be the first time you use the capsule. In the weeks before the birth, practice putting the capsule into and out of the car. How do you release the capsule? Does the car have an anchor point that works with your capsule? Are you able to use the ISOFIX latches properly? Use a doll or stuffed toy to get used to tightening and loosening the harness.

No.2 - Fuel for thought

Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is illegal throughout Australia – and this includes dashing into the service station to pay for the fuel while the bub is alone in the back. So it’s best to plan ahead and get fuel when you don’t have your child with you. If you absolutely need fuel – keep a door open while you fill up and then carry your child in with you to pay. Some service stations offer a pay-at-the-pump option, which is ideal in this situation.

No.1 - Baby on board

Now that you have the most precious thing in the world riding in the back seat you’ll see that person who’s tailgating you as not just annoying but somebody who’s putting your baby’s life in danger. It’s at this moment that you realise those yellow baby-on-board signs you used to roll your eyes at finally make sense. It’s also at this point in time that you should stop looking in your rear vision mirror and let them go past.

Have we missed anything? Let us know your own tips for babies and cars in the comments below.