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Car Seat Safety 102: Beyond the Install

How to ensure a safe ride for baby

So you've nailed the first step in car seat safety: the proper install. Victory is yours, but it's only the first step in making sure baby is safe in the car.  To keep the parenting win streak alive, we’ve cooked up five more tips on safely getting baby from point A to point B.

Keep the temp in check. Thanks to your car seat's advanced side and rear impact protection, air flow around your baby will be less than stellar. Translation: keeping baby cool can be a challenge. Brica’s White Hot® Sun Safety™ Shades are equipped with an indicator that lets parents know when the car is too hot.  “This alerts mom to wait a few minutes or get the AC cranking before buckling baby into their car seat, ensuring a safe and comfortable ride,” says Lauren Kahner, Brica’s Brand Marketing Manager for travel.  She adds the sun shades “help block direct sun glare, while also helping to protect them from UVA/UVB rays.” Double win.

If the car is cold, remember to keep baby in a thin jacket and a hat, and add a blanket on top of the car seat.  Check baby frequently to be sure he doesn't overheat.  Remember, regulating body temperature isn't really a baby’s signature move.  Layers are the name of the game.

Know the finger rule.  When your baby is rear-facing, his shoulder straps should start slightly below his shoulders and come up and over his body. Why? It will keep him from sliding up the car seat in the event of a crash.  Straps should be tight enough to allow only one finger to fit between the strap and your baby’s body, and the chest clip should be positioned at baby’s armpit level.  Not only do these measures help in a crash, but they’ll also keep your babe’s head in proper position while riding in the car seat, making for easier breathing (yay for peace of mind) and prevent the oh-so-stressful droopy head.

If your child is forward-facing, the seat should be fully upright, the straps should be at or above their shoulder height, and the same one-finger rule applies.

Get an extra set of eyes.  “When your child is young and still in a rear-facing car seat, they are also probably not able to communicate very well,” says Kahner.  “It’s important to be able to check in on your child to ensure their safety.” Brica’s Night Light™ Baby In-Sight© Mirror is equipped with a dual-mode LED light and four soothing melodies to (hopefully) help lull baby to sleep.  There’s a soft light setting to use if baby isn’t used to sleeping in complete darkness, and a quick, brighter safety check light for parents to quickly check in while driving at night.

Be picky about car toys.  Chances are, your baby isn't going to enjoy the scenery for very long during a car ride, and backup entertainment will be needed.  When it comes to toys, only the very safest should make it into the car.  In the language of car toys, “safe” translates to “soft.”  Hard toys could become an injury-inducing projectile in a crash.  Keep cloth books, security blankies, natural rubber teethers, and cloth rattles in your car toy stash.  And remember: never attach a toy to the car seat harness.

Be prepared when hunger strikes.  If you’re headed on a long car trip, be sure you’ve got a plan in place to feed baby.   If your baby is breastfed, it might be a good idea to pack your pump and/or a bottle of expressed milk to feed baby on-the-go.  It’s never, ever a good idea to breastfeed baby while the car is moving, and a bottle could save you the 20 minutes or so it would take to pull over and nurse.  Another not-so-good idea? Giving a rear-facing baby any finger foods, unless you're in the back with eyes (and hands) on him.

Let these 6 rules become habits to keep baby safe when you hit the road.  Happy trails!