How appropriate is the bumper sticker that reads, “If a mother’s place is in the home, why am I always in the car?” Here are ways to make car travel pleasant and safe:
Rules for the Road
- Always wear a seat belt yourself and insist that all other passengers do as well.
- Always use a government-approved car seat for infants and young children.
- Do not use an infant carrier or an infant seat in a car as a substitute for a car seat.
- Look behind your car. In your haste to make an appointment, you rush into your car; jam it into reverse, and speed out the driveway, not realizing what or who could be lurking behind the car. Children love to play around cars. As a precaution, get into the habit of walking behind your car before entering; better yet, do a full-circle walkaround. As an added precaution, you can install an extended rearview mirror that increases your field of vision behind the car.
- Do not use an ordinary travel bed in a car as a substitute for a car seat.
- Do not strap two children or a parent and a child into one seat belt.
- Never let your baby ride in your arms while the car is moving. Avoid the temptation to not place baby in a car seat “because we’re only traveling a few blocks.”
- Do not leave the rear door of a hatchback or station wagon open. This lets in exhaust fumes, and dangerous objects may come through the open door in a crash.
- Do not allow children to play with sharp objects, such as pencils or metal toys, while the car is moving. These objects become projectiles if a car stops suddenly.
- Do not put groceries or loose potential projectiles next to baby, or even loose in the car. Put them in the trunk.
- Pregnant mothers should use seat belts. Until your child is born, you are his or her “car seat.” You are protecting two lives. Keep the lap belt below your uterus, across the pelvic bone, to avoid injury to your baby from the seat belt.
Keeping Travel Pleasant
- Feed and toilet your toddler before the trip. A baby with dry pants and a full tummy is a more pleasant passenger.
- Treat travel like infant feeding: short, frequent trips rather than lengthy ones. When driving long distances, make frequent pit stops.
- Take along musical tapes, old favorites and new surprises. Start the tape right after buckling baby in and starting the car.
- Nonchokable nibbles, (for example, rice cakes) may settle the hungry traveler. Do not allow the little rider to suck on anything with a stick, like a lollipop or popsicle, a swerve or an accident could jam the stick into baby’s throat.