If you’re travelling with a small child, you need to childproof your car to ensure your child stays safe and harm-free. Here’s our guide for best car child-proofing techniques.
No matter how much you try to figure out an alternative, there will come a time when you need to take your children somewhere in a car. Be it the doctor, preschool or anywhere else, it’s bound to happen, most probably multiple times over.
Children have a tendency to be restless, and you’re likely going to have to face a bunch of unexpected troublesome scenarios. It’s natural to feel anxious about what might go wrong, but I promise if you’re prepared, everything will be alright.
Here’s a guide on the best car child-proofing techniques to ensure that you stay prepared for the unexpected and the ride does not become as big an ordeal as it is in your head.
First things first, you need to find the right car seat for your child. Infants and babies should be kept in rear-facing car seats as these seats better protect their heads and necks.
Children below the age of 2 should always be kept in rear-facing seats, and you should also consider a booster seat depending on their size. Children should ideally be seated in booster seats until the age of 4 or 5.
You should also place your baby’s seat in the backseat of your car right in the middle. That’s the safest location in your car with minimum risk of injury in the event of a crash.
Every car has a slightly different installation technique for car seats. So be sure to check your manual thoroughly or get it done professionally. The seat should not move more than an inch side-to-side and back-to-back.
Needless to say, you should get a special seatbelt for your child as seatbelts made for adults are just too big.
A seatbelt will keep your child safe and secure when you’re driving, and if god forbid, you meet with an accident. A 3-pronged seat belt is best as it goes the child’s shoulder and makes for a very safe and secure fit.
What the seatbelt also does most importantly, is restrict a kids motion. With the belt firmly in place, a kid can’t do potentially dangerous things like crawl under the seat, come up to the front and accidentally press down on the gear shift, or find a way to lower the window and lean out.
Make sure the maximum your kids can move around in the seatbelt is about 1 inch on any side but also ensure it’s not so tight that it causes discomfort.
Most cars today are equipped with child locks. What a child lock does is that it lets the door be unlocked only from the outside and not from the inside.
This prevents a child from unwittingly opening up a door and falling outside or causing an accident. Most cars either have centralized locking from the front seat or they have individual child locks on the backdoor of the car. If you don’t know how to enable the child locks on your car, read up the instruction manual of your vehicle or go online to find it out.
If your car lacks child locks altogether, place your child in the middle of the backseat with harnessed seatbelts, so he/she can’t reach the door.
An open window with all the wind streaming in is sure to make your child want to lean out and stick their head or limbs out. Make sure you keep the windows in the back shut by the power lock in your front seat.
If you roll down the windows manually and you can’t lock the windows, then visit your local car servicing center to install some security features for the windows.
Many cars have foldable backseats. If you have a backseat which can be pulled down, always keep it in an upright position and lock it firmly in place. Same goes for the seat adjustment handle.
If you can reach into the trunk from the backseat of your car, then you need to keep those chambers locked as well. Basically, you don’t want your child moving anywhere away from their seats. Also, fasten any seatbelts which are not in use. A baby can get tangled up while playing with a seatbelt.
If your car has only one row like a pickup truck and your kids have to sit in the front seat with you, ensure you deactivate the airbags on their side. Airbags can cause a lot of damage and be potentially fatal to children under 10 years of age. Put on the seatbelts, and they should be fine.
Items like handbags, purses, groceries, etc. kept above the back headrests or on top of the trunk may come flying forward if you slam on the brakes too hard or make a sudden stop. These items have serious potential for injury if they hit your kid.
Make sure they are secured. Either by a safety net or by just keeping them somewhere else like inside the glove box, the trunk or hatch, or even the front seat. Just make sure they aren’t in the back seat.
Even seemingly innocuous items like coins, small toys, id-cards, keys or the like can create a choking problem if it’s small enough to fit into the child’s mouth.
Don’t allow any form of eating in the car as again; this can pose a choking hazard. Eating or drinking in the card when the driver goes over a bump or brakes suddenly is a recipe for disaster.
Sharp items like scissors, seat belt cutters and inflammable items like lighters should also be removed. Give your car a thorough once-over before embarking on any trips with your kid.
A quick brake can dislodge items which might be stuck in between the seats or cause some item or the other to come into your child’s possession. Keep the floor and seats of the car clean at all times and move all objects into locked compartments.
Never, ever under any circumstances leave your little children in the car alone, not even for a couple of minutes. Always make sure there is another adult nearby. That being said, leaving a child alone in a car is a felony offense in many states and rightly so.
The child can get dehydrated, suffer heatstroke, may have problems breathing or may also accidentally lock you out of the car. If something happens to you while you’re outside, no one would find out your child was alone in the car. So, don’t do this under any circumstances.
If you don’t give your child something to do, if you don’t have a plan for them, they will most likely have a plan for you.
Children are naturally full of energy, and they will want to move around and do something which could be dangerous. They will definitely not enjoy being tied up in a car. If your kid is old enough, they would want to talk to you. If they are too little, there’s no telling what they will do.
So give them small toys, action figure or figurines and if they’re older, give them comic books or videogame devices.
You can even put on the radio or the tv (if you have one) and make it enjoyable for everyone.
Your children are the most precious people in your life, and you are bound to pay them a lot of attention if they sound like they are in pain or uncomfortable.
This can be a big problem while you’re driving. Don’t turn around and look at your children while you’re driving and always keep your eyes on the road. Look into the rearview mirror to check them out if you have to.
Don’t get into a heated argument with your kids and give your full attention to the road. It’s best to think and plan beforehand about the different ways your kid can distract you. That way you can act accordingly if that happens.
This one doesn’t really need to be said but bear in mind, that should the worst happen (an accident), children are far more vulnerable than adults. Their bones aren’t fully developed, and they are far more likely to get hurt from an accident even if you don’t.
If your tires aren’t properly maintained they might blow, if your brakes aren’t properly maintained, they may give way. Remember, even a simple fender bender may be enough to hurt your child. Being extra cautious about the condition of your car is going to go a long way in ensuring that never happens.
There’s a lot more to childproofing your car than simply strapping your kid in a specially made seat. There are so many more things you can do as we mentioned above. All it takes is a little forethought and preparation, and the rewards could be potentially life-saving.
Roger is a mechanical engineer by day and grease monkey by night, who spends all his free time tweaking things in his car. His love for car audio equipment is only matched by his desire to help others find the best products suited to their needs.