How can I keep my baby safe in the car?
Real Mom Problem
“My baby hates her car seat! I can sometime get 5 to 10 minutes of peace, but then she arches and wiggles and yells and eventually will work herself up so bad crying that she turns blue! I can't drive like that. I'm just not safe in the car driving when she is screaming. Anyone else's baby still hate their car seat? We have tried several different ones. I feel like I've tried everything.”
- 1. Choose between an infant seat and a convertible car seat
- 2. Convertible seats can both rear-face and forward-face and often have higher height and weight limits
- 3. Consider the size of your baby when buying your seat; some convertible seats don't work for premature or very small newborns
- 4. Follow the AAP's guidelines to keep children in rear-facing seats until age two
- 5. Rear-facing seats better support the head, neck, and shoulders of an infant or toddler in the event of a crash
- 6. Make sure your car seat is installed correctly before bringing your baby home from the hospital
Real Mom Solutions
Most moms-to-be know that the one essential piece of baby gear you must get before delivery is a car seat; you can't leave the hospital without one! But should you get an infant seat or a convertible? Which brands are the best? What should you do if your baby hates being strapped down in the car? The moms of CafeMom have the answers to all of your infant car seat questions.
Infant Seat or Convertible?
Both types of seats have pros and cons. Most folks like the convenience of not having to carry an infant out to the car and then trying to strap them in, or wake a sleeping baby just to get back in the house. However; an infant seat will last, at most, a year and that's too early to switch to a front facing seat. The down side of convertible seats is that they don't always fit smaller babies as well, even with the insert padding (and you should only use padding that comes with your seat, not pillows that you bought, even if they are designed to be used in car seats). If your baby is on the bigger side or you get a convertible that holds small infants well, chances are you will make it several years or more before you have to buy a different seat.
I very much prefer an infant car seat that comes with the base and can be easily removed. Infants fall asleep so much that to be able to just remove the whole seat and take them into the house or the store or wherever was a huge blessing because often they would then stay asleep.
Some people prefer convertibles from birth, as opposed to infant carriers. Just be sure the convertible fits your baby.
See Moms' Preferred Car Seat Brands
For larger newborns I really like the First Years True Fit seat.
My favorite for an infant is the Combi Cocorro. It's a great fit for an itty bitty baby and an easy install. I loved that it also came with a stroller so I could just take the seat out and strap into the stroller.
I personally love the infant seat we had for my youngest daughter, the Safety 1st onBoard 35. It fits small newborns well, and gives them plenty of room to grow, as it goes to 35 lbs instead of the standard 22.
I personally like any of the Graco infant carriers. Graco is an awesome brand; they have many fun fabric colors and patterns. They have a long solid safety rating. Both my preemies had no problems with the two Graco seats I've had.
A good, safe choice that will work best for preemies and bigger babies would be the Britax Chaperone with its anti-rebound bar.
My littlest one will be in a Graco My Ride 65. If you want an infant carrier that has a higher weight limit a good choice is a Chicco KeyFit.
Rear Face as Long as Possible
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child rear facing until at LEAST two years and 30 lbs. Make sure you also know your state's law. There are several seats that will rear face and then forward face (convertible car seat). I recommend the True Fit Premier (or True Fit Lamaze at Babies R Us) or a Britax seat (Roundabout or Marathon). There are also Evenflo convertible seats (the Momentum 65).
I'm keeping my daughter rear facing until she is near the maximum measurements of the seat for rear facing or until she is two... I would rather a broken leg and a few tears from not being comfy than a broken neck because I decided comfort was more important than safety.
Remember, every step up in the seat, whether it's rear-facing to forward-facing, forward-facing to booster, or booster to seat belt, is a step DOWN in safety.
Keep Baby Calm in the Car
I bought a head rest mirror so he can see himself & I can see him plus a few car seat toys, and it has helped a lot. He also likes talk radio...it quiets him down & he intently listens.
My fourteen month old still hates her car seat. We managed to cut down on the screaming a bit by putting one of those play mirrors on the seat-- you attach it to the headrest and she can look at herself, kick at toys that are attached to the mirror, etc. Makes driving a little easier.
My second son hated his infant carrier because of how he had to sit in it. We switched him to a convertible seat at about four months and he loved it! His screaming fits went away.