There’s no shortage of things to consider when you start a new family. You’ve got to stock up on clothes and nappies, decorate the nursery, childproof the house, find a paediatrician, check out child care centres and join a parents’ group. Phew! But what about the car?
Here’s a simple guide to getting your car ready for when your tiny bundle of joy arrives.
Car seat selection
One of the most important decisions you can make when setting up your car is the car seat selection. Safety is your number one priority for your baby, and picking the right seat can be overwhelming with so many options available.
Websites like Child Car Seats can help in finding the safest for your baby and are backed by a consortium of Australian government agencies and motorist organisations.
Read next: Continental Car Lab | Kids and car seats
Car seat fitting
As well as finding the right car seat for you and your car, you need to consider the fitting of the seat. There’s an abundance of information out there, which can be confusing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, motor accidents are one of the most common causes of fatal injury to children in Australia, so it’s important to get it right.
In Australia, there are child restraint laws that act as a guide for when your child should be seated in a capsule, rear-facing seat or forward-facing seat.
- 10 things to know about installing car seats
- Common mistakes you're making with your child's car seat
- How old must a child be to sit in the front seat
Roadside assistance and warranty
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on the side of a road on a hot day or in the rain with a crying baby in the car. Make sure you’ve renewed your membership at a roadside assistance provider. Some manufacturers offer this as a service when buying a new car, but there are providers available in each state from organisations such as the NRMA, RACV, RACQ or the RAA.
While you’re at it, if buying a used car lean towards a car that’s still under warranty to avoid any costly mishaps – a new baby is expensive enough!
Sunshades, car-toys, or screens you can pop at the back of the front seats, all come in handy when your little angels turn, and steps straight into Tantrumville.
They can also serve a more practical purpose: sunshades keep the sun off your baby’s skin and a mirror at the back can help you check on your baby while he or she is in a rear-facing capsule or car seat.
Accessories, like hands-free phone systems, if not already available in your car, are also a practical measure for parents – not only is it illegal to touch your phone while the car is running, but it risks the lives of all car passengers.
READ MORE: How to safely use your phone while driving
Pack the essentials
There’s no doubt that you’ve got the baby bag ready and handy for all occasions, but what about those times you leave it by the front door in the mad dash to the car? Keep all the baby essentials – nappies, baby wipes, changing pad, rubbish bags, blankets, spare clothes, dummy, sunscreen, hat, tissues, and creams – already stocked in the car. Just in case.
Don’t be fooled by your car’s label – just because you’re buying or have bought an SUV, doesn’t mean it comes with space. Before you splash your cash on a new family car, check the boot size to make sure it’s going to fit everything you need it to.
READ MORE: Boot sizes of Australia's favourite SUVs
Prams take up a lot of space, so take it with you on the test drive and ensure you’ve got enough room to fit it, the baby bag and the average number of your grocery bags.
Even if you plan on using the rear seat for extra storage, if baby number two, or three comes along, you’ll probably need to prepare for another car upgrade.
READ MORE: What are the best baby-friendly cars?
This story was first published in 2016.