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6 car safety tips for travelling with children

Our Car Safety Technologist Kat shares her advice

Author Kat Gemmell
Categories   Car Safety

The Edit

Planning your next road trip?

Silver Cross Car Safety Technologist, Kat, is back on The Edit with her top tips for staying safe on the road, from using the correct stage of car seat to the dos and don’ts when it comes to toys in the car.

Use the correct stage car seat 

Your little one will need different stages of car seat as they grow. Some car seats are single stage, whereas others are multi-stage. It is worth maximising the time in each seat until it is fully outgrown by weight (if a harness car seat) or height – whatever comes first.  This is especially important when you come to move from rear facing to forward facing.  

Ensure the seat is compatible with your car 

Although child seat to vehicle compatibility is much better than it used to be thanks to ISOFIX (buckle crunch, anyone?!), there are still occasions where a seat will not fit. It is important to consult the vehicle compatibility list to check your car is approved, and also have a physical fit check in store prior to purchase if possible. Be sure to check all vehicles you intend to fit the seat into. 

Make sure the seat is fitted correctly 

ISOFIX connected? Check. Support leg/top tether connected? Check. The green indicators on our ISOFIX points are easy to see, so you can quickly check your seat is safely attached to the vehicle. If you’re having trouble working out how to fit your seat, our handy app has a step-by-step fitting guide. Download here.

Make sure your little one is secured properly 

Children should not wear a snowsuit or coat in a car seat – it creates bulk which prevents the harness fitting to the child safely, and in younger babies it creates an overheating risk. It’s also important to check the harness is at the correct height – the straps need to be level with the shoulders (if you can’t get them level, go just below if rear facing, or just above if forward facing). Also use the pinch test to ensure the harness is tight enough. 

Toys in the car 

If you’re involved in a collision, anything that is not strapped down in the car will fly around at the speed you have crashed at, until it hits something and stops. That could be the interior of the car, or a passenger.  A box of tissues on the parcel shelf can hit you with the force of a house brick, so it is worth looking at what toys your little one has in the car.  

Take regular breaks 

When going on long journeys, it is important to take regular breaks. Not just for your little passengers, but for yourself too! ROSPA recommends taking a 15-minute break for every two hours of driving. For full term healthy birth weight babies, we recommend no more than two hours in their car seat at a time. If little one is a low birth weight, premature or has any underlying medical conditions, it may be worth reducing this time. Ideally you should have another passenger to monitor little one whilst in the car, but if this isn’t possible, a large mirror can help you keep an eye on baby. 

Author Kat Gemmell

Kat Gemmell joined our car safety team with over a decade of experience supporting parents to choose, fit and use their child car seats safely. She has worked for a national child seat campaign, provided product training for child seat manufacturers, and ran online information websites to support parents in making a truly informed choice.

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