Common mistakes on long car trips with babies

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Road Safety

Going on a long car ride with a baby? Is it your first trip of this kind? Because we know that the safety of your little one is the most important thing, we’ve listed below the mistakes that should be avoided at all costs:

Letting the child travel without a child restraint system. Without a doubt, this is one of the most serious mistakes. Babies and young children must travel in a child car seat suited to their weight and height. In this case, ‘Maxi-Cosi’, Group 0/0 + (R44-04) or i-Size seats up to 85 or 105 cm have the most suitable features for new-born babies. 

Carrying the child in your arms or without a child seat is very dangerous, since it would be ejected at the slightest braking action, striking other passengers and objects and even being catapulted out of the car. A study by Fundación MAPFRE (142 KB) in which numerous crash tests were carried out to ascertain the outcome of this behavior revealed that if a six-month-old baby is traveling on an adult’s lap, it will automatically be thrown forward in the event of an accident, and will be severely crushed by the person carrying it.

  1. Failing to fasten the straps properly. In this respect, you must be aware that the child seat can only be effective if it is properly installed and the child is correctly secured in it. The harness must be tightly fastened. You should only be able to insert two fingers between the harness and the child’s body. We discuss why a tight harness is a safe harness in this article 
  2. Can I put my baby in a forward-facing child car seat? Children should always face backwards and all child seats aimed at babies up to 15 months of age allow this position. Indeed, Fundación MAPFRE recommends that you continue to observe this guideline until the child is four years old, or for as long as you possibly can
  3. A very common mistake is to place the child in the child seat in the front passenger seat. Children must be in the rear seats of the vehicle by law and there are only three possible exceptions to this rule: that the car does not have any rear seats, that it is impossible to affix a child seat in the rear seats, or that they are already occupied by other children in child restraint systems. 
  4. Failing to recline the seat correctly. The inclination of the seat must be adequate to allow the child to sleep peacefully and avoid the dreaded positional asphyxia. If the baby’s head is allowed to bend forward over the chest, it might obstruct its airflow and pose a serious risk of asphyxiation. We recommend an intermediate position, between horizontal and vertical, and the use of reducers for better support.
  5. Ideally, if at all possible, an adult should travel next to the baby. This way, you can deal with any needs it may have during the journey.
  6. One of the most common mistakes is to do the entire trip in one goChildren should not be allowed to sit in a CRS for more than an hour-and-a-half at a time. You should take regular breaks to take the baby out of the seat and allow it to stretch and change its position. 
  7. Another mistake is not keeping the baby properly hydrated, especially in summer. Take advantage of breaks to give your baby liquids
  8. Carrying inappropriate objects to distract the baby. You should never carry sharp, hard, or heavy objects. They should be soft and lightweight, with no sharp edges, and impossible to swallow. 
  9. Failing to have everything necessary for the baby’s comfort to hand, such as diapers, a changing table, wipes, fresh clothes, etc.
  10. Another very important mistake: leaving the baby alone in the car, even if it is only for a couple of minutes. You should NEVER do this. Bear in mind that it only takes a few minutes on a particularly hot day for your baby to suffer a heat stroke that can kill it.  

Finally, we recommend two infographics: