Newborn Car Seat Safety: Do's & Don'ts

It’s finally here, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Your bundle of joy is almost due, but the excitement of caring for a newborn is only the beginning. Whether you’re a first time parent or you know the drill and expecting your second, being extra prepared and organised never hurt anyone, right? This includes planning those all important steps you’ll take after your baby has arrived safely into the world and it’s time to head home for lots of rest and recovery.

To make the transition from hospital to home nice and breezy, we’ve summarised some top car seat safety do’s and don’ts… 

Don’t choose a second-hand car seat

When it comes to your baby’s travel safety, a good rule of thumb is not to buy a second-hand car seat. With prolonged use, baby seats go through general wear and tear which means the materials and mechanisms can weaken over time. Although a second-hand car seat may appear to be a more budget-friendly option, there are many new car seats on today’s market, complete with affordable price tags and industry-leading safety

Do get the right size for your child

Not only is it essential to check your chosen car seat fits the make and model of your vehicle, it’s even more important to select a product that can be adjusted to support your baby’s growth stages. Rear-facing car seats come highly recommended and should be used from birth up to 15 months to protect your child’s early development as much as possible. A simple way to choose the right size for your baby is to ensure your car seat meets the legal R44 standard which is based on weight. Alternatively, the more modern and rigorous R129 i-Size standard factors in your infant’s height measurements.

Don’t forget to check your car’s compatibility

It’s worth taking the time to research a few different car seats to ensure your final choice is compatible with the car you’ll be lifting it to and from. Practicality and function are key, so if you’re choosing a rear-facing seat with an Isofix base - our Mercury i-Size is a good example - always check your car has Isofix connectors installed first so you can easily secure the newborn car seat into place. 

Do have the fire brigade check your car seat installation

Keep in mind that the hospital won’t discharge you and your baby unless you have a car seat fitted correctly. If you’re a little unfamiliar with exactly how to install your newborn car seat, this is perfectly understandable. The best way to ensure everything looks right and is working as it should is to contact your local Fire Brigade where a trained firefighter will be able to show you exactly how to set things up and advise on first aid practises. You’ll need to arrange an appointment for a car seat check, so it’s best to allow yourself plenty of time before your due date arrives!

Don’t discard the manual

We’ve all heard the phrase “always read the fineprint”, yes? The same principle applies to your car seat and vehicle manuals. As a parent it’s important to familiarise yourself with any instruction manuals before you attempt to install your new car seat. This includes checking your vehicle manual before purchasing any type of car seat, just to ensure the product is compatible with your car first. 

Do disable your airbag if baby is in the front seat

On some occasions, the size and layout of a vehicle may prevent you from installing your car seat in the back as it’s usually recommended. If you have no other choice but to use the front passenger seat to transport your baby home, do ensure that you put the front seat back as far as it will go. The airbags are specifically designed to protect adults rather than shield newborns against injuries, therefore whenever your rear-facing car seat is installed in the front seat, you should disable the airbag function in your car.

Don’t wrap blankets under the harness

Remember that if the weather does take a turn for the chilly you can always add a warming extra layer by wrapping your baby up in their favourite blanket. This should be wrapped over the top once they’ve been secured into their car seat first. Snug as a bug!   

Do position harness at the correct height

The role of the harness is integral to your baby’s car seat safety. There are certain rules to remember when fitting your child into their car seat, including securing your 3-point harness over their shoulders and locking the buckles into place at the clasp. It’s worth noting that on rear-facing car seats, the shoulder straps should come through the car seat slots either in line with your baby’s shoulders or just below. Similarly, if in the event of using a front-facing seat, again the shoulder straps should be level with their shoulders or just above this point. 

Don’t leave the harness slack

It’s important to ensure your car seat harness is both comfortable yet secure enough throughout the duration of your baby’s journey. A handy way to check your harness is fitted correctly is to press two fingers together and place between the harness and your child’s chest. This will give the right level of comfort and tension while delivering maximum safety while on the move. 

Do avoid bulky clothing

Always remember to dress your ickle bubba in thin layers and choose lightweight clothing for their travels. By removing any padded outer layers or clothing that adds extra bulk, you’ll ensure your child is correctly fitted into their car seat harness, free from any obstructions and sitting comfortably ready for the journey. 

Don’t forget to check for the Isofix green light

If timing plays a major part in your daily routine, it’s best to choose a newborn car seat that can be easily anchored into your vehicle with an Isofix base. Red and green indicators offer a straightforward way to check your car seat is installed efficiently while offering peace of mind that your baby is correctly secured into place. Car seats that are Isofix-compatible can often still be fitted with seat belts if you don’t have anchor points to fit an Isofix base, but it’s important to follow R129 standards correctly and ensure safety measures are met fully according to these standards. If in doubt, you should always follow your product instruction manual closely.

Do prevent airwave restrictions

During the early stages of infant development, a baby’s natural reflex is for their head to fall forward. But over prolonged periods of time this can actually cause breathing difficulties. Therefore many car seat manufacturers advise that babies shouldn’t travel any longer than 2 hours per car journey. This provides optimum comfort while helping to prevent any restrictions that could interfere with their delicate airways and soft spine development.

Don’t suffer ‘buckle crunch’

If you’re using a seat belt to secure your car seat into place, it’s important to make sure there is no additional tension between the belt and the buckle. If you do encounter a buckle crunch issue, don’t worry as there is an easy fix. Simply experiment with the positioning of your car seat until the seat belt slides over the car seat and smoothly into the buckle. 

Do replace car seat after an accident

If in the unfortunate event of a car accident, it’s a crucial factor that you would need to replace your newborn car seat immediately. Even if there are no visible signs of damage, product materials may weaken from the force of impact, so it’s always best to take necessary car seat precautions. 

Don’t position car seat handle incorrectly

As with all car seats, the carry handle can be adjusted to suit a variety of functions and practicalities. When travelling in motion, the handle should be pushed back into the seat’s third position, which is also referred to as the travel position. A simple way to check your carrier handle is at the correct angle is to ensure this stays at the top of your baby’s head. 

Looking to find a premium-quality car seat for your child? Here at Ickle Bubba we stock a stylish range of rear-facing car seats tailored to meet your baby’s travel needs. Safety remains our top priority, which is why you can rest assured that all of our car seats comply with either the current R44 or R129 standards. Peace of mind guaranteed. 

Ickle Bubba's range of newborn car seats: