Monday, July 21, 2014

family favourite : how to prepare your car for a newborn

Sweet little Blake, an apt choice for this post considering he was born in the front seat of his mum's car 4 weeks ago.

This post is part of the Paint the Town Ford challenge in conjunction with Kidspot and Voices 2014 (thanks so much to those who nominated me). I'm driving the Ford Ecosport Titanium for the next six weeks - a zippy, compact SUV that's incredibly fuel efficient and has keyless entry (every mother's favourite car feature). 
Don't fret, Ford, no babies were born in the loan vehicle. 

When you have a baby your priorities for your car completely and utterly change. And regardless of how prepared you are during your pregnancy it’s only when you go on your first few outings as a family of three that you realise; car travel will never, ever be the same again. No, you no longer have the opportunity to quickly hop in the car and pop out to run a few errands. Why? Because getting in the car is an errand in itself. In those newborn days it can take a good two hours to prepare for an outing and if your experience is anything like mine was, you will usually end up covered in baby vomit just before you open the car door. Alternatively, your baby will do a poo as soon as you do his seatbelt up (thanks to the slightly tilted carseat - apparently it aids digestion). 

Your baby will fall into one of two categories of car traveller:
  1. he will fall asleep before you have left the driveway (my firstborn)
  2. she will cry as soon as she’s placed in her carseat and will scream for the entire trip ensuring that you experience an entirely new level of stress. Funnily enough, as soon as you remove her from the seat she’s all smiles (my second-born).
Whilst you can't predict how well your baby will travel you can prepare yourself and your car for many family outings. Here's my advice:

- get the carseat fitted by a professional : in both my pregnancies I have taken our car to the local carseat specialist to ensure the carseat was fitted correctly. Under national safety standards a baby under six-months-old must travel in a rearward-facing, safety approved carseat. If you don't want to buy a brand new carseat you can hire them (expect to pay around $120 for six months). You can see from the photos below that the process is straight-forward and quick but each brand of carseat requires a slightly different fit, hence it's best to consult a professional to ensure it's fitted correctly. Most modern cars, like the Ford Ecosport Titanium, have anchor-points built into the back of the seat (see below). If your car is an older model you can purchase the anchors-points from most department and baby stores. 

- make sure the seat has a head-support pillow for the first few months : when you hold your new baby you need to support his head; the same goes for the carseat. You can purchase head-support pillows from any baby store and yes, they are a must.

- install a mirror in the back of the car and get a sunshade for baby's window : because your baby will be in a rearward-facing seat you won't be able to see him while you're driving. A small mirror attached to the back of the car will ensure your baby is visible during a car trip. It's also recommended that you get a sunshade for the window closest to your baby's seat - nothing worse than a baby squinting, squirming and agitated because of blinding sunlight. 

- keep an emergency change of clothes in the boot : regardless of how well you have packed your nappy bag there will come a day when you forget something and need to resort to the emergency pack. Put simply, it will be your saviour when you're in the middle of a carpark and you're covered in baby poo. Pack nappies, wipes and a wondersuit (or two) in a bag and tuck it into the boot. It's just as important as a spare tyre.

- when you're about to leave the house, carry your baby to the car facing outwards : I learnt this trick early on in the parenting game. Whenever I carried my newborns to the car I faced them away from me so if they did vomit I didn't have to bear the brunt of it. And they always vomitted right before a car trip. 

- put your keys in the same pocket of your bag every. single. time. : there is nothing worse than fumbling for your keys whilst holding a sleeping (or screaming) newborn. Believe me, it can quite quickly become stressful and if you carry a Mary Poppins bags like I do, your keys will easily make their way to the very bottom. Solution? The side pocket. Alternatively, embrace keyless entry if your car has it - it's every mother's best friend. 


  1. Totally needed this post! At 30 weeks, I'm trying to figure any last minute things I might need for baby, and a mirror and sun shade are definitely items I've added to my list!

    1. Those practical things that no-one ever seems to mention! Enjoy the last 10 weeks of your pregnancy x

  2. my #1 how-to-get-everyone-in-the-car tip? get a little clip for your keys and clip them to your belt loop, the outside of your bag, etc. it makes things even easier than stashing them in a pocket. hands are at a premium when babies are about, in my life anyway.


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