First and foremost, always use a car seat when traveling with a toddler, Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, says. This seat should be adapted to your child’s height and weight, so that means buying a new one when the child becomes too big for the current one.
Make sure you check the car seat regularly for wears and tears. While you’re at it, check the expiry date from the manufacturer as well. As with any other safety device, car seats’ functionality can also be affected if their exterior is damaged. If that be the case, replace it. Needless to say, money should be no issue where your child’s safety is concerned.
Buy a car seat that’s compatible with your child and your car. The standard international mount is ISOFIX and most cars have it, but if you’re driving an older model, you will have to do without one. Even in such a case, a well-attached car seat has no room to move. If it does, you might need to have a professional look at it, because it’s not safe.
Attach the car seat on the back seat of the car, Gladman says. If your only option is the front seat, make sure you have the airbag disabled, in case of an accident.
Last but not least, try to use a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Children are most prone to spinal chord injuries in crashes, and the odds for them drop considerably when using a rear-facing seat, as opposed to a front-facing one. And no, kids don’t get bored more easily if they’re facing the other way, so don’t use that as an excuse.
“Toddlers don’t like to sit still, so will try and get their arms out. Double check the harness is the correct height and pulled comfortably around your child. If you are in any doubt, seek advice from a professional,” Gladman adds. “Check regularly to see that your child is still strapped in correctly and if you are unsure, pull over somewhere safe to check this. Keeping your child occupied can avoid them being tempted to try and wriggle out.”