Pretty much everything in life changes when you have your first child, and what you need from your car is no exception.
Ideally, every new parent would have enough money to invest in an upgraded vehicle to accommodate the extra space that’s now required along with the focus on safety that automatically comes with a first born. However, in the real world, that luxury isn’t possible for most, especially with all the other immediate expenses, investments to be made for future education costs, and a possible drop in income.
Gumtree Auto’s Jeff Osborne advises new parents that if they aren’t buying a new car they should at least look at their existing one in a new way: “View your vehicle with fresh eyes and think carefully about all the new dynamics that are now in play.”
Osborne provides a helpful car checklist for first-time parents:
- Can your baby seat be anchored properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions? Make sure the seat belts can do the restraining job well. Replace them if they come up short in any way. Do not be tempted to maak ‘n plan with your own way of anchoring the seat.
- Be thorough about basic vehicle safety measures – tyres, brakes, lights, windscreen wipers and demisters are the key components here. Also make sure you have a good spare tyre and that all the required tools to replace a flat are in place and easily accessible.
- If you only have front passenger seats, like single cab bakkies, then make sure the passenger side airbag is turned off - the vehicle’s manual should tell you how to do this - to prevent the bag activating dangerously around the baby seat. If you have a second row of seats then the baby should always travel in the back.
- Check that the child-locking systems and automatic window controls are all working.
- Make sure you can always keep sun off the baby. The middle back seat is the best place for them but you might want to invest in a visor or a sun shield of some kind.
- Do not have any loose objects inside the vehicle – in the event of an accident they can become dangerous missiles for a small child.
- Organise the storage space in the vehicle so that everything you need to find quickly for the baby can be found easily. Consider purchasing some kind of top-opening box for storage which can be held in place by a seat belt and put next to the baby seat for easy access.
- One interesting tip from www.pampers.com is to put a small picture of your child somewhere prominent (maybe on your key ring) just to jog your memory that you have a baby in the back. Believe it or not, many parents, especially when driving on their own, forget about their babies if they’re quietly sleeping when they park and leave them behind in the vehicle.