“Are we there yet?” This is one of the phrases that we, as parents, are all familiar with. Kids are hyperactive, and getting them in one place without much activity is just asking for temper tantrums. However, we can take advantage of every car ride and turn it into an exciting bonding or learning experience.
But more than just fighting boredom, it is also our responsibility to “child-proof” our vehicles. Comfort and safety are essential for a great car ride, and one of the first things we shop for are car seats. As you can see in this article, the market offers a wide variety of models, that we literally have no excuse for skipping a car seat.
How to Choose a Car Seat?
- Make sure the car seat type is appropriate for your child. The stages start first with the rear-facing seat, followed by the forward-facing seat, and lastly the booster seat. The best guide is only transition your child if he/she has outgrown his/her current seat. You can also opt for a rear-facing and forward-facing seat that has higher weight and height limits.
- Make sure the seat has passed various tests and guidelines. These include the FMVSS 213, side-impact tests, and crash tests.
- The seat should be made from heavy-duty materials and is generally easy to adjust and install.
Now that you have your car seat, the next thing to remember is where should you install it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children under 13 years of age to always ride in the back seat. The reason for this is because once the airbags in the front seat are activated, the force can physically hurt young children.
Another important thing about car seats is that every child must ride with it. Nowadays, manufacturers have also released car seats that are meant to fit 3 across even in smaller vehicles. Like we said earlier, you have no excuse. This rule also applies in seat belts. Kids should be buckled individually and never as a pair.
You should also check if your child has the proper seat belt fit, especially if he/she is using a booster seat. The thing with booster seats is that they have fewer restrictions offered compared to harness seats. Harness seats hold the child in place on both shoulders, both hips, and crotch area. Because of the limitations in these areas, kids are compelled to sit correctly.
Booster seats, on the other hand, use your vehicle seat belt. They boost your child’s height so that he/she gets the proper belt fit. Keep in mind that kids are more likely to slouch or lean sideways with boosters. This is why you should only transition your kid to a booster seat if he/she is mature enough to sit properly throughout the car ride.
What is the Proper Seat Belt Fit?
The proper seat belt fit is composed of the shoulder belt sitting across the child’s collarbone and chest, not rubbing against the neck. Other than that, make sure that the lap belt is on the top of the child’s thighs and not on his/her abdomen. Why are these positions important? The impact during a crash can cause fatal seat belt injuries, especially with the lap belt across the abdomen. Lastly, make sure that there are no twists and the fit is snug, whether it’s a harness or a seat belt on your child.
You can teach your child how to buckle and unbuckle himself/herself, but always check if he/she has fastened himself/herself correctly.
How to Avoid “Are We There Yet” and Temper Tantrums
Like with any travels, the best thing to do is distract your child from realizing that the ride duration has been long. You can start by bringing wrapped activity bags, as unwrapping it makes it more exciting. The activities may include interactive toys, books, puzzles, and even small prizes.
You can also play classic car games with the whole family, just make sure that you stay vigilant while driving. Your last resort could be tablets and other gadgets. Your child can see this as a reward, especially if he/she gets longer screentime during car rides.
If all else fails, maybe your child is being grumpy because he/she is hungry. You can bring light snacks and water. But avoid anything that might trigger stomach problems.
Be a Good, Assertive, and Calm Example
During every car ride, create rules for every passenger. These rules can be about designated bathroom breaks, nap time, gadget usage, and most importantly, safety-related regimen. You can start by being a good example simply by using the seatbelt upon entering, and not removing it until the car is parked. And during driving, avoid distractions such as texting or looking at the back seat too long.
Lastly, it is always better to stay calm. We sometimes unknowingly project energy on our kids. And if we are calm, we are also teaching them to do the same in the back seat.