Making your way on an extended car journey with a baby can be nerve-racking. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your child safe while you travel. Here are a few recommendations from a registered healthcare practitioner.
Always keep your baby buckled up
According to senior sister JSH van Wyk, a registered nurse with the South African Nursing Council, the most important thing any parent can do to keep their babies safe while they travel is to keep them safely strapped into an age-appropriate car seat with a 5-point harness.
"On the 1st of May 2015, a new law came into effect that makes it illegal for an infant (a child under 3 years) to travel without being strapped into a suitable car seat. If your child weighs 9kgs or less, they have to be in a rear-facing car seat. Only rear-facing seats are legally approved for children under 9kgs. If your child weighs over 9 kgs they are legally permitted to sit in a forward-facing seat,” says Nurse Van Wyk.
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Apply sunscreen on long daytime journeys
If you’re travelling with your baby in the car for quite a distance, Nurse Van Wyk recommends applying sunscreen as though you planning to spend time outdoors.
“Car windows block out UVB rays, which would typically warn us that our skin is burning. However, it still lets through UVB rays, which can cause damage to sensitive skins on a deeper cellular level. Keep your baby’s skin safe by applying a sunscreen that has been indicated as safe for use on infants, or invest in a UV-proof shade cover for the window closest to their car seat,” she recommends.
Keep your baby well-hydrated
Always ensure that your baby remains well-hydrated when you travel for longer distances. Nurse Van Wyk recommends that parents stick to their normal feeding schedule, stopping for meals and milk feeds along the way to keep their children hydrated throughout the journey.
Never leave your baby unattended in a car
Although it can be tempting to ‘quickly pop into shop’ when your baby is napping in their car seat, Nurse Van Wyk urges parents to never leave their babies unattended in a car.
“Please never leave your child or infant alone in the car; an errand that you thought would only take a minute could end up taking much longer than expected. Aside from the emotional impact of being left alone, an unattended child could be exposed to rapidly changing temperatures, and older children lock themselves in by accident, hurt themselves moving around in the vehicle, or even exit the vehicle and wander off,” cautions Nurse Van Wyk.
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