By: Jessica Rose
Bringing a baby home from the hospital can be a stressful and exciting time. I know it was both for me! It's a new beginning for you and your family, but it's also a big change for the baby. And if f you think about it, it’s the first-time baby will not be in a tight swaddle or in your arms; the two places it gets comfort. So, expect some tears to be shed!
I think it goes without saying that having a properly installed car seat is the most important way to ensure a safe, smooth ride home with your newborn. My husband and I made sure our car seat was installed correctly about 3 weeks before I went into labor, which I felt was not too far in advance, but also not cutting it too close. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and using your child safety seat, but here are my quick pro tips:
- Be sure the car seat is tightly secured in the vehicle. Use a locking clip if your car doesn't have built-in LATCH anchors (this includes many older cars).
- Make sure your car seat is leveled on flat ground when installed.
- If you can’t figure it out, ask someone at your local fire station or police department for help — they'll know how to do it safely.
While on the topic of safety, because baby will be rear-facing, it will be difficult to see them on the first ride home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents use rear-facing infant seats until at least age one, or until they reach 20 pounds, whichever comes first. Infants are safest facing the rear of the vehicle for as long as possible because it helps prevent serious head and neck injuries during sudden stops or crashes. The hardest thing I found was trying to balance driving safe, but making sure their sweet head is not flopping around too much.
I found the use of the Tiny Traveler Baby Monitor to help me keep my eyes on the road and baby. If fact, the use of a baby car mirror or monitor is recommended by many pediatricians, particularly when the driver cannot see the backseat. Using a live monitor to view your baby in a car seat while driving may help prevent injury or death.
Now let’s talk comfort. There are several things you can do to make your baby more comfortable in their car seat. One is to put a thin blanket or receiving blanket over him and tuck it in around him so he doesn't slip out of it while you're driving. Make sure to tuck their arms in so it gives them that swaddle security feeling! Another option is to buy a small pillow that fits inside the car seat. These pillows are designed specifically for car seats and have straps that attach them securely to the base of the seat so they don't move around while you're driving.
Finally, I want to touch on a real winner that helped me: playing white noise. Babies love white noise and it masks out other noises so that your baby doesn't get distracted by external sounds such as traffic. This allows your baby to relax more easily, making it easier for them to drift off into sleep or remain calm. White noise mimics the blood flow they hear in the stomach so it’s very comforting!
There's a saying that the two hardest parts of having a baby are labor and everything after. It is a comforting thought, however, to know that your precious cargo is as safe and happy as you can make them is what comforts us as parents. So keep calm, drive carefully and above all else: stay safe out there!