baby car seat

All babies who travel in cars must have the correct car seat by law. They come indifferent age/size ranges (0, 0+, 1, 2, 3, and 4) and you must make sure that your seat is the right size for your baby.

The most important thing to look for is the weight range – not the age. Babies of the same age can be all different sizes – it’s the size/weight that determines the safest type of seat for your baby.

Car seats can be expensive. You would think that all models would fit into all cars but this is not always the case.

Make sure that you can actually get the seat into your car/cars and that your seat belts are long enough to secure it. If you don’t have back doors, make sure that you can easily lift the car seat over the front seats – and remember it will have the added weight of your baby in it.

It is also a good idea to ask someone in the shop to show you how to fit the car seat properly. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking the shop assistant to check all these things with you before you buy anything.

A car seat is one of the most important items you will buy and you need to be sure that it will do its job properly and be convenient to manoeuvre.

Size 0 car seats are for newborns and are rearward facing, because the baby cannot yet support its own head. These come in two basic types – the removal carrier type or the more fixed type (that is usually also a size 1 seat and converts to forward facing later).

A carrier type makes it easier to get the baby out of the car when he is asleep because you can take your baby and the carrier all in one go.You can also then use this to carry baby around the shops or wherever you are. The disadvantage is that you have to fit the car seat every time you want use it.

A fixed car seat only needs fitting once (although you should check it every time you use it). Look for a sturdy seat with easy to clean covers and a simple buckle and strap system.

Size 1 and above then fall into two main types. Some use the adult seat belt to restrain both your baby and the seat. Others only use the adult seat belt to restrain the seat and have smaller straps to hold baby in the seat itself.

The first type is easier to change between cars or to remove from car, but means that the seat is not restrained when baby is not in the car. The second type is obviously more permanently secured into the car and also has more baby sized straps.

Do not, under any circumstances, buy a second hand car seat. When the structure of a car seat is damaged (in an accident) it doesn’t always show on the outside.

Never seat your baby in a part of the car which is protected by an airbag.

window blinds

  • A shade to protect your baby from the sun when you’re in the car.
  • Usually fix to the car window with suckers to allow easy repositioning, they also come in retractable versions to allow clearer vision when required.
  • In the summer months, any metal catches on your babies car seat will get very hot from the sun shining in the window. This can burn your baby when you put them back into the seat. Window blinds can help to protect against this too.
  • They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and in plain and cartoon designs.
  • Make sure they fit your car before purchasing as they do very in size.

baby rear view mirror

  • This is a second rear view mirror which attaches to your windscreen with a sucker and allows you to see your baby in the back seat of your car without taking your eyes completely off the road.
  • Not very expensive and very useful although you may prefer to put your baby in the front passenger seat.

Never seat your baby in a part of the car which is protected by an airbag.

pram or newborn buggy

  • The traditional pram is not very common any more – they do, however, make a very useful addition to your equipment if you walk to places a lot and can afford the luxury of one.
  • They can make a good place for a newborn to sleep during the day.
  • Prams are also useful where your baby will spend a lot of time in it because they are quite large.
  • As with anything your baby sleeps in, buy a new mattress even if the pram is second hand, make sure it is as easy as possible to clean/wipe down and try to avoid anything with tassles or chords which your baby could get hold of.
  • It’s useful to have a raincover for when you’re outside – check that you can still get one for the model before you buy anything second hand.
  • If you have a car make sure the pram will fit into it.
  • If you will be using the pram when you go shopping etc make sure that it has adequate space for bags and luggage.
  • Something with a rack over the chassis is best and hooks on the handle are handy for carrier bags

rain covers

  • These are waterproof covers which attach to transport systems.
  • Some strollers/pushchairs have integral covers fitted.
  • They tend not to be interchangeable so it is advisable to check that you get the right fit for your make/model.
  • Can be quite expensive for larger prams and unless you are sure you will use often, buy second hand.
  • Don’t forget to dry out the rain cover after use and don’t use in hot weather as the baby will get very hot.

baby carrier

  • This can either be a soft or framed carrier (sometimes called a sling) that can be carried on the parent’s front or back. Small carriers/slings are ideal for small babies as both parents can use them, baby gets reassurance from closeness and some are designed to enable you to breastfeed.
  • They are also useful if you have two babies close together in age and do not have adequate transport – baby can go in the sling and you will still have your hands free to push a pushchair. This will enable you to take both children out if you are on your own.
  • As your baby gets heavier the carrier can get increasingly uncomfortable and it is worth considering a larger carrier with an integral frame.
  • Larger framed carriers are a bit like a rucksack.
  • The best are made by rucksack manufacturers and allow parents to carry quite heavy children in comfort.
  • These are probably only worth investing in if you know you will make use of them.
  • Most people would use a buggy or stroller instead when baby gets bigger.
  • Not ideal if you suffer with back problems or if you are pregnant.
  • Go to a reputable shop and try before you purchase.
  • Can you put it on and take it off by yourself?

bouncing chair

  • A bouncing chair will usually be the first thing your baby sits in.
  • Your baby will be able to make it bounce when they wriggle about in it.
  • You can also sit them under a gym or activity centre.
  • They can find gentle bouncing very soothing when you rock it with your foot (a good way to get them off to sleep).
  • The most basic are a piece of fabric which fits over a metal frame and they aren’t usually more than £10.
  • Make sure the covers can be taken off and washed and that the harness is easy to unfasten.
  • Always stand a bouncing chair on the floor (don’t put it on a bed or table etc) so that your baby can’t fall.
  • Also you should take note of the weight restrictions – if your baby is too big they can easily tip it over.