Baby's First Car Ride
The first ride home from the hospital with your new baby is just the beginning of your great adventure. Prepare for your trip ahead of time with our expert tips so you can relax and enjoy the ride!
8+ Weeks Before Due Date
Select a car seat that fits your baby and your vehicle(s).
- Your Baby: When selecting a car seat, first make sure it’s an appropriate seat for a newborn. Many infant car seats have a minimum weight capacity of 5 pounds and will provide a good fit for most newborns. Some convertible car seats, like the Britax Boulevard, also have a minimum weight capacity of 5 pounds and include an infant insert, allowing them to provide a secure fit for most newborns. However, if you’re expecting multiples or are aware of any health conditions that could potentially result in a low birth weight, you should look for a car seat with a lower minimum weight capacity, like the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite that accommodates infants from 4 pounds.
- Your Vehicle: Factors like the vehicle seat belt system and lower LATCH anchor placement, vehicle seat design, and the distance between the front and rear seats can affect whether a car seat can be installed securely in a vehicle. If the car seat will be used in a small vehicle, determine if the carry handle on the infant car seat can be left up – you won’t want one that MUST be rotated down if space is an issue behind the driver and front passenger seats. And since not all vehicles are the same, be sure that the car seat you choose installs securely in ALL vehicles that it will be used in.
4-8 Weeks Before Due Date
Practice installing and using the car seat.
- Check with your birthing hospital to see if they offer a car seat basics class for expectant parents.
- Before installing the car seat, read the car seat user guide AND the section in your vehicle manual regarding car seat installation. Some manufacturers, including Britax, also offer videos on their website or Youtube to demonstrate proper installation and use.
- Use a doll, if available, to practice adjusting the harness height, tightening and loosening the harness around the child, and buckling and unbuckling the harness.
- Consider visiting a car seat technician with any questions or concerns about proper use or installation approximately 4-8 weeks before your scheduled delivery date. To find a certified child passenger safety technician or a car seat check event near you, visit Safe Kids.
After Birth, Before Discharge
Practice securing your baby in the car seat.
Once settled in after birth, but before you’re discharged from the hospital, bring the car seat into your room and practice placing your baby in the seat, adjusting the harness height, and securing the harness. Don’t wait until the last minute – you may feel rushed and become frustrated, increasing the chances that you will secure your baby in the car seat incorrectly.
1-2 Months After Birth
Follow up with an expert.
Consider visiting a car seat check event or child passenger safety technician again 1-2 months after your child’s birth. You may have questions once you have used the car seat regularly, or as your baby grows and fitment in the car seat changes.