10 ways to prepare your car for a new baby
August 15, 2016
Bringing your new baby home from hospital can be an incredibly special - and potentially quite daunting - experience. To ensure you can transport your precious bundle as easily and safely as possible, it’s important to get organised as early as you can, at least a few weeks before your due date. You don’t want to be shopping for a car capsule with a baby who has arrived ahead of schedule!
A few tips for preparing your car for a new baby:
1. Buy a suitable and approved car capsule
According to Australia’s mandatory child car restraint standards, babies up to six months of age must be restrained in a rear-facing, approved child restraint with an in-built harness.
Given this, you will need to make three key decisions regarding which capsule you buy:
Will it be held in place by a seatbelt or an ISOFIX anchorage point?
Traditionally, a car capsule in Australia will have been held in place by top tether straps and one of the car’s rear seatbelts, which threads through the underside of the capsule.
In 2014, the Australian standards were changed to allow the ISOFIX system, which has been in use in Europe and North America for more than a decade. The ISOFIX system involves attaching the car seat into firm lower anchorage points that are pre-installed into the car, rather than using the seatbelt.
Every vehicle in the new Mitsubishi range is now fitted with two ISOFIX points in addition to the mandatory top tether anchorage point. Keep in mind that if you want to use the ISOFIX anchorage points, you will need an ISOFIX compatible car seat. In Australia, it is an offence to use any ISOFIX car seat that has not been certified to the applicable Australian Standard (typically those purchased from overseas) as it may not have the top tether straps that Australian regulation requires.
Do you want a single purpose capsule or a convertible?
There are two types of car capsules for babies: single purpose capsules (which only face the rear) and convertibles (which face the rear until the baby weighs approximately 9kg, but which can then be switched to face forward).
The convertible capsules are quite popular as they can be used for longer, and the capsule itself can sometimes be taken out and slotted into a compatible pram (see below). However, they are also often more expensive and quite bulky.
Do you want your capsule to be compatible with your pram?
Some prams come with attachments (or you can buy them separately) which enable you to slot your car capsule into your pram.. This can be very handy if you will be transferring your baby in and out of the car quite often. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this, it’s wise to buy your car capsule and pram at the same time so you’re not limiting your options, and do your research about which combinations best work for you.
A few tips to make sure your car is child-friendly:
Always check your baby’s car capsule has the Standards Australia mark (look for a sticker that says ‘Australian Standard 1754’).
Don’t buy second hand capsules unless you are completely confident about the seat’s history and there are no cracks or signs of wear and tear. Never use a car seat that’s over ten years old.
If you don’t want to invest in a new capsule, many authorised fitting stations (see below) will provide safety-checked capsules on loan for a fairly minimal fee.
Do your research early to ensure you can get the capsule or seat you want, and leave plenty of time to have it installed before your due date
2. Have your seat professionally installed
Fitting your car capsule correctly is extremely important when it comes to safety. Research funded by NSW Roads and Maritime Services found that about 70% of children are incorrectly restrained in their seat.
If you have trouble fitting or adjusting your child car seat, visit an Authorised Restraint Fitting Station. The fitters have been trained to inspect and adjust child car seats to make sure they are installed correctly, install additional anchorage points, fit child car seats that require modifications to your car, or show you how to use your capsule so that you can be confident your child is safe.
To find an authorised fitter, visit Red Cross or your state Automotive Club.
3. Invest in a car seat protector
Your car capsule will be strapped onto the rear seat of your car for quite some time. So, if your car capsule doesn’t come with one, it’s worth investing in a quality seat cover to keep your leather or fabric clean and free from marks.
If you’re looking to buy a Mitsubishi, take a look at the Mitsubishi Genuine Accessories’ range to get a cover that’s specifically designed for your model. This will also help protect your car’s resale value down the track.
4. Get a window shade
If you’re buying a new car before having your baby, look for models with privacy glass which will help filter the sun that shines through onto your baby. This can also cut down on UV filtration by about 94%.
If your vehicle doesn’t come with rear-tinted windows, it’s important to invest in a sunshade to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes and off his or her delicate skin.
5. De-clutter your car and purchase a cargo blind
To prepare for a baby, and for your own safety, it’s also important to de-clutter your vehicle. Any loose objects in your car could become dangerous projectiles if you need to stop suddenly.
If you have an SUV model or a station wagon where the top of the luggage compartment is open to the rest of the car, it can be worth investing in a cargo blind that fits your vehicle (the Mitsubishi Genuine Accessories’ range includes several). This will cover any luggage in the rear and prevent options flying into the front of your car in the event of a collision.
6. Get your car serviced
For safety and peace of mind, it’s also worth getting a complete service for your car before your baby arrives. At the very least, check the maintenance items as per your cars owner’s manual such as tyre pressure, engine oil level and wiper blades.
If you’re looking to buy a Mitsubishi, every car comes with Mitsubishi Diamond Advantage. Read more about the warranty, capped price servicing and roadside assist Mitsubishi’s genuine service centres will use tools and parts developed especially for your new vehicle, and have direct access to the latest upgrades from the manufacturer, to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best.
Mitsubishi also offers the convenience of a dealer network with over 200 dealers, meaning you’ll never be too far away from your Mitsubishi service centre.
7. Get some baby friendly essentials
When you’re travelling with a baby, mess can happen unexpectedly - and often!
To make your life easier, pack your car with some baby essentials so you’ll never be caught short. This could include some baby wipes, disposable change mats and nappy bags, a towel or mat (for rear seat/boot nappy changes), newborn size nappies, and a spare hat, baby outfit, picnic rug and sunscreen.
8. Consider a mirror
At first, some babies don’t enjoy being in their capsule or can take a while to settle. Fixing a secure mirror above their capsule (which you can buy at most baby stores) can enable your baby to see you, and provide them with a level of comfort. It also means you can see your baby, which can be otherwise challenging with them in a rear-facing seat.
Make sure, however, that any mirror you buy is sourced from a reputable baby store, is designed for the purpose, and is tightly affixed so it won’t become a dangerous projectile in the event of an accident.
9. Get some baby music
Babies can sometimes enjoy soothing lullabies when travelling in the car - particularly if they’re fussy travellers. As they get older, they can also enjoy sing-a-long nursery rhymes. Some music to have while driving can also be soothing for you too! If your car has an in-built CD player, consider buying a CD, or if you can connect via Bluetooth, set up some suitable playlists on your mobile device.
10. Practice, practice, practice!
While you may have your capsule installed perfectly and your pram neatly folded in the boot, it’s important you know how to use them! You don’t want to end up stuck in a shopping centre car park with a restless baby, searching your iPhone for “how to” videos.
Practice putting your capsule in and out of the car, and make sure the position of the car capsule works for you. It’s also wise to practice getting your pram in and out of the car, and if you have a capsule that’s compatible with the pram, practicing connecting them.