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When it comes to keeping your family safe in the car, there are so many things to think about. Safety should be your priority of course. But what if your vehicle isn’t up to carrying kids and all your groceries? Have you got enough space for all of those extra things you need to bring, the toys and pushchairs? Amazingly we all just try to make do with what we have and hope it turns out okay. That’s not the best attitude to have. If you are about to have a family and you’re driving around in a Ford Mustang or MX5, it is not practical. And that is not what you want to be hearing if you have spent so much time and money on your precious baby (the car). But you need to be thinking about your other baby now (the baby). There are some hints and tips that you need to take on board before taking your child or family on board.

SAFETY FEATURES

It’s best to start here when thinking about keeping your family safe and accident-free! Firstly, you need to make sure that your child is seated safely. Seatbelts are the obvious thing to think of, but a fact about car seatbelts is that they are designed for adults, not for children! So if a child was without the right safety restraint, in an accident it could cause a lot of injury to the child. A lot of factors come into play when it comes to seating a child safely, their age, size, height, etc. Depending on the age of the child, you will need to buy the appropriate adjuster seat, such as a baby carrier.

When it comes to seating babies in a car, you need to make sure that the child is facing back, not forward! While children can travel in the front, it is highly recommended that children go in the back seats at all times.

When it comes to installing car seats for children, in new models it is compulsory to obtain an Isofix seat or base (or LATCH if you’re in America). This makes the seat more secure.

It is often tempting to not put in the car seat if you are taking a child on a short journey. You need to always put the car seat in. Most accidents happen in short trips, so there is no excuse not to put the seat in.

If purchasing a second-hand car seat, you need to examine it thoroughly before getting it. Always go for new if you can afford it, as they will have never been in an accident. And always try your car seat before purchasing it, so you can see if it is easy to install.

As your child gets older, you need to install the right booster seat for their weight. Up to the age of 12, the child should be in a booster seat.

THE SPACE

When it comes to getting a car suitable for your family, you need to ask yourself, how many kids are you planning on having? If you have one then space may not be all that important to you. But remember, with one baby comes the nappies, the toys, the pushchair, and the changing bag. So you need to be able to store all of that! And imagine if you had more than one kid or twins!

The three type of cars you need to be looking at are hatchbacks, SUV’s and MPV’s. Let’s look at each one in turn:

Hatchbacks

When it comes to purchasing family-friendly cars, the hatchback is the frontrunner. They are cheap to run but the drawback to getting one is that the boot space can be limited. A Seat Toledo, Honda Civic or Mercedes B-Class are cars with bigger boot space.

Compact SUV’s

A very practical vehicle, SUV’s have the draw when it comes to height and space. While a lot of SUV’s don’t offer much more space than a hatchback, Hyundai ix35 or a Kia Sportage are a good call to store the extra bags of groceries.

Large SUV’s

Larger SUV’s can have more than the standard five seats, which is a benefit if you are carrying around triplets! But the boot space is a limiting factor in these cars too. Try a Volvo XC90 or a Jeep Grand Cherokee for space.

MPV’s

MPV’s are, like the SUV’s, five and seven seater vehicles. These people carriers are great for large families and are surprisingly comfortable for what are essentially vans (which they are). A Citroën Berlingo Multispace or a Volkswagen Golf SV are good five-seater vehicles. While a Renault Grand Scénic or a Vauxhall Zafira are useful seven-seaters.

You are going to need something with vast amounts of space, so you don’t end up playing car boot Tetris. You need to think about long journeys and if you are planning on many overnight stays with your newborn. When looking for a new vehicle to cater for your family, space is the final frontier.

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CAR MAINTENANCE

Keeping the car well-maintained was probably on your list of priorities before your family expanded. This is doubly so now. Making sure the car is in working order will be a habit you need to get into if you don’t already. So, if you are not used to checking the oil, and making sure the tires have enough tread on them, it’s time to start. Having a handy list of mechanics or places where you can get replacement parts, such as whatever friends or family recommend to you. That way, if you need to get a spare part at a moment’s notice, you can find the dealers that are reputable and affordable for your budget.

With children comes spilled drinks, dirt, and snot, all in the back seat of your car! In addition to that, scratches and damage to the interior will be typical for you now. Making sure the car is maintained properly will be part of your spot-check every time you get in the car! If there is damage, you can always get it serviced by Automotive Repair Systems or a local mechanic.

TAX AND INSURANCE

Car tax is based on the amount of CO2 emissions, so it would be wise to purchase a car that is environmentally friendly. You will need to think more economically now purely because of the amount of time spent taking the kids to school, from school to games, and the list goes on! So, thinking about Miles Per Gallon and engine size versus the miles you may cover in a given time will give you an idea of what to look for.

FACILITIES

A lot of the newer models of cars are now equipped with plug sockets and Bluetooth facilities. This makes it easier to keep the kids entertained on long journeys. If you plan on traveling many longer journeys, it is standard that cars have built-in sat nav systems, which will take a lot of the stress out of journeys when there is a crying child in the back.

Buying a car for the extended family unit comes with many questions you need to ask yourself. But ultimately it’s the safety of your family that comes first and foremost. When looking at new or used vehicles it is always something that should take priority. Becoming a parent is a wonderful and sometimes difficult journey. Having a car that makes the journey a bit smoother will benefit everyone involved. Oh, and good luck on parenthood!