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Baby on board basics:

Why driving with your child is different than driving yourself?


We’ve all seen them – the yellow caution signs hanging in the rear windows of SUVs and wagons, warning other drivers to be careful because there’s a baby on board. That new bundle of joy is probably swaddled in a receiving blanket or two, and tucked carefully into an infant car seat. Or, it could be that the parents have a rambunctious toddler in a car seat, laughing and playing as they travel.


Introducing a baby to the family brings an incredible amount of change. Your daily and nightly routines change. Your social life changes. Your priorities change. Even the way you drive alters when you have a baby on board.


How driving changes when you’re not just responsible for yourself?


When we’re young and not yet tied down with parental responsibilities, we drive much differently than when we have a helpless new life that depends on us for everything in the car. How does your driving change? Actually, there are quite a few different ways that things change.


The amount of care exercised: When you have a baby on board, it’s important that you drive carefully to avoid jostling them or startling them. You attempt to drive without making sudden movements and sharp turns. You avoid harsh acceleration, and you begin braking well before you need to come to a stop. This is about more than just caution – it’s about helping your little one feel safe and to stay calm and content.

Paying extra attention: When you’re young and single, you don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on around you. Sure, you look both ways before pulling out in the road, and you pay attention to the car ahead of you on the highway, but when you become a parent, you suddenly become hyper-vigilant because you realize that threats to your little one can come from anywhere and everywhere. You pay more attention to other drivers around you, as well as to traffic patterns. You drive more cautiously in inclement weather, and more.


Finding the best routes: Without a child on board, you can drive pretty much anywhere without too much worry. You probably didn’t put much thought into the route you took to the store before your new bundle of joy arrived. Afterward is another story, though. Now you plan ahead so that you can take a longer but safer route to your parents’ house or to the grocery store. You plan ahead so that you can avoid traffic snarls or gridlock that might lead to an accident. It’s all part of being a concerned parent.

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