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How can I help my keep my child safe and comfortable in the car?

We live in a world dominated by the motor car and that means car journeys with children, usually on a daily basis. It's not so bad if you're just popping down the road but long journeys can be a real problem.

Many children will suffer from motion sickness, and many others will suffer from a feeling of complete and utter boredom. And then of course, there is the safety issue to consider. Traveling by car can be dangerous for everyone, but children are particularly at risk.

There's clearly a lot to think about when taking your kids in the car. But the following points should help ensure your little ones remain safe and comfortable when you're behind the wheel.

Sitting comfortably
In an accident, your child’s seating position could be the difference between life and death. It really is that important. For babies you should always try to use the right kind of seat for their weight. Rear facing baby seat are designed for infants up to 28lb (13kg) which is usually 8-10 months.

Forward facing seats are designed for babies from this weight up to approximately 50lb (24kg) which is usually 5-6 years of age. After which time, children can use normal adult seat belts, although a booster seat may be needed for smaller children.

Keep her entertained
Many young children absolutely love car journeys and will sit back and relax all the way to your destination. However, not all kids share this feeling, and as you would expect, they get bored very quickly on a journey. So keep them entertained by taking plenty puzzles and toys with you, particularly if you’re going on a long drive. Play games such as I Spy to make the time pass faster. But remember don't give young children any pens or pencils to draw with because they can do real damage if you brake sharply.

Food and drink
If you’re only going on a short car journey it’s best not to give your child anything to eat or drink. Young children can choke on food at the best of times but in a moving vehicle there is a much greater risk. Also, the time it takes you to pull over and help you child can be precious seconds you may not have.

On long journeys where children will need to eat, you should pull over to a lay-by or service station to give them something. Stick to light snacks such as fruit or crackers to avoid sickness. Sweets, chocolate and junk food will invariably lead to an upset tummy.

Motion sickness
Motion sickness is very common in young children but fortunately most kids do grow out of it. You can’t fully prevent your child from becoming sick in the car but you can do many things to help. Try to keep her entertained by play I Spy and encouraging him to look out the window. Don't give her any books to read or any other activity that focus her concentration on the inside of the car. This is known to exacerbate feelings of sickness and often cause actual vomiting. Also, don’t give her too much too eat before or during a journey.

And finally, there are prescription and over the counter drugs available to help with motion sickness. Ask your GP or local pharmacist for more information. But really these should only be taken when all other avenues have been explored.

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