If so, you won’t be alone on the road — more than 43 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) projections. It’s also estimated that most people drive rather than fly to their holiday destinations. While traveling can be a fun experience for the whole family, it can also pose some challenges if you don’t plan in advance, especially if you are traveling with little ones. Before you hit the road, make sure you check out these easy tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to help ensure a smooth ride for everyone:
• Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat manufacturer. Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit, she should ride in a forward-facing car safety seat. Updated recommendations on safe travel can be found on the AAP parenting web site .
• Most rental car companies can arrange for a car safety seat if you are unable to bring yours along.
• A child who has outgrown her car safety seat with a harness (she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat) should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
• All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
• Never place a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an airbag.
• Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt, even in a taxi.
• Children often become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Keep them occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite music for a sing-along.
• Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
• Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat stroke.
• Remember to bring water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.
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