There is always a lot of talk about keeping your family safe when taking them anywhere in the car. But is there anything more than making sure that they are buckled up safely? It might be surprising for some people, but yes there is! There are so many things to factor in, that it may not become apparent until you have a baby in one hand, a pushchair in the other, and a whole stream of puke running down your back. While this is not a practical guide to parenthood, that is a very likely situation that you can get into. What do you need to have a car that’s practical, kid friendly and won’t make you look like you’ve aged horribly? Let’s look at the basics first.

THE SAFETY

They aren’t designed for children so you need to get a booster seat to support your kid. If you don’t put in the booster seat and you get into an accident it can cause a lot of damage to anyone involved, but most definitely the child! If the child is up to the age of one, then you will need a baby carrier. When you’re seating the baby in the car, they need to face backwards, not forwards! And as a rule, young children should travel in the back at all times.

In terms of car seat installation, it is now essential to get an Isofix base or a LATCH base. The car seat clips onto this base. Here’s a pop quiz? Do you know when accidents mainly happen, in long trips or short trips? If you said short trips, you’re right! So don’t leave the base at home, always fix the car seat and triple check that it’s secure.

If you’re looking to cut back on finances now you have a child, you can go for a used car seat. But make sure that you examine it properly before you purchase it. If possible, go for new. You know that the seat hasn’t been in an accident before! It’s always worth testing out the seat before purchasing it so you can check how easy it is to install.

HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU NEED?

If you’re getting a car for a big family, you need a car with lots of space. In fact, even with one child you are looking at playing Tetris if you get a smaller car regardless! With kids comes a pushchair, toys, nappies and changing bags. So get a car that is able to store all of that on top of the groceries! What type to get? Let’s look at three types:

Hatchbacks

Always the leader when it comes to getting cars that are friendly for the whole family. They are a lot cheaper to run than most. But the space in the trunk can be small. A Mercedes B-Class, Seat Toledo, or a Honda Civic are ones to go for with more space in back.

Compact SUV’s

SUV’s are the pinnacle of interior space and legroom, some don’t offer more than a hatchback when it comes to the boot. Go for a Hyundai ix35 or a Kia Sportage for more room in the trunk.

Large SUV’s

If you’re keen on procreating, larger SUV’s are the way to go, with more than five seats! Again, boot space is a factor, in which case, the Volvo XC90 or a Jeep Grand Cherokee are ones for you.

MPV’s

If you really need to push the boat out, then the MPV’s five and seven seater vehicles like the SUV’s. While these aren’t cars, they are more comfortable than your standard van! A Citroën Berlingo Multispace or a Volkswagen Golf SV are five-seaters that will be good. A Renault Grand Scénic or a Vauxhall Zafira are seven-seaters for the bigger families.

MAINTENANCE

There is more than one type of maintenance when you have kids! It’s not all about replacing diesel fuel injectors. With kids there will be a huge amount of mess. And scratches! So have a scratch repair kit handy. Do a spot-check before you get into the car just in case there are any major issues that stick out like a sore thumb!

Buying a family car can come with a huge amount of questions. But although you may be looking for economy in fuel or the ability to handle like a dream. Unfortunately your priority is safety. Make sure that it is completely safe for you and your family. That will come first. Once you have the right car in terms of how safe it is, then you can modify it (if you’re into that sort of thing)!

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Emily Muelford

Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.

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