Food Safety: Is it safe to feed in the car?
It’s no secret that the life of a parent is a busy one. School runs, nappy changes, strange sleep schedules, meal prep – you may often find yourself wondering if it’s possible to fit it all into 24 hours! With so much going on, it can be hard to find the time to sit down at the kitchen table and wean your little one. You may even be tempted to find ways to cut corners, like handing them a bit of cheese to nibble on as you drive to the supermarket.
But is it safe to let your baby feed itself while you’re driving?
The short answer is no.
If your little one is under 12 months of age, they should be supervised when eating no matter where they are, so the car is a less than ideal location for keeping an eye on them. You also wouldn’t be able to quickly intervene if something were to happen. In fact, there are quite a number of risks to both you and your baby when it comes to car food and snacks when weaning.
What are the main risks of feeding in the car?
Crash risk – it goes without saying that if you are trying to supervise your little one while they eat, you won’t be paying full attention to the road. This is naturally the number one risk of feeding in the car.
Restricted movement – if you sit in the back to supervise your little one while someone else is behind the wheel, the driver may be able to focus on the road, but your baby is still at risk. If they start to choke on their food, you would have to try and remove them from the car seat and stop the choking while they’re on your lap. Not only is this an incredibly impractical way to stop the choking, but it also puts you and your baby in an unsafe position in the event of a crash. Ultimately, it’s not worth the risk!
Increased risk of choking – it’s recommended that we feed our little ones upright at a 90 degree angle to encourage safe swallowing. Most rear-facing car seats position baby at a reclined angle, therefore increasing the likelihood of choking. You should also never take your child out of their car seat to feed them unless the car has come to a complete stop.
Undetected choking – it’s one issue if you spot the choking and have to find a way to help your little one, but in many cases a choking baby is completely silent. It is heavily encouraged that your little one travels rear-facing for as long as possible, as this is the safest way to travel, so it can be hard to keep an eye on their face for the warning signs.
Mess and crumbs – this is a nuisance in any environment, but it becomes a health and safety risk in the car. Crumbs can get stuck in locking mechanisms, and straps can get slippery, making the seat itself much less secure – particularly in an accident.
If you’re on a long trip, or in a situation where you have no choice but to feed on the go, try to find a safe place to stop, remove your little one from the car seat, and carefully supervise them until they’ve safely finished eating. Once baby is fed, you can get back on the road, comfortable in the knowledge that there’s much less risk to you and your family.