It's the little things that count.

Okay, so perhaps the previous post stated the obvious a tad. (“A pram? No kidding! A cot? Wow. You’re a walking controversy, woman.”) So I dug a little deeper and decided to come up with my even shorter list of essential baby gear… for the car.

No, I won’t add “pram”. And no, I won’t add “car seat” either, although I will go off on a tangent here and talk about Backward Babies.

There’s heaps of evidence to suggest that keeping baby rearward facing for as long as possible is heaps safer in the event of a front-end collision. Stats differ – I’ve been told 5 times safer, I’ve been told 12 to 14 times safer, I’ve been told 70% safer… whatever.

The point is, when the car brakes suddenly, the last thing you want is your baby slamming into those unforgiving straps at 80kph. They can break bones. If the straps are twisted, they can cut flesh. So yeah, Arddun’s going to be seeing the world go by in reverse for about 4 years. Longer, if I can help it.

Off my soapbox now. And – go!

1. First aid kit

After attending the carer’s first aid course, I went and bought two first aid kits – a comprehensive one for the house, and a smaller travel one for the car or the pram for walks. Not that I plan to do CPR every day, but it’s useful to have a stash of band aids and paracetamol nearby anyhow. And as Arddun gets older, I expect to add other things for insect bites and scraped knees and other (hopefully minor) misadventures. If they sold children’s band aids with Veggie Tale prints, I’m so there.

2.  Window sock

This one assumes that your car windows aren’t tinted, of course. We’ve got a 1997 Mazda, and it’s now showing its age so we’ve had to block the sun using less sophisticated  methods. I’ve tried those stick-on window sunshades which unfurl, and used them on the window nearest to the baby car seat. Useless, useless, useless. Hardly blocked the sun, kept falling off, lots of window and sun still streaming through. But I’ve moved on to the window sock and if you get a well-fitted one, it works a charm. No matter where I park, I know that Arddun’s seat is in the shade. But it’s still see-through enough for me to check my blind spot.

3. Rear window sunshade

Again, baby car seat-related. If the sun is streaming in from the back, you don’t want to come back to a toasty car seat and blistering hot car seat buckles – especially in summer. Protect the car seat. It may take a few more seconds to put up, but it saves time in the long run. Much better than standing around waiting for your car to cool enough so you don’t feel like you’re putting your baby back in the oven. Again, this assumes that your car windows are not tinted. But even if they are, I’m sure this will help.

4. Picnic mat

Great for impromptu picnics, sure. But the number of times lately we found ourselves hiking up a small green and laying out our picnic mat for an impromptu Big Diaper Change… yeah. Surprisingly handy, especially on a road trip to some country town where Parent Changing Rooms might be mistaken for an episode of Wife Swap. Even in Canberra, my mom and I have pulled over to Lake Burley Griffin to give Arddun’s bottom a fresh start, with Captain Cook’s fountain a fantastic and distracting backdrop. I’ll admit this works slightly better where I am than, say, in Singapore.

5. Spare nappy wallet

Because you never know when your nappy bag might run out. Even the most prepared mother might find herself a diaper short with one explosion too many. And sure you can run out to Target and buy a box of nappies, but then you’d have to fork over $37 and lug the whole thing thereafter. Might be easier to nip into the car and retrieve the extra nappy. Redundancy upon redundancy, my friend. Include an extra change of clothes, because if you’re reaching for your emergency stash, chances are it’s a big smelly one.

6. Spare bucket hat and sunglasses

Yes. I am one of those mothers who buys sunglasses for her baby. Plural, by the way. I keep one in the bag, and I keep one in the car. I figure if I need sunglasses in order to stop squinting into the sun, then by golly, Arddun must be having it even tougher. I don’t know what it is about the Australian sun, but I promise you it’s brighter and harsher than the sun in Singapore. Besides, she looks way cuter than that baby in The Hangover. Pity she keeps yanking them off, only to squint and complain the rest of the way home. But we try.

7. Rear rearview mirror

You read that right. The mirror you check out from the rearview mirror. Basically, the mirror faced squarely on your child’s face in the rearward facing car seat, so you can figure out if she’s sleeping or not. HOWEVER, I have tried two brands and they both suck. Correction – they don’t suck enough. I’d placed the mirror in the back left corner of the rear window and trained it on the car seat, but it kept dropping off. Short of crazy-gluing the darn thing on, I’m at a loss because I’ve looked at other brands and they look pret-ty much the same. I have to say that when they DO stay affixed to the window, it works a charm. I feel HEAPS better knowing I can see her. So if you find a brand that actually has real staying power, please let me know.

I’m sure there are heaps of other items that could make this list. But these are my top seven in no particular order, off the top of my head. I’m up for suggestions, BTW. Heaps of space in the boot.

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