When travelling by car, never carry your baby on your lap or in your arms. It’s illegal and dangerous.
Never put a seat belt around yourself and your baby.
If you have an accident or even a small bump, the weight of both you and your baby pushed against the seat belt could seriously injure them.
Child car seats
By law, all babies must sit in a properly fitted child seat, right for their weight, height and age.
Your baby must be in a car seat for every journey, including the one home from the hospital or maternity unit. Some hospitals don’t let parents leave in a car after the birth unless they have an infant car seat.
Buying a car seat
A child car seat is a vital piece of safety equipment and one of the most important items you will purchase.
Buy the seat from somewhere with trained staff who can make sure you’ve got the right kind of seat for your baby and your car.
You can find information about the different types of car seat online and from retailers.
Good Egg Safety has more about choosing a car seat for your baby
Second-hand car seats
Only use a second-hand car seat if you know its history.
Second-hand car seats may have been in a crash or damaged in some way before. Often you may not be able to see any damage, but it could have weakened the seat’s structure. Even if you know it's history
Fitting a car seat
Make sure you know how to fit the seat properly. Ask the sales assistant to show you and then give it a go yourself.
Keep practising in your car until you get the hang of it so that you’re confident before your first journey with your baby.
Even if you know it's history, get the full instructions with the seat so you can be sure it’s fitted in your car properly and your child is safe within it. Keep the instructions with the seat so you can go back to them if you need to.
Your baby's much safer being carried rearward facing in the back, passenger-side seat of your car.
If for some reason you need to put them in the front in a rearward facing seat, make sure the passenger airbag is switched off for the journey. Always remember to switch it back on for anyone else.
It is against the law to use a rear-facing seat with an active airbag.
Take regular breaks
If you’re driving long distances with your baby in a car seat, it’s a good idea to take regular breaks.
Your baby’s head can roll forwards if they’re not sleeping flat which can affect their breathing. Your baby can breathe more easily when lying flat. This will also help with plagiocephaly.
Once you’re out of your car, if your baby is asleep take them out of the seat and lay them down on their back somewhere safe.
Ensure your baby's bulky outdoor clothes are removed when using a car seat as they can be restrictive for your baby and increase the risk of overheating.
Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.