Baby and You

Choosing the right car for you and your little one

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Expecting a baby is a wonderfully exciting time, with so much to look forward to. And with a new arrival on the way, you may want to treat yourself to a new car too.

In fact, now could be the perfect time to upgrade to something a whole lot more practical and versatile. Something capable of transporting your new-born in safety, along with the growing number of essentials you will need to take with you.

So, where do you start? Well, later in your child’s life, you may worry about the three Rs, but according to Andy Pringle, Editor at Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace for new and used cars, the most important things to consider right now are the 5 Ss:

Space
If there’s one thing you need above all else when you’re considering a new family car, it’s space; and that means you may have to postpone any plans for a slinky coupe. Instead, look for

cars with a boxy shape that can let you make the most of every last litre of space. It’s also worth considering a taller, ‘SUV’-style car, like a Land Rover, because not only do they give you a better view out, they will also lighten the load on your back when you’re getting stuff in and out.

When you’re shopping around for cars, top of your must-have list should be four wide-opening side doors; and, sliding side doors are also worth considering, as they’re an absolute blessing in tight car park spaces.

The good news is that cars are getting more practical all the time, and the choice is getting wider. So, once you know what style of car you want – even if you don’t know the precise make and model – you can use Auto Trader to search for a range of suitable vehicles based on your own requirements.

Seating
When you’re thinking about seats, says Pringle, try and find ones that can make your life a bit easier. So, first of all, make sure that not only are there ISOFIX child seat mounts, but also that they’re easy to find and use. These will make it much easier to install car seats and reduce the chances of making a mistake.

Beyond that, also look for seats which can slide forward and fold easily. And, if you’re thinking about a seven-seat car, check that it’s easy to get to the rearmost chairs.

Specification
At the most practical level, it’s better to go for cabins and seats trimmed in dark materials, as they’re better at hiding stains and spillages. You could also consider a sunroof to make the cabin brighter, but don’t forget that sunblinds are equally welcome for those all-too rare sunny days. And, if you regularly do longer journeys, then consider some in-car entertainment, such as a set-up for tablets or screens to show DVDs.

Storage
You won’t believe how much stuff you have to carry with when you become a parent; so, look for a boot with a wide, tall opening, as well as a low load lip, and plenty of cubbies around the cabin to swallow the various bits and pieces you may need on a journey.

Safety
Fortunately, checking the safety of your next car is child’s play, as the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) has been testing pretty much every mainstream car that has gone on sale for 20 years. You can check each car’s rating on Euro NCAP’s website, including specific ratings for child occupancy protection.

For more advice on choosing the perfect new or used car for your family, and to watch both Auto Trader expert and owner car reviews, visit: autotrader.co.uk/baby

Top 5 family cars

Skoda Fabia
This good-value hatch is a doddle to drive, and the cabin feels well up to withstanding abuse from the kids.

Nissan Qashqai
The interior is spacious and versatile, and the car’s extra height makes it easy to get everything in and out.

Skoda Kodiaq
Families will be well catered for by its roomy and practical cabin, and handy little features to make journeys easier.

Ford S-Max
Ford’s Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) has enough room for seven, as well as lots of storage dotted around the cabin, and is great to drive.

Land Rover Discovery
This practical and versatile seven-seat off-roader will be the perfect companion for any large family.

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