5 Tips for Buying Your First Family Car
By Leah of A Girl and A Boy
So you got yourself a baby! Congratulations! Say hello to gummy smiles and belly laughs, and wave bye-bye to a full night’s sleep and the easy spontaneity of your child-free life. Yes, gone are the days of spur-of-the-moment cross-country road trips (or even just a quick, uncomplicated run to the grocery store), for it’s no longer just you and the open road but you, the open road, your baby, and all that baby-related baggage.
If you’re in the market for a new family car, here are five things to keep in mind:
1. Think Safety.
The cost of living–and driving–is higher than it’s ever been, but when it comes to protecting your baby (and yourself), now is not the time save money by purchasing the twenty-year-old deathtrap you saw advertised online for $500–GOOD AS NEW!!! CA$H ONLY!!! You may not be able to afford the latest model with seat warmers, a moonroof, and voice-activated GPS, but at least look for cars with high safety ratings, which probably means they also have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and the LATCH system for car seats.
2. Think Space.
Make sure there’s enough cargo room for not just a stroller but also a full load of groceries that will henceforth include a jumbo box of diapers, a super-sized tub of laundry detergent, and a twelve-pound bag of Goldfish crackers.
3. Think Accessibility.
Car seats need to be in the back, and the easier your access, the happier you and your already overworked muscles will be. Say no to the convertible sports coupe, say no to the Smart car, and say a very-reluctant-no to the motorcycle with the sidecar, even though how fun would that be?
4. Think Style.
Safety, convenience, responsible choices, blah blah blah…Whatever happened to looking cool? Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your image. There are plenty of cute, kicky, and also safe and practical family cars out there, so don’t despair thinking you have to buy a minivan. And on the off chance that you actually need a minivan, remember: you can always recapture your cool with a tattoo or blue hair dye.
5. Think Green.
Even if you live in a walkable community, chances are you’re going to be in the car a lot more now that you have pediatrician appointments and playdates and emergency trips to the baby superstore because it’s 9 p.m. and your little one can no longer tolerate his swing/rocker/bouncer and needs a bouncer/swing/rocker instead RIGHT NOW. More car trips means spending more on gas and releasing more toxic emissions into the atmosphere. If you can afford it, consider a hybrid; if that’s out of the question, at least look for cars with high fuel efficiency (at least 30 mpg). You’ll not only save money but help protect the earth, giving your baby a cleaner, healthier place to grow up.
Now if only there were a way to include New Car on your baby registry…
Don’t forget to visit our hilarious, but informative, Pregnancy Calendar.
Published January 28, 2009. Last updated June 29, 2018.