Posts Tagged ‘car seat safety’

The Ultimate Car Seat Checklist

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Editor’s Note: A while back, I wrote a post on when to turn the car seat. I was the worst possible person to write this post since I find the whole topic confusing, but that’s why I wanted to write it. The rules have changed between each one of my three kids, and on top of that, you get folks both in person and on the Internet giving out wrong information regularly. So the car seat authority from Mom’s Milk Boutique offered to set me straight and help our readers cut through the confusing info since they also sell car seats and are kind of experts on the topic. And so we bring you Car Seat Redux:

Did you know that 73% of car seats are not used or properly installed?

Now that you know, let’s check yours together:

1. Is your car seat expired or recalled?
Check the stickers on the car seat itself or call the manufacturer.

2. Are you using the proper car seat for your child?

  • Do they meet the height and weight requirements for the seat?
  • By weight AND age, should they be forward facing or rear facing?

It is recommended that a child be rear facing until age 2 AND 40 lbs. Children should be in a 5-point harness until they exceed the weight limit of their seat.

3. No children under age 12 should be in the front seat. No car seats should be in the front seat.

4. A list of NEVERS:

  • NEVER use aftermarket accessories.
  • NO covers.
  • NO mats unless tested with the car seat (Diono tests theirs).
  • NO hanging toys.
  • NOTHING between the baby and the car seat (unless it came with the car seat).
  • NOTHING between the car seat and the car’s seat.
  • NEVER submerge your car seat in water.
  • NEVER wash your harness straps–only wipe clean with a damp rag or towel.

5. A list of DO’S:

  • DO check the harness EVERY time you place your child in the car seat to ensure proper fit.
  • DO check the LATCH system or seat belt holding the car seat in EVERY time you use the seat.
  • DO check for visible sun damage, which can cause the plastic to break down.
  • DO check around the seat for choking hazards.(dropped food or toy items)
  • DO come up with a system which reminds you that your child is in the back seat of the vehicle: wallet, key fob, purse, phone, or any other item that you would not leave your car without.

6. With winter coming (already here in some places) please remember that coats and car seats don’t mix!

When Your Toddler Can Undo His Chest Clip

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
RFFor a while, my biggest concern about having my child rearfacing longer was his comfort. It does look funny when you see a toddler facing backwards, legs dangling, up on the seat, or one of each. Still, he has never complained about his legs, so I maintained my stance on rearfacing as long as possible. He is under the weight and height requirements, so, logically, I want to keep him as safe as possible.

To be safe, however, the car seat must be used properly. Proper usage includes having the chest clip where it needs to be (level with the armpits), and of course, clipped.

Imagine the leap my heart made when, one day, I went to take my son from his seat and his chest clip was hanging open. I know I clipped it shut. I always double check the seats before I get in the vehicle, and then again in the rear-view mirror before I drive off. He had undone it himself.

My son is 3 1/2 years old. He’s at that age where he has learned or is learning different closures. Snaps, buttons, zippers, buckles… all sorts of things. If they can open and close, he’s curious. In fact, if they can just move, he’s curious. He had also been sliding his chest clip way high or way low. Obviously, this is not safe.

Logical reasoning doesn’t always work with a toddler, so what do you do in that circumstance? For me, I had to use what I know would work. My son dislikes going to the doctor and hospital (poor kid has gone a lot due to asthmatic issues), so I had to use that. I never will threaten with a visit to the doctor to get him to do something like pick up his toys, but when the doctor really IS a possibility I don’t feel bad mentioning it. I had to use what would work, and use what I know he already knew a lot about.

My son is obsessed with cars. Not just vehicles, but race cars. He loves the Disney movie CARS (and CARS II), and has seen both many times. This means he has also seen the crashes in those movies. Using his knowledge of crashes, I tried to explain that if something happens and another vehicle hits mommy’s van (or vice versa), we could get very hurt. Our seat belts and car seats are designed to help us not get as hurt if that happens, and will make it so we might not have to go to the doctor or hospital.

I then tried to explain, as simply as possible, that the clip he was playing with would help keep his straps exactly where they need to be so he will be held nice and snug in his seat if someone crashes into us. I showed him where it needed to be to keep him the safest possible. I also showed him a video of a crash test dummy (they are obviously not real… didn’t want to scare him!) showing what happens in a forward facing vs. rear facing crash test. Although he has never questioned turning around (yet), I used the video to illustrate how the straps held the “doll” in place (and I simply emphasized the rearfacing dummy).

He is still very eager to take the buckle off, but now he begs and begs once the car is stopped to do it all by himself. We made a rule that he is only allowed to touch the clip if mommy and daddy are standing next to him and the car/van is NOT running. He has accepted these conditions, thankfully, so we seem to be riding safe once again.

Christine Kangas is a mother of two who’s trying to lead a greener life for her and her family. She lives in the mid-western U.S. in a modest house (that needs a lot of work!) with her three cats.

Are Car Seat Accessories Safe?

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Are Car Seat Accessories Safe?

You see them all over Pinterest, Etsy, and in stores: Car seat accessories that claim to solve a number ofproblems that arise when transporting small children, like entertaining them, making them comfy while they sleep, or keeping them cool. But are they safe?

I spoke with car seat safety expert Jennifer Johnson, BNS, RN, and CPST, who is also a nurse at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, about some popular car seat accessories I have seen both in stores and online. She has a three-year-old son, so car seats are a big part of her daily life, but so are daily struggles with getting in the car and staying there for long rides.

“Before really looking at any of them, I’ll give you this: If it didn’t come in the box, it shouldn’t be on the seat,” says Johnson. “That includes seat covers made at home or by anyone other than the manufacturer of the car seat, as well as those toys that people put on car seat handles.” Remember, products have to be proven dangerous to be recalled, so just being available in stores or online is not an indication that it’s been vetted for safety. An item will not be recalled until it injures or kills someone.

With that in mind, we reviewed some popular accessories from around the web.

Slumber Sling: This is a momma-made headstrap that goes across the car seat to keep baby’s head upright when sleeping. “This item makes me wonder how many babies/toddlers will be choked when it slips down and goes around the kid’s neck.”

Backseat Mirror: These mirrors vary from models that hang over the headrest to ones that strap on so mom can always see a rear-facing baby. It matters how it’s attached, says Johnson. “The backseat mirrors can come loose and become a projectile in a wreck.”

Are Car Seat Accessories Safe?

The Noggle: The Noggle is a long air-vent extension that snakes into the backseat to help heat or cool rear-facing kids.  “The Noggle is good in theory, because the back seat can get hot, especially in the summer in a hot area with a rear-facing baby or toddler. But it’s basically another projectile–a giant one.”

Seatbelt Pillows: These are basically oblong pillows that wrap around the seatbelt to give kids a place to rest their heads when they fall asleep. “Pillows for the seat belt or the belt positioners can keep the belt from tightening the way it needs to in a crash, which then prevents the belt from working the way it needs to in a crash, and can cause injury to the child or can allow them to slip out of the belt and be ejected from the vehicle.”


Seatback Organizers: These hook over the seat in front of baby to store things like diapers, toys, wipes, and other diaper bag essentials that end up in the floor. “The organizers can hit a front-facing child and cause injury. The stuff that’s jammed into them can become a projectile as well. It’s not just the weight of the thing itself; it’s the weight times the acceleration of the vehicle and the force that creates that hits the baby. An empty soda can could crush a human skull at the right velocity.”

And that comment brings us to the most important part of car safety, and probably the hardest one for any mom: keeping your car clean. “It’s hard to keep your car clean with kids in it. I know that! But it’s really important,” says Johnson. “In general, you should have the least amount of crap in your car as possible, and whatever isn’t attached to the car needs to be secured: purses, toys, seatbelts not in use need to be buckled, even if there is a car seat in that seating position.”

Are Car Seat Accessories Safe?If you are in an accident, paramedics and emergency personnel will use your child’s car seat to transport them in the ambulance, too, says Johnson, so make sure your car seat has a sticker with your emergency information on it. “I recommend that parents put the child’s name, birthdate, and parent’s emergency contact info and any allergies/health conditions, in the event that there’s a wreck and the child has to be transported to a different hospital than the parent(s).”

You can download a free printable car seat emergency sticker like the one shown here.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.