I’m passionate about everything we teach. But nothing is as clear cut or as prevalent as the need for the safe usage of car seats. If I step out of the house and into a store for 3 minutes, I am guaranteed to see horrible things at every turn. Sadly, most parents shrug when informed about these common grave mistakes. Everybody does it, so it can’t be that bad, the reasoning goes. Wrong.
This morning, when I walked into our office, Brittany informed me that she had read a story about the death of an infant in Georgia who had died when the infant car seat he was in fell from the top of a shopping cart. I’m sure any parent who saw that headline was horrified, much like we were. But our horror turns to frustration because this is a black and white issue– it is never acceptable to place in infant carrier on an elevated surface. Never. EVER. Not even if they are strapped in. This is by no means the only major mistake I see parents make when I am out (or on facebook). Here, in no particular order, are the 5 things I never wants to see parents doing:
1) Placing the baby in an infant carrier seat without buckling the child in
I was at a local store recently and saw a mom who not only has the seat on top of the cart, but her little girl was not buckled, was sitting up in the seat, and was darn close to falling out. It was all I could do not to say something. Maybe I should have. But bottom line, even if you think your baby is safe without the straps, you’re wrong. Buckle up that baby every time, no matter what.
2) Using an old seat
I can spot old seats a mile away. I know it’s tempting to use an old seat because most of us use the carrier seats for so short of a time and they are costly, but these seats expire. If it’s older than what the manufacturer says is a safe period of time (most often 6 years), then get rid of the seat. It will not keep your child safe.
3) Never taking your baby out of the seat
Car seats, even if they have handles, are meant to be used in the car. They are not meant to be used at a restaurant, placed on the ground in the parking lot while you load groceries, nor should they EVER be put in a crib while your baby is sleeping. Your baby can fall, be hit by a car, or die from asphyxiation in these situations. Here in Minnesota I understand the desire to get baby buckled up in the home, then moving baby to the car, but that car seat is not a handy bucket you can store your baby in. Take your baby out!
4) Covering up baby
When it gets cold, I understand the instinct to cover up a baby so that he or she stays warm. But after that, take the blanket off. I don’t care if the light will wake up your child. It’s a rebreathing hazard and your baby might get deprived of oxygen. Blankets don’t belong on your baby’s face.
5) Using the extras
OK, I know you can buy them, but a CPST like myself will not recommend using toys, mirrors, head positioners, cozies, strap covers or anything else that did not come with the seat that might interfere with the function of the seat. Using these might mean you can’t get the straps as tight as they should be, or that if you were in a crash, your child might get injured by them. Just say no to these extras.
I know the list is long. It could be longer. But thankfully, I can share more with you very soon. Again, the wonderful aspect of BabyLove is that Brittany and I can change whatever, whenever. And we have decided to offer a Car Seat and Infant Safety class starting next month. Visit our website for dates and details. And in the meantime, no more seats on the tops of carts, ok?
And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re using them incorrectly. Estimates are that 80% of all seats are installed or used incorrectly.