Tricks and Tips for Car Seat Installation

Earlier this week, our van’s battery died just as we were on our way home from getting my daughter from school.  We were able to snag a ride home, but that meant the car seats had to be transferred out of the van and, later, back into the van. Yesterday, as I was installing my son’s combination seat, I realized that I was so thankful that it came easily for me.  As a car seat tech (well, technically a Child Passenger Safety Technician), I have been able to pick up little tips and tricks to help make the installation process easier and better. Hopefully you’ll find one or two of them helpful!

1) Whenever possible, recline the seat a little before installing

OK, so it won’t work most of the time in a car, but it works for most SUVs and minivans.  But if you are putting the seat in a place where you can reline the back of the seat, do so just a little bit before using the LATCH or belt to install the seat tightly.  Once you get the seat in securely and correctly, then put the seat back back where it started.  The car seat should never more more than an inch at the belt path, but now it should be REALLY secure!

2) Use your noodle

Pool noodles are a tech’s favorite way to fix the recline in rear-facing seats when the seat either doesn’t have a way to adjust the recline in the seat or when what is there isn’t enough.  Many people know (well, hopefully) that the only other way to fix the recline safely is to use rolled up towels. But noodles are crash-tested and approved and in many ways far better than the towels. All you need to do is cut a small section of the noodle (It needs to fit between the belt and the buckle) and slide it under the seat.  There you go!

Noodle installation picture

3) Check weight limits for LATCH

LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) was created to help simplify the installation process.  It’s kind of done that, but it’s still possible to misuse it.  (And never, ever, ever think it’s OK to use the seatbelt AND the LATCH system at the same time to install a seat.) But in many cars and seats, LATCH (More specifically, the lower anchors)  does have an upper weight limit.  Check the manuals for both your car and the car seat manufacturer to see what that weight is, and defer to the lower weight. My son has pretty much hit the maximum allowed by the car seat, so I put his seat back in yesterday with the seat belt but still used the tether.  And remember, both ways are equally good, as long and you can use it to get the seat in securely.

4) When not in use, store the LATCH belts securely!

On this seat, there are little hooks to clip the LATCH belts to when not in use.  If I let them be loose, in the event of a crash, those heavy hooks could go through the air and injure someone. Every seat has a different place and way to do this, so check your owner’s manual to make sure you are doing it correctly.

LATCH belt Clipped

5) When buying a seat, check the “made on” or “expiration” date!

Car seats have birth dates, and they do expire. (For real they do, and no, it’s not some corporate or government conspiracy.  I promise.) Always check with the manufacturer, but make sure you get the most out of the seat by buying the seat of your choice that is the youngest.  Recently, I was at a clinic, and the brand new seat I was helping an expectant couple with was already 18 months old. They had just bought it, but obviously the store had it sitting around for awhile. Check out those dates before bringing it home!

If you have more questions about car seat installation and usage for any child up to the age of 9, please sign up for our Car Seat Class.  And if you have questions about installing your seat into your actual car, free car seat clinics abound.

I hope this was helpful! As always, leave comments and questions below.  I wish you safe driving!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Elimination Communication: You can do it!

As you know, one of the main reasons we opened BabyLove was to create a place where families could get excellent, affordable education to make their parenting journey more enjoyable. We teach a variety of classes, but perhaps the strangest to many people is our Elimination Communication class. We are the only center in Minnesota, and much of the US, to offer a class like this, and we’re very proud of it.

Many people see the words “Elimination Communication”, and either think it sounds completely insane, or they are interested in finding out more about the practice. Simply put, Elimination Communication (EC) is learning your baby’s (or toddler’s) specific potty cues, and putting them over an appropriate receptacle when they have to go. Once parents and caregivers start to learn more about the gentle EC approach, and realize it truly isn’t an all or nothing thing, it suddenly becomes doable.

Elimination communication is meant to be a stress free way of building a good relationship between your child and the potty. You show your children you understand their basic needs, and you’re trusting their body, and doing your best to meet all of those needs. Many large countries such as Africa, India, and China, parts of Europe (and over half of the world) practice EC from birth. It’s not seen as out of the ordinary or radical, they just don’t have the time or desire to deal with diapers. In these cultures messes and “misses”, what we call a potty that doesn’t reach a toilet, are expected as a normal progression of EC. I think many times parents hear about this concept, and think you have to have your baby run around naked for months, peeing all over your house, and if you miss an opportunity then you’ve failed. This is not true! You DO NOT have to practice EC full time to have it be successful for your life.

Many parents practice EC when they’re home or in a comfortable environment, and use diapers as back ups. As their child grows, and can hold a potty for longer, they may start to go on outings with lined underwear instead of diapers, basically extending their EC reach. There may be periods of time (days, weeks, possibly even months) where you just don’t have enough time to do it much. Don’t worry! Your little one will remember what you’ve done, and all will not be lost. A great concept to keep in mind if you think that EC is for you, is that every diaper saved during the day is a success! You’ll no doubt spend less money, do less laundry, and hopefully have a much easier time of transitioning to the potty full time in the long run.

As a mom who has successfully practiced EC part time with my daughter, I know how daunting it can seem. I remember hearing about it before she was born, and thinking that it was something we could never do. I did a lot of research (I would have LOVED to have been able to attend a time saving, informative class likes ours and finally convinced myself to try it. My husband and I were amazed at what our baby was telling us that we were totally missing. Yes, she peed on us, the floor, couch, etc, but no matter what method you choose, you’re just going to get peed on. We used diapers more than half the time, and even took a couple months off when Veronica and I were starting BabyLove. I was worried she would forget all of the work we’d done, but when we started back up again she was happy to go on the potty. And guess what, we were out of diapers at 15 months! Accidents still happen, but going through EC with my daughter is something I would never change.

So what I want you to take away is EC isn’t radical or crazy, you don’t have to be a full time, stay at home mom to make it work, and you don’t have to fit a stereotype to implement this into your lifestyle. Our class will give you all of the information and tools you need to get this started with your little one (newborn through 18 months), and you’ll have fun learning about it! I want you to know, you can do this!

We hope to see you in class soon, and if you have an EC success story, we’d love to hear it!

Read more success stories and quotes from part time EC’ers here.

Warmly,

Brittany

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Evidence-based is NOT in the eye of the beholder

A little story first to start:

A few years ago, when I was a newer doula and childbirth educator, I had a client** who worked in the health care field.  She liked her care provider enough, but had a feeling that she was being told some pretty factually-challenged information.  After every appointment, she would go to her place of work (which had access to many, many health journals), and would look up how accurate various guidelines actually were.  And visit by visit, she gradually became very doubtful that her care provider actually ran an evidence-based practice.  The final straw came when her care provider declared that, for one reason or another ACOG policy dictated that an induction be scheduled.  The mom went home, looked up the policy, found out that there was no such listed reason for induction in the ACOG guidelines, and questioned her scheduled induction; her doctor ended up relenting and allowing her to go into labor on her own.  Even though her care provider claimed to be following “evidence”, she was smart enough and knew from childbirth classes to question statements that didn;t match everything else she had learned.

“Evidence-based medicine” is indeed growing in popularity.   By using the best information we have, we can improve patient care, but it does mean there are a few things to consider. The other half of this is informed-decision making.  Once you have good information, you can make the decision about your care that is right for you.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1) This is a little self-serving, but evidence-based childbirth classes, like those taught at a Lamaze class by a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, are one of the best ways to know you are getting information you need to make decisions BEFORE you actually have to make any of those decisions.  It can be very hard to absorb in the moment any of the benefits or risks that anyone is trying to tell you, but at least having talked about and discussed those choices in a class ahead of time will help reduce the stress when and if the time comes for you to make any choices.  Knowledge is POWER, people, and while you can’t always control what happens, you do have a choice in how to respond most of the time!

2) Anytime an educator or care provider starts to “leave out” information so they can sway thinking in a direction that more closely fits with their own choices or beliefs is automatically no longer providing information that is truly evidence-based.   Or when they neglect to talk about a specific intervention that is fairly common for whatever reason, self-serving or not, they are excluding families from the process of informed decision making.  By not telling patients about benefits, risks and alternatives of an intervention, (cervical ripening or cesareans, for example), they are in effect telling you that you do not need to know anything about the matter, and they are making the decision for you. Talk about dis-empowering!

3) As in the example I stated above, whenever a statement is made that just doesn’t make sense and the person making the statement claims that it is evidence-based, question it.  Now, I personally don’t mind being questioned, and I’ve been asked many times in class by very smart and well-informed patients to locate my source.   Because I have always taught an evidence-based curriculum, I’m now very familiar with the sources for different pieces of information.  And if some source is quoted and you still have questions (and if you have a smartphone on you at the time, more power to you) look it up online.

4) When things change and new evidence comes to light, it requires the curriculum to change. For instance, when I very first started as an educator, the “one year, 20 pounds” rule for turning a child forward facing in a car seat was the AAP norm.  Since then, evidence and policies have changed, and we make sure parents understand the current guideline is to keep your child rear-facing as long as allowed by the height and weight restrictions of the specific seat.  By staying current, we know that parents are getting the RIGHT information to base their decisions on.  This is also true of our breastfeeding information; best practice and current curriculum are tremendously mismatched in many cases.  We had to ditch everything once it became clear that the old curriculum was outdated.  It’s not terribly easy to relearn the whole flow of a new class, but it’s fun knowing that it’s as current as we can get it.

5) Learning about evidence-based practices and informed decision making is worth it.  It seems so easy with the pregnancy and birth stuff to just not learn about anything and just do what your nurse or doctor or midwife or mom or sister tells you to do.  But let me be straight with you: You are going to be a parent.  It doesn’t work that way.  YOU need to become the one making choices.  You will be, for the rest of this child’s life, having to make choices about EVERYTHING. That sounds scary, right?  Well, start by learning how to make those choices now and ease into it. Trust me.  It’s probably not a good idea to just do what others tell you to do, anyway.  For so many things what is common practice is not best practice.  But if you get used to finding out what best practice is now, it’ll be easier to figure that out as your child grows and life gets more complicated.

We’re obviously very partial to being evidence-based, and not opinion-based.  It takes a lot of work to stay up to date, but we know we’re providing a service.  After all, it’s your birth, your baby, and we just want you to have information to make the decision that works best for you!

PS- If you are REALLY a birth nut or just like to read, really thick stuff, might I suggest you check out the Evidence-Based Maternity Care report? It’s a fun read!

Warmly,

Veronica

**Please note: I might have blended some of the parts of the story with other stories to make a point…but this happens in various shades to more moms than I care to know about.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

March updates at BabyLove

My goodness.  Is it March already?  We’re happily marking 6 months of having our doors open.  Thank you to everyone who has come in, taken classes, workshops, come to Baby Cafes…slowly, as more families find out about us, more people are getting the chance to “get” BabyLove. Two moms, with a passion for helping new and growing families.  It’s that simple.  We have some very exciting things going on, so a blog post to round everything up seemed in order.

1) New Class Prices

If you head on over to our class page, you might notice some of the prices changed.  After evaluating demand and some current costs for similar classes, we made adjustments to our class prices.   Our Refresher Class, Breastfeeding Class, Car Seat Safety, and Cloth Diapering and Babywearing class all has prices go down slightly.  Hey, in 2012, you can;t say that about most things, now, can you?

2) New Breastfeeding Class Curriculum

Nearly 8 months in the making, we’ve just recently rolled out our completely up to date and innovative breastfeeding class curriculum.   We were inspired by a summer of seminars, textbooks, and classes full of information that suggests that, simply, we’ve been teaching breastfeeding the wrong way.  Instead of telling moms what to do, our focus is on telling moms how the process works, and help them get clued in to what their babies will need.  We know moms are already feeling more confident in their abilities to breastfeed, and since they aren’t getting outdated information, evidence suggests that they will hopefully be more successful overall.

3) New VBAC Class

In an effort to continue to assist mothers and their families by giving them supportive, evidence-based classes that meet their needs, we will be announcing very soon the details for our VBAC class.  Suitable for mothers and partners who are either planning a VBAC (or a VBA2C), or families still curious about their options and wanting an objective opinion, this class, lasting 2.5 hours on one evening, will serve as a open, welcoming place to explore this topic. Stay tuned to our twitter feed and our Facebook page for updates.

4) “DOULA! The ultimate birth companion” FREE SHOWING!

Doula movie postcard

In celebration of International Doula Week, One World Birth is helping organize and promote showing of this amazing movie all over the world.  We are very happy to be holding a screening in out studio on Friday, March 23rd. The doors open at 6:30, and the movie will start at 7pm. This showing free, and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served, and attendees are encouraged, but not required, to bring a chair, mat, or blanket.  However, we are limiting the viewing to 40 families, so while we do encourage everyone to spread the word widely, please RSVP soon to reserve your spot!  To find out more details, call us at 651-200-3343, email us at info@BabyLoveMN.com, or check out our Facebook Events Page.

We have some really exciting things in the works for April, so stay tuned!  And of course, if you have any ideas for events or workshops that you would like to hold or like to see held in our space, please let us know!

 Again, thank you so much for your support the last 6 months; we are so excited to seeing what the next 6 bring!

Warmly,

 Veronica and Brittany

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.