Did y’all know that it’s Baby Safety Month & Child Passenger Safety Week?
Let me start off my explaining how important this topic is!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center for Disease Control report that motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of preventable death among babies and children in the United States.
According to a 2014 report by the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics), fewer than 10 percent of new parents install or use car seats correctly. Most of these parents strap the harness or car seat too loosely.
As a Neonatal Nurse, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with parents who did not know how to install a car seat right before going home. I’ve even worked with parents who wanted to hold the baby in their lap and Uber home! I understand that there are parents who are low-income and may not have access to adequate transportation. However, having a car seat for your newborn is ESSENTIAL!! & it’s the law in every state in the U.S.
I’ve also observed both moms and dads who don’t know to tighten the straps tight enough when their infant is installed in the car seat. Y’all, I get it! - When the baby is in the car seat, he/she looks uncomfortable, their screaming their heads off, and parents want to make sure the straps aren’t too tight. However, the most important thing to think about is making sure that in the event of a car accident, the baby’s straps are loose enough for him to breath, but tight enough to hold him/her in place!
I also want to add that the car seat does not have to be fancy and come with all these bells & whistles. Just ensure that you have a functional car seat that complies with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the AAP.
Here are some Car Seat Safety Tips for your newborn:
· If you are an expectant parent, give yourself enough time to learn how to install the car seat before going into labor.
· Your infant or toddler should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible (until they reach the highest weight/height allowed by the car seat).
· Always put the car seat rear-facing in the back of your car, not the front!
· Shoulder straps should be at or below the baby’s shoulders. Make sure the harness is snug! (To ensure straps are snug your can either 1) make sure you cannot pinch a fold in the harness material after buckling or 2) make sure you cannot fit your hands between the harness and baby’s chest)
· Harness straps should not be twisted; they should be in a straight line.
· Top of chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.
· Avoid putting a blanket between your baby and the harness straps. Place blanket over your baby instead.
Here’s an additional resource that includes more infant car seat tips, as well as guidelines for those who have children beyond the infant and toddler age.