This year has been a great one for my friends who are royal headline watchers. Who doesn’t love to hear about the arrival of a healthy baby? Many of the stories were similar to what we would have heard 20 years ago, but one in particular was both modern and interesting.
The day baby George came home from the hospital, his father presented him to the media, then buckled him in the car seat himself, and drove his family home. People loved to buzz about it.
If you’re a parent, you know how intense it can be to buckle up baby for the first time — and most of us do it without the presence of the media. “Believe, me it wasn’t my first time,” William said, “and I know there’s been some speculation about that. I had to practice, I really did — I was terrified it was going to fall off or the door wasn’t going to close properly.”
If you are expecting your first child, or have another baby on the way and want to refresh your skills, what should you do to prepare for safe car rides?
First off, schedule your car seat appointment at the beginning of your third trimester, with a certified child passenger safety technician. Not all nurses are certified child technicians, and not all fire stations have certified technicians. If you take the time to schedule your appointment early, you won’t run around later to find the right person.
As cute as your baby looks all wrapped up like a burrito, it’s important not to swaddle your baby in the car seat. Swaddling prevents the baby from being properly positioned in the car seat. If it’s cold outside, put a blanket over the seat.
What about making sure the straps are tight enough?
Angelica Baker, Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s child passenger safety coordinator says, “Don’t be afraid to tighten up that harness. Sure, babies are little, and slightly fragile, but for that same reason you need to keep the harness nice and snug.” If the harness is too loose, your child could come out of their car seat in a car crash.
And how can you judge fit?
“We used to say that you shouldn’t be able to place more than one or two fingers underneath the harness strap, but mom’s hands and dad’s hands are different, leading to different fitting straps on every ride,” Angelica says. “Instead, make sure the harness straps are snug enough that you can’t pinch them off at the shoulder.”
Finally, although they are cute, you shouldn’t add toys, doodads, or mirrors to your car seat or car. None of those objects were crash tested. If you think about it, you would never throw a hard plastic bear at a baby at 30 mph, so don’t risk that hard plastic bear hitting your child at that speed, or more.
And here’s some good news: if you follow safety rules consistently and buckle up yourself, you’re creating good habits. When sweet little baby is a tall, lanky teen, you will have spent many years reinforcing your message, and hopefully your teen will buckle up when you aren’t there.
For more questions about child passenger safety, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com.
• Tiffaney Isaacson is the injury prevention coordinator at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Reach her at (602) 546-1712.