Does the idea of getting in the car for Long Periods of Time with the kids bring a pit of dread in your stomach?
You are not alone….
Let’s face it, kids can be hard to keep entertained, especially in the car but you can’t avoid car trips entirely. You have to live your life, and it’s good for the little ones to get out and experience the world.
So, what do you do?
I know the electronics are so tempting – the blissfull peace – no screaming – no fighting but, as with anything kid related you have to do your research first.
When it comes to car seat safety, not all toys are created equal. Hard, seemingly lightweight objects become projectiles in a crash and as much as one hates to bring this up, this became all too real in the news recently. A three-year-old in Vilanova de Arousa, a town in the north-west of Spain, was killed by her flying tablet in September of 2018 when her mother’s car collided with the back of a school bus.
From the BBC:
“Local reports indicate the girl was strapped into an Isofix-anchored child seat but the impact caused the tablet to fly into her face.
Road safety organisations [sic] have stressed that the tragedy was highly unusual.”
Unusual – absolutely – but possible – and preventable.
In that same article, the RAC‘s road safety expert Pete Williams said:
“We have not heard of any similar incidents but it is important to realize that in a high-speed accident any hard object which is not strapped down inside a vehicle has the potential to become a lethal projectile.”
Which is to say, it’s not just the obvious stuff that can become dangerous in a crash. A tablet might be a surprise, but that water bottle, your heavy bag…. Should all be stored in a way that it doesn’t go flying in the event of an accident.
There’s an easy rule you can follow to make the car safe. Toys in the car need to pass the “Ouch!” test. Drop the toy on your head (or just imagine doing it). If you say, “Ouch!” (or think it loudly, tough guy), it’s too heavy or hard or sharp-edged for the car!
Car toys should be soft and light, without hard or sharp bits. Why? Because in the event of a crash, the toy could be launched at your child (or you) at the speed you were going. Would you let a pro baseball player throw the toy at you or your child? If not, it’s probably not right for your car.
Here’s the deal, items at a high velocity have a “feel-like” weight that’s as heavy as the item’s actual weight multiplied by the speed at which you were driving. That means a 2 pound toy in a 50 mile per hour crash can feel like 100 pounds hitting you in a car accident. Ouch!
So, what do you offer your number one YouTube fan for entertainment? Well, we have some ideas for you!
You can use soft, bath-time books, soft plush toys and blanket-toys are also great for car rides. Stickers and other soft things that don’t make too much of a mess can make for a fun activity. Maybe some colorful band-aids for your band-aid bandits?
Meanwhile, slightly older, more responsible and finer-motor-skilled kids can safely have soft-cover books and booklets like invisible ink books, Mad Libs, and Crayola Wonder Finger Paints with special paper.
I read that story about the little one in Spain and my heart grieved for her and her family. Buckle Me Baby Coats wants to make your car rides as easy and safe as possible. Check out our new lineup of curated adorable toys that are perfect for safer adventures in the car seat.
If you are like every other parent out there, you celebrate when you can finally switch from rear facing to forward facing. The downside? With the move there is a reduction in safety (more on this in an upcoming post) and another complicated car seat install.
We’ve all seen the hilarious YouTube videos of Moms and Dads trying to get their kids car seats installed. Its hard! There are so many parts – straps and buckles and latches and safety harnesses… The scary fact though is according to NHTSA, three out of four car seats are installed improperly. (NHTSA).
Let’s focus on the most overlooked car seat component; the top tether.
A survey conducted by IIHS in 2013 noted that only 56% of car seats used the top tether. “Using the top tether for a forward-facing seat is a must, whether you use the lower anchors or the seat belt,” says Prom. “It stops the seat from moving forward by 6 or 8 inches and decreases the risk of head injury,” explains Prom. (NHTSA).
So, what is the top tether?
The top tether is a strap that connects from a child’s car seat to an anchor in the car. It ensures that the car seat remains in the car should there be an accident. It also ensures that the child does not move more than one inch, in either direction.
The anchor where the tether connects in the car is not always easy to find. In minivans and SUV’s, it may be located on the floor, or the ceiling. In sedans, the anchor is usually located on the back shelf behind the back seat. Its not uncommon for parents to attach the tether to an incorrect anchor either. A cargo hook has often been confused for the tether anchor and is not safe.
If your car doesn’t have the top tethers anchors, – some older models don’t – your car dealer may be able to retrofit them for any car manufactured 1989 or after. If you’re having trouble locating the tether and/or anchor location, check your car’s owners manual.
Once your child’s forward facing car seat is tethered, if it is tethered correctly, it should not move any more than an inch from side to side.
Fun Fact: In a pinch your local CPST can check your car sear installation for you and also offer free trainings on installation because as a new parent, any complicated process that can be handed off to a trained professional is a no brainer – especially if its both safer and free!
Every parent knows car seats are an essential piece of hitting the road with the kids but what about all of the other places your kids are “in motion” – planes, trains, and, taxicabs are all tricky. You might sigh with relief with one less thing to worry about or you might wonder – how safe is this – really? So what’s the scoop? And when do you need – or demand – your kids be buckled in?
You aren’t required to use a car seat on an airplane. Children under two years old can snuggle on your lap for the duration of the flight. If you buy an extra seat, some airlines require they’re also in a car seat – though many family flyers we’ve spoken with stated it was never insisted on by the flight crew, just requested on the website.
Here’s the airline scoop, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents use FAA-approved restraints for any child on any flight. Turbulence could send little travelers flying, out of regular seats or from mom or dad’s arms.
Most standard car seats will fit on plane seats, but be sure to contact your airline to confirm widths and look into any other considerations. Some airlines, for example, won’t allow car seats in aisle or window seats, while others mandate how many rows away from an exit they need to be. Having this info upfront will help your family plan, especially if you’re traveling with multiple kids. The good news? Some airlines offered lower-cost tickets to kids under two, if you opt to purchase a seat for them.
Public buses don’t typically have seat belts or lower-latch anchors which means even if you lug a car seat onboard there’s no way to strap it in properly. While not ideal, most experts say your best bet is keeping babies and infants in a front-pack carrier such as a BabyBjorn, Ergo, wrap or other sturdy carrier.
Many long-distance buses also don’t have adult seat belts or latches – however, some do. Contact your bus company to confirm whether you’ll be able to strap a car seat in.
Most trains don’t have seat belts or restraints, making it impossible to secure a car seat. The good news? Because trains are big, solid, heavy, and traveling on their own tracks, the likelihood of being involved in a crash or other accidents are fairly slim. However, accidents happen, and it’s important to keep your kids as secure as possible – in other words, keep them out of aisles, bathrooms and areas between cars. A jolt or sudden stop could send them flying.
Like some airlines, Amtrak offers 50% discounts for young passengers, so be sure to investigate before booking your next trip. Families are also invited to board first, so it’s easy to find enough seats together for your crew.
This one boggles the minds of countless city parents. Why would a child need a car seat in a car, but not in a yellow cab – which, let’s face it, is just a regular old car? In most states car seats aren’t required in taxi cabs. This oversight seems unsafe and purely anchored in ease – in other words, it’s easier for parents to leave car seats at home and simply hop in a cab with their kids.
Some states, though, are moving to increase safety surrounding kids and cabs. California, for examples, mandates car seats for all kids until they’re six years old or weigh more than 60 pounds. That said, there’s no reason you can’t voluntarily bring a car seat into a taxi. While your regular car seat may be a little too cumbersome to lug around town, there are plenty of portable options on the market that can easily be popped into a stroller or, even, a diaper or handbag. Then, when you have to jump in a cab, you’ll have something at the ready to secure your child until you’re safely at home.