Thursday, May 14, 2009
Is Your Child Safe in their Car Seat? How do you know for sure? Do you have the latest and most up-to-date information about what kind of seat your child should be in and if it is installed in the safest manner possible?
It is estimated that over 80% of car seats are used incorrectly in the United States. 80%! A lot of that is because those who install the seats do not necessarily install them correctly, are using the incorrect seat, or do not strap their child in properly.
What are the types of seats and which one should your child be in?
Infant car seat: This is a rear-facing ONLY seat which should be installed in the back seat of the car (middle seat if you have 3 rows of seating), preferably in the center position. It is not always possible to install it in the center depending on the style of your seat. This seat should NEVER be used in a forward-facing position and should only be used in the front seat of vehicles that do not have a rear seat AND that have a switch to disable the passenger air-bag. Most seats have an upper weight limit of 20-22 lbs although at least 2 seats on the market have an upper weight limit of 30 lbs (Graco Safe seat and Chicco Key fit). It is recommended that you keep your infant in an infant seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for the seat OR their head is less than one inch from the top of the seat. Once they reach either or both of these targets, it is time to move them into a new and bigger seat. Depending on the size of the child, this may be well beyond one year of age.
Convertible Car Seat: This is a rear-facing and forward-facing seat. This is the seat you want to move your little one into once they have outgrown their infant seat. It is designed to be installed REAR-facing until the child reaches the maximum weight for the rear-facing installation of the seat, usually 33-35 lbs although in June of 2009, Graco will debut a seat designed for rear-facing up to 40 lbs. Many children do not reach the maximum rear-facing weight of a seat until well after 3 years of age and some after age 4. That does not matter; it is the safest position for a child. The old recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics used to be that you can turn a child forward-facing at 1 year of age and 20 lbs. That is NO LONGER their recommendation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission both recommend that your child stay rear-facing until AT LEAST 2 years of age and always until the maximum rear-facing weight allowance on your particular car seat. Once your child reaches that maximum weight, then and ONLY then should they be turned forward- facing. (Many parents have concerns about this; it will be addressed later in the paperwork)
Forward Facing Car Seat: This is a forward-facing ONLY seat and should never be installed rear-facing. This seat is designed for children who have reached the maximum weight for rear-facing in their convertible car seat or infant seat if they are in a seat that has a maximum weight of 30 lbs. This seat should have a 5-point safety harness.
5-point Safety Harness Booster Seat: This seat is a forward-facing only seat and should never be installed rear-facing. It is designed to be used when a child has reached the forward-facing maximum weight limit of their convertible or forward-facing seat. Many of these seats go up to 8 years of age or 100 lbs. They are considered MUCH safer to use than a seat belt positioning booster.
Seat Belt Positioning Booster: These boosters come in both a high back and backless style. They should ONLY be used once a child has reached the maximum limits (height, weight or both) of a 5-point safety harness and cannot fit safely in a standard seat belt with the belt low and tight over the hips (not the abdomen). Otherwise these types of boosters are NOT recommended for use. They are the least safe of all car seat options out there.
Once your child reaches the maximum weight limits and/or height limits for their particular seat, it is time to move them. The maximum weight limits of your particular seat are in the information provided by the manufacturer. Each seat is different, so do not assume it is the same as your last seat or your friend’s seat. The upper height limit for any car seat is when their shoulders no longer fit properly in the upper strap slot and/or their head is less than one inch from the top edge of the seat.
Do not assume just because your child fits within the weight parameters written on the outside of the car seat box that it is the proper seat for your child. Many children reach weight parameters long before they reach height or age parameters.
In Arizona, the state requires that all children under age 5 must be in a federally approved child safety seat.
Installation errors are the most common problem with car seats in any state. Most seats are not installed correctly, either because a non-approved device of some kind (usually a towel or seat protector) is between the vehicle seat and the car seat or because they are not installed snugly enough. Whether you use the latch or the seat belt to install your seat, there should be no more than one inch of side to side movement at the point of restraint and even less forward and back movement. You may have to experiment with your vehicles options (latch or seat belt) to see which gives you the tightest install. Both are safe IF done correctly. You should not use both the latch and the seat belt together; seats have not been tested in this manner and therefore it is not recommended. In addition, if your seat has a tether attached to the upper rear of the seat, it should be used.
Another common mistake caregivers make is not tightening the straps around the child snugly enough. You should not be able to insert anything more than two fingers between the child’s chest and the straps of the car seat. If you can, it is too loose. In addition, you should never add anything to the seat that is not approved by the seat manufacturer such as a blanket, padding, etc… (It is OK to put a blanket over your child once they are buckled in). Doing so can put your child in danger because the seat straps may not be secure enough to withstand the compression of a crash and if there is a problem with the seat and you have added something, you void all warranties of the seat manufacturer. The chest clip should be closed and sit at armpit level. Many parents and caregivers are concerned that they have the straps too tight and therefore end up making the mistake of having them too loose. This can allow your child to suffer internal damage to their organs, lungs, heart and rib cage or it can allow them to slide out of the seat altogether in a crash.
Proper installation and use of a seat is the #1 concern when considering the safety of your child. Ultimately, your child is better off in a cheaper seat that is properly installed than they are in an expensive, brand-name seat that is improperly installed.
This single thing causes more controversy than almost anything about car seats. Many parents and caregivers have misconceptions about extended rear-facing that need to be addressed.
1. My child is unhappy this way. Well, unhappy or not, it is statistically the safest position for a child to be in because their neck and upper body are not strong enough to handle the impact of a crash in a forward facing position. Children are 7 times more likely to be hurt in a collision if they are forward-facing and they are 5 times more likely to suffer INTERNAL DECAPITATION or serious injury if forward-facing versus rear-facing. So better off unhappy than paralyzed or dead.
2. Their legs are all bunched up—what if their legs get broken in a crash? If they are forward-facing, that won’t happen. You are right. It won’t. But internal decapitation with paralyzation or death might. Better to have broken legs than a broken neck. You can teach them how to sit cross-legged just fine. Or as one mom put it: “better to cast it than to buy a casket”
3. They get hot that way. Turn on the air conditioning or open a window for them.
4. They are bored. Get a portable DVD player and install it properly/safely so that they can watch a movie if it is truly that bad.
5. I can’t reach them. If they need something that urgently, pull the car over and attend to it—it is likely an unsafe distraction for you as the driver anyway if you are trying to reach into the back seat whether the child is forward or rear-facing.
6. Where did you get all this info and how do we know it is accurate? See the resources below and seriously, watch some of them. Once you see what has happened to some of these beautiful and precious children, you will never look at car seat safety in the same way again.
1. Video results for extended rear facing
The Importance of Rear-Facing: Version 23 min 29 secwww.youtube.com
The Importance of Rear-Facing3 min 30 secwww.youtube.com
Tonya Sakowicz is a Newborn Care Specialist with years of experience. She offers both consulting and in-home sleep training for clients. She currently serves as the Chair of the Nanny to Nanny Mentoring Program of the International Nanny Association. Tonya is frequently asked to speak at their annual conference. She has also served as a speaker for the National Assoication of Nannies. She is also a very caring wife and mother of a 4 and 8 month old. We are so pleased to present this very important and cutting edge research for parents and caregivers. Please visit Tonya's website
Saturday, May 2, 2009
THE TOP TEN
1. BE COMMITTED TO THE RELATIONSHIP
The importance of being an accessible and committed employer who is deeply invested in the health of the relationship cannot be emphasized enough.
2. PRESENT A CLEAR JOB DESCRIPTION And EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT
This is a professional position and as the employer it is your responsibility to present a reasonable and clear job description that describes responsibilities and specific duties, expectations, terms of the agreement, salary and benefits. Be in touch with your hidden needs and expectations and make sure that they are included in your description. Nannies are not mind readers. A good job description can be the basis for an employment agreement that every employer and nanny should share and sign off on. Of course, always open for review by both parties.
4. CREATE OPEN CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
It is imperative that both nanny and employer have a venue for the sharing of both positive and constructive critical feedback. Goals should be set and reviewed and issues should not be buried under the carpet. The most successful relationships are based upon ongoing and open communication. Do not be afraid of giving constructive feedback on performance. It is key for your employee's growth and development. Do it in a positive way. Employers should be open to hear things that they might not want to hear, too. It is a good idea to schedule regular meetings.
5. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO BECOME GOOD BUDDIES. MAINTAIN A PROFESSIONAL BUT CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP.
6. BACK YOUR NANNY UP. AIM FOR SUPPORT AND CONSISTENCY IN TERMS OF CHILD CARE PRACTICES.
It is critical that nanny and parents be on the same page when it comes to discipline and limit setting. Undermining your nanny by giving your child mixed messages sets the stage for confusion and frustration.
7. LIGHT HOUSEWORK DOES NOT USUALLY INCLUDE TOILET SCRUBBING AND WASHING AND FOLDING EMPLOYER'S UNDERWEAR.
8. INSPIRE AND MOTIVATE THROUGH THE SETTING OF SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM GOALS THAT YOUR NANNY CAN WORK TOWARDS.
9. SCHEDULE PERFORMANCE REVIEWS ON A REGULAR BASIS.
Use as a tool for empowerment and growth; not intimidation.
10. PAY YOUR NANNY LEGALLY AND ON TIME.
11. CELEBRATE YEARLY ANNIVERSARIES. ( A bonus step)