by Diane Litwin, BSN, RN, IBCLC, CPST
Many new parents can feel overwhelmed about car seats and having them fitted safely in their vehicles. Finding the right car seat can be daunting in itself but add to that trying to figure out how to use one when you are sleep deprived with a new baby and it leaves many new parents flustered! According to the NHTSA, “325 children under the age of 5 have been saved by car seats in one year,” so these concerns are valid because we all know – safety matters!
Finding the right car seat
- Find the right car seat that fits your vehicle type, and child’s current size and age. Note that this seat will change over time as your child continues to grow!
- Learn how to use your car seat correctly. If you don’t know how or need help, please contact a Child Passenger Seat Technician, also known as CPSTs.
- Keep your child safely secured in the car seat at all times.
Important information to know about your car seat
- Every car seat on the market has an expiration date – typically, 7 to 10 years after the date of manufacture. This is due to the plastic and Styrofoam under the cushions that are subject to wear and tear over time which may change in temperatures in your car.
- Do NOT buy a car seat secondhand; or if you do, you must absolutely ensure that it was not involved in any accidents or fender benders.
- Do NOT use expired car seats as they will no longer be effective in protecting your infant/child in the case of an accident. No, car seats left on the side of the road are generally not safe to use!
- Register your car seats with the manufacturer, as they sometimes get recalled due to malfunction or other issues.
Ensure your baby is protected by working with a Child Passenger Seat Technician
- Adjust the car seat angle to fit the seat properly and to ensure it is level, as per the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. This will allow the infant’s head to not fall forward while the car is in motion.
- Learn when the infant needs to be rear-facing in the car seat and where to place the straps and harness.
- Harness straps should be snug and placed properly per the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
- If it is cold outside, place a blanket over the baby and over the straps. Remove any bulky coat or bunting before strapping the baby in. Otherwise, the baby could slide out in the event of a crash.
- For baby girls, remove any headbands that could potentially slip over the baby’s face.
- Do NOT add any extra accessories to the car seat that did NOT come with it; i.e. hanging toys, bundle me blankets, or head cushions. If they are aftermarket and not approved by the car seat manufacturer, they could impair the car seat’s function in a crash and become projectiles. Refer to your car seat manufacturer’s instructions or the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
1. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Car seat recommendations for children – how to choose the correct car seat for your infant or child
Car Seat & Booster Seats
2. Safe Kids Worldwide
3. American Academy of Pediatrics
Winter Car Seat Safety Tips
4. Great resources for new parents to have on hand
Car Seat for the Littles
The Car Seat Lady
5. Find your local car seat check event or local CPST to have your car seat checked
Find a local tech close to you through the National Child Passenger Safety/Safe Kids Worldwide website
6. Diane Litwin, BSN, RN, IBCLC, CPST
 Crash Stats: Lives Saved in 2017 by Restraint Use and Minimum-Drinking-Age Laws
by Laci Tang, B.S., IBCLC, PCD (DONA), CBE
What is Babywearing?
The word babywearing may be new to you or you may already be familiar with the term. Simply put, babywearing is wearing your baby on your body, usually in a sling or some kind of baby carrier. People from all over the world and in many different cultures have been babywearing for centuries. Babywearing can look different from family to family depending on what type of carrier is being used or how they choose to incorporate the practice into their lives.
There is not just one way to wear your baby and there are many reasons parents and caregivers have been keeping their infants close to them since the start of humankind. Babywearing can be done on the caregiver’s front side of the body, hip, or on their back. Tandem wearing, or wearing two children, can also be achieved with a little practice. Multiple types of carriers are available, from long wraps, stretchy wraps like the Boba Wrap or Baby K’Tan, the Moby Ring Sling, and soft structured carriers like Ergobaby Omni or BabyBjorn to name a few.
Benefits of Babywearing
There are so many and here are just a few of our favorites!
Babywearing can increase milk supply and increase your baby’s weight gain. Keeping your baby in close proximity can encourage more frequent feedings, which can boost your milk supply when breastfeeding. Having your baby close to you can help you be more responsive and aware of your baby’s earliest feeding cues, so you are able to bring the baby to the breast before they begin crying or prepare a bottle sooner. Babies who are worn cry less, thus burning fewer calories, conserving more energy, and are more contented.
Convenient and good for your mental health.
Babywearing can help new parents and caregivers get outside for a walk or fresh air. It also helps to get things done around the home. When your hands are free you are able to eat, read a book, or do simple tasks around the home as needed. Babywearing can also make going out with a baby more convenient. When you don’t have to load and unload a stroller; riding public transportation, grocery shopping, and even a walk around the park may sound much more manageable.
Babywearing can help ease the transition from womb to world.
Many of us have heard the term “fourth trimester.” This is an easy way to define the first three months of an infant’s life. The fourth trimester can often be overwhelming for the infant and for the parents. Wearing your baby on your chest frequently in the first three months can help ease them into life outside the womb. When they are worn on your chest, the familiar sound of your heart is close by. They can smell your comforting scent, and be able to easily look at your face. All these things may bring them comfort in a place where everything is new, loud, bright, and can be overwhelming.
Babywearing is for everyone.
The babywearing world may often focus on babywearing for women or mothers who breastfeed, but babywearing can be for everyone! When babywearing becomes a family affair, everyone can benefit. The benefits of babywearing are beneficial whether it is the mother doing the wearing or someone else. When a new mother knows that her baby is calm and cared for by someone else, she can use that opportunity to bathe, eat, relax, and truly find a few moments for herself.
Many new fathers are looking for ways to bond with their new infant and babywearing can be a great option. Babywearing can help promote that special bond between baby and father by providing the opportunity for baby to get some much-needed warmth, comfort, and nurturing from their father. Baby will also be able to smell their father’s unique scent and hear the deep cadence of his voice.
This can help the baby get used to and feel safe in his presence. Sometimes after birth, it can be hard for a father to know exactly where he fits into the new family dynamic when much of the infant’s care falls on the mother. Babywearing can be an incredibly powerful tool for the father to use when his child needs comfort.
The benefits of babywearing don’t have to stop with just the parents. Older siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can all get in on the babywearing action. Babywearing can help integrate the new family member into the household more quickly. This could also help lay the foundation for the relationship between babies and their families beyond just their parents.
Get help to learn how to use them
No matter what type of carrier you choose or if it is your first time using one, you might feel a little intimidated. That’s normal! There are videos online and paper directions with the carriers when you purchase them. However, many people feel having hands-on with someone who is certified in how to use them safely and efficiently is a better option for learning. There are resources to help get a personalized session to help get “fitted” for the best infant carrier for you and your little one by trying on several styles. Click the link to see what classes Laci Tang has available for you to get a personalized session!