My certification to be a CPST - Child Passenger Safety Technician, was 5 day course! There are a myriad types and styles of car seats, from those that laydown for preemies, special seats for special needs children and youth, to low back boosters for 10-12 year olds and then the cars are all different and, not all cars are compatible with the seat that has been chosen.
Creating your wish list for the baby shower invariably includes choosing a car seat or travel system. But there are so many options, so many variables! In actual fact, choosing the car seat really does come down to personal choice and how much you want to spend. There are, however, a few car seat options that don’t fit well in certain cars, but those are mostly in the high end cars and high end car seats. For example, not all Mercedes are intended to be a family car.
The primary concerns really revolve around fitting the seat into the car correctly and then getting baby securely into the seat. Over the years I have heard many things from my clients …"I was told to go to the fire department." Not all of them have CPST’s on staff. “Ask the sheriff's office." Again, not all have CPST’s on board. “The nurse said the baby is fine.” Not many nurses are CPST certified. "I have read the car seat manual and the car’s manual about car seats....I don’t understand!"
Close to 90% of child restraints are not properly installed or used. For example, “We reduce the injury risk by 64% for newborn to 8 year olds and [by] 31% for 9-12 year olds by keeping them in the rear seat." Rear seat and rear facing are two of the most important and simple things we can do to keep our children safe.
Recently car seat rules and laws where adjusted and are being implemented throughout this year. Some as soon as Jan 1 other states July 1. “The absolute minimum age at which a child should be turned forward facing is 2-years-old according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). But they should remain rear facing to the upper rear-facing height/weight limit of their child restraint seat.” This is due to the lack of bone strength and density, and, the child’s head being so very heavy. Depending on the height and maturity of your child (no longer the weight), a child over 4 can remain in a 5 point harness forward facing, until about age 8. Then they may transition to the seat belt with a high back booster positioning the belt properly over the shoulder and low across the belly/thighs. Once they are 4’9” they may be ready to use a seat belt, having proved they can pass the 5 step test.
Due to turbulence in airplane flights it is recommended that children who are still rear facing in the car seats, bring the car seat on the plane to be used in the seat you have purchased for them. Most seats are FAA compliant. Also, a seat that has been in the hold of the plane has probably been thrown around like all the other luggage and may no longer be safe. Some experts say, such a car seat can be regarded as having been in an accident and should to be replaced. This Cares Safety Harness is a good option for toddlers up to about 44 pounds.
In pregnancy, positioning the seat belt can be tough. The lap portion needs to be under the tummy. There is a Tummy Shield which keeps the lap belt low. The company is working to get approval for use in pregnancy.
Beverley Bouchard is a certified birth and postpartum Doula. She also holds certifications for supporting families through miscarriage, stillbirth or expected early loss after birth. Beverley works with parents in a birth center and in hospital settings. When she is at a home birth, her role is that of the midwife's assistant. Her CPST certification is through SafeKids and NHTSA. Beverley has worked with new families in a variety of ways for many years and has been a doula for over 5 years. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .