This week on the Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast we are talking all about infant car seat safety with a certified child passenger safety technician and preventable injury specialist, Brigette Watson.
This is a topic that I am always happy to discuss and bring awareness to because car seats are something many of us use every day with our little ones, and it’s actually so easy to make mistakes without even realizing it. I know even I can be guilty of it!
Brigette is an absolute treasure trove of knowledge. You’ll hear us talk about everything from choosing a car seat, to prepping, and what to know before you even have your baby.
She touched on what you can expect from a child passenger safety technician in the hospital and how it might differ based on state regulations.
We cover common car seat safety questions like sleeping in a car seat, rear-facing vs. forward-facing, summer safety things, and some winter stuff too. Overall, this is just such an educational episode that I’ve been so excited to share with you all.
Let’s get into a little bit of what you’ll hear in this week’s episode!
- Choosing a car seat for your baby
- What can you expect if you meet with a CPST tech vs what they might do in the hospital?
- It’s always worth meeting with a professional
- Car seat safety: sleeping and duration of time in the seat
- Forward-facing vs. rear-facing car seat
- About Brigette
- This week’s sponsor: The Ava Bracelet
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Choosing a car seat for your baby
The first question I asked Brigette was about choosing a car seat for your baby. I know this is a question that comes up a lot for pregnant women. And she totally agreed that is one of the most popular questions she gets in her job as well!
She doesn’t recommend a specific seat, because that is her professional preference, but she recognizes that it can feel really overwhelming because there are just so many options out there. She wanted to remind listeners that every single car seat on the market here in the US had to pass the same safety standards for it to be safe.
Here’s a bit about what she had to say about the choosing process,
“And so, I tell parents, what’s really important is you want to pick a car seat that works for multiple categories. So you want a seat that is going to fit in your car, because not every car seat is compatible for every car.
You want a car seat that fits your budget, that is super important to take into consideration. You want a car seat that fits your family dynamics. So, if you have multiple children, you need to take that in consideration.
And then what car seat you feel like you can install the right way every time which is what we’re here to help for.”
She goes on to elaborate that price does not equal a better or safer seat, because they really do pass all the same safety standards! At the end of the day, it’s about what will work best for your family.
Some additional tips she gives on choosing a car seat for your baby:
- Remember that the infant car seat usually only lasts for around a year, so keep that in mind when you are looking at cost
- Make sure the car seat is compatible with your car make and model!
- Some stores will let you take the sample seat in store out to your car to see what installation is like and see if it fits (especially if you need to fit three across the back seat)
- Check your car manual to see where car seat installation is even allowed. There are a number of makes and models out there that do not allow for middle seat installation
- Try out your convertible seat in forward facing and rear facing positions
What can you expect if you meet with a CPST tech vs what they might do in the hospital?
I am going to take her answer directly from the episode here for you guys,
“So as a nationally certified child passenger safety tech, we all have to follow the same standards, guidelines, and ethics. So no matter where you are meeting with a tech, if it’s a national certified tech, that happens to also be a nurse, or someone else in the hospital when you’re delivering, if it is a local fire station, police officer station, EMS, or if it’s someone that’s a private tech, who may be open their own business or you know, whatever it might be, we are all bound by the same roles and we all get the same certification.
And so our job truly as child passenger safety techs, are to be educators. That is really what you want out of a tech is for them to educate you on your seat, how to use it, and for you to be the one that has your hands on it.”
She goes on to say that most scheduled appointments with a tech last between 20-45 minutes. Additionally, most (if not all!) appointments with car seat techs and car seat safety check events (say at your local fire department or town hall) are a 100% free service. This is because they never want a fee to get in the way of the service and a preventable injury.
It’s always worth meeting with a professional
I love that Brigette dove into some advice for parents that whether this is your first or your fifth child, it’s always a good idea to review car seat installation and proper use with a safety tech. She especially warns about getting advice from other parents – not in a bad way – but it’s just so easy for misinformation to be spread!
We discuss the importance of practicing with your car seat before your baby arrives as well. I share that I used an Elmo doll to practice with mine before Ryland arrives, and she agreed that this is a great idea. Especially as a way to practice what you learned from a CPST.
Car seat safety: sleeping and duration of time in the seat
Okay, so this was a question I was really looking forward to chatting with Brigette about because it comes up a lot. There are a lot of myths and facts floating around out there, so I was hoping to set the record straight.
First, Brigette spoke to how long your baby should be in the car seat at a time and said that you should give your baby a break about every 2 hours. She spoke to the fact that rear-facing infant car seats are designed with a recline that keeps baby’s airway open even if they do fall asleep. But after about 2 hours, babies naturally slide down and relax and the positioning can become less optimal. This is where that 2 hour recommendation stems from.
She goes on to say that if your baby is asleep and you bring them inside in the infant carrier or take it out of the car, you should not allow them to continue sleeping in their carrier. This is because the car seat loses its recline when it is sitting flat on the floor. It is MUCH safer to take baby out and move them to a safe sleep environment. And this is true whether they are sleeping or not.
Furthermore, she said to make sure anyone who is caring for your child knows these safety protocols including your family, nanny, and daycare.
Forward-facing vs. rear-facing car seat
Brigette and I talk a lot about this topic, but for the purposes of these show notes, I want to leave you with her bottom-line tip on when it comes to moving out of each car seat, switching to forward-facing vs. rear-facing, and when to switch to a booster, too.
Here’s what she had to say,
“Height and weight! I can’t stress that enough. The rule of thumb is you want to max out each seat. So, you want to max out the height and weight of your infant carrier, then you want to max out the height and weight of your convertible, you want to max out the height, weight, and harness of your combination. And then the same with your booster.”
At the end of the episode, you’ll hear Brigette share some really specific seasonal car seat safety tips that you don’t want to miss!
Bridgette Watson is a Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and National Instructor for the curriculum from Greenville, South Carolina. Bridgette has been working in pediatric healthcare since 2009, and has a background in Early Childhood Development, and is currently earning her Master’s from Clemson University in Transportation Safety & Administration.
Bridgette is working on pursuing work in Child Passenger Safety Research to help keep families safe on the road. Bridgette continues to work today in healthcare focusing on Injury Prevention and Child Passenger Safety and Special Healthcare needs in regards to child passenger safety.
- NHTSA.GOV: Resource parents need for proper car seat info
- www.CPSC.gov (super important for recalls)
Connect with Brigette on her brand new Instagram page @momsforsafety where she will be sharing evidence based safety information for parents!
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