Oh, the paranoia of being a new parent. Scratch that- the paranoia of being pregnant! The lists and lists and lists of things NOT TO DO OR YOU AND YOUR BABY WILL EXPLODE can be super overwhelming. Actually, I found a lot of the lists and warnings really insulting to my intelligence… even my Bodum (NOT EVEN A BABY ITEM) has a little label informing me that babies and hot liquids don’t mix.
So, that’s why I was surprised, once becoming a Mama for the first time, that I didn’t actually know about these three risky practices until I stumbled upon warnings on (where else) the Internet. And no, these aren’t just paranoid helicopter parent warnings, I legitimately believe every parent should know these.
3 Child Safety Musts I Wish I’d Known Sooner
1. Your baby bucket seat doesn’t “Click” securely on top of a shopping cart.
I saw it all the time at the grocery store: bucket seats conveniently perched on shopping carts, leaving baby in full view of Mama as she navigates the aisle. We got a hand-me-down bucket seat and I downloaded the manual for it. I put my husband in charge of learning how to use it and how to install it properly. (In hindsight, I now know he did not install it properly when we were leaving the hospital… now I’m the car seat installation expert.) I can’t say for sure whether or not my particular brand of bucket seat specifically warns against “clicking” a bucket seat on top of a grocery cart, but I can now say that I strongly caution against it. I honestly believed that it was a design feature for all bucket seats to click into shopping carts. Not so! Not so!
I remember putting my son on top of our Costco shopping cart, totally confident that this was a secure position. Now I cringe thinking back to how bumpy the parking lot was and how easily he could have tipped off.
The Lactation Learning Station discusses this issue at length, with examples of what can happen.
Next time I’ve got a baby in a bucket seat, I’ll be placing the bucket seat inside the cart or baby-wearing.
2. Your baby shouldn’t be wearing a massive snowsuit in his car seat.
It gets really cold here in Montreal in the winter. Cub was born in September, so when it started getting cold, I started bundling him up. We didn’t own a car over that first winter, so we were not often riding in a vehicle, but when we were, I remember how loose I had to make the straps to get him in while wearing his snow suit.
Again, having seen lots of kids crammed into their car seats in their snowsuits, I didn’t think much of it until I read about the dangers of this practice.
According to Transport Canada:
Bulky snowsuits can affect the harness with respect to additional compressibility. In addition, many snowsuits are made of very slippery material. This can affect the harness system should the chest clip of the restraint not be used properly. When using bulky winter clothing ensure that the harness system is tight, compressing the material to ensure a snug fit.
Québec’s SAAQ says:
Whenever you install children in car seats, make sure they are secured tightly enough by fitting one finger between the child’s chest and the straps. Your finger should barely fit in. Also check the adjustment around the hips. Lastly, make sure the coat does not fold under the straps or behind the child’s back.
It’s not easy to dress your child appropriately for the temperature while avoiding extra bulk for the car seat. We have a Columbia fleece suit that he wears, or else a fleece jacket and a blanket on his legs. We carry him out to the car with a blanket on top. Others use “Car Seat Ponchos” or, for older kids, get them to wear their coat backwards, on top of the car seat straps.
Another strategy to keep baby warm without a snowsuit is a bunting bag that fits into the bucket seat. You have to be wary of these, as well, as they may not be totally safe.
Again, from Transport Canada:
Any additional padding behind the child can induce both slack in the harness and additional compressibility. The Standard, which regulates children’s restraint systems, only allows for a certain amount of compressibility in the foam and material used. By increasing this amount, during a collision the additional foam/material can compress to the point that the harness system becomes very loose and therefore no longer is capable of restraining the child.
I don’t plan on using this bunting bag next time around, and have found a better solution.
3. Baby carriers that leave baby dangling by the crotch are neither comfy nor ergonomic.
I had a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn, and I’d seen The Hangover. I had a hand-me-down Ergo Baby too, but it didn’t fit Cub right away and I found the Infant Insert a bit awkward. I toted Cub around in the Bjorn at home and on the go.
In hindsight, I’m not really concerned that I was putting him at risk of hip dysplasia, though I don’t doubt that it is a legitimate concern for some children. I’m more concerned that this is not a comfy position to be carried in… even looking at the picture above I just think he looks like he’s dangling!
For how much I carry Cub, I think it’s important for him to be seated comfortably. I am glad that the Baby Bjorn got very little use, since once he could sit in the Ergo without the Infant Insert, it became my main carrier. Nowadays, we love our Toddler Tula!
There are tons of child safety warnings that are just common sense, and designed to protect manufacturers from liability. I don’t religiously follow the age recommendations on toys and I think that the majority of parents can own a Bumbo without needing a special label warning them not to place it on elevated surfaces.
Since I consider myself among the majority of well-meaning, well-informed parents, and I didn’t know about the three safety concerns mentioned above, I thought it was worthwhile to admit that I didn’t know them and make an attempt at spreading the word!