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Traumatic Brain Injuries: A Different Kind of Child Safety Awareness

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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and although there are many injury awareness causes that are near and dear to my heart, none are quite as personal as brain injury awareness. I am hoping I can use our story, though not one about car seats, to help keep other kids safe and to keep families from going through what we went through.

When my oldest son Elijah was 10 months old, my husband had a conference out of town and Elijah and I tagged along to get out of our house for a bit. Elijah was crawling at that point, but not yet walking and while our hotel room was generally cleanish, whenever he crawled on the ground he came back to us with dirty hands and feet. I was a first-time parent and perhaps a bit above overly-anxious, and so to keep him from getting dirty or sick, a lot of our time was spent on the bed.

On the last day of the trip, Elijah and I had a few hours to kill before my husband returned from his last meeting. I don’t remember how it started, but we were playing a sort of game where Eli would throw his pacifier off the bed and then I’d grab it and give it back to him. I was never away from his side even for a moment and while in hindsight this wasn’t a great idea, in the moment, it really didn’t ping my danger radar.

And then just like all the times before, he threw his pacifier over the edge of the bed, but as I bent down to get it, he followed and crawled head first off the bed. The bed was about 3 feet tall and the flooring was exceptionally hard (we were on the ground floor). When I picked him up, I knew something was wrong. He couldn’t or wouldn’t hold his head up. He was barely conscious and obviously not okay.

We went by ambulance to the hospital where he got neck x-rays, which were blessedly clear. I’ll spare some of the details but we were released from that hospital and told that he was fine. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t fine.

As the day progressed, Elijah just was not himself and then began vomiting profusely. He had thrown up at the earlier emergency room, but he was one of those babies who threw up a lot and the doctor dismissed it as being upset. The second hospital we went to pulled us back immediately, did a stat CT scan and it showed a bleed around my baby’s brain. A traumatic brain injury.

We spent the next several days in the hospital, monitoring Elijah, managing his pain and nausea and watching for seizures (of which he had two, but thankfully he never had another). It was scary and stressful beyond words.

For months we watched and waited to see what the long term ramifications might be. His neurosurgeon said there was no way to know if he might have deficits as he grew, which seemed to prolong the nightmare indefinitely.

It will be 6 years later this month since this happened and Elijah is happy and healthy and thriving. He has had some fine motor deficits that may or may not be related to his injury, but you would never in a million years know that he once had a ring of blood around half his brain. We got lucky and we know it. (We also got great medical care at the second hospital and we are forever grateful for it.)

So this March, I’d like to take a second to implore you not to put babies on high surfaces. I can’t tell you how many threads I’ve read on parenting websites about babies falling off beds and how “it happens to everyone” and, well, it just doesn’t have to. Babies do not belong on elevated surfaces. Elijah was inches away from me when he fell and if we’d been on the floor instead of on the bed, it never would’ve happened.

Babies belong on the floor, for their development, and for their safety. Please don’t leave them on beds or changing tables or any elevated surfaces. There’s no convenience that is worth the risk to your child.

2019 Clek Liing Review: Nothing Short of AmazLiing

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Clek Liing Infant Carseat First Look Review

In a market filled to the brim with good rear-facing only (RFO) infant carseats, it’s not easy to make one that stands out. So many features that used to be luxuries are now standard, and coming up with something truly unique is a rarity lately. For the last 2 years, we’ve all been waiting to see what Clek would bring to the RFO table. Since they have a history of innovative designs and advanced safety features, the expectations were high. I’m happy to report that I recently got my hands on a final demo model of the Clek Liing and let me just say, you won’t be disappointed. At the risk of spoiling all the good stuff, let’s just jump right in.

Clek Liing Overview

  • 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall (must have 1 inch of shell above head)
  • Rigid lower LATCH anchor connectors that extend up to 8 inches
  • Metal load leg for crash stability
  • Belt-tensioning system in base
  • 7-position recline adjuster built into base (folks, hold onto your hats!)
  • European belt routing for baseless install
  • Extendable canopy with peekaboo window, 100+ SPF
  • 2-piece shell for ventilation and side impact protection
  • EPP energy-absorbing foam lining the shell
  • 2-stage infant insert
  • Narrow enough for 3 across
  • 3 fabric options (jersey knit, C-Zero+ and 100% Merino Wool), all are free of brominated and chlorinated flame-retardants and the wool fashion is also free of all flame retardants
  • 9-year lifespan before expiration
  • MSRP $399-$479 (depending on fabric)
  • Pre-order Clek Liing

 

Liing Fabrics & Fashions

Jersey Knit fashions are Chrome & Carbon: this fabric is a lightweight polyester-spandex blend that feels as soft as comfy pajamas and is also free of brominated and chlorinated flame-retardants.

 

C-Zero+ fashions are Thunder & Slate: this a Crypton fabric with a moisture barrier that is fluorine-free in addition to being free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.

 

Merino Wool fashion is Mammoth: luxuriously soft 100% non-mulesed Merino Wool is free of all chemical flame-retardants and is naturally temperature regulating.

 

Liing Measurements

Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 Booster Review: No Armrests? No Problem!

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I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’ve had this booster for a year.

I’ve taken so long to review it for a few reasons. Mainly, I’m going to blame the new baby but a big part of it was that I wasn’t ready to admit that my first baby, who is 6.5 and not even remotely a baby, was big enough for a booster. And over the course of this review I came to the conclusion that he really isn’t ready to ride in a booster yet (another story for another time), but at least in the year-long process of discovering that, we got a good feel for this unique and eye-catching booster seat.

The Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 booster first caught my attention when I saw how narrow it was. I have a very tricky 3-across situation and I was hopeful that it would fit because of its narrow size and the lack of armrests (it did!). Once I got my hands on it, I was impressed with the narrow footprint, but I was more taken by other qualities. This booster is portable and easy to use and the quality is nothing short of outstanding, as you would expect from Peg Perego.

 

Flex 120 Overview:

  • For kids 40-120 pounds, 39-63″ tall
  • 4D Total Adjust Technology- adjusts in 4 ways: headrest, upper backrest, side wings and the recline of the seat
  • Rigid LATCH attachments which stow when not in use
  • Comfort Recline- 5 different recline positions that are not dependent upon the vehicle backrest position
  • 8 height positions, increasing by 1 inch per adjustment
  • Easy folding with carrying handle – folds with one quick motion
  • All Side Impact Protection- protects child’s head, neck, and spine
  • Aluminum reinforced backrest
  • 2 integrated cup holders that can stow completely into the base
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam in headrest and side wings
  • Made in Italy
  • MSRP $279 – $299

 

Measurements:

  • Width: 14”
  • Depth: 12”
  • External width of headrest: 15.5”
  • Width of side wings 17.5” – 20.5”
  • Shoulder belt guide heights 14” – 22”

Flex 120 Fashions:

Crystal Black, Monza (Black/Red), Licorice

   

Fit to Child:

Head Slump: When it’s a Problem and How (Not!) to Fix it

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Putting a newborn baby in a car seat is daunting even in the best of circumstances. They are just so tiny and fragile, the buckles on the seat seem so huge and it often feels like you’re just going to smush (technical term) their insides when you tighten the harness. As they grow, they feel less breakable, but it seems there’s always something new to worry about when it comes to car seats.

One of the most common questions I see on parenting and car seat groups is regarding head slump, typically in forward-facing kids or in older rear-facing children. There are new aftermarket products coming out each day to address this issue, but as a Pediatric Physical Therapist and a CPS Technician, I have some grave concerns that these “solutions” to head slump might be much worse than the problem itself.

What is head slump?

You know when your husband sits next to you on an airplane and immediately falls asleep while you are stuck alone, anxious and bored out of your mind for the next 3 hours? (No? Just me?) Well, that moment when they’re so deeply enjoying their abandonment nap that their head falls forward is “head slump”.

Head slump is when the chin moves towards the chest in a moment of forward flexion of the cervical (upper) spine. It is most common when a person is sleeping upright, and to an adult, it’s pretty uncomfortable. Adults are not terribly flexible and some of us carry a tiny little bit (okay, a ton) of tension in our necks. But thankfully, our kids don’t. Their necks are more mobile than ours and much less prone to tightness from tension, so the forward flexed head isn’t usually painful for them. The person sleeping on the airplane isn’t in any danger from their head slump position and likewise, for most kids, it’s really a non-issue.

When is head slump something to worry about?

The first and most common scenario where head slump is a real problem is in a newborn. The airway in a newborn baby is tiny, about the diameter of a drinking straw, and often it’s a little more flexible than an adult’s, meaning it’s easier to partially block or collapse. Another reason head slump can be concerning for a newborn is that they may not have the neurological drive to reopen their airway. That is, their brain may not be developed enough to realize that it’s being deprived of oxygen or to tell the muscles to do something about it. Finally, because newborns have proportionally large heads on tiny neck muscles, even if they have the drive to lift their heads, they often lack the strength to make that lift against gravity.

The other situation where head slump is a concern is in older children who do not have adequate head control. These are typically children with medical diagnoses of some sort and the problem is essentially the same as in a newborn – if a child cannot lift and maintain their head upright against gravity, then they need to be positioned to make sure that head slump does not occur. The same goes for babies with tracheomalacia, where the trachea is not as rigid and may be more prone to collapse.

These two groups aside, head slump is not a problematic position for typically developing children and older babies. These children have wider airways, the ability and awareness to lift their heads if they’re not getting adequate air, and the position itself isn’t inherently dangerous for the neck. There’s not a universal age where this happens, but once baby can fully lift their head and hold it up to look around for a few minutes during tummy time, they’re likely in the clear.

What should you do about head slump?