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Car Safety Mistake Turned Parenting Hack

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I don’t generally consider myself to be a very creative parent. Mostly, my parenting is trial and (a lot of) error and motivated by a desire to just stay afloat and stave off a child-led coup. So far, so good on the last part, but it has been touch and go on many occasions. In one of these trial and error moments, we learned an important car seat related lesson and it came with a bonus we didn’t expect.

The way the lesson came about is a cautionary tale in itself, if we’re being totally honest. My oldest son, who was newly 6 at the time, refused to get out of the car one day. We had unbuckled him from his seat, but he just would not budge. He was mostly just joking around and we knew it, so we called his bluff and closed the van doors and went inside the house. I do not recommend this, this isn’t my parenting hack and it ended up being really scary for him and fully regrettable for us. I did not realize at the time that my son had no idea how to open the car doors, even though they weren’t locked. We waited just a few minutes for him to come in and then went out to retrieve him, thinking he was just being funny. But instead he was (understandably) pretty upset.

That night after he’d had some time to calm down and we’d had some time to reflect, we went to the car together and we showed him how to open each door, in each car, from the inside, just in case he ever needed to. We showed him where the locks were (both manual and automatic), how to open the trunk and how to use the horn for attention if he ever found himself stuck in the car again. We honestly didn’t realize until that moment how little he knew about the car because we had been doing all those parts for him. Since we had to open a door to free him from his harnessed seat, he’d never had the opportunity even to try to get out of the car on his own.

Once we realized how dangerous this lack of knowledge could be, how easily he could get trapped inside a car, we brought his 4 year old brother out and did the same, with more emphasis on how to get attention from others because we didn’t expect him to retain as many of the skills of operating the car doors/locks as his brother.

We knew that kids get trapped in cars all the time and that with summer approaching, the consequences of that can be tragic. But we were so sure that it couldn’t happen to us (as car seat aficionados) that we forgot to actually do the parenting things that would ensure that it wouldn’t. As we continued to think about the situation over the course of a few days, we realized that all of the things we taught him were useless if our son (and his brothers) were still trapped in their seats.

We spent the next few weeks teaching our oldest child how to get out of a 5-point harness. Fortunately he could reach the tab that loosened the harness in his seat, because he was able to get better leverage on the crotch buckle with a little bit of slack in the harness. But even still, about 50 percent of the time, he couldn’t get the buckle undone. So we showed him how to loosen his harness fully, unclip his chest clip and climb out. It wasn’t easy, and shoes had to be removed, but with enough slack he could do it. Once he mastered this, we felt like he had finally reached a point where if something happened, he could get out and get help. We didn’t teach his younger brother how to escape because we knew that he didn’t have the maturity to handle that particular skill and I didn’t want him climbing into the front seat while I was driving on the freeway.

After all that effort, what I didn’t expect was the unintended bonus of all this practice. See, not only can my oldest son get himself out of his car seat and get out of the car, now he can get HIS BROTHER OUT. Like every morning at school drop off. Instead of me tromping around to both sides of the car to remove all the kids, now my oldest son gets himself out (he’s finally transitioned to a booster safely) and then releases one brother and I get the other. I don’t think he’s happier, but I am, and so it probably trickles down somehow.

There are a few morals here, but I hope you’ll take away from this that it’s important to show your kids how to get out of the car, even if you think they know and how to get attention from others if they’re trapped. And if you do that, you may find that in the end it doesn’t just make your kids safer, but it may make your life easier, too.

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)

 

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: