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Early 1980s car seat. ©2010, K. W.
It amazes me that my parents were even using a car seat in the very early 80s, because it was not a common baby item yet at that point. In fact, my mom tells me that I spent most of my early road trips on a small crib mattress that was laid out on the back seat of our giant Oldsmobile.
By the time my little sister arrived in 1980, though, they ditched the "baby on the car floor" routine and used this fab floral car seat. It doesn't look like much if you compare it to the car seats we have today. I can't quite tell what the instructions on the car seat labels say, but I think this car seat was designed only for rear-facing. It seems to be fairly reclined, and it looks like an early version of an infant-only car seat without the convenient carry handle.
Do you have any photos of the earliest car seats used in your family? Tweet them and tag me on Twitter - @HeatherCPST. I'd love to see them!
Baby monitors are great for peace of mind, especially in the first days of parenthood. Lately I've learned that video baby monitors are also handy when you have a mischievous toddler! Choosing a baby monitor can be confusing, though, with so many different types on the market today. Looking for the right baby monitor? Here are some resources to help you find and use a the perfect monitor for your household, and a few reviews of new and popular baby monitors.
If you're interested in nursery design ideas or cool-looking baby gear, you can spend hours on Pinterest. I have some pin boards about nursery inspiration, cute baby products, car seats, and strollers to get you started. It's also fun to type a baby products term into the search box and just see what pops up! There are definitely more ideas than there are hours in the day to buy or make all of them.
Are you browsing or pinning baby gear on Pinterest? Be sure to follow my baby-related boards and interact with me on Pinterest so I can follow you, too. I'd love to see your nursery pins and check out all of your favorite pinners, as well.
Wow! Take a look at this awesome baby walker from several decades ago! My friend Lianne notes that although this type of walker looks cool and spaceship-esque, it's now illegal in Canada (and the U.S.) because it doesn't meet current safety standards. Her brother sure seemed to enjoy it back then, though.
Do you have any cool retro baby gear photos to share? Tweet me, @HeatherCPST, and tell me about your gear of yesteryear!
© 2010, CPSC.gov.
Recently on social media sites, I've seen images shared that show Nap Nanny recliners being used, or just sitting in a play area near a baby. Did you know that these infant recliners have been the subject of more than one recall, a safety warning, and a lawsuit? There are even several deaths related to this product. If you still have one in your home, or there's one in a space where your baby plays, please take a look at the recall information and learn how to return or dispose of the Nap Nanny recliner to protect your child.
CPSC has issued two recalls of Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill infant recliners in because infants can fall or hang over the side, even if the harness is used. The first recall was in 2010, and the second was in 2013. The agency also issued a non-recall warning about Nap Nanny recliners in 2012. Four infants died while using the Nap Nanny recliners, and another infant death is associated with the Nap Nanny Chill model. Nearly 100 instances of babies falling or hanging out of the Nap Nanny recliner were reported to CPSC.
The more recent recall is the result of a lawsuit initiated by CPSC against Nap Nanny manufacturer Baby Matters LLC. CPSC hoped to force the recall of Nap Nanny recliners because they posed a "substantial risk of injury or death to infants." Earlier in 2013, four retailers began a voluntary recall of Nap Nanny recliners since the manufacturer had not yet done so.
The manufacturer has since gone out of business and will not accept returns or issue refunds. If you purchased a Nap Nanny from one of the stores participating in the voluntary recall - Amazon.com, Diapers.com, Buy Buy Baby, and Toys R Us/Babies R Us - you can contact the store to arrange returns and refunds. Otherwise, you should throw away your Nap Nanny recliner and make sure it is not used again.
Photo courtesy of CPSC.gov.
Most people don't consider their window blinds to be baby products, but if you've got window coverings in your home that have cords of any sort, you'll want to pay attention to this new round of recalls. Several styles of window blinds have been recalled recently because babies or small children can become entangled in exposed cords, which poses a strangulation hazard.
There are some specific brands that have been recalled, which I will list below. However, CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) have also issued a new warning to repair all roll-up and Roman shades. While most parents are aware now of the risks of the pull cords on window shades, and that those cords are not to be looped, these new warnings actually cover the inner cords that can be pulled out from the shade itself.
According to CPSC, Roman shades have been responsible for 5 strangulation deaths and 16 near-strangulations since 2006, and roll-up shades have been responsible for 3 deaths since 2001. WCSC will provide a repair kit if you have these types of window coverings in your home. Call 800-506-4636 for more information.
Roman Shade and Roll-Up Blinds Recalls
No hard objects in the car with the kids - it's the one rule of child passenger safety that I see consistently ignored, even among my CPST friends. I'll admit I do it, too, often opting for the convenience of leaving my over-filled diaper bag on the passenger seat instead of stashing it safely in the trunk. The issue of projectiles, anything that flies around the interior of your car during a crash, is covered in CPST training, and many techs mention it to parents at checklane events. We know it's potentially dangerous to be hit in the head with a wallet, a library book, or that really big camera you bought to capture your kids' summer activities. That information doesn't often sink in, though. At least until you read this child's story.
If you can handle somewhat graphic injury photos, take a look at the damage a soft-spout sippy cup did to one child in a crash. He ended up with 400 stitches, his skull was fractured in 3 places, and he'll never be able to move his forehead muscles again due to the severe muscle damage. All of that from a sippy cup. Suddenly those projectiles seem like a bigger deal, huh? I know they do to me.
Most families are in a hurry while loading up the car, but this story shows that we ought to slow down a little and make sure heavy or hard objects are in the trunk or tied down in some way. I intend get back to buckling my bag in with the passenger seatbelt, too. It seems silly, but I know how heavy that thing is! It would certainly not feel good if it hit me in the head at some point. Other smaller objects (and my girls' softball bat collection) will be stashed under a cargo net in the back.
Another potential projectile to watch in family vehicles is booster seats. If your older children are not riding in the booster, buckle it in anyway to keep it secure in case of a crash or hard stop. Some boosters can be hooked into the car with the LATCh system now to keep them in place all the time, too.
Are in-vehicle projectiles something you've thought about before? Will this child's story change the way you carry cargo and kid supplies in your vehicle?
Q: I have a used car seat that is in great condition. The cover even looks new. I listed this car seat on my local Freecycle group, and now I'm getting emails from people who say that the car seat is expired and is dangerous and should be destroyed. I bought the car seat 7 years ago. I wouldn't sell it if it was obviously dangerous, but I don't see how a car seat in perfectly good condition should be thrown away.
A: To answer your first question, yes, car seats do expire. In fact, most car seats have an expiration date on one of the manufacturer labels that can be found on the sides or bottom of the car seat. To find out if a car seat is expired, you should look for that expiration date label first. If there's no expiration date listed, use the date of manufacture and consult the car seat owners' manual. Many manufacturers give a maximum car seat life in the manual. If not, call the manufacturer and ask.
The rule of thumb, if no expiration date is given on the seat, is that car seats expire six years from the date of manufacture. A few car seat manufacturers allow up to 10 years of life for their car seats, but unless you have specific directions from the manufacturer, the car seat label or the manual that state otherwise, you should stop using a car seat after 6 years. Expired car seats should be destroyed so that no one picks the seat up thinking that it is still safe to use. Good ways to destroy car seats include cutting up the cover, cutting the harness straps, and using a saw or large hammer to break the shell. If you can actually watch the car seat go into a garbage truck and watch it be crushed, this is a good option, too.
One very good reason to stick to manufacturer's car seat expiration dates is that crash data and tests are constantly being used to make changes to car seats so they can do a better job of protecting children in crashes. Using a car seat that is many years old could mean your baby's car seat isn't utilizing newer technologies that could be lifesaving in a crash, or it could be out of date in terms of safety standards. Older car seats are also more likely to have been involved in a recall that was missed, which could mean there's a dangerous problem with the seat. Giving car seats an expiration date isn't about money. It's about making sure your child's car seat is as safe as possible.
While I can understand the frustration of throwing away something that still looks good, it's important to understand that the breakdown of a car seat is not something that can always be seen with the naked eye. Car seats are made of plastics. Consider what happens to a plastic toy if it is left outside for some time. The plastic becomes brittle and can develop cracks when stressed. Car seats are subjected to extreme heat and extreme cold while sitting in your vehicle, so the plastics eventually react just like that toy left in the sun.
You may not be able to see that the plastic is breaking down, or is more brittle, but that change could be dangerous in a crash when the car seat shell is stressed. You can see this problem in action by watching this crash test video of an expired car seat. In the video, the car seat harness breaks through the shell of the seat upon impact. This car seat would not have adequately protected a child in a crash. It's far safer for parents to buy a new car seat than to take a chance on a car seat that may be too old to function properly in a crash.
Heather Corley is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor.