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Preparing for New Baby or Traveling with Baby this Summer

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2003, 1,591 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes and approximately 220,000 were injured. That's an average of four deaths and more than 600 injuries each day. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if babies were properly restrained. Inventive Parent (www.inventiveparent.com), a premiere online parenting resource and a provider of solutions invented by real moms and dads, is pleased to announce important baby passenger safety information. Designed to eliminate the confusion around rear-facing car seats and when or what type of car seat baby needs to be in, this is information parents should know whether preparing for new baby or traveling with baby this summer.

Types of Car Seats
There are two types of car seats for babies under one year old ? infant seat/carrier combinations and convertible car seats. Infant Seat/Carriers are designed for newborn babies through 20 or 22 pounds. They are designed to move in and out of the car. Some have bases that remain attached to the car's seat, others are buckled in and out and some have padded, crooked handles, or a stroller base.

Convertible car seats let you use the same seat from the day your baby is born through forty pounds. They will have both a rear-facing and forward-facing weight limit. The rear-facing limit may be as high as 30-35 pounds. They may have removable inserts that effectively make the seat smaller to fit an infant. This car seat is installed once, and stays put.

Compare the seats first for safety, then look at the added features. Pay careful attention to the weight limits on your seat. The seat will not protect your baby once he or she is bigger than the designated weight limit. If your baby is long and lean, watch where his head rests on the seat back. The entire head should be below the top of the seat. If he is sneaking up past the top, it is time to move to a convertible seat.

Rear-Facing
Many parents feel uncomfortable about having baby face the rear because they can't see baby, baby can't see scenery or where the car is traveling or baby is too far away. However, there is logical reasoning behind the requirement for babies to be in rear-facing car seats. During their first year, babies' neck muscles are not strong enough to support their heads unassisted. A rear-facing seat holds baby at a more reclined position than a forward facing seat. Cars move quickly, zig and zag, stop fast, run through holes and hit bumps. It takes considerable strength to counter all those movements. Your baby is never prepared for those sudden movements. If your baby weighs 20 or more pounds before his first birthday, you should be using a convertible seat in the rear-facing position. Speak with your pediatrician about the best time to turn your baby around; all babies are different and have different needs. Some safety experts, postulating that mild Shaken Baby Syndrome may be suffered through months of accumulated shakes from unsupported motion in a baby carrier, bike seat or forward-facing car seat, would like to keep children rear facing through 18-24 months.

Tips for Using a Rear-Facing Car Seat

· Read and follow the instructions that came with your seat and with your car.

· Make sure the seat is firmly attached to your car.

· Fit harness straps through the seat below baby's shoulders so that the straps run up and over the shoulders.

· Keep the straps snug. If you can pinch the edges of a strap together between your fingers, the straps are too loose.

· Do not put heavy clothing, jackets, blankets or sweaters on your baby because this bulk keeps the straps from fitting snugly. Your baby could scoot around under the straps just like a hand inside a mitten--not very secure in case of an emergency.

· Place blankets over the straps, not under them.

· Make sure the straps are level, even and not twisted.

· Do not cover your baby's face.

· Place the chest clip level and in line with baby's armpits.

· Never place a car seat in front of an active air bag.

· For more information on installing your rear-facing car seat, visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/CPS/.

Based on research and Car Seat Checks performed by Safe Kids, 85% of car seats are misused, with an average of two mistakes per seat. The most common are that the seat belt does not hold the seat tightly (63%) and that the straps are not snug (33%). Even if you made it through your first or second child's infancy without incident, take some time to make sure that your new baby is safe in her seat.

In addition, the United States and Canadian governments have written car seat regulations and laws which parents should be mindful of, not only just for their home state, but when traveling through other states. Inventive Parent has compiled laws in one easy-to-use location at http://www.inventiveparent.com/state-laws.htm. It is recommended that you take the advice of the most stringent state's regulations, and consider your own state's rules as a minimum requirement.

Make Rear-Facing Travel Easier and Safer Parental distraction resulting from fussy children, finding toys or snacks, and talking on cell phones is a leading cause of accidents. By being able to see children in the back, being organized and having toys and food at children's disposal, parents can significantly minimize the risk of harm to their children. Luckily, there are a number of products that can help make rear-facing travel safer and easier.

· Auto Mobile, for babies up to 18 months, prevents fishing in the back seat and floor for lost toys. In just one step, parents can press the mobile to the car's ceiling. The patterns, bright colors and expressive characters hold baby's interest minimizing distracting fussiness.

· Bear-View Infant Mirror allows the driver or passenger to safely keep an eye on baby while driving. This plush Teddy Bear provides the widest view of infant available so that parents can enjoy peace of mind while entertaining baby.

· The Original Car Seat Cozy is a 200 weight fleece blanket that attaches with Velcro to child's seat so that parents can ensure baby is warm all the time without having to search for fallen blankets. Unique design prevents falling or dragging and covers shoulders without choking or letting drafts in.

· The Taby Tray on-the-go entertainment center attaches to seat with strap and hook to hold snacks, drinks, books, toys, etc. and the easy reach recessed cup or bottle holder prevents distracting spills.

· Designed for children ages one to five, the Snack-Trap Toddler Snack Cup allows little hands in and out for gathering snacks, but keeps snacks from spilling when the cup is turned over, knocked, dropped, or thrown.

· The Bottle Bungee, keeps child's bottle from hitting the car floor, helping to keep children happy and preventing frustration while keeping germs off the bottles.

All of these products are available through www.inventiveparent.com.

Sharon Mullen is a parenting expert, mom and President & CEO of Inventive Parent (http://www.inventiveparent.com) which she started when she invented her own product, the Original Car Seat Cozy, after finding that attachable blankets did not exist for baby carriers and car seats for children over one years old. Later, after she recognized the lack of products and availability to solve parents' real-world challenges, she started Inventive Parent, a provider of over 200 parent-invented solutions for maternity through pre-teen and an online parenting resource. For more information, visit http://www.inventiveparent.com

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