Child Car Seat Safety Tips

Car seats can literally save your baby's life- it's also required by law in the United States. Unfortunately, only 2% of parents know how to properly install these safety seats in their cars. What kind of car seat is best for your child? How do you know if you've installed it correctly? And how do you know when it's time to get a new one?

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
Child Car Seat Safety Tips

Please be advised, this transcription was performed by a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.


Rosemary Mason: Every baby needs one. They can save baby’s lives, but only two percent of the population has the knowledge to properly install their car seat. I’m here to educate you. I’m Rosemary Mason, founder of and this is Parent Savers Episode 22.

[Theme Music/Intro]

KC Wilt: Welcome to Parent Savers, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. I am your host, KC Wilt. You can now download our free Apps, so check them out on your smartphone or tablet. Also, another great way to get great parenting information is to subscribe to our Parent Savers Newsletter with behind-the-scenes content from our show with all the latest and greatest updates. So, visit our website for more info. And we want you to be a part of this show. Did you know you can email one of our experts directly and ask parenting questions? Or if you have a question in an episode that we didn’t answer, send it in. So, we’ve so many great and knowledgeable experts partnering with us to get your parenting questions answered. You can now send us a message on the episode online through Facebook, email and you can call our hotline and we’ll get them answered. So I am a new parent myself. My son, Caron is 22 months old and I’m joined by two new parents here in the studio.

Amy Renallo: Hi I’m Amy Renallo, I am 33 year old…


KC Wilt: It’s okay, after you are 30, you forget.


Amy Renallo: Right! I work part-time for financial institutions in operations. I have one baby girl, she’s 11 months.

KC Wilt: And she’s so sweet, she was walking around here earlier. Super cute.

Naomi O’Grady: Hi, I’m Naomi O’Grady, I am 34 years old. I am a marketing professional local Biotech company and I have wonderful 18-month boy/girl twins.

KC Wilt: Wow, fun…, how old did you say?

Naomi O’Grady: 18 months.

KC Wilt: 18 months. Oh my goodness. And it’s now getting more fun, less stressful?

Naomi O’Grady: More fun, more crazy!


[Theme Music]

[Featured Segments: News Headlines - Family with Toddler Kicked Off Plane]

KC Wilt: So this morning, we are talking headlines. So, ladies, I found this headline on Time and it’s actually an opinion article and it says: Should some planes be kid-free? And this is off of a situation that happened from Seattle to Miami, a flight and they had a little three-year-old boy that they tried to put in a seatbelt before the plane took off. And he, as three-year-olds’ do, you know, threw a tantrum and everything else, and they tried it once and then finally just wasn’t doing it and the flight attendants made the plane go back, well obviously, the captain made the plane go back to the gate and the family was asked to leave. I don’t know if they got applause on the plane, or I don’t know if everyone…, I don’t know any of that stuff, but, what do you guys think? I fly a lot. My son is not two yet and he’s been on probably 20 flights already and…, and I know, every single time, I get on a plane, I’m totally stressed out. [Laughs].

Rosemary Mason: I think in this situation, if they’d brought their car seat with them and put him in the seat, I think he would have just said, “Oh, I’m in my car seat.” And he would have just sat in there just fine.

KC Wilt: Yeah, but they scream!

Rosemary Mason: Because kids have a sense of you know, of right and wrong and they know what they are supposed…, what they are used to.

Amy Renallo: What they are used to.

KC Wilt: Oh my gosh, what a brilliant idea!

Rosemary Mason: Yeah. So, and then when they travel, yeah, when they get a little older, just put a…, just pop that in there.

KC Wilt: Well, because you are buying the seat anyways….

Rosemary Mason: You are buying the seat anyway, you might as well bring it ….

KC Wilt: …as free….

Rosemary Mason: ….and you know, you just pop it in there, they’ll just climb right in there and sit and they can sit and let you… because seatbelts aren’t very comfortable for a three-year-old.

KC Wilt: Well, they said, by the time when the embarked, it was around his neck because he was scrambling out it. [Laughs]

Amy Renallo: Wiggling down.

Rosemary Mason: And he can’t see, because you know, he wants to see what’s going on. He’s three!

Naomi O’Grady: I’m getting ready to travel for the first time with my kids over Christmas and I’m terrified!

KC Wilt: Oh two! Is it just you? Are they going to outnumber you?

Naomi O’Grady: No, my husband too. We got three seats for the four of us, so we’ll lock one of them in and we’ll hold the other in our lap, but hopefully, hopefully somebody will participate in sitting in that seat. I don’t know about bringing a car seat.

Rosemary Mason: You just buy drinks for everyone around you and then you are all set.


Naomi O’Grady: Yeah, yeah. My husband was saying maybe we should make little goodie bags, put some miniature alcohol bottles in them and some chocolate….

Rosemary Mason: Exactly.

KC Wilt: Right.

Rosemary Mason: And bring, bring things that your child doesn’t normally have at home. So those are new toys that they can bring. And don’t bring everything with you because they do have diapers in your destination so it’s okay.

KC Wilt: Well, I get a little bit…, with that whole situation, where you offer people around the flight and everything else. I don’t know, I go back and forth with it because I feel like, you know…, they….

Rosemary Mason: They are a part of life!

KC Wilt: Yeah, kids are a part of life and actually I was thinking about it last night. My husband and I lived in Korea for a couple of years before kids and they are so kid-friendly that they have a playground with a babysitter at the grocery store, that you drop your kids off, you go grocery shopping and then you come back and you get your kids.

Rosemary Mason: That’s amazing.

KC Wilt: And to see a kid at a nice restaurant isn’t…, you know… what in the world. And I feel like the more and more we are moving in this way, “Well that’s a kid, keep him at home”, that we are becoming less and less, I guess kid-friendly, per se. And, and…, but also the same aspect I go on those airplanes and you see those parents and you go, “Discipline your child!” You know, they should not be at the car seat or bring a car seat and doing something like that. And whose fault is that, is that the fault of a kid being a typical three-year-old or a parent?

Rosemary Mason: I think, I think too if the people around you see you being an active parent and trying to give them little toys, they are more forgiving than if you just sit there going “Shut up, be quiet!” you know, kind of an attitude. So it, it’s you know, one advice for you for your twins is don’t go on red-eye. Always go during the day.

Naomi O’Grady: Oh no, yeah. Definitely not. We are trying to the best we can arrange it around that schedule so, hopefully won’t be a nightmare, but we’ll see.

Rosemary Mason: Good, yeah. They’ll be excited. They’ll just be excited and want to look around. So, it’s…

Amy Renallo: I was just going to say, I don’t know, I’ve travelled for two years for business and so every week, I was on a couple of flights and I actually would try to seek out, if I saw a parent with a child and I would…

KC Wilt: That’s so nice!

Amy Renallo: …sit next to them. Because I knew I was entering that stage in my life, I was kind of hoping to build that Karma, like give them a smile, say it’s okay, if their kid was hitting me, or you know, you know, just trying to interact. I would just smile at the kid and try and…. Because I thought, well someday, this is going to be me on the plane and if I’m by myself like I hope there’s that nice person who says: “It’s okay, you can sit by me and I don’t care.” So I was trying to build that up.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly. Good for you!

KC Wilt: And you know, the last thing I was going to tell you, we…, the first flight my son did, was a flight from San Diego to Italy, with three relays. That’s a very long flight. And my very… I sat down next to this Parisian woman and I was like “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!” and my son hadn’t done anything yet. And so, here I am defending and he actually was a gem, the whole flight and she was great and everything else was fine and so, it’s one of those things, is like, I took so much stress upon it and again, if more people were just like you Amy and just happy about it, then you know, maybe we would be more kid-friendly on airplanes and everything. Well great, thanks for talking about this. We’ll post this on our Pinterest Board and you can join the discussion and read the article.

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt: Today on Parent Savers, we have Rosemary Mason. She’s found at and she’s here to help us learn how to properly use and install our car seats. So, Rosemary, what are the current laws about car seats and who exactly regulates them?

Rosemary Mason: Well, each state regulates the laws. So, we are here in California so our laws are here, but then if you went someplace else, once again, it’s going to be different.

KC Wilt: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Rosemary Mason: Yeah, it’s not universal. We…. the Department of Transportation: So you have the Department of Transportation and then that and then they have the National Highway Traffic Safety Association and they are the ones who do like the crash dummy tests and all those types of things and then they go on down to the Motor Vehicle type of one and they are the ones who actually regulate the safety belts and all the little components of your car-seat. So, we have the Federal Government doing the car-seat actual safety and then, the States regulating the laws of what you need to do. So it kind of gets you know, all these little people have their little hands in the pie. Things that are not regulated be like those after-market toys. So anything you put on your car seat or window things, those aren’t regulated. Even though they may say, ‘Federally Tested’, there is no, you know, an organization that does that.

KC Wilt: Or the head pillows.

Rosemary Mason: The head pillows. Exactly. If it didn’t come with your car seat, then it’s an “After-market product” and it’s not recommended for your car seat. Now, as a technician, my job is just to recommend. You can use it, but it’s not my recommendation that you use these “After-market products”.

Naomi O’Grady: So, I mentioned I have 18-month-old twins and they are starting to get irritated, kicking the back of the car seat their legs are getting long and they, they want to turn around. What is the State Guidelines on when they can be rear-facing when they can be forward-facing?

Rosemary Mason: Right. We recommend that you have them rear-facing as long as possible. The actual law is one year and 20 pounds. So….

KC Wilt: One year AND….

Rosemary Mason: And 20 pounds, so that’s where people go: “Oh, I thought it was one year or…”

KC Wilt: I thought it…., yeah!

Rosemary Mason: It’s one year and 20 pounds. But a lot of the car seats now rear-facing now are able to hold up to maybe 30 to 35 pounds and that’s really, the AAP was really kind of recommending that you kind of keep them as rear-facing as long as possible in their guidelines because those car-seats are accommodating the weight. In Sweden, it’s really recommended and they use it quite a bit that it’s rear-facing. They have three and 4-year-olds who are rear-facing.

KC Wilt: What do they do with their legs?

Rosemary Mason: Once again, if they…., kids are used to just curling their little legs up. And you’re looking…., remember, you are thinking of spinal or head injuries compared to a broken foot! So, if the car seat comes forward…, I don’t’ know if this is good on the radio, but comes forward, if you broke a foot, that’s a lot less than if you had spinal and a neck injury.

Naomi O’Grady: So should they try to cross their legs or…?

Rosemary Mason: Sure, they can sit cross-legged or…., well once again, all these new car-seats will be coming out in the next couple of years, or probably in this next year. The new convention is pretty soon. And they will probably make them a little deeper so they can accommodate more than rear-facing.

Naomi O’Grady: So you said one year and 20 pounds. I think at my last pediatrician visit, they gave me a paper that said two years and 20 pounds.

Rosemary Mason: Well that’s what some of the recommendations were again, to get rear-facing as long as possible, but the actual law is just one year 20 pounds.

Amy Renallo: So you wouldn’t get a ticket at one year and 22 pounds….

Rosemary Mason: Exactly.

Amy Renallo: ….but everyone’s recommending that you keep the Murphy thing up to two years or as long as possible for safety issues.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly, exactly.

KC Wilt: So what’s the statistic on that? I mean, let’s say your child is 15 months and you turned and faced him forward, I mean is there less likely chance of them…, you know, is there any statistics that are out there saying that kids end up with spinal injuries or anything, because there….

Rosemary Mason: Right, I’m sure there is. I don’t still have the statistics in front of me but, you know it’s…, I think a lot of parents think, “Oh, my child wants to be front-facing…..”

KC Wilt: Yeah. And see everything.

Rosemary Mason: There really isn’t, no there isn’t any data on that. There isn’t any, it’s kind of more of a myth that, “Oh, my child wants that.” And it’s…., they are totally happy just rear-facing because that’s the way they know it. They don’t have any other difference than rear-facing. So, you know, I would recommend for your 18 months olds, if they have the right you know, seat, just keep them in there as safe, safe as possible. Actually, if we would all be rear-facing in the car, except the driver of course…


Rosemary Mason: We would all be a lot safer with our own little harnesses and everything else.

KC Wilt: Well I bet, especially with those harnesses because my friend is an ambulance driver and they see crashes and everyone’s gone, horribly, but the kids are always…, because they’re…., and they have hardly anything wrong with them because they are all strapped in.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly. I’m thinking about myself, just put myself in that…

KC Wilt: An adult harness?

Amy Renallo: We used to have the station wagon, you know, where you rode facing back with your brother and made faces at the car, but there was no harness back there.


Amy Renallo: I just think it was a little thin, tiny seatbelt, I’m sure that was not safe.

Naomi O’Grady: This is terrible but, when my kids were in the NICU so I actually have my car seats inspected and get a paper signed before I could bring them home. And when I went to the, I think it was like the…, the police officer or whatever, they had called them “Orphan Seats”.

Rosemary Mason: Yes.

Naomi O’Grady: Right, which was kind of sad.

Rosemary Mason: Yeah sometimes for premies, they’ll have…

KC Wilt: Orphan seats?

Naomi O’Grady: Right, so if you are in a terrible car accident, the parents die, but the kids are left orphan because they are so safe......

Rosemary Mason: They are really safe….

KC Wilt: Oh my gosh!

Rosemary Mason: Did for your…, babies, did they have the laydown type of ones? Or did they actually…., how big were they then? Were they about five pounds?

Naomi O’Grady: They were…., they were about five pounds by the time they came home. I had got the car seats that could have had smaller kids because I…, I mean they were very small when they were born, but the nurses just rolled up some receiving blankets and kind of wedged them in there so that they were at least upright.

Rosemary Mason: And that’s what we do recommend, that you put your child in the car seat themselves, lock them in nice and tight and then if they some extra support, roll your receiving blankets and tuck in. Don’t have them wear really heavy clothing or little hats and everything else, because that once again, when you put the harness on, it’s going to not, it’s not going to fill up, so you need to have them almost skin-to-skin with that harness and then you can tuck in things around it.

KC Wilt: Do you recommend getting a larger seat that grows with the child? Because there are some that are infant seats and there are convertible seats that are still….

Rosemary Mason: I think new parents all love the dream of that little infant seat and they can take them back and forth, and but you know, when you get to be 25 pounds and you’ve got a car seat, you’re not…, your arms are going to be like, you know, a little hefty there. So, a lot…, but…., I think I find more second-time parents, go ahead and just go right with the convertible seat and don’t worry about the infant seat anymore, so it kind of goes back and forth.

Naomi O’Grady: What about premies that are smaller? Are they suited for a convertible car seat or do they really need that infant seat?

Rosemary Mason: Once again, they have to meet the weight requirement on there….

KC Wilt: It’s like 8, 7 pounds or something…

Rosemary Mason: Some will go as low as five, but if….

KC Wilt: Oh!

Rosemary Mason:…. they got a little, little small one, maybe for one with special needs, they have the one, they kind of like lay in the back of the car seat. They are like little cots and they are…, you can especially get those and usually the hospitals can order them for you and your child can be safely transported back and forth on those. So they are like little beds that fit in the back seat.

KC Wilt: Well, how do you know if you’ve installed it correctly?

Rosemary Mason: You don’t!


KC Wilt: Is there someplace that you can go to have it checked?

Rosemary Mason: Right. You can certainly go to the highway patrol, you can call me, you can go to the fire department. Unfortunately, a lot of fire departments and highway patrol are not doing the inspections anymore.

Amy Renallo: Yeah, I found that last year, you know, when we were installing the car seat before she was born and I said, “Okay, we’re going to install it!” and then I heard that we were supposed to go get it checked, and I jump online and it’s like, well, this city does it, but only if you are a resident of this city. And the county does it through the highway patrol. But you have to call them and it’s on the third Thursday between two and four! And I’m like, I work and I’m due in three weeks and how do I get this?! And so, it was really…., so we watched a bunch of YouTube videos and we did it the best we could…

KC Wilt: Think of being progressive though!

Amy Renallo: …until, you know, we got her in, and we tried installing it like three or four times and we did have the infant seat, so we have the base and then the infant seat snaps in and so, you know, we were installing it in both our cars and checking and like watching these videos, but it was always that thing, where I thought…, “But, I’m told, I have to go get this checked, but I don’t understand how, and I don’t know where and I work and how do I do it?” So…

Rosemary Mason: Right. So, that’s the reason why you know, I developed the companies because I work as a post-partum Doula as well. My client’s were having problems with these car seats and we were having the same type of thing and we just don’t have an actual place to go. And that’s where I just come on out, double-check it and make sure it’s okay or install it for you. So you have peace of mind that an actual certified technician’s out there doing that for you.

KC Wilt: What will happen if it’s not installed correctly?

Rosemary Mason: Most likely, you’ll have some sort of injury. Your child will have an injury…

KC Wilt: What if it’s not like…., I mean, it’s in and it’s secure and you can’t like you know, shake it, hit it and whatever else…

Rosemary Mason: It’s okay, then it’s probably…. if you feel like that the back-end, it shouldn’t move than an inch but the front should move about maybe more, 2 inches than it’s properly installed and you feel like you’ve…., you know, it depends on what system you used? Do you use a seatbelt or latch?

KC Wilt: Well actually, that’s a question I have for you as well. Like people ask me, but there are the latch systems. And so, a lot of people say, “Well, the middle seat doesn’t have the latch”. My car has a latch that’s large, so it goes from either side or the middle,

Rosemary Mason: Correct.

KC Wilt: …but, so then people will say…, some friends of mine say, “Well, it’s better to put him safely on the latch on the side, but then I thought…, “Well, what if you get T-Boned, wouldn’t it be better to have him on the incorrect latch, but at least in the center where they are not going to get hurt?

Rosemary Mason: Well, in the center seat, it will be used by the seat-belt, so that’s either the seat-belt or the latch is perfectly fine. They are both safe. There isn’t one better than the other.

KC Wilt: But if you use the latch if you put them in the center seat and you put them on the latch, but the latch is on the outer seat…

Rosemary Mason: But that’s incorrect, then you are using an improper method of installation.

KC Wilt: Even if it feels secure?

Rosemary Mason: Even if it feels secure, it wouldn’t hold up in a crash. It’s not, it’s not made that way.

Amy Renallo: It depends on the car too right?

Rosemary Mason: Exactly.

Amy Renallo: Because my car manual had…, my car has a latch and it said: Only use the latch on the side.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly.

Amy Renallo: But my husband’s car said: The latch can, if they are spaced appropriately, the latch can be used in the middle. But we thought his seat was domed a little, so we didn’t feel like…, we didn’t feel like it was secure in the middle, even using the latch, so it was crazy.

Rosemary Mason: God bless you for looking at your car manual and manuals….

KC Wilt: Seriously!

Amy Renallo: I was reading everything! [Laughs]

Rosemary Mason: I was like, I was like, the first thing I ask – “Have you looked at the car manual?” “Uh, no!” and you find dusty in there, you know, glove box someplace. Your car manual and the car seat manual will tell you exactly how and where to put in the car seat. And even as a tech, that’s the first thing I look at and people think – “Well, I could have done that!” and I say, “Yeah! You could have!”


KC Wilt: You could have! So even… let’s say… well now here’s the same situation. We have car seats…. okay. We have latches and so one day I took my Dad’s car somewhere and he has latches on the side seats, not in the middle, so I did the seat-belt in the middle and I get to my destination and my child, oh bless his heart, he was probably two, three months old. And I hear him fussing. Well, my child always fuss, so I ignored him because I didn’t have a mirror. My car had a mirror, but his…, my Dad’s car didn’t. And I get to my destination and the whole car-seat, base and all, is on….

Rosemary Mason: Was tilting?

KC Wilt: No, not even tilting, it was on its side!


KC Wilt: And my child was strapped under the car seat going “Uh, uh, uh!”

Rosemary Mason: You needed a locking clip for that!


KC Wilt: So, here I am, I used the seat belt because it’s told me to, but these are seat-belts that give! So now, I don’t trust seatbelts. All my car seats in a newer car, that give, I do the latch even if it’s incorrect, because, I mean…., so here I am working…, trying to work your magic, Rosemary…


Rosemary Mason: Trying to work in the system. And that’s it, what people do. Once again, the locking clip any car used to use anything before 1996. They had the type of car seat or seatbelt that kind of mood with you and the locking clip actually holds the latch and the seat-belt in place and it keeps it all there together. And so, what you do, is get it, you go lock it in, and then, you’d have to un-lock it, put the locking clip-in. And that’s that looking “H” or that little “T” looking metal bar that little clip that comes in every car seat and then you lock-in and that holds it and then you lock it again so it won’t flip over you know, KC’s poor child. Probably loved it, probably thought it was some sort of ride or something. “Let’s do that again!”


Rosemary Mason: But I usually find now, the newer cars: car-seats have a locking actual latch-plate that you buckle in, so it’s not necessary to use a locking, locking clip.

Naomi O’Grady: You had said something about the difference between putting a kid in the middle seat or on the side as far as safety goes, and obviously with twins, putting them both in the middle is not an option.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly. Who do you love more?


Naomi O’Grady: Can you give me a little information on what the difference is in safety from being on the side to the middle?

Rosemary Mason: Well, it…, once again, all the testing you’re saying, of course, the middle is like the little cocoon area and it’s like the number one space to go. But for every parent, it’s once again, when you have multiples or maybe you have dogs, or maybe you have to use that, leather or back seat split. So, maybe you have someone you pick up every day, you have to pick up your nanny or your sister, whatever, it’s really about the best place the parent wants to use. And probably for your situation, I would have used the middle and you could choose, most likely the passenger back would have been my second choice for that. And other new cars have air curtains on the side, so your child would have been protected on a T-bone type of collision.

Naomi O’Grady: Yeah, I mean with the convertible car seats now they are so large, I might even have a bigger car, even putting one in the middle and one on the side, it’s just not feasible. They have to both be on the sides because it just…, they won’t fit.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly. And then you’ve got the front seat or the passenger seat or the driver’s seat that’s hitting it and now the driver’s impaired because they can’t really get a good spot. You know, car-seats are kind of funny things and it’s like…, it’s like there are hundreds of car-seats and hundreds of cars and you’ve got to mix and match with what kind of car-seat fits with your car. And so, it’s perfectly fine to go into any of the stores, grab the car seats from the floors and as a sample and come up to your car and look at it and then see what works best with you.

KC Wilt: Okay, when we come back we’ll talk about how tight should your harness straps be and when to replace their strength system. And when can they sit in the front seat? We’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt: We’re back with Rosemary Mason, founder of here to talk with us about our car seats and the safety of them. So, how tight should the harness straps be….

Rosemary Mason: Tight!

KC Wilt:….and where should they be located?


KC Wilt: Yeah! “I can’t breathe, mama!”

Rosemary Mason: A little too tight! They should feel really secure and firm and it should be nice and firm. The actual webbing or the actual straps should be very straight and not buckled or have little loops or anything else.

KC Wilt: And not twisted.

Rosemary Mason: And not twisted, exactly and just very flat on the…, on your child. You shouldn’t able to pinch anything at the shoulder, that’s called the “pinch test”. You should just be able to kind of grab it and it moves and it doesn’t come up and pinch like that. You shouldn’t be able to take an inch of it or anything. Where we used to think “Oh you could stick your hand underneath it and it moves two fingers underneath and that’s really not what we recommend anymore. It should be very flat, firm against the child.

KC Wilt: Okay, and what about that middle section….

Rosemary Mason: The retainer clip? It should be right across the nipple line.

KC Wilt: It’s called the retainer clip?

Rosemary Mason: Yes.

KC Wilt: Okay, thank you.


Amy Renallo: I call it the chest clip.


Rosemary Mason: Harness clip…., you know, a lot of people…., well at least you know what you are talking about. You just want to hear “Clip” too.

KC Wilt: So I know it as…., it starts to slip down as I put my ………, but then someone told me, always put it by the arm-pits…

Rosemary Mason: Correct. So when you first start it, when you first put them in, because you loosen it up, you should be down by their belly button, so as you pull the strap to tighten it up it will move…

KC Wilt: But I do that every single time.

Rosemary Mason: Good! Yeah, it should move up as you tighten it, it should move up to their …., not to their neck, but you adjust it and it should go right across their nipple line and it should be nice and firm.

Amy Renallo: I always struggle with that because my daughter’s so small still, that I feel like it’s at her neck and she’s like trying to suck on it or something and so, it will push down a little and I’m like “Oh, it’s too long!” And I push it and I spend like ten minutes just being adjusting this stupid little plastic thing that…..

[Laughter and all talking]

Amy Renallo: ….I know it will save her life, but….

[Laughter and all talking]

Rosemary Mason: So just a little lower. So think of a nipple line or across or right by the armpits and that’s what you are looking for. So that’s the most comfortable place for them to travel as well.

KC Wilt: When should you replace the restraint system?

Rosemary Mason: When it’s beyond repair from someone throwing up on it or poop or whatever. The actual harness itself, they don’t recommend that you wash it or anything else because that would just void it out. You could always contact your car-seat manufacturer and just get another whole harness. They’ll just send them to you. They are not that expensive, I think they run around 30 dollars and you can have a spare just in such a case your child decides to totally throw up on it or poop all over it.

Amy Renallo: So, can a spot cleaning, hand-washing only just wipe off the gross stuff.

Rosemary Mason: Just to wipe off any grossness out of it. But you know, you’ve got some investment with this so it’s kind of nice just to go ahead and get an extra set just in case. And this also brings up on your own car seats, check your own car seats. Make sure there are no little bumps or no little burrs or anything on your actual car seats, because once again, in a collision, they will not hold up! I had just bought a new car, took this course and my instructor was like, “You’re going to have to get a new car seat. This one has a little burr on it,” like a little bump, like in jeans how they have that little…. And she goes, “This would not hold up in a car seat”. And it was just like this little, felt just like a little bump.

Amy Renallo: On the seatbelt, in your car. Wow.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly. So, check your seatbelts themselves and make sure they are good.

Naomi O’Grady: I have convertible car seats and I had an episode where my daughter threw up all over the car seat and the cover came off, right, very easily, so I took it off and I washed and I put it in the dryer and unfortunately in the dryer, some of the clips that kind of hooked the cloth cover behind the car-seat, melted. And I can still clip it and I’ve been using it because that…, is that unadvisable?

KC Wilt: That’s a cover. It’s a cover though….

Rosemary Mason: Yeah, right. Exactly. That’s a cover itself so that shouldn’t have any problems with you know, the actual….because you are strapped in.

Naomi O’Grady: There’s nothing about the cover that’s holding the child it’s just a soft place for them to sit.

Rosemary Mason: It’s just what makes it more comfortable.

Amy Renallo: … they are not sitting on plastic.

Rosemary Mason: Exactly.

KC Wilt: Do you recommend anything side-impact or head-things?

Rosemary Mason: The… no. Unless it actually came with the car seat, then you can use what came with it. Mostly, we recommend you just roll up the receiving blankets and tuck them is right around the head or underneath the arms. If you have a smaller baby, you just kind of cushion them in a little bit. You don’t need a lot of extra things.

Amy Renallo: Because you see like the convertible car seats, okay, there’s like the entry-level, even within the same brand, the same manufacturer, well, there’s the G1 and it’s this…. And the G2 and then the G3 which is 300 dollars more, has 5 head-harnesses and extra padding and….

Rosemary Mason: “Don’t you love your child? Don’t you think you should get the…”

KC Wilt: I know! Right? And it’s like computers you always buy the smartest computer because it’s going to be outdated. Is that the same thing with car seats?

Rosemary Mason: Well, car-seats last for a good six years. So, everything is on your car seat. The date is stamped on there, all the information is on your stickers. All you have to do is look. And a lot of parents don’t even realize what’s on the stickers are on the car seat that gives you all the information: how long this child can stay in the car seat, how long they should be rear-facing, what path to put the seat-belt through. So it gives you all the information on there.

Amy Renallo: Is that a newer thing? Because I have, sitting in my garage, unused, a hand-me-down car-seat that I, it’s unused because I’m like “I don’t want to use this”, but I tried to look to see how old it was because I was judging on my friend’s daughter’s age and I wasn’t sure if she got it for her first daughter or her second, and I couldn’t find stickers or anything. Is that…

Rosemary Mason: Most of the time, they are stamped actually in the plastic in the back part.

Amy Renallo: Okay.

Rosemary Mason: So you will perhaps kind of look at it in the light because it’s one of those, it’s dark so you’ll kind of look, but you will…, it should be stamped.

Amy Renallo: Okay. Okay, and it’s one of those, I think.., I think that it’s too old, based on the age of her daughter, so, that’s why it’s just sitting in the garage.

Rosemary Mason: It might be. Well, if you are in doubt, then you know, you are just going to …..

Amy Renallo: Yeah, that’s why I haven’t done anything with it. But, I wanted, I kind of wanted to be able to say, “Oh, I can’t take it, it’s expired”, and hand it back without just saying like “I don’t trust your car seat!” you know, you don’t want to offend someone.


Rosemary Mason: And it’s true because you’ll find car-seats in garage sales and everything else and they look perfect, you know, they look good. You don’t know if that car seat was in a collision or not. And a collision could just be a little fender-bender and then the car seat is actually void. So any type of collision you have, you can call your insurance company and they will reimburse you and give you a new car-new. That’s part of, that’s the law. California Law.

KC Wilt: Well, here’s a situation. I’m a thrifty one, per se and I can’t afford car-seats, I can’t afford the large ones and I can’t afford whatever else. And I also have been a nanny for a long time and I feel like when I take that convertible car-seat, not the convertible, infant car-seat out, and I put it on the table and I’m bringing whatever…, it gets more damage or knocked around, falling off of a chair, in the house, without a baby in there of course!


Rosemary Mason: That’s good.

KC Wilt: And then it would in a fender-bender, you know, and safety-wise, so how legit is that you know, that car-seats expire and you know you can’t use a second-hand car-seat or any of that?

Rosemary Mason: I’m not sure I understand what you are asking me here.

KC Wilt: I mean, oh, I’m not asking you to approve of it, but I’m….


KC Wilt: But, you know, are you going to…., are you putting your child…., are you going to kill your child if you use a second-hand car seat or one that’s been expired?

Rosemary Mason: You know, my recommendation is that you are the parent and so you do what’s best for your child. And so, if you feel this is safe enough for your child, then I can’t say “No it’s not going to be safe enough for your child!” It’s all about the parents, the parent's decision to do whatever they need to do. If you feel like that you know, “This is a perfectly good car seat, I know that it’s a year older than it should be. I can’t afford another car seat, so this is what I have to use.” It’s better than nothing. It’s better than just sticking a blanket back there and putting a child in it.

Naomi O’Grady: Are there statistics about the use of older car seats or is there a lack of statistics?

Rosemary Mason: Right, once again, I’m sorry I don’t have my statistics, but yes, there are, if you are using them, sure. Because they do I think if its older, all the plastics and things like that start to deteriorate. They’ve been in the sun, they’ve been in the car and it’s like 150 degrees in the car constantly and they are over six years old and how much used you are using.

KC Wilt: So, then, if you have a car seat that you bought absolutely brand spanking new with your first child and now you have three and they are three years apart per se, you know, do you ditch it and get another car seat?

Rosemary Mason: Of course you do!

KC Wilt: Or, I mean, you’ve been the only owner. I know. Apparently!

Rosemary Mason: That third child deserves something new!

KC Wilt: I think it’s a conspiracy! Buying car seats every two years!


Rosemary Mason: Your car-seat journey is going to last like eight years because you know, you are going to be in some sort of booster or whatever up to eight years and then you know you’re not even going to get a child in the front seat until they are 13 years old. So you are going to have…, they are going to be in the back seat until they are 12 years old. So it’s an investment that you are going to have to accept that you are going to be working with car seats for a good amount of time.

Naomi O’Grady: And it’s that the law or is that what’s recommended for eight-year-olds in a booster?

Rosemary Mason: It’s what’s recommended in California. Right.

KC Wilt: So when can your child go from a convertible to a booster, in the back?

Rosemary Mason: So once children out-grow their forward-facing seats, usually around 4 years or 40 pounds, they should ride in the booster seats in the back seats until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. So that’s what you are looking for. And then you want to make sure that the seat belts are you know flat across their laps and they are holding them in.

KC Wilt: What if they are small? Do they have…. don’t they make little things? Are those still safe?

Rosemary Mason: Sure! And those are little….., and yeah, you can have little seatbelts that attach to their actual car seats. They have them like convertibles or they convert from the regular car seat to like a booster. Once again. You have to know your kid. If you have a kid who is a monkey who wants to climb around, I would probably restrain that kid as long as possible. Or they have special needs or whatever, so you want to kind of get….

KC Wilt: Can you put them in a back-ward facing booster like you said, it’s safer?


Amy Renallo: Do they make backward-facing boosters?!

Rosemary Mason: You know what?! I think we should all invent one and we could all be on easy street, but that’s out there! But I’m sure, car-seats are going to be changing. They change every couple of years and people want, you know, when you get another car and you don’t want that old car seat in your car and so you get another car seat to match that. But I think we are going to see big changes in car-seats because of the age and weight requirements on there and I think a lot of the car-manufacturers are actually going to start building them in the car, themselves, so you’re an option, when you are buying this car, is it comes with a car seat that converts and everything else.

KC Wilt: Wow. Well, and also, I had read in the law that they had to stay in a booster they are 4 feet?

Rosemary Mason: Yeah. 4’8”. Yeah.

KC Wilt: Four feet, eight inches. So, I know some adults that way, so should they be in a booster?


Rosemary Mason: I would…, probably! I would think they would find it more comfortable in a booster seat.

KC Wilt: Is 4’8”, oh my gosh, 4’8” is so tall!

Amy Renallo: Well, there’s that and weight and it’s kind of matrix-like rear-facing right? So it’s 1 and 20 pounds but when you get older….

Rosemary Mason: It’s actually 8 or when they are 4’9” tall. Excuse me, it’s 4’9” tall.

KC Wilt: Wow!

Rosemary Mason: You have to think that a seat-belt is made, is made – developed for a human man weighing 160 pounds, so if your child isn’t meeting that, that car seat or that seat-belt is going to injure them in some way. Each time you move your child out of their little cocoon to the next stage, you are actually getting less and less safe until you are actually an adult. So, we are really not as safe as if we are with babies. So I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to not make my child safe. I would keep them if I could put them in rear-facing car seats until they are 12 and then move them up to the front.

KC Wilt: Well, you’ve made…, you’ve me think a lot about that. I always thought too, you know, I’ll be the safe parent. I’m going to turn my child forward-facing at 2 years old. Now, I’m going to keep him in there.

Rosemary Mason: Yeah, yeah, keep him occupied.

KC Wilt: And I’m going to get myself a harness.


Rosemary Mason: Perfect!

KC Wilt: Thank you Rosemary Mason for helping us learn about car-seat safety. If you want more information on Rosemary go to today’s show on our Episodes page on the website or visit

Rosemary Mason: You’re welcome.

[Theme Music]

[Featured Segments: The Best Apps for New Parents - Look & Learn: Animal Alphabet]

KC Wilt: Before we wrap up today’s show, here’s Johner Rhiel to tell us about some great Apps for new parents.

Johner Rhiel: Hey Parent Savers, I’m Johner Rhiel, founder of and I’m here to talk about helpful Apps for new parents. Today I want to talk to you about Look and Learn Animal Alphabet from National Geographic. It’s a great App. It’s good for a broad range of ages including kids as young as 18 months old. Look and Learn Animal Alphabet is a dollar, 99. It consists of six different mini-games for kids, ranging from those appropriate for those 18 months old to those that are great for pre-schoolers and those getting ready to enter kindergarten. In one of the many games, kids touch these great National Geographic pictures of animals, they can swipe, hear animal sounds and begin learning their Letter Recognition as each one teaches them the name of the animal that starts with a different letter. And eventually, the App kind of evolved into teaching kids how to trace letters, create letters, do some dot-to-dot puzzles and also a real fun element called the Mask Maker, where you can take pictures of your kids or your parents and kids can easily put funny masks on them and save them and send them round to their friends. It’s a great App for kids of all ages called Look and Learn Animal Alphabet from National Geographic. There’s a link to buy it on this week’s Episodes page on and make sure to listen to more future episodes of Parent Savers for more great Apps for new parents.

KC Wilt: If you are using a great App that you’d like to recommend to our audience, call the Parent Savers hotline at 619-866-4775 and we’ll include your message in a future episode.

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt: That wraps up today’s episode. We’d love to hear from you so if you have a question for our expert about today’s show of the topics we discussed or send us an email through our website, or Facebook page and we’ll answer your question in an upcoming episode. Coming up next week, we are talking about Potty Training. Thanks for listing to Parent Savers, empowering new parents everywhere!


This has been a New Mommy Media Production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though such information materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical, advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problems or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

[00:33:58] End of Audio

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