Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Car Snack?
Disclaimer: This post was created with assistance from Clek, Inc. I did not receive any financial compensation for the post, although Clek did provide technical assistance, safety information, and car seat products used in the post.
I've had a number of requests lately for ideas on what to feed your kid in the car. Since most of my work and life centers around feeding babies :) I'm happy to say that the answer to this one is pretty easy: don't feed your baby in the car.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, so no there's no better time like the present to explain why feeding your baby (and even your bigger kids) in the car isn't a great idea.
It's never wise to offer a baby or even a toddler food when you aren't around to directly observe him or her eating. Kids can aspirate (choke) on even the most unassuming of foods, and sometimes it's silent.
The single biggest reason not to offer your baby or toddler food is in the car is because if you are driving, you are unable to observe any potential choking or aspiration that may be occurring.
Babies should be in a rear-facing car-seat from birth until age 2. (In California, the law requires that children remain rear-facing until age 2 or 40 pounds.)
So, for that roughly 18-month period when your baby is able to eat solid food but has to be rear-facing, there's no way for you to observe potential choking if he or she is eating food while you're driving - so best to avoid food in the car.
What About Long Car Trips?
Of course, the time will inevitably come when you're in the car for long enough that your baby or toddler will need to eat. In that event, it's probably best for everyone to take a break, including the driver - and to make sure that an adult is directly observing the baby or toddler eating.
The Basics of Baby Car Seat Safety
On the car-seat safety front, I want to give a major shout out to Julie from Clek who recently came to our house to help us safely install our 5 kids' new Clek car seats.
Ever since the babies outgrew their infant buckets, I've been on the lookout for a car seat solution. We drive a Sprinter van, and so I needed a situation that would allow for 3 car seats to fit comfortably across the first row of the van.
Thanks to the valuable safety information and car seats provided by Clek, we decided to go with 4 of the Clek Foonfs for our rear-facing quadruplets and a forward-facing Clek Fllo for our 3-year old Molly.
Here's my husband Charlie about to tackle this massive install (albeit with the valuable assistance and insight from Julie at Clek!)
Now...I can feed the heck out of a baby, but I was pretty surprised to learn how much I DIDN'T know about car-seat safety...but at least I'm not alone. According to Julie, 9 out of 10 car seats are installed or used incorrectly.
So here's a few tips you need to know for car seat safety:
- A properly installed car seat should not more move than 1 inch when testing at the belt path
- For rear-facing children the harness should come from at or below the child's shoulders
- For forward-facing children the harness should come from at or above the child's shoulders
- Always portion the chest clip so that it is even with the arm pits
Here's a few quick pics of our kids safely installed in their new Clek carseats after Julie walked us through the really easy install process of the Clek Foonfs and Fllo.
The biggest thing I learned from my Clek carseat safety inservice was the importance of your car seat manual. I mean, have you ever sat down and actually read your car seat manual? I just read both the Foonf and the Floo manual cover to cover and it had so much valuable information I can't believe I never knew before!
Of course you can always download your carseat manual from the manufacturer's website, but I think it's so cool that Clek makes a nifty storage space in the back of their car seats so you can easily access the manual whenever you need it.
(But I have to admit my absolute favorite feature of the Clek carseats, is this amazing ability to store the bottom buckles that go into the crotch strap on the side of the carseat to avoid digging around in your baby's crotch at buckle up time!!) Check out these pics of the manual storage spot and the buckle side-stick...GENIUS!
And here's our little guy Dillon demonstrating on his Pirate Parrot the WRONG way to secure a child in a carseat - the straps are too high and there's too much slack in the harness. Future Child Passenger Safety Technician on ours hands I'd say!
Wondering if you're doing the car-seat thing all wrong?! Here's a quick checklist from Clek to see if your child's harness is "snug as a hug". You should be:
Unable to pinch a horizontal fold at the child's collarbone
Sure the chest clip is at armpit level
Removing visible slack
Ensuring the harness is snug on hips
If you meet these four criteria...you're good to go and ready to hit the road!