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Buckle Up! Car Seat Safety – S1 E18

Lost in the store’s car seat aisle? Unsure how to install your baby’s car seat? If you’re shopping for a newborn car seat or looking for the next sized seat for your little one, we’ve got you covered.

This episode tells you what to look for when purchasing a car seat, how to install it, and what to know about expiration dates, rear-facing seats, and more. Host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is joined by Yomaira Castillo, the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services. In language simpler than what you’d find in a car user guide, they’ll help you understand how to keep your children safe while riding in a vehicle.

Podcast Resources:
Car Seats: Information for Families
Arizona Occupant Protection: Children Are Priceless Passengers (CAPP)
Phoenix Children’s Child Passenger Safety Program
Tucson Medical Center Children are Priceless Passengers (CAPP) Classes
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Program Director for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

host Guest: Yomaira Castillo is the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services.


[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and Program Director for the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services. On this podcast, we cover parenting tips and tricks to help you care for your little ones.

[00:00:23] With the help of parenting pros and experts we’ll dispel common myths and give you helpful resources to help you in your [00:00:30] parenting journey.

[00:00:39] Thank you for joining us for another episode of The Parenting Brief. As a parent, we wear many different hats. One of those is that of chauffeur. From numerous doctors appointments to family visits, childcare and school drop-off, and play dates. We spend a lot of time driving our kids around from one place to another, and it’s our job to [00:01:00] make sure they get where they’re going safely.

[00:01:02] A car seat protects your child in the event of a crash, but only if it’s the right size and design and properly installed in your car. The majority of car seats are not installed or used correctly. Car seat laws and guidelines have changed significantly over the years as we have learned more about car passenger safety, child development, and even as technology advances with how car seats and cars are made.

[00:01:28] So stay tuned for the [00:01:30] latest information and tips to ensure your kiddo is riding safely in your car.

[00:01:39] Joining us today to help you shop for and install your baby’s car seat is Yomy Castillo. She’s the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Thanks for joining us today, Yomy.

[00:01:51] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: Thank you, Jessica, for having me.

[00:01:53] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So Yomy, could you start by talking about why it’s important to have your baby, toddler, and even our older [00:02:00] kiddos in the appropriate and safe car seat?

[00:02:03] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: So just to put things into perspective, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children. There’s a crash that happens every 14 minutes. So in a crash in the U.S., three children are killed every day. That’s a lot. That’s a lot if you start to really think about that. It’s still the leading cause of death for children.

[00:02:28] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So car seat [00:02:30] laws and guidance has changed significantly over the years. One of those big changes is about how long you should rear face babies and toddlers in their car seat. Can you help clear up what the actual recommendation is and why that has adjusted over the years?

[00:02:46] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: So we want to keep our children,

[00:02:50] this is for our younger population, rear-facing as long as possible. What has happened is over the last few years, car seat manufacturers have done a really [00:03:00] good job of increasing height and weight for children so that we can keep them in that direction. And actually, if all people could travel rear-facing, we would have a higher survival rate,

[00:03:12] with less injury and less death. So we always want to encourage those caregivers to keep their babies rear-facing as long as possible, they just have a higher maximum height and weight. And so this is just the best way to travel. You know, recommendation is, [00:03:30] we try to stay away from age and really, really go based on each individual seat.

[00:03:35] Cause they’re all different. If you’ve ever walked into a store, you see that there’s so many different car seats out there and it can be a little confusing. So just keep them rear facing as long as you can, until they reached up height and weight of that particular car seat. That is the best way to travel.

[00:03:54] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So when shopping for a car seat, I think it can be one of the most overwhelming pieces of baby [00:04:00] gear. The information, reviews, ratings features, you know, how big is your car? How many car seats do you need in your car? It can make you feel like no matter what you choose, it’s the wrong choice. So when parents are looking for a car seat, what exactly should they be looking for?

[00:04:21] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: So that’s a really good question, Jessica. There’s so many things to take into account, right? When you’re shopping for a car seat or trying to figure out what’s going to work [00:04:30] best for your family. Here’s what I’m going to suggest to you, is find a car seat that you’re going to use and install correctly every single time.

[00:04:38] That is ease of use for you, and that is going to fit in your vehicle and your child as well. So it doesn’t always have to have all the grand bells and whistles. It really doesn’t. But it does have to fit in your car. And if you have several other car seats are three car seats going to fit in the back of your [00:05:00] vehicle? You may have to find that slender car seat

[00:05:03] that can go in the back seat that can fit your vehicle and that the child is going to fit in. So not a lot of people know that car seats do expire and there was a federal mandate that happened not too long ago. I don’t want to quote it cause I’m probably not going to remember, but now car seat manufacturers have to list the date

[00:05:23] it was manufactured and an expiration date on there. And they’re becoming more visible and [00:05:30] people are learning more about them. Typically it’s from six to eight years, depending on the car seat manufacturer. And there will be on the sticker of the car seat somewhere on your car seat, it’ll tell you when it’s going to expire.

[00:05:44] So not everyone knows that. And so we want to make sure that we’re giving people that information. So when you’re getting close to getting an expiration is probably time to start looking. Is it ready to phase it out of your family? You don’t want to keep using the same car seat. [00:06:00] And in Arizona it gets really hot.

[00:06:02] They don’t last forever. It’s plastic it’s designed to not last forever. So we want to make sure that we’re letting folks know that when it starts to get that time, you need to start looking at what additional next steps need to happen for you and your family and for everyone traveling your vehicle.

[00:06:19] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: I think that it is common, this idea that you need like an infant car seat, the kind that we see that comes in and out of the car every time where that base [00:06:30] stays in the car.

[00:06:31] And then you have those that are just in the car all the time, or maybe you do have to take in and out if you’re switching cars, if they’re going with grandma for the day or somebody else is picking up from childcare, is it important that you have that infant car seat to start?

[00:06:49] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: You don’t necessarily have to have that,

[00:06:51] no. The thing about infant car seats is that, you know, we identify them because if they’re small little babies, they’re little humans and we want them to be [00:07:00] comfortable and we want them to probably stay in that car seat so that when you’re arriving to your destination, you don’t have to take them out of the car seat, but that’s not the case. From birth,

[00:07:11] they could fit into a convertible seat, they absolutely can. There’s some convertible car seats now that start at four pounds that had that additional padding that had that additional comfort. So, you know, it just really just depends on what’s going to work best for your family. There is a convenience factor in the infant rear facing [00:07:30] car seats,

[00:07:30] absolutely. Is it necessary? No, they can go into a convertible car seat as long as you’re using the right car seat that in the right belt path facing in the right direction. Absolutely they can go in one of those.

[00:07:43] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: And you had just mentioned, so I want to touch on this also, you had mentioned that even some of those convertible car seats, the one that rear-face, and then eventually you can turn around forward facing can start as low as four pounds and it may be, it has some of the head rest padding or something like that [00:08:00] on it.

[00:08:00] Is that something that parents can or should purchase in order to fit within their car seat? Is that recommended or only if it comes with the

[00:08:10] car seat?

[00:08:11] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: So if it comes with the car seat than it is allowed. You’re not supposed to put any additional product into the car seat unless the car seat manufacturer allows you to do that.

[00:08:23] So any additional steps that you’re doing, so if you’re retrofitting that is [00:08:30] considered like an aftermarket product. Typically those things are not allowed. But because some car seat manufacturers do sell some of their own product to put into their car seat, the best thing to do is read the manual. Read the car seat manual, read the thing that you’re purchasing to see

[00:08:48] if it allows. If the car seat manufacturer tells you they do not allow any aftermarket product then do not put anything else in the car seat. You can use those extra pillows [00:09:00] if it comes with the car seat or unless the car seat manufacturer allows. This gets really confusing. I completely understand. Best thing to do is read the car seat manual.

[00:09:10] That’s going to tell you if it allows or not allows, or you can contact them directly. A lot of the car seat manufacturers now have customer service where you can email, you can call, and so they’re really good about getting back to you. If anything, ever enters into question, that’s probably the best thing to do.

[00:09:28] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So there’s definitely not an easy [00:09:30] answer.

[00:09:30] It sounds like, this is your 1, 2, 3 step of a perfect car seat purchase and install.

[00:09:37] Yomaira Diaz Castillo: Yeah, there’s not, I wish there was, but there’s not, but there’s places you can go. There are car seat technicians around all of the state that you can set up an appointment and you can go and you can get your car seat checked.

[00:09:52] You can also nowadays with the pandemic, a lot of the car seat manufacturers have actually uploaded a lot of videos [00:10:00] onto their websites to be able to see, yes, super cool, right? So you can log on and you can see, and if you have any questions, most of all the car seat manufacturers in the United States have certified technicians on site as well.

[00:10:15] So you can also call them and they can help you.

[00:10:25] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Make sure you visit the episode show notes for more resources related to car seat [00:10:30] safety. And don’t forget to follow The Parenting Brief on your favorite podcast app, like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also share the episode with the moms or expecting moms in your. A little parenting help goes a long way. Until next time,

[00:10:45] this is Jessica. You’ve got this, Mom .

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