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Car Seats: Good, Better and Best Practices – S3 E8

It can feel like a headache to figure out what car seat is right for a child. Rear-facing car seat, combination seat, or booster seat? That’s why we made this follow-up car seat episode, to help parents safely buckle their kiddos in the car and know when it’s time to transition from a car seat to a booster seat.

Yomaira Castillo chats with host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez about resources available to help parents with car seats.

Podcast Resources:
NHTSA: Find The Right Seat
Safe Kids Worldwide: Ultimate Car Seat Guide
Safe Kids Arizona
Season 1 The Parenting Brief: Buckle Up! Car Seat Safety
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrating all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.

host Guest: Yomaira Castillo


Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez, an [00:00:10] Arizona working mom and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. This show covers all your biggest parenting questions for raising kids from [00:00:20] infancy to age five. If you want to know more about tracking milestones, transitioning to table food, or keeping your kiddos safe in their crib, this show is for you. [00:00:30]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Thank you for joining me on this episode of The Parenting Brief. Car seats and boosters help to keep your little ones [00:00:40] safe while you focus on the road. Back in season one, we covered when to use a rear-facing car seat, the lifetime of car seats, how to find the type that meets your family’s needs, [00:00:50] and where to shop for and install a car seat.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: But there’s still plenty more to learn about car seats. Today we’re giving you some more car seat safety tips that all parents should [00:01:00] know. Our guest has more, up next.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: We’re welcoming back Yomy Castillo, [00:01:10] the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Thanks for coming back to the show, Yomy.

Yomaira Castillo: Thank you for having me, Jessica.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So we are going to [00:01:20] carry on the conversation about car seats. You know, we talked about the infant component before, but what are we looking at as our kiddos are [00:01:30] growing and now we’re to that point of making this transition between that infant car seat or that, you know, five point harness car seat [00:01:40] into a booster seat. What are we really looking for there?

Yomaira Castillo: So there’s several things. So before we go on, [00:01:50] let me just be very clear that we want to try to keep our kids rear-facing for as long as possible. That is the best way for them to travel. But when they [00:02:00] do get to the height and weight maximum of the car seat they are using for the rear-facing position, then it is time to move them into [00:02:10] that forward-facing position. And there are several things that we’ll look at.

Yomaira Castillo: So first is what type of seat do you have? If you’re going to put them in rear-facing, and [00:02:20] they’re using the internal harness to go forward, then you could have a, what we call either a convertible seat, so that seat goes rear and [00:02:30] forward, or you have a combination seat, and that seat only goes in the forward-facing direction. There are height and weight limits on those [00:02:40] seats as well, so we want to make sure that we’re still within those, like, regulations, or rules, if you will, because each seat is different.

Yomaira Castillo: And we also know that [00:02:50] riding in a five point harness is the best way for them to travel because kids do not know how to sit up in that upright position for the entire length of a car [00:03:00] ride, right? Like they want to move around. If they have that flexibility to be mobile in a vehicle, they want to do that. They’re not very good at sitting restraint. [00:03:10] Nobody is to be honest. So we’re looking at all of those things.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So, you know, we talk about the height and weight aspect of the car [00:03:20] seat. And the appropriate time to move them. But what you’re talking about here is that ability to sit still, you know, versus their wiggliness. [00:03:30] That’s a cognitive aspect as well as a physical development aspect of that strength to be able to sit there, but that cognitive development component as well, correct? [00:03:40]

Yomaira Castillo: That is correct. And I think you nailed it. Wiggleness is perfect because they do wiggle. They’re little ones. They want to be able to move around. And so, [00:03:50] that five point harness, if you think about it this way, when you’re in a car ride, you’re in a moving vehicle, that can potentially, you know, if you get into a collision, it’s [00:04:00] going to move things around that five point internal harness when they’re forward facing as well as rear is going to keep them in that upright seating position.

Yomaira Castillo: [00:04:10] So, when there is a impact or a collision, as we call them, then they’re in that nice upright seated position. So the harness needs to be tight. It [00:04:20] needs to be over and right above, you know, their shoulders, the chest clip at the armpit level. And so it needs to be where you can’t pinch the harnessing. If [00:04:30] you can pinch it then it’s too loose. So we just want to make sure that they’re in that upright seated position. But yeah, wiggleness is right. I like that, Jess.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Can [00:04:40] you talk a little bit about what are the recommendations versus what is legal?

Yomaira Castillo: We always tell our [00:04:50] technicians when they’re becoming certified that you’re going to have a good, better, and best practice.

Yomaira Castillo: I’m just going to be very transparent here, our [00:05:00] law within our state is not the best. We do what we can to help families, but there’s always that gold standard. There’s always [00:05:10] something better that we can do. And so I think that when you find that, you know, sometimes we start off with good and that’s okay.

Yomaira Castillo: That’s quite all right. As [00:05:20] long as you’re meeting the minimum for whatever the situation is, and then if we can get to the best scenario about how to transport that child, [00:05:30] then that’s where we want to be. So there’s, you know, like everything, there’s different levels. As a car seat technician and as an instructor, I’m telling you right now, I always shoot for best.

Yomaira Castillo: That doesn’t always come into play. [00:05:40] Because there are situations where, you know, I’m working with what I have. So for example, say a family pulls up and they are in a Honda Civic and there’s six [00:05:50] of them. You can’t fit six people into a back of a Honda Civic. You fit three in the back, two in the front. What are you going to do with that other person?

Yomaira Castillo: So there have been [00:06:00] situations where we either figure out, you know, is somebody else available to come pick them up? And that’s kind of what I’m referring to. So we’re not always going to be able to fix everything, but we’re going to do the best that we [00:06:10] can.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: You know, let’s say maybe a family doesn’t know whether or not they are doing what’s best for their kiddos and they go to their local fire department that [00:06:20] has a car seat technician and they’re not doing things correctly or at that good level or that best level. Is there a risk in [00:06:30] going and asking for that help at all?

Yomaira Castillo: No, not at all. Our goal as public servants is to be able to help you. [00:06:40] That’s our goal. There is no risk. You’re not going to get in trouble. Nothing’s going to happen. You are simply wanting to be educated. Most of these locations [00:06:50] do require you to make an appointment. So don’t just show up to your fire department because you’re going to walk up and there’s going to be like, call this number to schedule an appointment. So look them up first before [00:07:00] you go. But you know, there’s absolutely no risk.

Yomaira Castillo: And here’s what I have found. Because as a public servant. We always want to help people. And so even though we may not have, [00:07:10] or they may not have a car seat or a booster to give you, they’re going to do their hardest to be able to find you one and point you in the right direction. There’s [00:07:20] nothing wrong with asking for a little bit of help. Nothing at all. And I would encourage you to do so. [00:07:30]

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: If you know someone in your community who would benefit from hearing this information, please go ahead and share this episode with [00:07:40] them so that more parents can learn about these safety tips. And please give this episode a follow on the podcast player you’re listening to right now. While you’re there, please feel free to leave a review. We [00:07:50] love hearing from our listeners.

Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Until next time, this is Jessica. You’ve got this. [00:08:00]

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