Car seats: Do you have the right one for your child?

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By: Denise Peltier, RN, OB/Prenatal Educator

Do you travel much? Do you have kids? If the answer is yes, then let’s talk car seats.

From 1930 to the ’50s, car seats, which originated as a sack hung on the back seat, were designed to keep kids still and maybe give them a view. In the ’60s, a few were made with safety in mind. Federal safety standards were adopted in 1971.

Tennessee enacted the first restraint law in 1979. By 1985, all states had a minimal car seat law, but only 80 percent of those children were restrained. Today, you wouldn’t think of holding your baby during a car ride. We have come a long way. Are you shopping for a seat? Start with research. The website healthychildren.org, managed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has a product listing of car seats, which is updated every year. You will see a section that includes rear-facing only, convertible, rear-facing and forward-facing, three in one, combination and booster seats, as well as height and weight limits and approximate cost. Choose a few seats that will fit your child’s size. Then go to safercar.gov and check the Ease-of-Use Ratings. By cross referencing, you now have a better idea of what to look for in the store.

At TCHC, we want to help you. Our nurses have been trained and can answer your questions and even help you in your car. We have hosted car seat clinics for the past 13 years, where you can drive in and get one-to-one help in your car with your child and car seat. Watch for those now through September around Todd and Wadena counties.

Let’s review the law, MN State Statute 169.685, Subd. 5, which is listed at carseatsmadesimple.org:

Denise Peltier (arm on car seat) with one of the ECFE classes she educated in March about car seats.

Infants less than 20 pounds and 1 year of age must be in a rear-facing safety seat. A child who is both younger than age 8 and shorter than 4 foot 9 (57 inches) is required to be fastened in a child safety seat that meets federal safety standards. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or at least 4 foot 9. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height rather than their age.

This is an abbreviated version of the complete law. There are also exceptions to the law listed on the website. The best practice is to keep your child boosted until they reach 4 foot 9.

Compared to laws in neighboring states, Minnesota, along with 25 other states, has the safest law. A new law in California that went into effect on Jan. 1 states that children 2 years or younger or less than 40 pounds must be in the back seat in a rear-facing seat. We likely will see more of this.

AAP recommends that once your child exceeds the height and weight limit of his or her infant car seat, you should purchase a convertible or three-in-one car seat with a higher height and weight limit and continue to use it rear-facing until age 2 or until your child reaches the height or weight limit for rear-facing use.

If you’re really into car seats, here are a few more facts:

  • Each manufacturer has a website listing products and videos of use and installation.
  • If you’re into blogs, thecarseatlady.com can really keep you up to date on topics and changes in child passenger safety.
  • And if you want to help others, the National Child Passenger Safety Training is available in our area for anyone. Join the team of more than 39,000 child passenger safety technicians and be a community advocate or resource. Go to safekids.org for more.

Todd Wadena Healthy Connections, a community health collaborative organization, will sponsor a car seat clinic on Thursday, June 8, in Wadena. To register or for more information, contact Sarah Riedel at (218) 631-7538 or sarah.riedel@tchc.org or click here.


Tip for Parents on Internet Safety for Youth

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Mobile devicesBy: Wadena Police Chief Naomi J. Plautz

Wow, everywhere you look there is technology! At work, at school, at home, there is no getting away from it; frightening to some, and a natural part of everyday life for others.  I remember in elementary we were privileged to play “Oregon Trail” only in the library, and only if it was your turn; we only had two dos computers. J

Don’t stress about your kids/teens using the internet. I have some easy tips to get you started and the more you do these things the easier it will be and you can then graduate into knowing more about it. Trust me, I’ve had to “learn” too!

First of all, you are the parent, even if your child bought, or was gifted their own phone, iPad, tablet etc. You are responsible for them and therefore expected to view anything your child/teen is doing on them.  Have them show you early on how to use certain apps, or watch them as they use them – or they don’t get to. Set up parental restrictions on the unit. Ask someone you know to show you if you don’t feel comfortable trying to do it on your own or with your child/teen.  Search the browser history, OFTEN.  Tell your child/teen that you are going to search the history, maybe do it with them.  The younger they are when you start “lets surf the web together” idea, the less resistance you will receive!

Click here for a full list of Website Help Centers that Netsmartz, a program created by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. They put together a lot of common apps and websites for you to use.

It’s so easy and quick for a child/teen to get to something “inappropriate” on the web, even by accident.

Happy surfing!

Police Chief Naomi J. Plautz

Police Chief Naomi J. Plautz

About the Guest Author: Chief Naomi J. Plautz is the Police Chief for the City of Wadena and has been lucky enough to work for the citizens of Wadena for 19 years. She lives in Deer Creek with her husband four children, ranging in ages from 7-21. At the police department they strive to serve the citizens in the best way possible and she feels privileged to serve such a great community!