Car Seat Safety

Car seats can seem daunting… there are tons of options to choose from and many parents just hope they are putting the seat and their child in properly. And even though we all may not know how to properly use and install a car seat, it is important that we research or reach out to a trained professional for help if we are unsure. Car seats are so important and are so necessary to keep everyone safe in the car. In most cases, using the seat properly can save your child from injury or even death.

  • Did you know that the number one cause of death for children (ages 1-13) in the United States is vehicle crashes? *
  • Did you know that having your child restrained in a car seat reduces the risk of injury during a crash by 71% to 82%? **
  • Did you know that 3 out of 4 car seats are not being properly used? ***
  • Did you know that drivers who buckle up are more likely to have passengers that are buckled as well? ****

Choosing a seat for your child:

When choosing a seat for your child, you need to think about these 4 things:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Development Levels

In Illinois your child has to be 8 years old, 4’9” and between 90 and 110 pounds to be out of their car seat. It is important that your child outgrows the car seat in weight or height according to the car seat manufacturer before moving up to the next level or turning the rear facing seat around. Many parents do this too early, it is best to outgrow your current seat before using a new one.

Installing your car seat:

Check your car manufacturer guide to find out where the safest place in the car seat is for your car. It also lets you know where you can use the anchor system in the car and if you should use the car seat’s tether. Where you put the car seat in the car also depends on who else is in the car. The car seat manufacturer also sets the guidelines for what else should be used with the car seat. Many parents add things like toys or mirrors to their child’s seat. If the car seat manufacturer doesn’t have them listed as an approved add on, they are considered unregulated products and can affect the safety of your car seat. This includes heavy coats during the winter. The thick coats cause you to loosen the child’s harness which prevents it from fitting properly when the thick coats compress during a car accident. For more info about what to do in the winter, check out this post by The Car Seat Lady:

Where can you go to get help properly using your car seat?

There are resources in our area to help you make sure you have picked the right seat for your child and to make sure that the car seat is in properly.

The CUPHD makes appointments for free inspections every other Thursday from 9am-4pm. Call 217-353-4932 to schedule your appointment.

I also schedule appointments anytime and come to your home to show you how to use your car seat properly. Find out more about this here: Free Range Babies or send me an email at

You can also go here to find out if you are using the correct car seat based on your child’s age, weight and height:

Here are my 3 kids and why they are in the seat they are in!


Abigail is 4’6” and 70 pounds. Her booster seat can be used until she gets to 100 pounds and 4’9”. Abby is still in a booster seat, even though she has met the age & developmental requirements to sit with just the seat belt. She has not met the height and weight requirements in Illinois to sit in a seat without a booster, so in a booster she sits! The booster seat is meant to keep the lap belt in its proper position to keep the abdomen safe in a car accident.



Luke is 3’ 9” and 45 pounds. His high back booster seat can be used until he gets to 100 pounds and 4’9”. Luke is in a high back booster seat because without the high back the shoulder belt doesn’t fit across his shoulders properly ensuring that in the event of an accident the belt is properly placed to give him upper body protection. Once he is tall enough for the shoulder belt to properly lie on his chest, we can remove the back.


Brady is 3’and 29 pounds. Brady is in a Forward Facing Car Seat. His forward facing car seat can be used until he gets to 40 pounds and 3’6”. These seats are a little harder to put in and get “just right.” They need to be installed properly according to the car seat manufacturer and the harnesses on the seat have to fit properly against your child. In a forward facing seat, the belts shouldn’t have enough slack to pinch. The retainer clip should be at armpit level and a routed through the correct slots with no twists in the belts. Once Brady out grows this we can move him to a high back booster, but he’s such a little guy that it will probably be a while before he moves seats!

* (NHTSA, 2012)

** (AAA, 2012)

*** (NHTSA, 2006)

**** (National Occupant Protection Use Survey Controlled Intersection Survey, 2011)



Doulas + Partners at Birth

One of the most common questions I hear from an expectant woman is, “how will you and my partner work together?” Many dads themselves also seem hesitant to hire a doula, before understanding how we can be there to support him almost as much as his wife!

For many couples today, it is sort of an unspoken that the partner attend prenatal appointments and childbirth classes, read books (or at least listen to the mother’s recap of the books), and know what the mother wants during labor and delivery. That is a LOT of pressure for someone who is also completely emotionally invested in the birth experience. I don’t know about you, but when someone I love is in pain or discomfort, or is nervous/fearful, all logic completely shuts down and I just want to make it better. Birth, especially first births, can often be a very challenging experience emotionally for partners. They see the woman they love in a relatively unknown situation, experiencing discomfort, and yet they are supposed to remain composed and remind the woman of different things to try, do, eat, drink, etc etc etc.

This is where doulas step in. Doulas allow the partner to be completely immersed in the birthing experience with the mother. Need water? The doula is on it. Hungery or need to go to the bathroom? Go ahead and take a break, the doula won’t leave the mother’s side while you’re gone. Question about what happens next? Doulas answer. Not sure how to help the mother? Doulas can offer suggestions to the partners on how to help. Wondering where the cafeteria is, or how to call the nurse? Doulas know the hospital you’re in, and can help guide you. Doulas can coach dads/partners just as much or more so than the birthing mother herself! We help take some weight off of the shoulders of the birthing woman’s partner. We give them the space to be unsure, to have questions themselves, and to get emotional about the experience of bringing a child into the world. While we do emotionally invest with our clients, we can never be as emotionally invested as the co-parent of the child who is about to be born. We are able to step back, and view the labor and delivery through a different lens. Doulas and partners work better together, to make a completely supportive and knowledgeable team for the birthing woman.

Doulas do NOT take over for a partner who wants to be involved and invested in the mother’s experience. When a mother and her partner are working together beautifully, we have no problem stepping back and sitting quietly in the corner, waiting to be needed. We observe, note when an additional hand or suggestion is needed, and otherwise let the laboring couple “do their thing.”

On the other hand, when the partner is squeamish about birth, or for whatever reason cannot or chooses not to be very involved in the experience, doulas are able to step up and care for the birthing woman without their partner there. While we will never be able to completely fill the shoes of the woman’s partner on an emotional level, we can provide the physical support and as much emotional support as possible to help the woman through her labor and delivery experience.

PB&J, Movies & Popcorn, Doulas & Partners. The perfect combination.

Questions about how a doula can support YOU during labor and delivery? Check out our facebook page, or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to talk to you about how we can be a great addition to your birth team!