Child Passenger Safety and Feeding On The Go- Answers From a CPST

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Allana Pinkerton, CPSI
This post made possible by the generous support of Diono.

September is child safety month and we’re taking a look at safety and what we talk about most around here at TLB: feeding our kiddos. Many of us find ourselves needing to feed on the go, from a snack in the car to an entire meal between one activity and the next. 

Allana Pinkerton, a child injury prevention specialist, CPST/CPSI, and mom of two answered our questions on The Leaky Boob Facebook page Live Stream on what we can do to minimize risk when it comes to feeding our children on the go. A huge thanks to Diono in making this conversation with Allana possible.

Whether your child is 3 months old or 3 years old or 13 years old, it is very likely there will come a time when meal or snack time happens on the road. It probably goes without saying that the safest option is to not eat in a moving vehicle. But we all live in the real world and can’t just stay in a bubble so sometimes that’s just not possible so we’re looking at what we can do to make the mobile mealtime as safe as possible. Below are the questions we asked Allana and the Leakies.

When it comes to feeding our children on the go, when we’re in a moving vehicle perhaps on a road trip or having to grab something quick between scheduling commitments, what is important to keep in mind?

*Please note: for safety and to reduce distractions, the driver should never eat and drive.

  • A seat that is more inclined is not a safe option to have a child eat food. Solids shouldn’t be fed in a laying down position.
  • Nothing too hot.
  • When possible, have someone keep an eye on a very young child when they are eating in a moving vehicle. Determine if a mirror is a safe or distracting option for you.
  • Pick foods that are easy to swallow.
  • Avoid choking hazards- for babies and toddlers, nothing hard or like grapes and popcorn.
  • Foods that dissolve easily will reduce choking hazards (i.e. puffs and yogurt melts, etc.)
  • Contained foods that aren’t as likely to spill and get car seat straps wet.
  • Keep in mind, if you’re always eating in the car it may be time to reevaluate how much we’re doing.

Is there anything in particular we should avoid when it comes to feeding our children on the go?

  • Hard candies, even lollipops (a sudden stop could result in injury and/or choking).
  • Foods you know will be messy.
  • Foods that may damaging to your child’s car seat (sticky drinks, dairy, etc.).

What do we need to keep in mind when it comes to installing children’s seats? How can parents find a local CPST to help them?

  • Read the manual. If you’re unclear about something, call the manufacturer. 
  • Have your seat checked by a CPST and be sure they watch you install it and check your install as well, not just have them install it for you. Find one here.
  • Do not use after market products with your seat that are not made by or approved by your seat’s manufacturer (i.e. strap pads) as they could compromise the safety of your seat.

Breastfeeding in the car seat moving vehicle child passenger safety

Are there any safety concerns related to these breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a child in their car seat in a moving vehicle?

  • Propping a bottle for a child not yet able to hold their own is dangerous in that the child may be overwhelmed with the contents of the bottle and has a higher risk of aspirating. Have someone give the baby their bottle and be able to pay attention to them as they feed.
  • Keep in mind a bottle would become a projectile in the case of an accident. Use as small a bottle as possible.
  • Breastfeeding a child in a seat, even if the breastfeeding parent isn’t leaning over the seat, is a significant hazard in the case of a car accident as it places something in front of the child’s face. Physics tell us that in a crash objects (including a breast) will weigh their weight times the force of gravity of the crash. For example, a 30mph crash is around 20-25 G’s (force of gravity). Let’s say the breastfeeding parent weighs 140 pounds. Multiplied by 23 G’s (right in the middle) means 3,220 pounds. That’s the total weight of their body with the momentum of the crash. Their chest alone will weigh at least 1,000 pounds, if not more. Being positioned in front of or possibly over the baby to breastfeed, that’s a minimum of 1,000 pounds being dropped or slammed into the baby. Potentially crushing the child and injuring the parent. This all would be true even with a seat belt on the breastfeeding parent as the parent would not be positioned properly with a chest belt to restrain them from hitting their child in the case of a collision or sudden stop. (See more on this here.)

Feeding on the go means seats will likely get soiled, what do we need to know about cleaning our seats?

  • Never hose a car seat down, that can compromise not just the cover and straps but also the frame and internal materials.
  • Follow your manual’s instructions. 
  • Replace straps if webbing becomes soaked.
  • See these cleaning tips.

 

Allana Pinkerton is the Global Safety Advocate for Diono. She began her career in Child Passenger Safety as a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2001 and advanced into the position of a National Instructor in 2002. In 2004, she founded a non-profit organization, Sit Tight, which provided education and free car seats to underserve communities.
As the Global Safety Advocate, she facilitates educating the staff, consumers and the media about car seats. Allana works closely with the marketing team, educating at consumer and industry trade shows, as well as writing blogs on CPS issues. She is called upon to work with engineering and product development team on current and new products. As Diono expands across the globe, Allana continues to expand her role assisting the Diono European and China teams.
Allana has two children, Max (12) and Andrew (20) who is ironically a race car driver. She has been married to Paul for 22 years and he still cannot install a car seat.
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