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Car seat safety isn’t child’s play. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 600 children under the age of 12 died from a car accident in 2014, and more than 121,350 were injured. Knowing how to use your car seat is imperative to protect your child during travels – whether it’s a road trip or a quick commute across town. But installing a car seat isn’t as easy as it seems. According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, 95 percent of parents make at least one mistake while installing a car seat.

So to mark Child Passenger Safety Week, pediatrician and certified child passenger safety instructor Alisa Baer M.D. goes over what we are doing wrong and how we can make it right. Here are 6 common car seat mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. The harness straps are too loose. Most parents worry about making the car seat straps too tight on their baby. Surprisingly, it’s quite difficult to make the straps “too tight” - and most parents swing to the other extreme and leave the straps way too loose. Your baby relies on you to ensure his car seat straps are properly snug to protect him in a crash.

Tightening the harness straps is like a 2-step dance - where one must pull firmly upwards on the shoulder straps to remove hip/belly slack AND then pull up on the tail to tighten the straps, and then repeat the steps a few times over. This 1-minute video shows how to tighten the straps on a child - whether they are 3 days old or 3 years old, the technique is the same on almost every car seat in the US.

2. The car seat isn’t installed tightly enough. 95% of all car seats are not used properly and are too loosely installed, which is detrimental to the child’s safety. In a loose car seat, the child’s body is more likely to hit hard structures in the car like the window, door, or the seat in front of them. There are two different kinds of installations:

Seat Belt Installations can be tricky because many people forget to lock the seat belt when installing the car seat. When we ride around, our seat belt is loose while driving and then locks when someone slams on the brakes. A seat belt holding a car seat can NOT be loose while driving - and must be held tight around the car seat using at least one of the following 3 locking methods:

  • Seat belt locking device built INTO the child’s car seat. If you’ll be installing with a seat belt - like is necessary in the center of 95% of cars - splurge and get a seat with a built-in seat belt locking device to make installation much easier.

  • Seat belt locking mode built INTO the vehicle’s seat belt. Since 1996, seat belts in the US have a special locking mode to hold a car seat tight - and most have the locking mode shown in this video. If this locking mode tilts your baby’s car seat (commonly happens on bases and rear-facing convertible seats), use one of the other locking methods to keep your baby’s car seat tight.

  • Seat belt locking device added ONTO the vehicle’s seat belt. A locking clip - a metal H-shaped clip - can be added onto a shoulder/lap belt to keep it tight around the car seat. Locking clips are challenging and require two people for the installation - so be sure to visit someone trained for help.

LATCH Installations use lower anchor straps (often called LATCH straps). Unlike seat belts, LATCH straps have a locking mechanism built right in to hold themselves tight. But you still have to pull them tight. Watch this video to learn the inside/outside trick - as where and how you pull the LATCH strap can mean the difference between getting the strap tight or not.

Whether you use LATCH or a seat belt, the safest way to install your car seat is to get help. So take an hour and visit someone trained in your area to get one-on-one help with the installation of your child's car seat.

3. Switching to forward-facing too soon. Rear-facing is the safest way to ride. Period. Astronauts ride rear-facing for blast-off and re-entry as it’s is the only way the body can tolerate the G-forces involved. Rear-facing spreads the forces along the entire back, cradling the head and neck, unlike forward-facing where the head and neck are violently thrust forward. The large heads and stretchy neck bones in young children are exactly the features you do NOT want when forward-facing.

Many parents turn toddlers forward-facing because the legs looked scrunched. Not only are there many MORE leg injuries to forward-facing kids than rear-facing kids, there are also more injuries to all parts of the body when kids are forward-facing. Just like your toddler doesn’t wake up with a crick in their neck after a nap in the umbrella stroller with their head all the way down on their chest - so too your toddler won’t be uncomfortable sitting frog-legged or cross-legged in their rear-facing convertible seat. See here to learn when you should turn your child forward-facing.

4. Not buckling baby snug even out of the car. Every year, nearly 10,000 infants visit the emergency room with head injuries due to drops and falls from their car seat when they are used OUT of the car. Several babies every year die from strangulation or asphyxiation in their car seat. These injuries and deaths are nearly 100% preventable. Anytime baby is in the car seat (even if it is in the house or on the stroller), keep the straps fully buckled AND fully snug and keep the car seat either strapped into the car, locked onto a stroller, or placed on the floor. See here for more information on this important topic.

5. Baby’s head is not in a safe position for breathing. Every new parent worries about the position of their newborn's head. Most parents are surprised to learn that what they thought was the best position may actually not be the best one! So before you rush and buy an extra head/body support for your newborn, know that these can actually be dangerous. As they typically worsen the head position and add slack in the straps, they can ultimately increase the risk of injury in a crash. See here for more information on proper position for your newborn’s head.

6. Babies have too much puff in the car seat. Puffy coats keep us warm by trapping a layer of air as insulation. This layer of air is what makes puffy coats unsafe in the car seat. While you typically can’t push much of the air out when tightening the harness, the extreme forces in a crash do, leaving the baby buckled in straps that are now way too loose to protect optimally. In winter it is best to add thinner, tighter layers under the car seat straps - and save the puffy layers for over the car seat straps. We’ve got lots of suggestions on ways to keep kids warm AND safe in winter right here.

Alisa Baer is a pediatrician and co-founder of The Car Seat Lady - an advocacy organization dedicated to keeping kids safe in cars. She's an expert in her field with 18 years and more than 10,000 car seats installations of experience.

Photography by Alisa Baer.

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Most baby showers don't make the news, but when you're Meghan Markel, everything you do makes the news. This week it seems like the whole world is talking about the shower friends of the Duchess are throwing for her in NYC.

As Vanity Fair reports, while there was much speculation that the shower was happening on Tuesday, it's actually going down on Wednesday afternoon and Serena Williams is the head shower thrower behind this luxe bash.

The Duchess, the GOAT and other friends including Markel's Toronto-based stylist Jessica Mulroney, actresses Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra, and Markle's college pal, author Lindsay Roth, are reportedly enjoying the Mark hotel's penthouse (and all its five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms and two powder rooms) but you don't have to have Serena's bank account to shower a mama-to-be with gifts fit for a royal.

Here are six Meghan Markle-inspired baby shower gifts between $8 and $300.

1. Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib 

As Hello! reports, one of the gifts brought to the Mark for Markle's baby shower was hard to miss. Cameras were snapping as a box labeled "Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib" was rolled into the hotel this week.

The convertible crib retails for $379 on Amazon. The mid-range price point means it's within reach even for those who don't live in a palace.


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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My dearest Bee,

Here we are, it's your birthday. You're a year old today! Happy birthday, my beautiful little girl.

Two years ago, if someone had told me that I'd be celebrating my first child's first birthday today, I would have laughed. Me? Having a child? It's not that I didn't want to be a mom, or that I didn't want you, it's that I didn't think I could have you.

During the eight years leading up to your birth, I had five miscarriages. I went to multiple doctors and nobody could tell me what was wrong. After months of tests and all the money we spent, we had no answers. The doctors could only tell us to keep trying, and hope for the best.

But it's hard to hope for the best after so many years and so many lost babies. Your daddy and I had resigned ourselves to believing that we would never meet you. That we would never be blessed with your presence in our lives. You were all we ever wanted, and we thought we wouldn't get to have you.

I remember the day I realized I was pregnant with you. After five previous pregnancies, I could just tell. It was right before Thanksgiving weekend, and your aunt and uncle were coming to visit us.

I was terrified to take a test. I knew that if I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, I'd lose you. Just like I lost your five older siblings. So, I didn't test for a while. I quit drinking alcohol. I quit drinking caffeine. I quit my addiction to Mountain Dew. I lost 10 pounds those first few weeks.

I wasn't sick, I just had a change in taste. I started eating less of the fatty, unhealthy foods I normally ate, and started eating fruits, salads, and whole grains! I waited until eight weeks before taking the pregnancy test that would confirm what I had already knew.

Reaching the beginning of my second trimester was easily one of the happiest days of my life. During prior pregnancies, I'd never made it through the first trimester. At 13 weeks, an ultrasound told us you were healthy, and growing normally.

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful up until the last couple days. I had a mild case of gestational diabetes which was extremely easy to manage as long as I didn't drink soda and I avoided fast food.

The Wednesday before you were born, I went in to see my doctor and my blood pressure was sky-high. I was immediately sent to the hospital for a non-stress test. You were fine, my blood pressure decreased, and I was sent home on bed rest pending the results of a urinalysis that would tell us whether or not I had pre-eclampsia.

Thursday evening we learned I did have a mild case of pre-eclampsia. My doctor sent me in for another non-stress test on Friday morning. My blood pressure was high with no sign of it coming down again. Between the pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, my doctor and I decided the best option was to induce me that day, one week before your due date.

I spent the first 12 hours laboring slowly and uneventfully. It wasn't until about 1 AM Saturday morning—after 14 hours of labor—that the pain became too intense. I received an epidural a half hour later (and just about fell in love with the anesthesiologist that administered it).

After 30 hours of labor I was only 6cm dilated, with a full fever, and it was recommended I have a C-section.

You were born at 4:38 PM that Saturday. And you were smallest, prettiest little baby I'd ever seen, weighing in at just 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

The day you were born was, and will always be, without question, the happiest day of my life. It was a day I didn't expect I'd ever get to experience. A day I thought was nothing but a pipe dream.

And now here we are, one year later. You are my first child, my first daughter. The first person to poop on me, the first person to projectile vomit all over me. You're the first baby I've nursed, the first baby that's slept on my chest. You're the first person to teach me what unconditional love is, and the first person that I'd die for, no questions asked.

Little Bee, you are all my firsts. And you may also be all my lasts. Whether Daddy and I can give you a little brother or sister is unknown to us. Giving you a sibling would be one of the greatest gifts, but nobody knows if we will be able to have more children.

I'm completely happy with the thought of only having you. You're the child I thought I'd never have, you are my world, my everything. Life without you seems unfathomable now, when just a couple years ago life with you seemed impossible.

You turning a year old is bittersweet. That sleepy little infant I had is long gone, replaced by the cutest, funniest little girl I know. I miss the infant you once were, but I adore the wonderful little girl you are becoming. You are the child I've always wanted, and I'm so thankful that I have you.

So happy birthday, Bee. You're the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. I hope you know how wanted, and how loved, you really, truly are.

Even before they reach my bed, I know they are there. The sound of small, soft feet on the carpet of our bedroom pulls me from my always light sleep, although my eyes remain tightly shut.

I can already tell from his gait that it's my son. He gets to the side of my bed. I feel a tender hand rest softly on my face. "Mummy," he says in a loud whisper, not old enough yet to have perfected an actual whisper, "Mummy. Wake up!"

I gather all the strength in my exhausted body and use it to prop open one eye. "What is it, Bubba?"

"I want go in Mummy's bed."


He stretched out his arms and in the darkness I can see his chubby hands grasping at the air near my face. I pick him up awkwardly, my shoulder twinging painfully as I lift his ever-growing body, and plop him next to me in between my blissfully snoring husband and myself.

He immediately burrows down under the covers and I feel two icy feet shove themselves in between my knees. "I loves you Mummy" he loud-whispers and wraps his arm around my neck pulling our faces so close his breath warms mine. His big eyes close and within a minute his breathing has become slow and regular, timing itself with his father's rhythmic snores.

I stare at the roof, so awake. I bump the phone on my bedside table so the screen wakes up: 2:07 am. I groan inwardly, squeeze my eyes shut and will myself to sleep, but my brain is having none of it. It starts racing at near light speed despite my whole body crying out in tiredness at it. I mentally shout the word 'SLEEP!' over the sound of my rushing thoughts over and over.

Finally, my whole being starts to give in and I relax, beginning to drift, my body humming with gratefulness.

"MUMMY! MUUUUUUUUUUUUMMYYYYYYYY!" I jerked quickly out of my fugue state from the sound of my daughter yelling. I rush to her room. She is sitting up in bed, eyes pink and shining.

"Mummy I woke up and I'm all alone." I wrap her in a big hug, kiss her hair and run my fingers down her soft, damp cheek. She lays back down and starts to relax as sit on the edge of her bed.

I wait until her eyes close and then rest my head in my hands. I am so tired I feel like I may throw up. After what seems like a week, but was actually probably closer to 20 minutes, she is settled, so I get up—my whole body cold, stiff, protesting. I look at her. She is softly lit by the light of her bedroom lamp and with her golden hair spread out on her pillow, she looks angelic. My heart swells so much I feel like my chest may burst.

I walk back to my room, to my sleeping boys.

My son has fashioned himself into a convoluted L-shape, allowing me only a thin strip of my bed. I try to pull the blanket over myself, but my husband has one leg tossed onto it, so it won't budge, so a third of my body is exposed. My son dreamily digs his small feet into my back and I hover precariously on the edge of the bed.

I am so tired. So tired. But I could not be more awake. I move my phone once more, and a dim, blue-tinged light glows as the screen illuminates: 3 am.

I lie there, desperate for sleep, but it is too late. I sit on the edge of my bed and gaze at my peacefully sleeping son. He is exquisite. Emotion rises in me again. I feel my eyes prickle. And then, before I can stop myself, my anxiety sees an opening and begins to speak in rapid-fire bullet points.

There is so much hate in the world. Why would you bring children into this? What are you subjecting them too?

Imagine people broke into your house and stole your sleeping children.

Imagine if a bomb went off next door.

You can't always protect them. They are going to get hurt one day, and you might not be able to protect them.

It goes on and on. The fear feels like it's choking me. The dog needs to be let out, so I walk to the living room to bring her outside; grateful for the distraction.

As I step outside, I smell the grass, I feel the cool earth on the soles of my feet, and I look up to the big, dark sky. I notice the sprinkle of twinkling stars.

A light breeze washes over me and I suddenly feel small, and therefore, so do my worries. I begin to feel peace wash over me. I stretch my arms above my head and feel my muscles lengthening, sore but thankful. I am calm.

I go back inside. The green numbers on the microwave inform me it is after 4 am: time to get ready for work. I dress, too slowly, my entire being wistful for the sleep that never was. I make coffee in the biggest cup I can find and toast some bread.

I finish our morning routine and eventually walk out to my car, turn on an audiobook, and drive away from my world for the day.

When I get to work, I am bright and smiley, but some notice my tired eyes. I shrug and say, "Kids kept me up" They smile and say, "Still? By that age, my kids only woke up once a night, if at all!" They tell me that surely, one day, my kids will sleep.

But if only they knew that although it's the kids keeping me awake, they themselves are asleep most of the time they are doing it.

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There's nothing like the smell of a baby. The sweet scent of the top of your baby's head is intoxicating like nothing else.

Scientists estimate there are about 150 chemicals present in baby body odor, and while they haven't yet pinpointed exactly which one makes it smell so good to mamas, we do know that none of them can come through the phone.

That's bad news for Hilary Duff, because this mama knows that when you're far from your baby, you miss that smell.

"Ever try to sniff your baby through the phone?" she joked in a recent Instagram post.

Duff's hashtags indicate that she was feeling "desperate" to sniff baby daughter Banks, and while she was joking, it's also probably not far from the truth.

The science shows the scent of a baby has calming properties, so it makes sense that mamas might feel a bit addicted to that smell. Seriously, studies suggest that the scent of a baby's head impacts our brains similarly to drugs used to treat mental illness

Researchers in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm had 30 women smell little hats previously worn by newborn babies. As the women inhaled the scent the researchers studies their brains with a magnetic camera, according to Sciencenordic reports. The images showed the smell was impacting the brain similarly to certain drugs.

Scientists are onto this baby smell thing, and are trying to figure out a way that the power of baby body odor could be used to treat depression.

It would be awesome if they could also figure out a way to transmit it through the phone. (Hey Apple, we've got an app idea for you!)

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