How to Stop Overspending On Child Safety

Hi nsbhfiktzb
Folks! I was interviewed for this article on the site PTMoney. Turns out it is one of the most cogent things I’ve ever read about the Kiddie Safety Industrial Complex, in this case, how parents end up overspending on safety for their kids, even though their kids would be extremely safe even at a lower “price point.” What a cool topic! Kudos to Emily Guy Birken for great reporting! – L.


November is National Child Safety Month — an observance that I personally look on with great suspicion.

That is because I am one of the few parents out there who is willing to accept a level of “safe enough.”

I worry that things like National Child Safety Month is just another way to sell parents products to keep their children safe from obscure dangers.

Making such a confession in front of my local moms group would probably be enough to get me ostracized. After all, is there anything more important than the safety of our children?! With the cult of absolute safety in modern America, it seems as though convenience, parental sanity, and money (especially) are all no object in trying to protect our children.

But the thing is, the cost of all this safety can be enough to bankrupt average parents — let alone lower-income parents. Lenore Skenazy, author and blogger at Free Range Kids, is similarly fed up with the sense that we need to sacrifice everything just to make our kids safe:

“It’s as if only rich people can afford to make their children safe, while the rest of us have to put them at risk,” she said. “That’s ridiculous!”

It is entirely possible to raise safe, happy, and resilient kids without breaking the bank. Here are some ways to make sure you aren’t overspending on safety with only diminishing returns:


Oh, but I want the gold-plated version!


65 Responses to How to Stop Overspending On Child Safety

  1. Nanci November 25, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I would suggest that every pregnant woman be made to watch the documentary Babies and read Free Range Kids 🙂 That ought to cure anyone!

  2. Kimberly November 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Hey, Did you know that Jeff Jarvis mentioned you and this blog on This Week in Google podcast this week? They were talking about balancing kids freedom, privacy, and public lives. He was saying that you had a sane take on things.

  3. deltaflute November 26, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Okay got to bring up a few points:

    1) Although I don’t have one, I never thought shopping cart covers were just for germ prevention alone. I thought it was also for comfort. Sitting on a thin piece of plastic which may or not be broken in places which and metal bars doesn’t feel comfortable. So it’s not always about safety.

    2) The Britax car seats may be top of the line and expensive, but what the article fails to mention is that they are also (as far as I can tell) are the only car seat made in the US. Some of us parents buy the seats to support our fellow Americans here at home and to curb the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs.

    3) The reason for banning drop side cribs was because children would kick the rail so hard that it would come loose off the track. Children were getting their legs caught in the rail or falling out of bed once the rail fell off. This is a manufacturing flaw of the drop side crib.

    Every year 10,000 children are injured enough to need a visit to the ER and roughly 2,000-3,000 die. Usually this is children ages 1-2 climbing out of cribs. It’s safest to baby proof the room and put them on a mattress on the floor and avoid crib-related injuries in the first place.

    I’m all for free-range in the sense that children need to learn independence, but I also think that a parent should protect their young children from hazards that the child doesn’t understand particularly when the parent isn’t in the same room. It’s a cognitive level issue. I don’t expect my 11th month old to understand electricity like a five year old can. And I don’t think it’s helicopter parenting to make an environment safer for a young child to explore because that’s the point isn’t it?

  4. linvo November 26, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    I’m all for comfort. For me! My baby already had natural padding in the form of healthy baby fat and the extra padding of a diaper. I never noticed her being uncomfortable sitting in a shopping trolley. And if anyone can sit or lie or roll around on hard surfaces without noticing any discomfort, it would be kids! Now me and my old bones on the other hand… very different matter.

    And to use it to protect babies/toddlers from germs, that so makes me laugh. I remember my toddler went through a stage where she would lick the metal rail at the supermarket check-out the moment I took my eyes off her. If she could survive that level of germ contamination, she could survive anything! I also stopped sterilising my baby’s bottles when I caught her licking the kitchen floor.

    And yes, of course it makes sense to make sure equipment doesn’t cause a high likelihood of injuries. But you cannot and should not try to prevent every tiny little injury a child could come to.

  5. AW13 November 26, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    @deltaflute: Honestly, I’ve never thought of those cart covers in terms of comfort. I’ve always seen them marketed in terms of safety vis a vis germ protection.

    I’m all for buying items made in this country, particularly items made in my local area. This is a privilege that my husband and I currently have. When I found out I was pregnant, my husband was still a full time student, and spending $400 on a car seat was not an option. In fact, we had to scrimp and save to buy the $150 car seat. I do not fault anyone for spending $400 on a car seat, whether for safety or other reasons, but what I took away from the article was that those of us who could not afford an expensive car seat should not be made to feel as though we’re short changing our children.

    The first time I walked into Babies R Us, I left in tears, because we didn’t have that much money. I left feeling like I wasn’t going to be a good parent, like I was horrible for even having a baby since I so obviously couldn’t afford to buy everything that was (according to Babies R Us and parenting magazines) necessary to raise a healthy baby safely. I realized, however, that not all these things are necessary. I don’t need a duck that gives the temperature – I can use my hand to tell if the bath is too hot. I don’t need a diaper bag with pockets for every eventuality – I used a tote bag that I’d made for groceries. I didn’t even need a changing table – I used the floor, which gave me the added bonus that I never had to worry about my son rolling off of anything. And I think that was the point of the article – that not everything is necessary.

    Of course we made our home environment safe for our child to explore. But not everything marketed as necessary is, in fact, necessary. That’s the point of marketing – to get people to buy things that they otherwise wouldn’t. And the way useless baby products are marketed is by using fear and guilt.

  6. Mrs. H. November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Once when my daughter was nine months old I stopped to chat with another grocery shopper with one the same age. She had one of those seat covers, and there was no part of the grocery cart within her child’s reach, which I found baffling. Then I looked down at my own unprotected cherub and she was sucking on the cart handle. She never gets sick, though I am proud that last week at the age of four she got her first stitches.

  7. Warren November 26, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Let’s face it, they want us to armour plate them as babies, so when they are older, being overprotective, and sheltered from life, is the norm.

    Then you have those parents that give you dirty looks, or have the momentary lack of intelligence and actually tell you that you are wrong for not having X product. Grandparents are the worst. They think they are helping, but they buy into the fear and buy the latest and greatest safety product, and unless you want to hurt their feelings you at least use it when they are around. And so on, the peer, media, and social pressures are great.

    LOL! When my youngest went in for a checkup, our doc gave her a 10 outta 10. He told me she was healthy enough, that I can start skipping the bottle sterilizing, and just wash em with everything else. My mother in law’s exact words, “What does he know about a baby’s health? He’s a man.”

    The greatest piece of safety equipment for any child of any age cannot be purchased at any store or online. It is COMMON SENSE.

  8. Andy November 26, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    “But when I looked at a $40 car seat that could be purchased at our local K-Mart, I saw that it had the exact same five-point harness and LATCH system as the Britax.”

    On one hand, I agree that if it passed certification, then it is safe enough. On the other hand, the quoted argument is simplistic to the point of being nonsense.

    Imagine a car seat build by me by hand. It could have both five-point harness and LATCH system and guess what – it would not be as safe as car seats available in stores.

    The safety depends not only on “system”, but also on quality of materials and overall crafting quality. And those may make the difference between 40 and 200 dollars.

    If you want to know whether more expensive one is also safer, you have to look at crash tests or other professional comparisons.

  9. Tsu Dho Nimh November 26, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    @andy – All baby and child car seats have to pass the same crash tests.

    All the price differential gets you is status and fancier fabric.

  10. Chris November 26, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    @deltaflute Could you please site your statistics? “Every year 10,000 children are injured enough to need a visit to the ER and roughly 2,000-3,000 die. Usually this is children ages 1-2 climbing out of cribs. It’s safest to baby proof the room and put them on a mattress on the floor and avoid crib-related injuries in the first place.”

  11. Lollipoplover November 26, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    “The greatest piece of safety equipment for any child of any age cannot be purchased at any store or online. It is COMMON SENSE”

    Yes. And I would add to that what Lenore says about attempting to childproof the world instead of worldproofing your child. Of course no one wants anything bad to happen to babies. But spending more money offers us no guarantees. Accidents don’t discriminate.

    With babies, they are all unique. My oldest never crawled- he just sat sweetly, Ferdinand the bull. One day he pulled up and cruised the walls. The next day he walked. At my first baby shower, I received masses of gates and baby proofing equipment, which my husband sheepishly installed at my request. We waited for our butterball to start crawling like other babies his age and got worried if he was delayed or something was wrong. But he just liked to sit in the sunroom and throw balls to our dogs that eagerly brought them back to him. He is now a 4 sport athlete and one of the most active kids I know.

    The dumbest safety items for us (and I think they were from One Step Ahead) had to be the magnetic cabinet locks. Apparently, if your kid was smart enough to get past the latches, you used a magnet knob to release the lock on the cabinet. We only installed it on the chemicals under the sink (which also had the switch to the garbage disposal). Our problem was that we constantly lost it! It had fallen in the garbage disposal once, which we couldn’t run to find out. We lost the backup magnet knob. Once if fell on the floor where our buddha baby found it, and realized it stuck to the stainless steel dishwasher (new!). Baby then used the magnet’s edge to etch a masterpiece that is still there.
    Our other stupid baby safety purchase had to be foam corner covers. We put them on our coffee table but never needed them. For our other children (who were wobbly walkers), we just removed the coffee table from the room until they walked steadily. That was much cheaper and effective. One morning I was cooking breakfast while our oldest son played on the coffee table. I heard a wretching sound and saw a pile of brown vomit on the floor. I went into panic mode and thought he was very sick. I then realized he’d just fed a brown foam corner cover to our labrador, who ate it and immediately threw it up.

  12. CrazyCatLady November 26, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I was faced with the decision of breaking the law, or feeding my kids. In CA, when a child graduates from the toddler seat (around 40 – 50 lbs for most seats) they, by law, have to go into a booster seat. And, kids are not allowed in the front seat until age 12.

    The issue was, my 1984 Suburban did not come with shoulder belts in the back seat. Booster seats are NOT to be used with lap belt alone. I called the dealership to see about getting shoulder belts, they said no, because it did not come with them. (Despite the fact that it has the anchor point under the molding as they were optional in Canada that year.)

    So I called Highway Patrol, twice to ask what to do to avoid a ticket should I get stopped for something else. One said, put them in the lap belt only and hope the officer doesn’t get picky. The other said to put the kid up front. When I asked about that because it is illegal, he said “Tell the officer that Officer Jones told you it was fine!” Right. I asked what I should do with kid #2 who also needed to be in a booster and he had no answer.

    Most states have a provision for older vehicles with only lap belts. CA really wants everyone to buy new vehicles, which, given how expensive it was for everything else there, was not an option unless I was going to spend my food budget on car payments every month. (We made about $200 too much to qualify for the food give away.) So, we broke the law every time I went to the store to stretch our meager budget. Thankfully, we were only there while my husband was doing it post-doc, and then we got out as fast as we could.

  13. deltaflute November 26, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    @AW13- We saved for both our Britax seats. My husband was a full time student when we bought our first one. I looked around for deals and bought it for 150 dollars. The key is to wait for their yearly turn over. We were fortunate, however, that a friend of his gave us an infant seat.

    Also a quick search online…I have found a Britax for 400 USD. The low end of the boosters I found for less than 100 and the upper end 323 of convertible seats.

    I justified the cost because we bought convertibles which my children will stay in for longer than an infant seat. You really don’t need an infant seat.

    I don’t discount that manufacturers are trying to sell you over-priced baby stuff. But there are numerous non-manufacturer affiliated guides which will tell you what you really need and what you don’t. Baby bargains for example is a good book. Very helpful.

    I’m sorry it distressed you so much. I guess I’m immune being that I’ve been a teacher prior to having my own children. To me it’s just common sense that you don’t need bouncy seats, swings, a plethora of baby toys, a crib, or even a stroller (I carried my babies until they got older).

  14. deltaflute November 26, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    @ Chris- certainly

    I should mention that the article states that 181,000 roughly parents reported injuries that did not require an ER visit (like a busted lip or bruising) and that the number of deaths were calculated from ER trips. Supposedly this number is actually higher for death related falls if you include children who died and did not go through the ER.

    Their findings are based on a study published in Pediatrics for the American Academy of Pediatrics back in Nov 2011. Here’s the abstract:

    I don’t site stuff without data to support it. My husband is a scientist.

    Also want to point out, that this study is only looking at a small part of the child population. Not all children use cribs. Some co-sleep, some sleep in toddler beds, and some are too old for cribs. The study says there are 26 crib related injuries per day. It’s a pretty high number. Although motor vehicle accidents are still the highest cause of death for young children. To give a comparison the average number of daily car injuries for children ages 0-14 was 694 in 2003. But keep in mind the wide age range. So crib injury and crib related deaths, in my mind, are a very real safety issue.

  15. forsythia November 26, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I bought less expensive car seats at first, but ended up buying more expensive seats that converted to boosters in the end because they were more cleanable and more comfortable. Now they have them that pop into stroller bases – sweet.

    There is certainly a point at which you “get what you pay for”.

    I did resist the “booster seat forever” game as our van had seatbelts that adjusted properly for their smaller sizes,

  16. forsythia November 26, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Oh, yeah: two words – YARD SALES

    They work great for strollers or for any gizmo you might want to try out (or finish wearing out) before getting anything new.

  17. Warren November 26, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Let us not forget that the special interest groups that lobby the gov’t, to get all these laws about booster seats, restraints, and alot of other protective gear are funded in part or whole by the manufacturers, of these products.

    When it comes to mandated child safety products, the ones that at least come close to being sane, are the ones based on height and weight, as opposed to a blanket age bracket. Not all 11 year olds are the same or any age for that matter.

  18. Captain America November 26, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    With Christmas coming, it’s easy to overspend. My family has never been one of the Big Spender at Christmas types. Right now we average about $30-40 per person.

    I’ve been shocked by people blowing thousands for gifts at Christmas (e.g., “Joey’s getting an xbox, ipod, rollerblades and a hockey shirt.”

    Too much is sometimes too much.

  19. Chaille November 26, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    @Deltaflute: 2,000 kids died over an 18 YEAR period, NOT per year.

  20. Josh November 26, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    This article acts like its not free range to buy expensive stuff. The two do not equate.

  21. Josh November 26, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Also, the best way to improve driving safety is to drive less.

  22. Denise November 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    You know, there are somethings I accept will forever seem more important to me- a really good carseat being cheif among them at my daughter’s age. My husband who drives my daughter for a 1/2 mile am and pm has the cheap, less padded seat. Her good carseat is in the car that she’ll do the most driving in.

  23. Fuchsia November 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Interesting. The article links to another with a baby cost calculator. The costs listed for all of the extra stuff was about $2500. When I went in and calculated according to what I bought (mostly second hand) and received free (second hand) I dropped it down to $893. The only thing we bought new was the crib and the convertible carseat. The infant seat was a free one from a trusted friend.

    It is entirely possible to drop these costs if you have some common sense. As well if you have trusted people to accept hand me downs from. A hand me down is not a death sentence!

  24. Fuchsia November 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm #


    That was not the reason for the recall on my drop side crib. It was that the faulty/cheap screws were stripping and it was causing a gap that a child could get stuck in. When we looked at ours it was fine…but all the other screws were close to stripping! A drill and some heavy screws took care of that problem. It had nothing to do with the kids kicking the crib though.

  25. deltaflute November 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    interesting….when we had ours recalled we were sent a metal plate to replace the plastic joint…no replacement screws other than for two in the plate….must be a model by model basis….I know a few cribs were not recalled until the ban

  26. deltaflute November 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    @chaille my apologies for the error. Still believe that 26 injuries daily is a lot for something that doctors push as being the safest place to put an infant in. My point was that the ban is reasonable just like its reasonable to recall other products that become saftey hazards.

  27. Christina November 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I am 5’2″ tall. Without a drop side crib, even with the mattress raised as high as possible, I don’t know how I would get my kids in and out of a crib without a step stool of some sort. That, frankly, seems far more dangerous for both me and the kids. Grateful mine are 5 and this is no longer an issue.

    My list of “safety infractions” is fairly long: Drop-side cribs, used infant car seats, no knee pads for crawling, no helmets (until they got bikes), no padding furniture edges, no oven locks/fridge locks/ toilet locks. I did bolt furniture to the walls (mine were climbers), installed plug covers, hid cords from little chewers, and I moved the usual undersink items to a cabinet over the sink. Didn’t take long and I was out about $10 for the plug covers and a couple of wall straps. And yet they live…

  28. SKL November 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    This post reminds me of an “argument” between some siblings and a brother-in-law before he had any mobile children. He was being his usual hard-headed self and insisted it would be over his dead body that any baby gates would be used in his house. Gates are for animals, not human babies.

    Fast forward a few years . . . .

    I have nothing wrong with gates for the convenience of the parent. Lord knows the Superyard came in handy when I needed to go take a shower or have a conference call at home. The issue is more of a mindset. I did whatever babyproofing I deemed necessary to make MY life easier while still allowing my kids to develop cognitively. I put some thought into how I could give my kids the most freedom at any given time. When I was around to notice if someone was choking etc., they had free range in the kitchen, bathroom, etc., where I did not “babyproof.” When I decided they should be on their own, they had plenty of safe activities to do in their bedroom or Superyard. Those areas had no accessible wires, sharp stuff, chokeable stuff. “Nothing pokey, chokey, or smokey.” The “walls” came down just before age 2. My kids have lived to tell about it.

    I also bought the cheapest available car seats. Like they said, they all had to pass crash tests. And I’m a “less is more” kind of person, anyway.

  29. Warren November 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    You know if you try to discuss this issue with an overprotective parent, that their response is going to be, “How can you put a price on keeping your child alive and well?”.

    Same as Christina, did the normal move the toxins out of reach, and plug ins. Didnt need to worry about the kids climbing, the dogs wouldn’t let them. As for the toilet locks, I could have used them, the kids never drank or fell in, but they would hold them up so the dogs could drink.

    Some people go over board, though. My wife reminded me of cousins that put motion sensors in the nursery. So they would know how much the baby was moving. Their cat drove them nuts, and looked good on em. LOL

  30. backroadsem November 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Y’know, this past weekend while out shopping for the upcoming baby, I felt a thought of “shouldn’t I be spending more on a carseat?” I had researched some carseats, found one reported to be very safe and affordable, and decided to go buy it locally in in support of Small Business Saturday. At the store, it was the cheapest carseat. A tiny voice inside me said “spend more for more safety!” despite my comfort in my research over this particular carseat. I’m happy to report I didn’t give in and knock us out of budget.

  31. Jenna K. November 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Interesting about the crib arguments. My 20-month-old just started climbing out of his crib last week. After weighing several different ideas of what to do about it, we have decided to take apart the crib for now (we will need it again in about 8 months for our new baby) and use the crib mattress on the floor and shut his door so he can’t get out of his room. When we mentioned this to someone, we were told that “locking” him in his room was cruel and horrible. However, I’d rather lock him in his room to teach him to stay put at night than let him wander the house if he wakes up in the middle of the night (and we are still having issues with night wakings with him). Especially since the stairs are right across the hall from his bedroom door, I would rather be cruel and lock his door than be not cruel and have him fall down the stairs while we are all sleeping.

    As for grocery cart covers–my germophobic friends who will not shop without one AND use the provided sanitizing wipes always have sick kids. My kids, whom I’ve never shielded from germs, are hardly EVER sick, and that’s even after being a bad mom who formula fed them after two months! Go figure.

  32. Bronte November 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    We did buy the more expensive car seat. However here not all seats are measured in the same way. In New Zealand there are three car seat safety standards that are allowed to be sold. The US standard, the European Standard, and the Australian/New Zealand Standard. The US standard measures impact in front-on collisions, the EU in front collisions and side collisions, and the AUS/NZ measures in front collisions, side collisions, and oblique (on the angle) collisions.

    We chose to only look at seats with the AUS/NZ standard as it was the most stringent testing, which narrowed the field down considerably, then tested the two we liked in the car, only one style fit our car properly. Granted we did chose the fancier version of that seat, which meant it came with a sun shade, pockets, and a seat protector, but we decided that if the seat would be in our car for the next 6 years we would chose the one that was least ugly and pay the extra cost.

    We try to buy as little as possible, but when we do make sure we get the best option.

    Our entire baby-proofing comes down to a fence to keep him from pulling wires behind the TV – which is more for our convenience that his safety; a fence across the entry to the kitchen, to keep him away from the hot oven if I’m not in the kitchen; and we are building a fence for the front garden to keep him off the road. Even with such “minimal” baby-proofing, he’s happy and healthy. Sure he bashes his head crawling into things, but he’s doing it less often every day. He wouldn’t learn that with a helmet on.

  33. Yan Seiner November 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    @Josh: It’s all about motivation. If I buy a carseat that’s made in the US, and I pay a premium for my convictions, that’s one thing. But if I search out an expensive carseat because I feel I am an inadequate parent if I don’t shell out the $, that’s different.

  34. SKL November 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    On the drop-side crib issue – it is better for a climber to climb out a crib with the side lowered, than a crib with the side up.

    Of course, a mattress on the floor is fine as well, if the room is safe to play in (which it needs to be anyway, if you have a climber). However, some kids happen to like the feeling of sleeping in a crib. Sort of a secure feeling of having the sides all around. Whatever works. Sleep is one of the most important things a baby needs, and a lot of “safety” measures (of dubious value) compromise good sleep.

  35. Andy November 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    @Tsu Dho Nimh Certification requires all car seats to pass the same minimum limits and surpass minimum efficacy in crash tests.

    It does not mean that all car seats ends up having the same ratings and efficacy. Some of them surpass requirements by wide margin and others barely pass them.

    For example, ADAC (a German auto-club) made also crash tests with kiddy figurines and published results <a href="; here.

    Safety should be “Sicherheit”.

    But I also agree that safety is not the only reason to buy more expensive car seat. Comfort, how easy it is to manipulate or clean and how does it look like are also considerations. Uncomfortable car seat makes the child to complain much sooner then comfortable one.

  36. Donald November 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    All parents want safety for their children. The article is great and Lenore addresses this in her book as well.

    However some parents get extremely obsessive about buying hype that tells them it’s dangerous not to purchase their product. When emotion sets in so powerfully, it’s hard to be rational. Well written books, articles, statistics, and scientificly proven facts will have little bearing to change their mind.

    In this case, agree with them (sort of) We must maximize safety for children. That’s WHY we need to have money for the unexpected. The one thing that’s predictable about children is their unpredictability! It isn’t helpful to raise children by overspending and not have a budget that’s capable of dealing with the unexpected.

    I love it how Lenore pointed out that the money saved can go into the child’s college fund. However there’s also things like tuition and unexpected child care to boot. How about when the child wants to pursue dance or karate but the parent knocks them back because of cost?

  37. Fuchsia November 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm #


    I think it was a model by model recall. The storkcraft ones had to do with the screws and such. There was also a plastic bracket involved that failed with some cribs. It also had to do with the drop side being improperly installed. So some of it was user error.

    Really, if these items were made out of quality materials to start with we wouldn’t have some of these issues. The amount of plastic involved is crazy. How much more would it have cost to make the brackets out of metal instead of plastic? I would happily pay the extra for a quality item. I am not happy to pay extra for a fancy looking item that has the same plastic pieces to it as the cheaper ones.

  38. Fuchsia November 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    “Gates are for animals, not human babies.”

    Gates are for parents! They give us an extra 10 seconds to grab the small person who is headed for trouble.

  39. Amy November 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    My two year old trips over her own feet, she has even put her bottom two teeth through her lip am I suppose to prevent her from playing because she is a klutz and required an ER visit?

  40. Warren November 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    You may want to. Not too long ago we had a discussion in here, about clumsy kids going to the hospital, and the possiblility of being reported. LOL. Just making the connection.

    Hell, I trip over a tire yesterday backing the jack out from under the vehicle. Only thing hurt was my machismo.

    Parents more than anyone need to remember, pain hurts but only for a minute, life is short so go on an live it.

  41. CrazyCatLady November 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Jenna K, locking the door to keep a child safe is fine. I have lived in a number of rentals. Every house over 40 years old had a hook and eye on the outside of the door. They were always way up high. I have to think this was to keep kids from using them, and either to keep kids in or to keep them out.

    And probably, if there was a fire, it is safer too. The little one will not be wandering out into the fire, less likely to breath smoke, and easier for fire fighters to get the right window to get the kid out if needed.

    As soon as my kids could climb out, we got rid of the crib. The last thing I wanted to do was to take a trip to the ER in the middle of the night to get stitches. With the oldest, we had to lock the door to get her to stay in bed too.

  42. MR November 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Yes i agree with the above comment, it is easy to say this if you have never used a more expensive seat. They are just so much easier to install, clean, and use correctly 100% of the time (have used 2 Britax, 4 Evenflo, a Chico, and 4 Graco car-seats along with Graco boosters and a Clek Ozzi booster). And I believe they are more comfortable too. All 4 of my older children rode in cheaper infant seats (first 3 in Evenflo and 4th in a Graco).  All 4 of them went through stages where they screamed and screamed in their car seats as infants. Fast forward to baby 5 who was born prematurely and was too small going home from the hospital to go in the Graco so we borrowed my cousins Chico (more expensive) seat. She is still in it at nearly one and has never had a stage where she screamed everytime she was in it. I decided to switch her to our Graco but noticed how stiff and hard it is and there are hard foam ridges along the spine. I can see why they all cried and she did not.  I also have used many cheaper and more expensive seats for my older kids as we has to replace after an accident. I replaced my Britax with Gracos and the quality difference was HUGE. The Graco straps twisted all the time and they were hard to buckle and unbuckle, Gehrig stuck all the time. Definitely not worth the stress and will be buying and expensive seat for baby 5 when she outgrows the infant seat. There is enough stress getting 5 kids in and out of the car daily!

  43. AW13 November 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    @deltaflute: No worries. After crying in the car, I drove home and called my mom, because I knew full well that my parents didn’t have a whole lot of extra money when I was an infant, and I imagined that this wasn’t all necessary. (And I was right 🙂

    As far as the seat goes, I don’t have an issue with people buying the expensive seat. My issue was the underlying implication that if you’re unwilling to shell out for all these gadgets, your baby will be in GRAVE DANGER (add as many exclamation points as you deem necessary). Of course there are going to be necessary safety items, and for each person, these are going to be different. For example, when kiddo started walking, we lived in an apartment, so there was no need for a gate. When we moved to a place with stairs, we bought a gate. Simple as that. But not everything marketed by the baby safety industrial complex is necessity, as we can all agree. (And I still CANNOT figure out who is buying those ducks that tell temperature!)

  44. johnf November 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady – the way I read the law, it is legal for you to have kids in the back of your Suburban with only lap belts.

    CVC 27363 (c) A child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the
    backseat of a vehicle while wearing only a lap safety belt when the
    backseat of the vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and
    shoulder safety belt.

    Also, CVC 27360 seems to set the minimum age for riding in the front at 8, not 12. Perhaps there is some other law that says 12, or perhaps 12 is recommended but the law says 8.

    Here is the CA government site showing the law:

    I’m not a lawyer; this advice may be worth exactly what you paid for it.

  45. Lisa Jones November 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I got weird looks from others when I talked about bargain shopping for the best carseat deal. How could I put a price on my child’s safety? I ended up getting a convertible carseat, which my hospital nurse, bless her heart, said was not usable for a newborn. Thankfully I had brought the instruction manual, in case we needed help installing it, and showed her the weight requirements. The hospital insisted that we bring the carseat onto the sixth level of the hospital, buckle the baby into it, then carry the carseat with the baby inside back down to the parking lot. If you have a convertible carseat, you know how ridiculous this is because THEY ARE HUGE. They are not meant to be carried around. Plus, I have read studies that injuries happen because the carseat is not installed into the car correctly, not the baby.

    But then I also get looks from other people when I bought a stroller for my baby, because everyone in Hawaii uses baby slings. I have chronic back pain from a car accident, so carrying my baby long term after he was ten pounds was a struggle for me. But I don’t look like I have health problem, I just look like I am lazy to them.

    Thank you, judgmental America.

  46. Jynet November 27, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    @deltaflute, I have permanent facial scaring because my mother put me on a mattress on the floor at 18 months of age and I rolled off it onto shag carpeting (it was 1973).

    I was never once injured in my horribly unsuitable crib, or in the car seat that hooked over the back of the car seat (no belts at all, on me or the seat!), or from climbing trees or any of the other ‘dangerous’ things that I did.

    My only childhood injury was from falling off a mattress on the floor.

    Clearly they should be banned.

  47. Jess November 27, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    This article rubbed me the wrong way. Car accidents are the #1 cause of death among children. The increasing stringency of car seat laws are based on research and anecdotal data from other countries. Staying rear-facing longer IS 5 times safer. Using a booster seat to a minimum height and weight DOES prevent seat belt related injuries. This isn’t fear mongering, it’s fact.

    While I agree that the most expensive seat isn’t necessarily the safest, the implication that caring about car safety is akin to putting knee pads on your crawler is insulting. I consider myself very free range, allowing my 5 year old to play outside unsupervised and walk home from school with a friend. But my 3.5 year old still rides rear-facing and my 5.5 year old still sits in a 5 point harness, despite the epidemic of kindergartners riding in backless boosters around here.

    Because science and physics and peer reviewed, reproducible studies have shown me that this is what is safest, in the most risky situation I put my kids in each and every day.

  48. Warren November 27, 2012 at 12:33 am #


    The hospital insisted you buckle your baby in the seat on the sixth floor, then carry her out? Who the hell are they to insist on anything?

    Donna is probably going to yell at me for this. LOL
    But I would have told the nurse, doctor, candy striper, administrator or cafeteria worker, whoever insisted to go take a flying leap. Again reason, my kid, my responsibility, my rules, so piss off.
    Where do these so called professionals get off thinking they have that kind of power?

  49. deltaflute November 27, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    Not sure if you’re being serious or sarcastic. I’ve never come across injuries related to shag carpeting. I suppose they are rare…

    In any case, I didn’t develop the idea of children sleeping on the floor or a mattress on the floor. Many non-Western cultures have children sleeping on the floor. And Montessouri-style teaches that young children sleep on the floor so they can explore their surroundings when they wake up or put themselves to sleep if they are tired. This is akin to the free-range philosophy because it’s about teaching children to be independent in their surroundings.

    As for cribs, car seats, and falling out of trees…it’s true that a number of people have survived just fine. But we are talking about young children who do not have the cognitive capabilities to determine risk. As I said, the vast majority of injuries are sustained from children ages 1-2 attempting to climb out of their cribs. Not to mention that since car seat laws were enacted the number of injuries and deaths in children dropped significantly.

    The article discussed the ban on drop-side cribs. Because their design flaws were causing injuries they were banned. I believe having a crib and assessing it’s risks based on the child’s age is the discretion of the parent. But why are we arguing about a certain type of crib being recalled because it had heavy risks? Especially when the alternative has lower risk. Why is their no outcry that bag-style slings have virtually been removed from the market because young babies smothered in them? Why the focus on the cribs?

    L, would probably agree with me when I say that there is a difference between reasonable risk and unreasonable risk. Reasonable being my toddler running and skinning his knee. Unreasonable risk being allowing my toddler to sleep in a crib knowing that he’ll try and climb out of it and injure himself (especially if he’s done so before) or worse being in a crib with a major design flaw.

    As some said here common sense is key. And I believe it is the fundamental right of a parent who knows their child better than anyone to be informed and assess that risk.

  50. Donna November 27, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    “Car accidents are the #1 cause of death among children.”

    That is not true. Car accidents are the largest single cause of death of children, however more children die from illness than die in car accidents every year and the majority of children who die do so in some manner other than a car accident.

    And, even then, childhood death by car accident is extremely rare. Something being the largest single cause of death of an age group that rarely dies does not mean that the activity is dangerous. Reasonable precautions seem called for, but uber-safety and top-of-the-line gadgets don’t really seem necessary.

    Lenore doesn’t point out the stats concerning driving to say that driving is dangerous. She does it to point out how extraordinarily rare abductions are. To show that this comfortable activity that most people in the US engage in many times a day, every day, without death is still more risky than free ranging kids. She is not saying that we should fear cars more, but that we should fear abduction less.

  51. SKL November 27, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Let’s not fight to the death about a $50 difference in something we all need to buy once or twice in our kids’ lives.

    I didn’t comparison shop my kids’ car seats at all. I was more concerned about which ones would fit best in my car. I know they are all safe “enough.”

    Sure, “if” I am planning to be in the worst imaginable car wreck during my kids’ first several years of life, I’ll buy accordingly, but I don’t plan that way. I figure that if it’s our time, it’s our time, and if it isn’t, it isn’t. If I didn’t think that way, I could never have brought my kids home via international adoption, because we all know that “if” the plane had crashed, we’d all be dead.

    The worst car accident I’ve ever been in (and ever hope to be in) was when a semi jackknifed on ice, on the freeway, and threw my car into the ditch. It was a solid rear-end crash and it most likely would have killed any kids who were sitting rear-facing in there at the time (thankfully none were). (For that matter, an empty rear-facing car seat would probably have harmed a person in the front seat, since the car was crushed accordion-style from the back.) I walked away by the grace of God, because it wasn’t my time to go.

    Also, the only car accident my kids were ever in involved a traveling businessman rear-ending us at a red light. They were then 4yo and front-facing, and suffered no lasting damage. Had they been rear-facing, they could have been hurt.

    That said, my kids rear-faced to 2.5 because that’s the choice I made for them based on our individual situation – a choice made before all the current hype and guilt crap started.

    We can’t predict or prevent all tragedies. What we can do is drive safely. That alone would save more kids than all the expensive car seats in the world.

    But if spending the extra money on that one-time purchase seems right to you, go for it. It’s a personal choice like everything else. Like me insisting on leather shoes and organic milk for my kids. I don’t think that’s really what FRK is concerned about. Rather, it’s the marketing and media hype that has many convinced that their children WILL be in a horrible car accident and WILL be badly hurt in a regular car seat, and it WILL be THEIR FAULT. The fact that some of the statistics are often doctored to “prove their point” makes it even worse. Buy what you want based on your own family circumstances. And let everyone else peacefully do the same. And, please drive safely and soberly.

  52. JP November 27, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    A demographic I’d be interested in seeing proof of: the higher the family income, the fewer number of children in that family. If this was true, then the trend is that poorer people are having more children than rich people.
    If this is true, then it means more children are growing up in families that can least afford child-protection.

    I grew up in a city full of catholic families that were huge. They were not dirt-poor, but they sure couldn’t afford to be safety-consumers. Yet their kids thrived.
    I would love to interview one of those mothers now.
    I wonder that she wouldn’t remark, in just exactly what way has the physical world become more dangerous for children now, than it was then?

    Citizens are brow-beaten endlessly to consume.
    Add to this the morality play that no end of dollars spent “prove” you care about your kids? In this way do we purchase social acceptance? Good for business. Compliant with corporate-think.

    I can only wonder: My 29 year-old son (who happens to have many college grad friends still drowning in educational debt) speaks darkly about this – that avoiding child-raising is like escaping a plague. The financial logistics speak volumes, but beneath that is a deadly cynicism.
    In her 2005 publication, “The Two-Income Trap” Elizabeth Warren pointed out that families with children were more likely to file for bankruptcy than those families that remained childless.

    As to driving….well, it’s a crazy world we’ve invented, to drive in, after all. I learned how to drive a taxi in New York City (long, long ago.) Which meant I was just another crazy cab driver. I was a regular road warrior.
    Except for one circumstance: when there were kids in the car. Then I drove just like my venerable maiden great aunt Agnes.
    Do we now hedge our bets and alow ourselves leeway to become hooligans on the road? – as long as we spend fortunes on safety gear? Trusting high-performance brakes and expensive tooling instead of common sense?
    Does it now cost more dollars per hour to cover the educational insurance on a child, than to actually educate them? Why exactly is this?
    Heck, how many children in America are not covered by an adequate health insurance plan?

  53. Havva November 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    @Jynet, how did you get permanent scarring from falling off a mattress on to carpet? Was it a freak accident, was it a tall mattress with box spring?

    @Jenna K, what a silly thing for a person to get worked up over. I probably would just dismiss that “locking” the kid in the room thing with a flip, “It’s more freedom than he had in his crib.” Who in their right mind wants a toddler ‘free’ to wander about unsupervised while mom and dad sleep? I’m sure my toddler would love to go to the park, go searching for doggies, or go shopping in the middle of the night, alone, if she could. Of course I restrict her freedom.

  54. Andy November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    @SKL “I didn’t comparison shop my kids’ car seats at all. I was more concerned about which ones would fit best in my car. ”

    Honestly, neither did I that much. I cared mostly about the upper material (how does it absorb sweat). There was a copy of crash tests results in the store, so I read them and then aimed not to buy one of worsts.

    But if one is writing “how not to overspend money on security” article, one should not put there obvious nonsense. Like basing safety comparison solely on the presence of 5 point harness and LATCH system. The latter does not even make the seat more secure then properly secured seatbelt based one. It just makes it easier to install.

    It is hard to buy larger point of an article that does not get commonly known facts straight.

  55. Havva November 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    @ deltaflute
    RE: “But why are we arguing about a certain type of crib being recalled because it had heavy risks? Especially when the alternative has lower risk. Why is their no outcry that bag-style slings have virtually been removed from the market because young babies smothered in them? Why the focus on the cribs?”

    Short answer: The slings aren’t illegal. The drop side cribs are.
    In some circumstances, floor bedding is more dangerous than a drop side crib or simply doesn’t work out. So for some parents that means someone has to break the law for them to get a crib they can use.

    Long answer: First the slings have merely become harder to come by. But if that is what a parent really wants, the parent can still buy them. Even if the major manufactures won’t do it, plenty of seamstresses on Etsy make them, you can get patterns too. They aren’t illegal. Also there are lots of functionally similar alternatives.

    Compare that to the drop side cribs which have been totally banned, even from the secondary market. It is illegal for someone to make one for you, or even to so much as offer you an old one. Just flat illegal. Tough luck to short mama’s, c-section mamas, and mama’s who have back injuries. Maybe if they are good at woodworking, it might be okay (assuming that doesn’t count as “manufacture.”)

    My daughter was not comfortable with her floor bed. She fell off a ton. Night after night, I would hear the plop of my daughter dropping the 4inches of the mattress + barrier (if any), followed promptly by screaming. Somehow around 10 months it just resolved, and after that was great. But for about 6 months it was hell. She would have been much more comfortable in a crib, but she only fell asleep in my arms. This made a fixed side crib, flat untenable. The last time I tried to put a sleeping infant in a fixed side crib I nearly fell in. To prevent crushing the baby, I had to drop her. For all practical purposes the law might as well say, no household with a care giver less than 5 ft tall, shall own a crib.

    If they were inherently dangerous, I could stomach the ban. But drop side cribs have safely (compared to fixed side cribs) contained babies for generations. They dominated the market in the 50’s. When I looked at the stats and records, kids just didn’t die from the sorts of drop side crib accidents that caused the recalls, until very recently. To the best of my ability to tell it was only when cheap parts took over that the drop side crib became dangerous. But instead of banning cheap parts, we banned a feature which is a great advantage to many parents, and comfort for infants.

    So while I wholeheartedly recommend a floor bed for any kid over about 10 months. And while I know that under better circumstances (or sleep training) a floor bed can be wonderful for any age. I simply don’t think such a heavy handed government intervention was an appropriate response to a new issue with a crib that, until recently, was as safe as the ones which are still permitted.

  56. SKL November 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Yeah – I hate to beat a dead horse, but there were hardly any deaths from drop-side cribs, and most of the deaths that did happen were due to consumer error (mistakes in assembly or maintenance, against the manufacturers’ clear instructions). No word on how many problems those drop-side cribs actually prevented – for both kids and parents.

    My family used the same old drop-side crib for generations, without incident. I also bought those “cheap” drop-side cribs with plastic hardware for my kids, and put them together myself, and had absolutely no problem. I took them apart after 5 years and donated them to my sister, who is presumably still using them without incident. Hmph.

  57. Tricia November 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    “Why is their no outcry that bag-style slings have virtually been removed from the market because young babies smothered in them?”

    These can definitely still be found although since the “warning” was issued they are not as plentiful in mainstream stores. I personally found that whole thing ridiculous. Billions of babies throughout history have used these types of slings. Do you know how many have been documented to have died of smothering? SEVEN. (According to the statistics I read.) Yep. Not a big risk. And I would bet anything it was more due to parent error/incompetence than anything else. I only read details on one case but in that particular case the baby was worn in a sling UNDERNEATH the mothers shirt and jumper. You really can’t blame the sling. Here’s the link for the number of deaths, for those who like sources.

  58. Jenn November 28, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    When my first born was an infant, we had one of those `child safety experts’ come to our home to help us baby-proof. As naive first time parents we were ready to buy anything to keep our baby free from harm. The best advice I got was from this child safety expert (a grandfather of six)! He told us that he will gladly do the basics, (gates for stairs, electric plug covers, lock away medicines, poisons and sharps) but after that we had to promise to teach our child how to be safe because he will never learn if we bubble-wrap our home. He told us he has made some homes into a padded cell for some children but then the child visits a relative or friend and ends up standing on a glass table so it’s a trip to the ER. Baby-proofing works when you teach your child how to be safe, not when you control your environment so much that the child has no idea what to do when out with the rest of the world.

  59. Lauren November 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Just saw an expose on the dangers of bouncy castles, etc. My husband’s response: So if a kid is kidnapped by a pedophile, it’s news for weeks. But 30 kids A DAY getting injured on bouncy things gets 2 minutes of coverage.

  60. Amanda Matthews November 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I do agree with not using dropside cribs. We recieved a rather expensive bed as a gift – it was a drop-side crib that converted to a toddler bed, with an attached changing table that converted into a dresser. We were using it as a toddler bed (because at the time we received it we didn’t have any young enough for cribs) until I got pregnant with my youngest, at which point we bought another toddler bed and put the thing together as a crib.

    The first batch was recalled while I was pregnant – not our model though. After looking at why they were being recalled, I decided we weren’t going to use the expensive crib. I declared that we would use the cheap pack-and-play, which the other 3 kids had slept in.

    My MIL was adamant that I “couldn’t let him sleep in there all the time” – even though the other 3 had done so just fine, and even though it’s just like a crib but safer imo because it is soft and close to the ground. MIL (and several other people) said “just don’t use the drop side, use a cable tie to tie it up. He won’t be able to move around enough to get hurt from it at first.”

    One day I took her in the room to show her what the actual issue was. I put my arm in – “All he would have to do is roll over like this…” and I got my arm stuck in there. It didn’t drop. but my arm was stuck in the space in there, and dropping it didn’t help. My husband had to come help MIL actually take the side off to get me out. So, that settled that.

    So the youngest slept in the pack-and-play until 9 months, at which point he needed to be able to get up at night to go to the bathroom – and he refused to climb out of the pack and play, unlike the older kids – so we moved him to a toddler bed with the pack and play mattress next to it in case he fell out. (I don’t agree with putting a matress on the floor. That would be too cold imo. A toddler bed is about the same distance from the floor as a mattress and boxspring, but without being directly on the floor it doesn’t have the cold transfer.) And yeah he fell out a couple of times but pretty quickly realized how to not.

    I don’t agree with babyproofing though. An 11 month old can’t understand electricity, but it can understand “don’t touch that.” If you don’t baby proof, then there is ample opportunity for the baby to encounter things it’s not suppose to touch while a parent can tell it not to touch it. So then when it goes to visit a house that isn’t baby proofed, or when mom forgets to lock the baby lock, etc. the baby knows to not touch.

    Whenever someone talks about locking their toddler in their room, I wonder; how do they go to the bathroom at night? Oh yeah – they don’t. Gross. I don’t want to restrict my kids’ freedom to use the toilet, especially not at the expense of me having to change diapers. Since I taught them that they don’t go to the park, shopping etc. unless mom or dad says it’s okay, and allowed them to actually learn to use stairs, none of that was ever a problem.

    Bag-style slings have not been removed from the market. I bought a sling from Target a couple of years ago, and from a search it is still available from them. They’re also available from Amazon, and I saw them at babies r us a year ago. Slings in general have become less popular as people began to take a more “leave your baby in some contraption at all times” approach. The infant car seats where the part the baby is in comes out, and then goes into a stroller, shopping cart, etc. are more used instead. (I tried using those briefly and then declared them silly – they add like 15lbs that you must pick up!) When baby outgrows that they go into walkers, bouncy seats etc. If those are the kinds of things you’re looking at, you won’t see slings as they are not geared toward the same audience. At babies r us they were near the cloth diapers.

  61. Sam November 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Amanda Matthews, I am very curious how you get a 9 month old to crawl out of a playpen in the middle of the night and pull down their pants/diaper/whatever and use the bathroom, wipe, wash their hands, and then crawl back into bed. I’m not saying I don’t believe you. I just have a hard time picturing a baby of that age having the coordination to do that. Please share!

  62. Warren November 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Just finished reading an article on how to pacify kids in carseats. The advice was actually fine, but it is where it came from that has me concerned.
    The lady is a Children’s Store’s “Child Passenger Safety Educator”.

    If that is a recognized title, we are worse off than I ever thought.

  63. ifsogirl November 29, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Thought I’d add my two cents. I had ONE baby gate that was across my kitchen doorway. I had a very tight kitchen at the time and didn’t want to be backing up with a big pot of hot something and step on my baby that tended to follow me everywhere. I put in some plug protector things wherever I thought they were necessary and to keep them out of the bathroom or laundry room I just closed the door. At my parent’s we put a gate at the bottom of the stairs. I did have one of those magnetic saftely latches when I got rid of the baby gate. Had it on just the cabinet under the sink with all the chemicals. I just kept the magnet on top of the fridge, harder to knock it off. Oh and I put one on the cabinet that held our CD’s, I was tired of having to put them all back every day. 🙂

  64. Amanda Matthews November 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Sam – he would climb out of bed and walk into my room, wake me without waking the whole house (and without giving me a haert attack – he had started yelling for me from the pack and play since he refused to climb out, which woke me with the crap scared out of me) and do the sign for potty. At 9 months I had to help him with the pulling down of pants, the getting onto the toilet, and at first the balancing on there, as well as the hand washing. This is why a lot of people don’t want to bother with this – they find it easier to just change a diaper. But I’d rather get up and help him for a few months than get up and change diapers for a few years. He was doing it all himself a few months after that (with lots of step stools involved).

  65. Vivek December 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    When telling her to stay inidse doesn’t work…We have the habit here to remove two of the wooden thingies (can’t come up the name) in the middle of the side of the bed. This creates room that is large enough for her to go out without needing to go over the side, small enough not to fall out when asleep.A safety gate for the stairs. One of the kids wouldn’t stay in his room and when we had tried all we bought an alarm one can hang at the doorhandle and it squeeks when the handle is moved.It squeeked so loud, that he needed two times to stay away from the door. LOL!Be patient, there comes a time you can hardly get them leave the bed. LOL!