SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. the national, non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety. Our mission is to help reduce the number of serious and fatal traffic injuries suffered by children by promoting the correct, consistent use of safety seats and safety belts.
Founded in 1980, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. is nationally recognized for program excellence, training, and up-to-date technical materials. We provide consultation to advocates, parents, business leaders, the media, and professionals working in the fields of health care, traffic safety, and education.
Stephanie M. Tombrello, L.C.S.W., Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., has been involved in child passenger safety since 1970. While shopping for a car seat for her infant daughter, she was shocked to learn that most of the models available in stores were unsafe. Stephanie and several other early pioneers in the field successfully petitioned the federal government to require crash testing for child restraints. She also wrote the petition which resulted in the federal requirement for manufacturers to provide shoulder belts in the rear seats of all post-1989 passenger vehicles.
In 1980, Stephanie founded a grassroots organization in the Los Angeles area which evolved to become SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. Under her leadership, the organization has become the premier resource for child passenger safety in the nation. Stephanie is a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor and was appointed in 1995 to the National Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Restraint & Vehicle Compatibility.
How to Secure Your Baby in Their Car Seat
Stephanie Tombrello with SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. demonstrates how to buckle your infant into their car seat.
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Stephanie Tombrello: Hello, I am Stephanie Tombrello, Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.
A. and I am here to talk with you about how to protect our youngest children in the car. Now we are going to talk how to properly secure infants and young babies. First of all, it's very important for newborns to be in a rear facing car seat, that is at a 45 degree angle. All of the safety seats will have some kind of indicator on the side of either the base or the shell that shows you the proper angle, but in case you don't notice that, you just want the car seat to be halfway back, so the baby's head lies back naturally, leaving the whole air way open and easy for the baby to breathe.
Next, it's very important that you harness the child properly. Think of your baby as a star. His arms and legs and head is the five points of the star. With the harness over his shoulders and make sure it's between his legs. If you have a five point harness which we would prefer, make sure that the lap straps are down low on his body and that the retainer clip is at his armpits. When you get your harness in the proper position, gently snug the harness to make it tight. Check it to be sure that you cannot pinch any fabric between your fingers. When you have the harness snug enough so you can't pinch any fabric between your fingers, move the retainer clip to armpit level.
If your baby seems to be very small in the car seat, you can always roll up a towel or receiving blanket or a diaper and put it like a sausage all along his whole body on either side, to fill up the space and to give a little bit of support. Many of the safety seats today come with what are called headhuggers or body supports and of course, if the car seat manufacturer has included it, these products have been tested for use in the safety seat, but we suggest that you not add after market products that may not be certified or have been tested with the car seat.
In general, you don't put other objects underneath the baby, just along inside. Now we have talked about securing babies in the car, next we are going to talk about buckling up preemies.