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Top Toddler Parenting Myths

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This week, I was asked to speak to our preschool co-op about Child Safety. It got me thinking about what I think are the top health myths for parents with toddlers, having to do with child safety:

1) You can adequately install a child car seat yourself

Don't, get someone certified to do so. A certified installer may be available at your local police station, but due to budgetary cutbacks many of these have been cancelled. Your local children's hospital often has a program (Stanford has one). The NHTSA keeps a installation website, that's not very complete, so check with your local parents club or mothers club.

2) Kids accept the tightness of the restraint belt

2 fingers under belt is as loose as it should be, can you believe it!?!? If you've ever tried to put squirelly toddlers into a car seat, you know that the first thing as you try to tighten the belt is their yell: "too tight!" My recommendation is to start 'em young. Try to get them used to a snug belt from the get go, and you won't have the fight I have with my daughter, a mistake I didn't repeat with my younger son.

3) Boosters are safe enough for kids over 40 pounds of weight

This is not as safe as a full 5 point harness, as rollover ejection deaths of kids secured in booster seats. LATCH is really important as well, to secure the car seat to anchors that should be connected to the frame of the car's. Also look for seats with it's belts secured to frame of car seat for greatest security. Car seats are available for kids up to 80 pounds, so you can bet I'll have mine in these with 5 point restraints for a bunch of years more.

4) Infants & toddlers can be taught to swim

The AAP recommends no swimming lessons under 4 because of the false security it gives you that your kid can be independent in the water. Yeah, I know, my daughter swam on her own at 2 years of age, but I was there in the pool next to her every second, since I more than once swooped her out sputtering from swallowing a mouthful.

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About the Author


MD, FACP, FASN

Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.

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