Stephanie Tombrello: Hello, I am Stephanie Tombrello, Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.
A. and I am here to talk with you about protecting our youngest travelers, including preemies. A preemie is defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a baby who is born before 37 weeks gestation. Every preemie should be tested to see if there is a problem for that child in sitting semi-reclined as in a car seat. Once the baby is been tested for that you will either need to have a crash tested car bed or use a safety seat that is designed for children who weigh less than five pounds. If the child needs to be in a car bed; that baby will ride side lying in the car and the child's head must be towards the center of the vehicle, not towards either of the doors.
The car bed is not one's first choice if a child can't ride rear facing and semi-reclined, but it is an important tool to know about if you need it. When you put a preemie in a safety seat, you need to be sure that the harness strap slots will allow the child to have the straps at or below shoulder level if they are rear facing. That means that the slots need to be very low. Also you need a safety seat that has a crotch strap that's not too far away from the back of the safety seat, otherwise the baby is going to slump quite a bit.
Sometimes parents feel better if an adult is watching the child, so one adult can drive the vehicle and another can sit, as I am, but with wearing a safety belt watching the baby, if you are uncomfortable about the child's breathing status. Some of these babies need to travel with oxygen or other equipment. If that's the case, you need to secure the oxygen container, to make sure it does not become a flying missile, if someone were to hit your vehicle while you are driving with your baby.
So now we have talked about some of the issues that are particular to premature infants. Next we are going to talk about some of the common errors that people make when placing a baby in the car.