Don’t let it happen to you: 7 tips to help prevent your child accidentally being left in the car.

It happened again. Another baby was left in a car and later died.

This is so sad. But this guy doesn’t need any judgment. His baby is dead. She’ll never be alive again. He needs compassion. Already, I’ve seen nasty things posted about this. Even the article says he ‘forgot’ to drop his daughter off at daycare – the quotes being theirs.

Help from a toy: Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat when they're not in the car. Move it to the front when they're strapped in.

Help from a toy: Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when they’re not in the car. Move it to the front when they’re strapped in.

But, as I read the article, I saw was looking for something. And I found it, at the end of the article:

“The father told police that he does not typically drop the baby off at daycare.

On Thursday, he told officers, he was not operating in his normal routine.”

Almost always, there’s a change in routine. We do so much on auto-pilot. We don’t want to think so, but it could happen to most people. But there are are a few ways to help remind yourself that there’s a baby in the backseat:

  • If possible, put the baby seat or booster seat behind the passenger’s seat. You have a better chance of seeing the carrier there.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when it is empty. When the child is in the back seat, the stuffed animal comes up front.
  • If you have a diaper bag or backpack for your child, put it in the front passenger’s seat, where you’re more likely to see it.
  • Speaking of the back seat, if you have anything that you will need at your destination – even if it’s just your wallet – stick it in the backseat. When you go to get it, you’ll see the child.
  • Make it a habit – even when the child is not with you – to check the back seat. It only takes a quick glance, but the habit will save you. Again, the number one reason children get left in the car is that there was a change in routine. If your routine includes looking back there,
  • If there’s often a change in routine (for example: one day dad drops the child off at daycare, the next day mom does), ask the daycare to call you anytime your child is more than fifteen minutes late to drop-off.
  • If none of those appeal to you, a simple solution is to keep a set of sticky notes and a pen in the car. If the baby’s in the back seat, write yourself a note and stick it on the steering wheel, over the horn.

I’d also encourage everyone to read an article called Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime? I will warn you: it was a difficult article to get through. But it entirely changed how I look at these tragedies.

Most people think it can’t happen to them. Or that it only happens to bad parents. Or forgetful ones. Statistics tell us that’s not true. It happens to people from all walks of life.

When these stories appear in the news, don’t use them as an opportunity to judge. Use them as an opportunity to remind yourself to be vigilant.

photo credit: MRBECK via photopin cc

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