Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery

As you enter motherhood, you may wonder how your body will react to carrying and nourishing a new life. Women who have had breast reduction surgery are often concerned about their ability to breastfeed. Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is possible for many new moms but it is impossible to know if you will be successful until you give it a go.

Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery:

Breast reduction surgery is medically known as reduction mammaplasty and is the surgical procedure for removing excess fat, tissue and skin from the breast to create a bust size more proportionate to a woman’s body. The procedure may sever some or all of a woman’s milk-producing ducts and glands as well as damage nerves in the breasts, which is why breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is questionable.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction SurgeryUsually, if there is feeling in the nipple and the nipple and areola are still attached to the breast tissue beneath them, some amount of breastfeeding is possible. It’s when the nipple is removed and reattached to a reconstructed breast when breastfeeding is unlikely. Beyond the need for milk ducts and glands to flow towards the nipple, nerves in the breast are required for stimulating prolactin and oxytocin, the hormones responsible for lactation. While many new moms never feel their let downs, stimulation of the nipple is necessary for them to occur and allow the free flow of milk to the nipple.

If you’ve had breast reduction surgery in the past, you’ll have to wait and see if you are able to breastfeed once your baby arrives. It’s wise to prepare as if breastfeeding will be possible by reading about it, taking a class and buying supplies that will make nursing more comfortable for you.

Let your doctor and pediatrician know about your breast reduction surgery so they are best able to help you navigate breastfeeding. You may need extra support from a lactation consultant and you’ll want to be extremely vigilant that your baby is getting enough milk for proper growth. Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery may result in a low milk supply that may not be adequate for your baby. Remember, even if exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, small amounts of breast milk will provide your baby with vital antibodies to help her remain healthy in early infancy.

If you are considering breast reduction surgery before you’ve had children, most experts agree you should try to wait until after breastfeeding to have this or any other surgical procedures on your breasts. However, sometimes breast surgery is medically necessary prior to having children, in which case you should discuss your desire to have a baby and breastfeed with your surgeon. There are no guarantees breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is possible, but your surgeon can make every effort to try to leave milk ducts and breast nerves in tact. Also, it is believed that women who have had their breast surgeries more than five years before having children are more likely to successfully breastfeed.

Sources: La Leche League, Baby Center and Cleveland Clinic

 

5 Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater

5 Tips for Dealing with a Picky EaterWhen your baby starts solids, she will discover a whole new world of flavor. For some, this experience is exhilarating and your baby may wonder why you’ve withheld such delicacies for so long. Other babies are more satisfied with the fantastic familiar flavor of your breast milk and may be less inclined to try new foods. If you have a picky baby on your hands, try these 5 tips for dealing with a picky eater.

If you find that your baby is a picky eater, don’t despair. A picky eater in infancy does not mean your child will remain that way her entire childhood. Babies reject food for a variety of reasons including the unfamiliar flavor, texture and temperature. They may also eat more during growth spurts and less in-between. Or when your little one is teething or fighting off a cold, she’s less inclined to gobble up what you’re serving. Figuring out your baby’s likes and dislikes will take some experimentation with all of these variables.

Tip #1: Flavor

Offering your baby a range of foods – from sweet, to savory, and everything in between – is important to understanding her pallet. When you’re just starting out, wait a 2-4 days between serving new foods. This will not only ensure your baby does not have an allergy to certain foods, but it will also help you really determine if she likes the food. She may not know herself until trying it a few times. If your baby doesn’t like a food, don’t banish it from her diet forever. Try again in a few weeks. As she discovers new flavors, her pallet will evolve and she may come around to once-rejected foods. Don’t shy away from adding spices to your baby’s cuisine. She’s used to the evolving flavor of your breast milk and may enjoy that in her baby food as well.

Tip #2: Blend

Serving straight green beans or kale may be off-putting to your baby. If you discover that is the case, start by blending it with breast milk and baby cereal to balance the flavor. Or you can mix more pungent veggies with a favorite fruit. Slowly cut back on the additives until the veggies it he only thing left. This is a form of pallet training that may help your baby learn to like certain foods.

Tip #3: Texture

Even when you puree your baby’s food, the texture will vary somewhat. Perhaps it’s the creamy avocado that your baby prefers over grainer apples. Eventually your baby will need to learn to appreciate the natural textures of food, but if it is hindering its likeability, try serving everything at her desired texture. Then slowly ease up on the processing to allow her to get a sense of the food’s true texture.

Tip #4: Temperature

Also experiment with different temperatures. Your baby is used to warm breast milk so she may actually prefer lukewarm or warm food. Other babies may like chilled foods, especially while teething. Before you decide your baby truly doesn’t enjoy a certain food, offer it at several different temperatures to gage her reaction.

Tip #5: Routine

By having set meal times and snack times, you can help ensure your baby is ready to eat when it’s time to eat. Allowing your baby to snack constantly may mean she’s not hungry for meals when they are being served. While you never want your baby to be ravenously hungry, you do want her to be hungry enough to want to try new foods. Also, if your baby understands that not eating a meal will lead to more desirable snacky foods later, she may hold out for a better option.

Remember, set a good example for your baby and don’t give in or give up every time meals or snacks are rejected. Learning to eat is a process of experimentation for both you and your baby. Be patient and enjoy the ride!

Pool Time with Baby

Pool Time with BabyWho’s excited for summer pool time? If you love swimming, you may be eager to get your baby in the pool as well. Swimming is a terrific activity for babies but there are a few things to keep in mind about pool time with baby. Here’s a checklist to help your baby have a wet and wonderful summer at the pool:

Age: Babies under two months should hold off on taking a dip. Pools can harbor harmful bacteria that may cause illness in newborns with minimal immune defenses. Plus, harsh chemicals designed to kill off bacteria are also dangerous to your newborn. After two months your baby can better handle what he may encounter in the pool and early exposure to swimming may help foster his wet and wild side sooner.

Temperature: The ideal pool temperature for a baby is 85 to 87 degrees. Babies under one year have a hard time regulating their body temperatures so if the water feels cold to you, it is extremely frigid to your baby. Always take your baby out of the pool if he is shivering. Also, never put your baby in a hot tub or pool that is too warm.

Preparation: The bath is a fantastic way to prepare for pool time with baby. Make baths fun by allowing your baby to splash and play with toys. Sing songs and play games too. If you feel inclined you can get into the bath with your baby since this is most similar to being in the pool together. Gently splash water on your baby’s head and face every once in awhile to get him used to the sensation. Feel free to hold your baby in the shower as well.

Safety and Security: In the pool, hold your baby firmly yet comfortably. This will ensure your baby’s safety and make him feel secure in the water. Always stay in shallow water where you have good footing. Even as your toddler becomes an adequate swimmer, stay within an arm’s reach away. Never let children play alone near water and keep pool gates locked when you’re not around.

Fun: Show your baby how much fun the pool can be. Play games, sing songs, offer water toys and carefully splash about with your baby. When you have fun together in the pool, you create a positive association with the experience.

Baby Cues: Most babies enjoy the water but some are more timid. Don’t force your baby to play in the pool for longer than a few minutes if he’s not into it. Just as fun in the pool creates positive associations, bad experiences can create negative ones. Some babies need a little more time to get used to swimming and that’s OK. If you have an adventurous baby who wants to test out his swimming skills from the womb, use caution as you foster a love of the pool.

Swim Lessons: Feel free to enroll in parent-assisted swim lessons by age 6 months. Learning to swim with you by his side and being led by a trained instructor should be a fun and productive experience for your baby.

Water Swallowing: Watch out for your baby swallowing water. Some babies find it humorous to swallow water, which may lead to choking or dry drowning. Plus, pool water is full of chemicals that aren’t good for your baby’s system.

Floatation Devices: Many parents choose not use “floaties” and other inflatable floatation devices as it may give your baby a false sense of security around water. However, if you are on a boat, or in an ocean or lake, a life-jacket is necessary.

We hope you enjoy pool time with baby this summer!!

Sources: Parenting, Parents and Baby Center

Born to Breastfeed

Born to BreastfeedGrowing a tiny being and then sustaining it through breast milk is nothing short of a miracle. The biological and evolutionary factors that have led to these phenomena are extraordinary and mind-blowing. As a mother, your body transforms into a beautiful haven to embrace and support your baby. Then, when your baby is just moments old he instinctually knows how to breastfeed as his first act of love and survival in life. Is this truly amazing or what? Today we’re looking at the ways your baby was born to breastfeed.

Food and love top the list of your baby’s most basic needs and he probably has figured that out from the second he was born. Sometimes just minutes after entering the world babies prove they were born to breastfeed by crawling to their mother’s breast for their first feeding. If you’ve ever witnessed it, there is no denying, it’s a remarkable act.

Many physical aspects of your baby’s body were strategically designed to make breastfeeding easier. As if manufactured for precision and efficiency, your baby was born to breastfeed. Check out how…

  • Your baby’s nose is tiny and flat, exactly what is needed to be able to comfortably breathe while breastfeeding. As you can imagine, a large nose would make breastfeeding rather difficult.
  • Your baby’s disproportionally large tongue and fatty cheeks help position the mouth and tongue for proper latch and sucking.
  • Your baby’s short airway encourages milk to go down the esophagus rather than the windpipe when in a lying position and helps your baby extend his neck for feeding.
  • Your baby’s eyesight is just the distance between his eyes and your face while breastfeeding. Not a coincidence!
  • Your baby can smell the unique scent of your breast milk in order to find his food source. Babies can even differentiate their own mother’s milk from someone else’s.
  • Breastfeeding encourages closeness so your baby will remain warm and feel safe. This skin-to-skin contact warms your baby and offers a sense of security. Your baby’s heartbeat may sync with yours as well. All of this promotes less fussiness and more calmness.
  • Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between you and your baby. By being close and feeding often, you and your baby will learn each other for a deep connection.
  • Your baby has a natural instinct to suck and your nipple is most satisfying. Suckling from your breast not only yields nutrients, but it is also relaxing and may help your baby sleep better.
  • Breast milk contains hundreds of essential nutrients that support your baby’s best health including strengthening your baby’s immune system, helping organs develop properly, and stabilizing your baby blood sugar levels.
  • Breast milk is extremely pure and is the easiest first food for your baby to digest so he will reap the most benefits from the nutrients it offers and experience less digestive issues.
  • The health benefits of breastfeeding last for a lifetime. It’s the easiest and best way to give your baby the best start to a long and healthy life.

Breastfeeding is natural in every way because babies were born to breastfeed!

Sources: Women’s Health, Parents and YouTube

Maternal Vitamin E and Risk of Asthma

Maternal Vitamin E and Risk of AsthmaNew research shows there may be a correlation between maternal Vitamin E and risk of asthma. Specifically, a study conducted out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that babies born to mothers with low Vitamin E levels are more likely to have asthma and respiratory problems.

The study followed 650 babies from birth to two years of age. Their mothers were tested for two specific Vitamin E levels after giving birth. Those with lower levels of Vitamin E had children who were more likely to have been treated for asthma or wheezing within their first two years. These results were determined based on medical data and reports from their mothers.

Previous studies conducted on mice had the same results. Although this study did not test mothers during pregnancy, researchers believe that Vitamin E levels immediately after giving birth are reflective of the levels while babies were in the womb.

Vitamin E is a critical fat-soluble antioxidant that helps maintain cell structure. It is partially responsible for proper organ function and is essential in defending cells against free radicals. During pregnancy, the right amount of Vitamin E is crucial to support your baby’s rapidly growing cells and especially the development of your baby’s lungs. Additionally, Vitamin E during pregnancy can keep blood pressure levels in check to help avoid preeclampsia

There are eight types of Vitamin E. This study found that a-tocopherol and y-tocopherol were most important to reduce the risk of asthma and wheezing in young children. The best sources of alpha-tocopherol are sunflower oil and safflower oil. Y-tocopherol is more common and found in corn, soy, seeds, and nuts (walnuts, pecans and peanuts), as well as vegetable oils.

It is recommended that pregnant women consume 3 mg of Vitamin E daily for their own health and that of their developing babies. This can usually be achieved by eating a well-balanced diet without supplementation.  Too much Vitamin E can be harmful to growing fetuses.

The findings of this study were reported at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s annual meeting.

Sources: WebMD, MPR, Live Science and AptaClub

 

 

Mother’s Day Memories

As Mother’s Day draws near, you may be reflecting on your experiences so far as a mother and thinking about your own mother as well. Each of us has a unique relationship with our children, which may be influenced by our own mothers. Before you sit back and enjoy being celebrated on Mother’s Day, it’s a good time to think about how you want to be remembered as a mom.

In 25 years when your children are adults, how do you want to be remembered on Mother’s Day? If you’re not living out those qualities, make some changes so you are the mom you want your kids to have. Which of these memories do you want to create?

Mother’s Day MemoriesFun and Spontaneous: Structure and schedules may keep your lives sane but memories are made from fun and spontaneous moments. Whether it’s a stop off at an ice cream shop before dinner or a surprise trip to Disney World, adding fun and spontaneity to your days will bring joy and smiles to everyone in your family. You can achieve this in small ways every day by breaking out in song when the mood strikes you or turning a chore into a game.

Love of Learning: Your kids may not appreciate all the random facts you share but they will enjoy being smart cookies. If you want to be remembered for all the knowledge you impart on your kiddos, find clever ways to incorporate learning into your everyday lives. Turn following a yummy recipe into a math lesson. Chart the weather in your city. Practice science experiments at home. Keep a map handy to talk about different places in the world when they come up in conversation. And of course, read about everything and encourage your children to ask why.

Seeking Adventure:  For the adventure-loving mom, spread your free spirit to your kids by involving them in your wild journeys. From backyard adventuring (think camp outs and scavenger hunts) to travel across the globe, your little ones will remember your adventurous nature. Risk-taking is a hard skill for some kids to learn, but you can help your kids safely take risks through adventure activities.

Leader in your Community: Whether it’s school, a scout troupe, a religious organization or a community group, demonstrating your leadership skills is something your kids will remember. Getting involved to make your world (in the most micro or macro sense) a better place can be ingrained in children at a young age. Show your kids how people coming together can make a difference. It’s a memory they will carry with them and probably emulate in their own lives as well.

Fostering Independence: Mother’s are usually nurturing by nature and that’s a wonderful thing. We’re hard-wired to be a safe and secure “home” for our children. But fostering independence will also serve them well in life. Making mistakes in the name of learning and teaching your children to be resourceful are necessary skills for productive citizens of the world. That’s not to say you have to choose tough love if that’s not your way. However setting your kids on a path to independence is a gift they will remember and thank you for in the future.

We wish you a very happy Mother’s Day full of beautiful memories – both the ones you have from your past and the ones you choose to create.

What Do Newborns Really Need?

There’s no doubt you’ve come to realize there are an endless number of baby products available for purchase. Before you buy up the baby supply store, ask yourself, what do newborns really need? Or better yet, just keep reading…

Your precious sweet baby will certainly be a handful but when considering what do newborns really need, the answer is fairly simple: Not much! That’s not to say you won’t end up with a lot of baby stuff by the end of your baby’s first year. But you truly don’t need all that much from day one. In many cases, you can wait to meet your baby to determine her needs. And remember, you’ll probably receive many gifts so buying a bunch of “nice to haves” may be unnecessary.

What do newborns really need? Here’s the essential list:

Diapers and Wipes: Or better said, something to diaper with and something to wipe with because there are many options when it comes to diapers and wipes. If you go for the standard disposable varieties, you may want a small pack of a few different types to determine which ones your baby wears best without wasting money on a bulk supply. You really can’t go wrong with any type of wipes. For those who are taking the greener route, have your reusable diaper supplies ready to go and a simple washcloth works as a washable wipe.

What Do Newborns Really Need?A Bed: Notice we don’t say a crib. Your baby can sleep in several places in the first few months although experts recommend that she does have her own safe sleep space outside of your bed. A cradle, basinet or play yard can work as an early bed for your baby. Don’t feel obligated to have a crib right away. Many parents don’t bring in a crib out of superstition or may be waiting to transition a toddler out of the baby’s eventual crib.

Blankets or Swaddles: Your baby will likely enjoy being wrapped up snugly in a swaddle. In the hospital you’ll probably get some blankets that work just fine for swaddling but have a few more on hand. You can go for traditional blankets that you will fold into a swaddle or pre-stitched swaddles.

Clothes: Cute clothes are fun but when it comes to what you really need for your newborn, function is more important. Eight to 10 bodysuits and five to seven pajamas should do it. You’ll probably run your baby’s laundry several times a week (you’ll need a gentle laundry detergent!) due to diaper leaks and spit-up so too many items are unnecessary. Keep in mind that your baby will hit several growth spurts within the first month to six weeks of life so she’ll grow out of her newborn clothes rather quickly.

Feeding Supplies: When you’re breastfeeding, all you truly need is your body! However, you may want to have a nursing pillow on hand to make things more comfortable. Several nursing bras that you wore during pregnancy should transition to nursing for the few weeks and then you can buy more nursing bras once your milk comes in and you determine your size. Burp cloths are a good idea but regular wash cloths or hand towels work well too. Experts recommend holding off on giving your baby a breast milk bottle until at least four weeks after birth to establish a strong breastfeeding routine and to encourage milk supply. If you know you’ll need to pump and serve bottles before then, have your supplies ready before your baby arrives.

Car Seat: Many hospitals won’t let you leave unless your baby is secure in a car seat. Make sure you get one that is appropriate for an infant but also has room to grow.

Along with love, patience and a good attitude, that’s really all you need when you bring home a newborn. Your precious new baby will spend most of her time eating, sleeping, soiling diapers and hanging out in your arms, all of which is covered by our list.

Looking for things that will make your life easier or that you may need eventually? Here are a few “nice to haves”:

Rocking Chair: Rocking can be soothing to your baby but some don’t like it. If you can’t fit a rocker in your nursery, don’t worry. Bouncing, swaying or walking around work well for calming your baby too. And you can nurse anywhere so don’t feel obligated to have a rocker.

Stroller: Strollers male life easier when you’re out and about but chances are you won’t be going anywhere with your baby for a few months other than the doctor’s office. Some car seats are paired with a stroller system to transfer your baby without having to take her out of the car seat.

Baby Carrier: Planning to get things done around the house with your newborn? If so, a baby carrier will help you keep your baby close while freeing up your hands for other tasks.

Changing Table: Any old dresser can double as a changing table with a changing pad on top. Don’t feel like you must buy a table or baby dresser designed just for this purpose.

Baby Venues: Setting your baby down for a moment in a bouncy chair or infant swing may be helpful but again, not mandatory. In fact, sometimes these replace tummy time or interactive play, which can hinder your baby’s physical and mental development.

Baby Bathtub: Bathing your baby in the sink for the first few weeks (or months) is completely fine! As your baby gets bigger, it may be cumbersome to hold your slippery wet baby safely and then you’ll need a bathtub. Baby towels are super cute, but your regular bath towels are just fine too.

Sources: WebMD and Scary Mommy

Fish, A Baby Brain Food

As your baby starts solids around six months of age, consider serving up fish, a baby brain food. If you think serving fish to babies sounds, well, fishy, read on mamas. We’re sharing all the ways fish is great for your baby and how you can incorporate this baby brain food into your baby’s diet.

Off-Limits Fish

We should first begin by explaining that all fish are not created equal. There are some fish you should avoid serving your baby like swordfish, mackerel, tilefish and shark because they are high in mercury and PCBs. Some people believe in holding off on shellfish in the early months of solid food eating too, especially if allergies run in your family.

Fish, A Baby Brain FoodThe Best Fish for Babies

The best fish for babies are salmon, flounder, cod, tuna, haddock and sole. Salmon usually tops the list because it is the most potent in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, both DHA and EPA. But the truth is, all fish have omega-3s and therefore a variety of types of fish are great for your baby.

Why Fish is Good for Babies

Your baby’s brain is developing the fastest during the 9+ months of gestation and in the first year of life. That’s why fish is an excellent early brain food for babies. Studies show that kids who consumed more DHA from Omega-3 fatty acids prenatally and in infancy performed better academically and had more focus.  Omega-3s are also terrific for all of your baby’s organs, supports less inflamed skin, boosts immunity, elevates mood, and promotes eye health.

Additionally, fish contains other baby-loving nutrients such as Vitamin D for strong bones and lots of lean protein for building muscles.

How to Serve Fish to Babies

It may seem rather gross to puree fish, but this is a perfectly acceptable way to serve it when your baby begins solids. Feel free to blend fish with other flavors your baby enjoys, such as fruit or oat cereal. As your baby begins eating finger foods, tender, flakey chunks of fish are easy to pick up and eat. Be sure you thoroughly de-bone your fish before serving it to babies.

When your baby is ready for more interesting combinations, try flavoring fish with different spices or sauces. You can also make fish fingers by breading and baking fish in small strips or bite-size pieces. Consider replacing some of your other go-to meat dishes with fish, such as soups, casseroles, tacos and chili.

So feel free to “go fish” with your baby’s diet and enjoy all of the benefits fish has to offer!

Sources: Parenting, What to Expect and Wholesome Baby Food

What is Jaundice?

What is Jaundice?Infant jaundice is a fairly common condition that causes a newborn’s skin (and sometimes the whites of the eyes) to appear yellowish. It usually starts in the face and moves down the body. The discolored skin typically shows up around two to four days after birth and subsides within a few weeks.

What causes Jaundice?

Jaundice is caused when bilirubin – a byproduct of the break-down of red blood cells – builds up in the bloodstream. Typically bilirubin is processed by the liver and converted to bile, which aids digestion. However, a newborn’s immature liver and excessive red blood cells may yield too much bilirubin and therefore lead to jaundice.

Other Types of Jaundice

Normal infant jaundice is called physiological jaundice.  As described above, this occurs when red blood cells make too much bilirubin for the liver to break down properly. Premature babies are especially prone to jaundice since their bodies and livers have had less time to develop.

Jaundice can also occur from breastfeeding. One way jaundice may develop is if a baby is not able to secure an adequate amount of milk, either because a mother’s milk is not yet available or due to improper latch. A lactation consultant can help advise on the best course of action for both of these issues. In very rare circumstances it’s the breast milk itself that causes infant jaundice. Some breast milk contains compounds that prevent the excretion of bilirubin through the intestines which causes bilirubin levels to rise.

Another rare type of jaundice called incompatibility jaundice may arise if the mother and baby have different blood types. A mother’s body may form antibodies that attack the newborn’s red blood cells before birth, which in turn elevates bilirubin levels.

Additional causes of jaundice include liver problems, red blood cell problems, internal injuries at birth, an enzyme deficiency or an infection.

Treatment for Jaundice

Most cases of normal infant jaundice resolve themselves within a few weeks after birth and no treatment is necessary. Breastfeeding often is one of the best ways to naturally lower your baby’s bilirubin.

Testing in the hospital will determine if a newborn’s bilirubin count is low enough to avoid treatment. Extra caution is taken with preemies even if there bilirubin levels are not extremely high. In some cases phototherapy may be recommended. The newborn will spend time in a “bili bed” where she will be exposed to blue spectrum light. This is effective in helping the body process bilirubin. In more severe cases a small blood transfusion may be recommended.

Side Effects of Jaundice

If left untreated jaundice can cause serious health concerns including deafness, cerebral palsy or brain damage. It can also be the sign of an infection or thyroid issue. This is why monitoring jaundice and seeking appropriate treatment is crucial to your baby’s health. Even if treatment is not recommended in the hospital, call your doctor if you notice your baby’s skin yellowing or the yellowing becomes worse, your baby is extremely irritable and inconsolable, or your baby has a fever. Unfortunately there is no known prevention method for jaundice but breastfeeding is one of the best ways to combat it early before it reaches a critical level.

Sources: Healthline, Kids Health, and The Mayo Clinic

Car Seat Safety – Part 2

Car Seat Safety – Part 2Car accidents are a leading cause of death and injury among children under 13. That’s why car seat safety is crucial to ensure your baby is protected in the event of an accident. Yesterday we shared car seat safety guidelines for installing car seats and strapping in your precious cargo. Today we’re reviewing best practices for car seat safety.

Best Practices for Car Seat Safety

Remain in the Safest Seat: There is an appropriate car seat for each stage of childhood including infant “bucket” seats, infant-toddler convertible high back seats and booster seats, with many variations of each. Manufacturers make recommendations on the appropriate height and weight for each type of car seat that you should follow closely. Moving your child to the next level of car seat before she meets the height and weight requirements can be dangerous.

Remain Rear-Facing Until Age 2: Facing rear is the safest direction for small bodies – 50% safer in fact. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing car seats until at least age two (which is also the law in many states) and remaining rear-facing until the child completely outgrows the seat in this position. That’s because young children’s vertebrae are not fully fused so an impact that would cause minor damage to a mature body could yield critical injuries for an infant or toddler.

Remain in a Booster as Long as Possible:  Most children should continue to sit in a booster seat until around age 11 or 12 when they can safely sit in a regular car seat with the belt buckled properly. Your child will probably be eager to move on from car seats but consider her safety before making decisions about ditching a car seat altogether.

Don’t Allow Children Under 13 to Sit in Front: Even after your child outgrows a booster, the back seat is the safest place until around age 13. This is because air bags can cause serious injuries to smaller bodies, not to mention windshield glass.

Know Your Car Seats History: One of the few baby items that you should not buy used is a car seat. There is no way to know for sure if the car seat has ever been in an accident. Car seats that have been, even if they appear fine, should be discarded as their safety may be compromised. Similarly, never use a car seat that is expired or recalled.

Avoid Toys and Mirrors on the Car Seat: Your baby may prefer additional stimulation while enjoying a ride in the car but clipping toys or mirrors to your car seat can be dangerous. Car seats are not designed or tested for safety with these added elements so you may reduce their effectiveness if you alter the seat.

Transporting Bulky Items with your Baby:  Bulky or heavy items and even pets can fall on your baby during a car ride. If you must transport something large, make sure it is secure in your trunk or take it at a time when your baby is not in the car.

Stay safe and enjoy the ride with these car seat safety tips!

Sources: AAA’s Safe Seats 4 Kids, Parents and Autobytel