A royal safety hazard: Prince George’s car seat not fit for a king

Prince-carseat

 

Even my six-year-old daughter noticed—“Mommy, is that safe?” she asked when she saw this picture of the new Prince of Wales, Prince George Alexander Lewis.  I was shocked myself.  How could this baby, presented to the press and the world in his car seat for the first time, be improperly strapped into his car seat?  But yes, it’s true.  Prince William and Kate are new parents and apparently the hospital failed to teach how to correctly strap a newborn into an infant car seat.  I can’t really blame new parents for struggling to figure out how to get a baby safely in a car—somewhere between 75%-90% of U.S. car seats are improperly installed, depending on which study you look at.

There are two problems with the prince’s position in this picture— he’s swaddled in a blanket while in his car seat and the car seat shoulder straps don’t go over his shoulders.  

British infant seats use are different than those in the United States and do not have chest clips.  There are just the two shoulder straps and the buckle that goes between the legs.  But even with European car seats the shoulder straps need to be over the shoulders to be effective.

Infants should not be swaddled in blankets while riding in a car seat.  The blanket can prevent the car seat straps from staying in the correct position during an accident.  Swaddled babies can easily get their arm out from under the strap, as Prince George did in this picture.  Likewise, winter coats should be removed before strapping in a baby or toddler.  To keep a baby warm in a car seat, use a specially designed car seat blanket that goes over the straps yet won’t cause suffocation.  Some infant seats now come with blankets that attach to the seat, and there are many other types of car seat blankets available that work with any seat.  For toddlers and older kids, just slip their winter coat on backwards after they get strapped in.

Are you among the 75-90% of parents whose kids aren’t properly restrained in their car seats?  Check out the St. Louis Children’s  Hospital car seat safety guide, or schedule your FREE appointment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Safety Stop.  Safety Stop provides free car seat inspections in your own vehicle, so you can be sure your car seat is correctly.  Safety Stop has several locations around St. Louis.  To schedule your appointment, call 314.454.KIDS (5437) or 800.678.KIDS (5437), then press 3.*

Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D. About Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D.

Kathleen M. Berchelmann, M.D., is a pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, director of the St. Louis Children's Hospital Social Media Team, and co-founder of the ChildrensMD hospital physician blog. Her work has been featured in print and online publications including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, and TIME magazine. She is a frequent contributor to Fox2 News STL Moms. Kathleen and her husband are raising five children.

Follow Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann on Facebook: ChildrensMomDocs Twitter: @MomDocKathleen and connect with her on .

Comments

  1. Amanda Watts says:

    Thanks so much for the article! Several of us NICU gals over at Mercy were flipping out over this pic, asking “don’t that have car seat educators in England!?” Excellent reminder for everyone. Hopefully because of this pic someone has taken a moment to educate the Royals on proper car seat usage as well.

  2. If he were in the car, I’d agree with you 100%. But he’s not. We don’t know that they didn’t correctly adjust everything once he was in the car, do we?

  3. Yes, I noticed this too – but I just figured they likely had differing rules there. Also, it’s been close to 30 years since they had to deal with an infant in the royal security system! :)

  4. First of all, his name is spelled incorrectly. Yes, he is certainly improperly restrained. However, if we could all for a moment put ourselves in their shoes. They have spent their lives in the spotlight. Every move, every action, every decision, judged by the entire world. His mother died because of our obsession with judging others. Prince William did not ask for this life, he was born into it. Let us not forget they are just two people who just became parents….excited, worried, hopeful, scared. Just like every other new parent in the world. God bless them both for trying to be who they are AND be brand new parents at the same time. Not to mention be so poised at the same time. People have been camped out at the hospital for weeks, they had to share their baby with the world 24 hours after his arrival. I am sure they were just hoping to leave the hospital without getting bombarded by paparazzi and curious spectators. Remember there was a time that people did not even use cars eats! Look at the video from when Prince William was born! Diana held him in the backseat. It is very hard for me to judge someone that has a life I could never imagine. It is easy to look at others and say what they do wrong. What if someone followed us around all day taking photographs of our parenting. Would they never see anything wrong? I am guilt-ridden if I let my daughter eat at McDonald’s! They have the rest of their lives to doubt themselves as parents and feel guilty about decisions they make…..what do you say we cut them a little slack? I say best wishes royal family! Welcome to parenthood!

  5. Why are people so quick to judge other parents? It’s like people look for things to be wrong with the way other parents do their jobs. They are first time parents and like Mindy said, he wasn’t in the car and I don’t think he looked as if he was in danger of falling out. People seriously need to chill out.

  6. Funnily enough, no, we don’t have car seat educators in the UK. You can ask when you buy your seat in most of the reputable stores and they’ll explain it to you, but generally we have to rely on the instructions printed on the seats. I honestly can’t believe that they would have been allowed to travel like that, but it’s a very poor example to set for the people watching, a lot of whom will not consider the fact the baby will have been properly strapped in by their minder before setting off.
    I think when you’re massively in the public eye like that you have to set an excellent example. Shame on them… :)

  7. Pamiss45 says:

    The mother (Kate) was in the back seat with the baby and leaning over to the babe as Prince William got into the car.
    I would hope that more would be done about the dead, severely injured babies in the US – just read a report that only 13% are properly strapped in to car seats. Apparently the medical staff in the US doesn’t do any better.
    Talk about casting stones!

  8. I worked newborn nursery-well baby- a long time ago…greater than 12 years ago…but back then…we were not legally allowed to assist or instruct parents on how to safely secure the baby in the cars seat…only had to verify that they had one…I assume for liability? We could only instruct them to read the manual and refer to the fire house or safety stop type place…wondering if the laws have changed in the US since then and maybe they are not legally allowed to assist them? Would be curious to know what the current laws are here…I know the NICU is different but wondering about well baby nursery discharges?

    Thanks
    Becky

  9. Kirstin Lee. M.D. says:

    Mindy, You are completely right. We don’t know and I hope that they made the proper adjustments to assure the Prince’s safety. Unfortunately, this is the picture that the public saw and it sets an example that we as child health advocates need to address. We all have had moments of parenting that were misguided, most of us just aren’t on public display when they happen.

  10. Mindy H. says:

    @Mindy – Actually, we do know they drove away with the baby secured like that. You could see that all Prince William did was secure the car seat and shut the door. There’s not a chance Kate had time to unstrap the baby, un-swaddle him, and strap him back in by the time William got in the front seat and drove away. Even an experienced mom wouldn’t have had time to do that, it was rather quick. But the article isn’t bashing them…just pointing out that the hospital staff failed to properly educate them.

  11. For your Canadian readers Transport Canada’s site is our final official word on use of child restraint systems: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/safedrivers-childsafety-index-53.htm.

    Mindy: as much as I hope that is true, I doubt that it was altered to be correctly done as unswaddling a baby in a car (even a limo) is awkward.

    The covers that line the seat are both dangerous and unnecessary, they are dangerous because they prevents the straps from doing their job. Unnecessary because the baby’s core will be warm anyways, it will be the extremities that become cold, so mitts, socks and hats are needed–in cold weather only! The covers Dr. K was talking about go OVER the seat and has a hole by the baby’s head that can be closed (baby won’t suffocate because it should be about 3″ above the face). They are the best because there aren’t any loose ends to step on or tuck in and can be removed quite easily.

    (I’m involved with my region’s Child Restraint System program run by Alberta Health Services and Calgary Police Service and have been a Child Restraint Systems Technician).

  12. They did it on purpose so idiots like you have something to talk about. Leave them alone, millions of people were watching that special moment and people on you have to criticize their special moment. You haven’t a clue what went on behind closed doors. Ridiculous article

  13. Hi there, after reading this awesome piece of writing i am also glad to share my knowledge
    here with friends.

Speak Your Mind

*