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"urbanMamas" - 5 new articles

  1. Weekend Warriors: April 17-19
  2. Weekend Warriors: March 20-22
  4. Weekend Warriors: March 6-8
  5. urbanMamas Podcast, Episode 7: Leanne Goolsby
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search urbanMamas
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Weekend Warriors: April 17-19

Here’s the scoop for the weekend. For more ideas on what to do this weekend, check the Events Calendar on Metro Parent's PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar page.

Friday, April 17th

Open Playgroup at the Friendly House in NW PDX. Explore a wide variety of activities and play in the gym with crawl-through tunnels, trikes and other age-appropriate climbing and sliding structures. First visit free; $6 following. Friday 9:30-11am.  
PP&R Ladybug Walk in SW PDX. This week explore Hoyt Arboretum with a trained nature guide. Best for ages 2-5. $4/child. Friday 10am.  

Gogh Kids Canvas Painting Class in SW PDX. Step by step painting classes for kids, with a different subject each week. This week, paint a beautiful stained glass tree. $15. Friday 4-5pm.

Saturday, April 18th

Wapato Nature Walks on Sauvie Island. Join a park naturalist for a guided nature walk that focuses on the local natural and cultural history of Sauvie Island. Appropriate for ages 8 and up. Free. Saturday 8-11am. 

StreamTeam Earth Day Celebration in Vancouver. Enjoy free children's activities, wildlife shows, salmon tours and more. Free. Saturday 10am-2pm. 

Local Author Storytime with FLY! by Karl Newsom Edwards at the Craft Factory. Attend this free reading then make a bug craft for $10. Saturday 11am-1pm. 

Closing Weekend of Tears of Joy Theatre's When Animals Were People. Folktales from Mexico and Argentina are brought to life in this bilingual play. $14-21. Saturday at 11am and 1pm; Sunday at 1 and 3pm. 

McMenamins Kennedy School Presents Mo Phillips & The Spaghetti Pants Dance Band. This concert with one of Portland's best-loved musicians benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Advance purchase highly recommended. $7-12; children under 2 are free. Saturday 1pm.

Opening Weekend of Echo Theater Company's Rarely Pure and Never Simple. This aerial dance, acrobatics and original physical theater production is performed by teen ensemble the Zig Zags with opening act the Knick Knacks. Recommended for ages 7 and up. $12-18. Saturday at 7 pm; Sunday at 1 and 4:30pm.

Sunday, April 19th

Preschool Story and Stroll at Tryon Creek State Park. This program, aimed at children ages 2-6, integrates nature exploration, art, literature, movement and outdoor play. Free. First come, first served beginning 30 minutes before the program starts. Sunday 10-11:15am. 

Pointed Man Band CD Release Party at the Village Ballroom. Pointed Man Band will release the new album "Flight of the Blue Whale." They will be joined by Tallulah's Daddy, Rick Huddle and Red Yarn. $5 per person, free under 2. Sunday 4-5:30pm.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization. 


Weekend Warriors: March 20-22

Here’s the scoop for the weekend. For more ideas on what to do this weekend, check the Events Calendar on Metro Parent's PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar page.

Friday, March 20th

PP&R Ladybug Walk at Albert Kelly Park in SW PDX. Explore a different park each week with a trained naturalist. $4 per preschooler. Friday at 10am. 

Music with Mr. Hoo at the Village Ballroom in NE PDX. Dance along to fun, energetic and educational music with one half of The Alphabeticians. $5/family. Friday 11am-12pm. 

Open Studio at Portland Child Art Studio in NW PDX. Get creative with art using paint, clay, drawing and other mediums. $10 per child. Friday 10am-1pm and 2-5pm. 

Gogh Kids Canvas Painting Class in Tigard. This week learn to paint a version of Starry Night. Please preregister. $15/child. Friday 4-5pm. 

Saturday, March 21st

Stewardship Saturday at Columbia Springs in Vancouver. This family-friendly event is a great opportunity for community members to take part in environmental restoration projects. Please pre-register. Free. Saturday 9am-1pm. 

Bunny Fun Run at Holladay Park in NE PDX. Hop on down to Holladay Park for a fun run, crafts, tattoos, face panting and more. No registration necessary. For ages 3 to 7. Free. Saturday 10am-12pm. 

The Alphabeticians Perform at Lil' Lentils Playgroup in SE PDX. This week enjoy this goofy musical duo as they perform the alphabetic frontwards and backwards. Suggested $3-5 donation. Saturday 10am-12pm. 

Final Weekend of OCT's Timmy Failure, Mistakes Were Made in SW PDX. Best for ages 8 and up. $15 and up. Saturday 2pm and 5pm, and Sunday 2pm. Read PDX Kids Calendar’s review of the show here

Mr. Ben and Tallullah's Daddy Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day at the Village Ballroom. Enjoy music for the whole family, raffles, a book exchange, face painting and more. $8 for ages 3 and up. Saturday 4-6pm. Proceeds benefit Portland Literary Launch Pad. 

Sunday, March 22nd

Pointed Man Band's Super Show at Cafe au Play. Explore original tunes, learn to Beat Box and learn the truth behind some invisible pets. $5 per family. Sunday 10-11am. 

Young Artists Debut Preview Concert in Vancouver. Enjoy an afternoon of great music with MetroArts' Young Artist Debut winners. Free. Sunday 3-4pm.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization. 



Don't just sit at home and count your toddler's boogers on the wall while baby stares at the ceiling fan. Get outside and find your tribe! Shanti Hodges founded Hike It Baby to help moms and dads get moving and get connected in the easiest and most invigorating way she knows how: hiking. It's a movement that has grown to 80 cities in just about a year, and EVERYONE can join in the fun. Below is a partial transcript from the urbanMamas Podcast Episode 8 with Shanti. Check out the links below for how you can find your own Hike It Baby tribe. (oh and hey! thank YOU for leaving us reviews on iTunes! we owe you baked goods and bear hugs.)

Click here to listen on iTunes. Click here to listen direct.

K: Well, Shanti, tell us a little about Hike It, Baby. How it started ...

S: Where do I start? It started in July 2013. I had my son June 28th, my husband was very - we were very outdoorsy and had this crazy adventure life, we'd travel around the world and were constantly on a raft trip or some outdoor trip or another, and all of a sudden we were pretty much going to be inside all summer, cause we had a baby. And so after Mason was born there was a bit of a moment of panic for my husband and I. Like, we sat there with this newborn baby looking at each other, and we attempted to go outside on day 4 and we, like, didn't even know how to carry him! You know, we learned quickly, but we were really panicked about being inside. And my husband actually works in Alaska, on the pipeline, so he leaves for 3 weeks at a time, and I was anticipating what was coming, very quickly, in 6 weeks, that he was going to be gone and I was going to be alone. And it suddenly dawned on me that I have to make friends quickly, and a lot of my friends didn't have kids. And so I had to make friends and get out there. I wanted to be outside. And I would go to new mama groups, that were awesome, I mean I went to Alma, which was amazing, and I had this great experience going to these new mama groups, but at the same time I found we were sitting inside, and July rolled around, and Mason's 2 weeks, and then we were getting on 3 weeks, and I was like "I just want to go for a walk, but I'm really scared to go alone." My husband didn't really understand that even though I looked fine, I wasn't fine. And it was really hard to explain it to him.

K: Things change, honey!

S: As I described it, and he hates it when I say this, I felt like I had the Grand Canyon inside of me. And it was just this emptiness, and I didn't have the strength. My strength was gone, and I was exhausted. So I asked some women in this Alma group, "Hey does anyone want to meet me this week and go for a hike at  Lower MacLeay, or go for a walk, I don't think I'm ready for a hike yet." And some moms said "Yeah I'll meet you." And I lived right by there and walked over in the morning and 5 women showed up that day. And the next week I announced it again at Alma on Tuesday, and the next week 10 women showed up. And the following week 15 women showed up. And it literally, the count was that dramatic every week. Where we were like doubling and tripling, and within a few weeks I had an email newsletter list of over 100 women.

R: That's. Awesome.

S: And then dads started showing up. And then it was like, within a few months -- I build websites for a living, i do graphic design, I work with small business on social media -- so I kinda put those things together just kinda haphazardly at 2 in the morning when Mason wasn't sleeping very well.

R: Isn't it just amazing what you can do one handed and a baby on your boob?

S: We teach people on trail how to nurse on-trail and be ...

K: Hands free, baby!

S: I have actually done a TV news cast, it was a latch on, and he's nursing while I'm microphoning and organizing over 100 people. And the news was like you can't nurse ...

R: And you're like "watch me!"

S: We are on TV and I am nursing right now, yo! New mama groups are awesome, I think everyone should absolutely almost be required to go to them because there's such a feeling of isolation when you have a baby. Even though millions of people are doing it around you, you're alone, you're in your house, you're scared to go out cause of germs, so much fear. I was scared to even step on the trail. So the first week when those 5 women showed up, I literally showed up at the trail with a stroller. My BOB stroller. Because I was too scared to put Mason in a carrier of any sort. So on the trail we went a little bit, just to the first bridge, I didn't go very far on Lower MacLeay, I didn't have the energy. And they said "Hey can we help you, we see you have a carrier, can we help you?" And they did! And these women were amazing, and they helped me put the carrier on. They're like 2 months ahead of me, they're like super veterans. Their kids were old.

K: There's a reason we measure our kids growth in terms of weeks and months, right? Because it's our own incremental growth as well. I've been doing this for 3 months now, yeah!

S: These women helped me! And it was like, when I saw that moment -- you can't be sitting inside in a new mama group, too, and face the world. They're comfortable, they're safe, they're womb-like, but you need to take your baby out of the womb, and by doing that in nature, I mean that's awesome. That takes a lot of confidence. It's scary to step out on a trail, even walk around your neighborhood, it's scary. Especially with your first. So off we went. Things started happening, and I really realized that I wanted other women around the country to be able to do this. So I started to turn it into a thing, and I didn't know what that thing would be, but I wanted to create it so other people could see what we were doing and get confidence by just seeing us. And for some people they didn't understand what I was doing, they thought I was commercializing hiking, and I had to explain to them it's not about that, it's about, I want everyone to feel what I'm feeling right now, which is, I feel safe. I feel supported. I feel like I have a community around me, even those a lot of these women are strangers to me. But together as strangers, we're forming this thing, and the other nice thing, on trail, we always say in our group "Babies and trails don't judge." So you get out there and there's no judgment, it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor or black or white or fat or thin, we're just getting out there, and we're going slowly, and just moving along together. It was incredible. So I started growing it. Suddenly it started catching on with social media. Between May and this month we went from just us doing it in Portland, to 80 branches around the country, and actually we're expanding out to Australia and Canada, as well.

Find a hike here!

S: We're getting out there with babies, and I don't know how many people realize this, but there's a lot of studies coming out that say that getting your child out in the first 3 months of their life will dramatically change their brain development.

Borrowed from the Hike It Baby website:


Children today spend an average of 6 hours each day in front of the computer and TV but less than 4 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

Increased study of science and nature, especially in the very young, has proved in studies extremely beneficial for cognitive functioning, reduced symptoms of attention deficit disorder, increased self-discipline and emotional well being. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

Studies have shown that people deprived of contact with nature were at greater risk of depression and anxiety. They also never develop a relationship with the natural environment and they are unable to use it to cope with stress. (C&NN: Derbyshire, David)

According to the National Wildlife Federation spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues. Being out there also improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.

“At no time in human history have children spent less time outdoors. Attention deficit disorders, obesity and a variety of other physical and emotional ailments can be attributed to a decline in exposure to the out of doors and the natural environment.” -Craig Whipple, Director of Vermont State Parks

“There’s a strong correlation to whether people have nature experiences as they grow up and whether, as adults, they will be concerned about policies that affect nature. -Bill Kunze, Pennsylvania state director for the Nature Conservancy (

S: We're working really hard to help give people the tools to get out there, in all conditions and to let go of the fear. In the first 3 months of your baby's brain development being outside, in the trees, in nature, will dramatically reduce the changes of ADD, ADHD, allergies, and so many things, behavioral issues, etc.

K: And the benefits to the parents as well!

S: The depression, I mean, I know for my husband and I, I would say my husband suffered more post partum depression than I did. He was really freaked out. I think the getting outside and every time we went hiking, we just would smile at each other and feel so much better, and so much more relaxed and less nervous about being parents. When you get on trail you let go of your life and all the pressures you have, you get in the moment.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Shanti, Rae Ann and Kelli. Hike It Baby is available to everyone, everywhere. Need a carrier? Borrow one from a lending library! Need gear for you or your baby? It's available! Most hikes are close-in and accessible by public transportation, or ride-sharing can be arranged. And Hike It Baby is revving up to incorporate older kiddos to with kid-led and teen-led hikes. Truly, there's something here for all. Check them out. Your hike tribe is waiting.

Have a family hiking photo you want to share? Tag us on Instagram or post it on our Facebook page and use #hikeitbaby. We want to see what you're up to.


Weekend Warriors: March 6-8

Here’s the scoop for the weekend. For more ideas on what to do this weekend, check the Events Calendar on Metro Parent's PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar page.

Friday, March 6th

Ladybug Nature Walk at Fernhill Park in NE PDX. Walk through a PP&R Park with your youngster (ages 2-5) and a nature guide. $4/child. Friday 10am.

Red Yarn at the Warehouse Cafe in SE PDX. Check out Red Yarn and his ragtag crew of puppets at this weekly show. $5 suggested donation per family. Friday 10-10:45am. 

The Barber of Seville at the Hampton Opera Center in SE PDX. Portland Opera to Go presents this family-friendly bilingual adaptation of The Barber of Seville. $5 for ages 12 and under; $10 for all others; $20 for family of 4. Friday 7-8pm and Saturday 1-2pm. 

Saturday, March 7th

Cinderella Movie Release Party at The Craft Factory in SW PDX. Make your own Cinderella crown or mouse craft, meet Cinderella (from 10am-12pm) and score free movie passes. $12. Saturday 9am-1pm. 

Free Museum Admissions for Bank of America Card Holders. Get free admission to the Portland Art Museum, Children's Museum or Japanese Gardens all weekend with your card. See website for details. 

Kids Club: Strawberry Planters in Woodburn. Kick off the gardening season by planting a pot of strawberries. Please pre-register. $5/child. Saturday 11-11:45am. 

St. Patrick's Day Celebration in Beaverton. Head to the Beaverton Farmer's Market to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Celtic folk music, dancers and activities for kids. Saturday 11:30am-1:30pm. 

Owl Fest at Tryon Creek State Park. Activities for the entire family include owl pellet dissection, owl crafts, owl presentations, guided hikes and more. See website for schedule. Free. Saturday 1-7pm. 

Sunday, March 8th

Eric Carle Storytime and Party at Green Bean Books. See a giant costumed Very Hungry Caterpillar, make a mask and hear some Eric Carle stories. Free. Sunday 12-12:30pm. 

Fancy Nancy 10th Anniversary Party at Powell's in Cedar Hills. Author Jane O'Connor and illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser join for the celebration. Free. Sunday 2pm. 

Leapin' Louie Circus Comedy at the Clinton Street Theater. Featuring physical comedy, cowboy lasso and whip tricks, juggling, unicycling and live music. Kids under 12 $6; all others $12. Sunday 2pm.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.


urbanMamas Podcast, Episode 7: Leanne Goolsby

Below is a partial transcript from the urbanMamas Podcast Episode 7 where we welcome Leanne Goolsby, a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who helps fill us in on safety seat laws and recommendations in the state of Oregon. At the end of the transcript are resources to ensure your child is riding safely. And please take a moment to rate this podcast and leave a review on iTunes!

Click here to listen on iTunes. Click here to listen direct.


(we totally spaced the icebreaker hat)

K: I know I've been doing things wrong probably the whole time my children have been in car seats.

L: Don't worry, you're in really good company. Most people are making mistakes that they're not even aware that they're making and I think that's probably one of the biggest things I've noticed as a CPST and as I've learned more and more over the years about child passenger safety is that people aren't necessarily intending to do things wrong. Nobody wants to put their child in danger on purpose, and if you do, then we've got other problems to talk about. People just don't necessarily know, it's not like you get pregnant and all of a sudden your head is filled with all of this knowledge about laws and recommendations and how to properly install a car seat. It doesn't just magically come to you.

R: It should.

K: The problem is that things keep changing. And that's kinda what prompted this whole thing today. So my kids are now 9 and 6 and really fastly - fastly? - approaching their birthdays, and so we're a bit removed from the infant seat stuff, but then when I was re-visiting how long do I keep my daughter in her booster seat, and I looked at it and went "oh man, I totally did that wrong with my son."

R: So let's just jump straight in. What are the requirements for restraining these children passengers?

L: First of all I do want to point out that there is a big difference between laws and best practice, as far as safety goes. And that is kind of universal. Laws for Oregon, and that's what I'll focus on today is strictly for Oregon. I'm going to read directly from the Oregon Impact website so I don't misquote this: "Oregon child occupant protection law states that child passengers must be restrained in an approved child safety seat until they weigh 40 lbs."

So that's talking about a harness, a 5 point harness, the straps that go over both shoulders. You have a chest clip, and then the straps that come over both hips, and the latch that connects all of those straps together at the crotch. So that's saying that your child, who is under 40 lbs needs to be restrained in a 5 point harness.

R: And there's no age associated with that? It's just the weight?

L: Yes. And again, we are talking about the laws here, and them I'm going to get into what you really should be doing to keep your child as safe as possible. Our law also states that infants must ride rear-facing until they reach both 1 year AND 20 lbs. So, if you're 6 month old is 20 lbs. they haven't reached the point of turning forward facing, according to our laws. If you're 2 year old is only 17 lbs. they also have not reached that limit. It's one year AND 20 lbs. Which I think trips people up sometimes because they think it's either/or.

K: I'm jumping ahead, sorry. People are keeping their kids rear-facing a lot longer, because even just a few years ago it was the one year and 20 lbs thing, but that was it. That was like, okay, now we do it. But there's recommendations that's for longer?

L: Yes, absolutely.

K: Did I just steal some thunder?

L: You totally stole my thunder, but it's my very favorite thunder, because rear-facing is such an important part of keeping our kids safe and is one of the easiest things that you can do to help ensure your child's safety in the car.

Next, children over 40 lbs. or who have reached the upper weight limit of their car seat's harness system must use a booster seat until they are 4' 9" OR age 8. So at a minimum they must be 4' 9" tall or the age of 8, and again, this is just laws.

K: Okay I did that right. I'm legal.

R: You won't get a ticket. You might get judged, but you won't get a ticket.

K: I'm used to judgment.

R: What should we really be doing?

L: Let's talk about best practice. So American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (otherwise known as NHTSA), the recommendation is keep your child rear-facing until at least the age of 2. Studies have shown that keeping kids rear-facing until they are the age of 2 results in your child being 500% safer than they are being front-facing. And the reason for that is you think about a little kid, you think about a baby, and how big their heads are, right? So adults your head is about a ninth of the size of your whole body, proportionally. But kids have these giant noggins and it's about 1/4 of the size of their whole body.

K: They're like chihuahuas.

L: If your kid is one year old and they've hit that 20 lb. mark, so legally, they are within the guidelines to be front-facing. And you've got them harnessed in and you're in an accident, they're body's going to be held in by the harness, but their head is going to fly forward on that impact, and they have such a high chance of severing their spinal cord, of -- I know, right? -- having internal injuries, and these are the kinds of things that kids don't come back from. Like, you're talking paralysis, internal decapitation, you never want to put those words together with your child, with anybody! but especially when you're thinking about your child here. It's so scary, and I think so many parents just aren't aware of what can happen and how bad it can really be. And they say "Oh, ya know, if it's LAW it's SAFE" well that isn't necessarily the case. Laws take so long to change, and fortunately we've had so much research and different organizations have put a lot of time and effort and money into doing additional crash testing and looking at the data and that's where this 2 year old recommendation comes from. So when we're talking best practice we want to keep kids rear-facing until at least 2 years old. Shoot for 4, if you can, and just try and get kind of as close to that as you can. Seats on the market today can rear-face kids until 40 lbs. within these seats.

K: Their feet don't hit the back of the seat?

L: That's a great question. So, Kelli, how does Maggie sit most of the time? What does she do with her legs?

K: She doesn't. She's moving all the time.

L: So if she were to sit on the ground, would she sit with her legs straight out in front of her, or does she tend to bend them.

K: She tucks her knees under.

L: My point here is kids are super bendy. Most kids if you just set them down normally, not in a carseat, they're going to tuck their legs up underneath them. They're going to have one leg off to the side and one leg around their head, they're so flexible that most of the time when parents are saying "Well his legs are bent and he was uncomfortable" it's because it looks uncomfortable to grown-ups. So if you were trying to sit rear-facing, it would probably not be the  most comfortable thing in the world for you. But kids, 1, 2, 3, 4 year olds, they're going to sit with their legs curled up anyway, or cross-legged. So older kids, when their feet start to touch the backseat, they can sit criss cross applesauce, they can dangle legs over the side, they can prop their feet up on the back of the seat. My son used to sit one foot on either side of the headrest. And he would just lounge back and he was the most comfortable kid, I never heard a peep out of him as far as discomfort, and he has long legs. That kid is all legs. And so from a safety standpoint, there's not an issue with their legs touching the seat. And actually, forward-facing there's a greater likelihood of extremity injury, so like legs or arms being injured in a crash front-facing than there is rear-facing.

R: Because they're exposed and not protected?

L: Yeah. And so on impact their legs are going to fly forward and hit the seat in front of them. Unless your child is specifically saying "My legs are really really uncomfortable and my body can't handle sitting cross legged like this" well, you'd be hard-pressed to find a kid who's going to tell you that. My son turned front-facing in my car when he was 4, and he rides in a front-facing harness seat now, and he sits criss cross applesauce, still, front-facing. They just kinda like to curl up.

Stepping back a little bit, the reason that rear-facing is so much safer is because of the way the car seat cocoons the child. So when you're rear-facing, I have my hands cupped in sort of a U-shape, the child's body is cocooned by the car seat, and on impact, the car seat does, it's called, a ride down, but it basically just supports the whole body as the car seat goes back and then forward again. And so it distributes any pressure and force across the entire body. So you've got your kid and you've been hit by another vehicle and their whole car seat absorbs the impact of that crash, and rides down and spreads that force over the whole body.

So front-facing, you've got your kid, this is your kid (my finger) and here is there harness, on impact, your car is hit, their harness stops them, and then their head whips forward.

(and here is where we devolve into hysterical laughter as Leanne's well-practiced hand gestures remind us of something else entirely ... )

As children get older, as you close in on age 4, ossification, which is the process of your bones hardening and fusing together, age 4 is when ossification really is nearing completion ...

(laughter again, we're like 7th graders in a locker room, yeesh)

Ossification happens around age 4, so that's why the recommendation for keeping your kid rear-facing as close to 4 as you possibly can, so then when they're front-facing, when their bones are fused and their spinal column and spinal cord are more protected, they're going to be safer, and less chance of injury if there's a crash and they're front-facing.

K: So we hear people say "Well when I was a kid it was so much easier, we rode around in the back of the pick up truck, was in the front seat with my mom when I was 4" do we have statistics that no, that was a pretty shittily unsafe time? So what are the statistics that show all of these efforts, the 5 point restraint, the proper use, the no big jackets, all of it, the rear facing, has actually decreased these incidents of harm to our children.

L: Yes, there are statistics, lots and lots of them. The more statistics I rattle off the more confused people tend to get. But, yes, generally we are being safer. When I talk to somebody and they say "Well I rode around in the back of my dad's truck and I'm just fine" well what about the people who weren't fine? I bet if they were here to tell you they would say they're not fans of dying, or being paralyzed.

K: I have another question. I see a lot of videos and photos, moms and dads want to take pictures of their babies, and babies are in their car seats a lot, and they're cute a lot, so, ergo, lots of cute pictures of cute babies in car seats, that may or may not be done perfectly to standard, right? Baby's wearing a jacket, the clip isn't high up enough. But then the parents comment. People they don't know. Like, strangers comment. There was a video about babies laughing in tunnels. So many comments like "Ugh, that's done SO wrong. They're putting their child in so much danger." What good does that do? Do you have an alternative forum for these parents to weigh in?

L: So yeah, that's a really good question, and I think for me, the more you know, the better you can do. So I know for a lot of other CPSTs or even people who aren't necessarily certified but would consider themselves child safety advocates, or someone who has taken the time to do some research and really learn about what best practices and how we can keep our kids safest in the car, it is like painful to see a video or something like that. For me, it's not necessarily coming from a place of judgment, because it's not my job to sit around and be like "You're doing things wrong" because I do all sorts of things wrong, just ask my son. Not so much from a place of judgment, but from a place of I wish I had known back then what i know now. And, if I have information that I can share with someone to help them make their child safer, why wouldn't I share it? I think a lot of people get really zealous and maybe forget how to ...

K: Be tactful.

L: Yes!

K: If someone had commented and said "Oh, I'm concerned about the placement of that clip, here's a link to a video that shows you how to do it properly". Taken. Get that. That's awesome. But saying "Ugh. Your kid is in so much danger." The end.

R: “Do you want your child to die?”

K: Right. Show me, direct me to the place where I can learn instead of just being barraged with nebulous critiques.

L: I think that's such a valid point. It turns into a "mommy war" and that kills me because keeping our kids safe shouldn't be ... the only war should be against unsafe things. All we should be doing is lifting each other up and helping each other out and as parents, we need to be open to learning new things because our kids didn't come with manuals and we don't have all of the knowledge, but being open to the fact that some people might know more stuff about one thing and you might know stuff about something else and just trying to take that into account when people are offering advice.

R: It shouldn't be a mommy war, that's for sure. I'm really curious about best practice recommendations for booster kids.

L: Absolutely. So I talked a little bit about laws being the minimum, 40 lbs and remain in a booster until 8 years old or 4' 9". So that's laws. Best practice says that kids can move into a booster when they are physically and emotionally ready. So, what the hell does that even mean? What that looks like is can your child sit still in a seat with just a seatbelt 100% of the time?

R: I can't even do that!

L: Rae Ann needs a 5 point harness. Can they sit facing forward, not leaning over, not slumping, not sliding out of their seatbelt, 100% of the time? And that really is not gonna happen until your kid is at least 5 or 6. 4 years old, you are going to be hard pressed to find a 4 year old who can behave responsibly in the car. And that is not a reflection on your parenting, it is not a reflection on your kid, that is just 4 year olds in general, and like 90% of 5 year olds, and honestly, like 50% of 35 year olds. So transitioning your child into their first booster, so like a high-back booster, when they're somewhere around like 5 1/2 or 6 and up.

R: Then when are they done?

L: When are they done with the booster? To move from a booster into strictly the vehicle seat belt with no other parts, you are looking for Oregon law minimum is 4' 9" tall, 8 years old, but honestly, most kids aren't gonna hit seatbelt readiness until they're somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12. As far as safety to ride without a booster, you're looking for what's called The 5 Step Test. Here are the questions that you need to answer yes to, and you have to answer yes to every single one of these questions. All 5, for your child to be ready to move into just a seat belt.

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat? So that means, from their hips all their way up to their shoulder, their whole body is pressed back against the vehicle seat.

2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat? So when you're sitting with your hips all the way back against the vehicle seat, can your knees bend over the edge?

3. Does the belt cross the collarbone between the neck and the arm? That's again that proper fit with the seatbelt going directly across your shoulder, not riding up onto your neck, not riding down onto your arm, but squarely across the shoulder.

4. Is the lap belt as low as possible snugly across the hips and thighs? You want it sitting down right below those hip bones, so it's on the solid portion.

5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip? Which, you could have a kid who hits the first 4 and then number 5, your child's not going to stay seated for the whole trip. Well that might be a really motivating factor for them. Okay, you need to show me that you can sit properly the entire time for every ride for the next week or two weeks or whatever, and then we can ditch the booster.

This can be different in different vehicles, if we're talking riding in the third row of a minivan versus a captain's chair in an SUV, there's going to be a pretty big fit difference.

So, we go from rear-facing, keep kids rear-facing until 2 at a minimum, shoot for age 4, but somewhere between 2 and 4 and you're doing awesome. Then, they're gonna ride in a front-facing harness seat until about age 5 1/2 or 6, at a minimum. Then we're going to move to a high-back booster for a few  years, and looking for that solid belt fit across the shoulder and down low on the hips. Then you can move to a no-back booster, which is just gonna give em a little bit of a boost up - heh -

K: And their own cup holder, which is important.

L: The cup holder is a huge selling point. My kid's favorite part of his car seat. And then somewhere between ages 10 and 12 typically, you're gonna start looking for that 5 step test with your kid and making sure they hit all 5 of those steps before they are ready to ride in a vehicle with no car seat. And then, because I know people are gonna wonder this, "When can my kid ride in the front seat of my car?"


L: Never ever ever. Just kidding. Kids should be remaining in the backseat ages 12 and under. And that's like a really easy milestone for kids to remember. You need to be a teenager. And that just has to do with physical maturity of the body, because in the front seat you're much closer to points of impact. To a windshield. To airbags.

R: To me.

L: To the driver. To the stereo. But if you flip down your sun visor there's always a warning there that says the backseat is the safest place for children, and children ages 12 and under should ride in the backseat.

K: Look kids, the car says so.

L: It's the rules.

Have a kiddo in a carseat or a baby on the way? Bookmark Oregon Impact. They have pulled together the most comprehensive information on child passenger safety this side of Leanne Goolsby. Links to Oregon Impact and other resources below.


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