Italy Requires Baby Car Seat Alarms In All Vehicles


Tragically in the United States nearly 50 children die each year from being trapped in a hot vehicle. Often this is the result of parents unintentionally leaving a young child strapped into a car seat or sleeping in the rear seat.

Italy enacts new law requiring vehicles to add baby car seat alarms.

A new law went into effect on Thursday in Italy that will help prevent hot car deaths from children being left behind in a car seat. The Italian law requires vehicles to alert the driver if a child is alone in the rear seat or car seat.

Italian law requires drivers to maintain these safety features until the child is 4 years old. Fines and suspended licenses can be imposed for drivers who do not comply. Toddlers are especially vulnerable as they nap in their car seats.

The Italian law allows for the alerts to be either visual and audible alerts in the car or smartphone messages sent to the driver’s phone. A number of aftermarket devices are available online and in stores for parents. Prices for these devices range from $20 to over $100. The government expects to reimburse parents for the price of these devices in a yet to be announced incentive program.

There has been some concern about the quality of the aftermarket safety devices. A study conducted several years ago by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found many of the devices were unreliable and inconsistent in their ability to detect children.

The American government has been much slower than Italy to regulate the problem. None of the fifty states have a similar car seat law in place. The US House of Representatives is reviewing a bill called the Hot Cars Act, which would require the Secretary of Transportation to mandate the devices in motor vehicles. The Senate also has a similar bill in committee. The bills are in the early stages of the legislative process and it is unlikely a vote on either will occur anytime soon.

US Manufacturers have been a bit more proactive. Earlier this year the AAM and AGA announced that the industry is committed to have all cars and trucks outfitted with rear-seat reminders by 2025. These two organizations account for almost all of the light vehicle sales in the USA. GM and Subaru are some of the manufacturers getting a head start and outfitting new models with the technology now.

At a minimum, the systems need to alert the drivers with a reminder message when they turn off the vehicle. The GM model uniquely does not use sensors to detect the child but instead measures the door opening and closing. This helps eliminate some of the problems that arise trying to fit alarms that work with the myriad of car seats available to parents.


Shockingly 14% of parents report leaving a child under 7 alone in a parked car according to a 2014 Public Opinion Strategies survey. Remember that it is never okay to leave children alone in a vehicle for any length of time. In just 10 minutes a vehicle interior can rise 20 degrees on a hot day. Children also are at an increased risk of heat stroke because a child’s body heats up three to five times as fast as an adult. Please always use caution when transporting children in your vehicle on hot days.

New York Adopts Strict New Car Seat Law


New York has put a new law in effect that requires children use rear-facing car seats until the age of two. This brings New York in line with other state laws like California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey that have this requirement. The law was passed back in 2017 but just took effect on Nov 1, 2019.

Previously there was no law in the state requiring use of rear facing car seats at any age. Although safety technology has improved, traffic accidents are still a leading cause of death among young children in the USA. Nearly 35% of children who die in car accidents are not wearing seat belts.

Extensive crash test data shows children are better protected when they are rear-facing. Young children especially are vulnerable to car accidents when forward facing because their head and necks absorb most of the pressure and can snap forward. A rear facing car seat protects the child in an accident by pressuring them deeper into the car seat and cradling them. The NY bill memo notes the risk of injury is more than 5x greater for 12-23 month old children who use a forward facing car seat instead of a rear facing car seat.

Children who grow fast and exceed the car seat weight and height requirements set by manufacturers are exempt from the rear facing seat law and should place children in a forward facing car seat. Parents concerned about the installation of their car seats should seek out a local expert on the state motor vehicle safety page.

The law also impacts older kids with new requirements. It requires children under the age of 16 to wear seat belts. Children ages 4 to 7 who weigh more than 40 pounds may use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt. Children under the age of four who weigh more than 40 pounds also can use a booster seat with lap and shoulder belt. New York state law requires all passengers in the front seat to wear seat belts regardless of age. Taxi cabs are not exempt from the law although txi or Uber drivers are not responsible for passengers that do no comply.

The penalty in NY for a seat belt violation is a $50 fine. However, if the violation is for an unbuckled minor then the driver receives three driver points and the maximum fine of $100. Of course the worst punishment for the crime is putting your child at risk of injury so please drive safely and always buckle up.

Dangers of Sleeping in Car Seats

Parents often worry that it is not safe to let infants sleep in their car seat. Sadly a recent tragedy in North Dakota has highlighted the issue as an 11 month old child passed away after sleeping in his car seat at daycare. The young boy fell asleep on the drive to day care same as lots of kids do, and upon arriving at daycare remained strapped into his car seat sleeping. Later that morning he was tragically found unresponsive. Our hearts break for his parents.

In the wake of this tragedy, parents are wondering if it is safe to let children sleep in their car seat. Car seats are the safest place for babies to sit in a vehicle and if installed correctly pose low to no risk to a sleeping baby. Problems arise when a car seat is taken out of a car and placed on the floor. In your vehicle, the car seat base properly positions the baby at an angle that protects the airway. When placed on the floor a car seat can sit too upright and cause the baby’s head to fall forward.

Sleeping Baby Car Seat

There is always risk involved with putting babies to sleep on an incline. The danger from angled sleeping positions is that the babies head can tilt forward and pinch the airway. That pinching cuts airflow to the lungs and increases the risk of suffocation. Infants have large heads and weak neck muscles. Recent recalls of inclined sleepers highlight the problem, including the nearly 5 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers recalled by Fisher-Price in July 2019.

Safe sleep guidelines for infants require putting babies to sleep alone on their backs. They should sleep on a flat mattress that is firm and free from padded bedding. Infants should sleep free from pillows, crib bumpers, stuffed animals or soft bedding. The regulations aim to decrease the risk of strangulation and suffocation. Inclined sleepers have been tied to over thirty deaths since 2009.

Incline sleep danger

All of these infant car seats are designed to keep your child safe while traveling in the car. While traveling the main concern is protecting the head and spine in the event of a car accident. The angle of car seats has been tested extensively to determine the safest place for your child in the car. If your baby falls asleep while traveling you can let them sleep. It is absolutely the safest place for them to be in the car whether awake or asleep. The recline indicator on the car seat helps ensure that you install it at a safe angle for your baby.

However, car seats are not substitutes for cribs or bassinets. A recent study in Pediatrics found that when infants are hurt sleeping in car seats it usually is not in the car but instead being used as a substitute for a crib. Don’t use the car seat for extended naps or overnight sleeping. Only use it when you are with your baby and able to observe them. If you arrive at your destination and the baby is still asleep you should transfer them to a safe sleeping surface.

More Information on the Recall of the WAYB Pico Car Seat

PICO car seat recall

A voluntary recall has been initiated for the PICO Travel Car Seat by the manufacturer WAYB. Parents have reported cracked and broken headrest support tubes.

The headrest support tube is the part that connects the headrest to the back of the car seat. On the PICO travel car seat this piece is made out of aluminum and is tubular. The recall affects nearly 4,600 car seats manufactured between March 1 and May 12, 2019. Fortunately, no related injuries have been reported.

WAYB has begun notifying owners but if you have a PICO then check to make sure your child’s car seat is not included in the recall. Parents can call the car seat manufacturer directly at 888-924-9292 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 or online.

Currently, this is not a formal recall by the NHTSA and instead is just strong, proactive action by the company. The company also announced that they are working on a plan to replace the headrests free of charge.


WAYB brought the Pico to market in the new ultra lightweight niche. This range of car seats emphasizes portability by combining small, contoured shapes along minimized cushions and pads. The ultra lightweight car seats weigh in under 8 pounds and are so small that they travel easily onto airplanes. The car seats are also foldable. Some parents have used the small footprint to enable three across seating in vehicles where other car seat combinations didn’t fit.

WAYB which stands for ‘way better’ is an innovative car seat product from Michael Crooke, the former CEO of Patagonia from 1999-2005. Many parents who first experience the PICO travel car seat immediately comment on it’s lightweight construction and small shape. The car seat has passed all NHTSA safety standards but is still shockingly small and light. Part of the secret is the aluminum construction, but in this instance that seems to be part of the problem.

Using car seats in Uber, Taxi Cabs, Rental Cars or Lyft Rideshares with kids

car seats for uber

Just when you start to get good at installing your car seat into your car a new challenge arrives. It might be caused by a trip downtown or a night out or a weekend getaway, but eventually you are going to have to install your car seat in someone else’s car.

Installing your car seat in an Uber, Lyft, or taxi can be daunting. Standing curbside with your hands full. Traffic rushing past. The meter running and everyone in a hurry. An unfamiliar latch. Like a lot of times with parenting you are left wishing that you had another set of hands.

Installing a car seat in someone else’s car is not a good time to be in a rush. In fact it is the worst time. Take a moment during installation to slow down and check your work with latch anchors and any tethers. If you are traveling with a partner then ask them to check your installation job.

Below are some other ideas and great tips for traveling with car seats in an Uber, Lyft, Taxi or Rental Car.

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Demystifying recline angle indicators in rear facing car seats

Britax Allegiance Convertible Car Seat recline angle

What’s the big deal about recline angle indicators? Parents are smart. They can figure out how to install a car seat. But they’re also tired, especially parents of newborns. The more intuitive a car seat is to install and use, the less likely parents are to make a mistake.

We know that newborns especially need to be reclined because they don’t have good head control. If their heads slump to their chests, it can not only be bad for their vertebrae, but can also restrict their air flow.

Though most infant car seats have some type of recline angle indicator, they’re not all the same. If you have to switch to a different brand, the indicator may be totally different. Some have simple leveling lines, some have bubble levels, wheel or ball indicators. There’s a lot of variation even within those types.

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