How could someone forget a child in a car? To forget a child in a hot car is preventable. Yet, every year, we always read or hear about heartbreaking and tragic stories of babies and toddlers who died as a result of their parents forgetting them in their cars.
In fact, heat stroke deaths of children forgotten in the car number to around 30 to 50 a year, or 38 a year on average, according to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit safety organization.
Although in certain cases, some of the parents have some history of neglect or knowingly leaving a child in the car, most of the other cases involve loving and attentive parents who simply forgot they have a child in the backseat of their car. This phenomenon, known as Forgotten Baby Syndrome (FBS), can happen to the best of us.
According to Amber Rollins, director of KidsAndCars.org, even loving parents can have moments of forgetfulness or FBS.
“People think that it is monsters or terrible parents, but this is happening to the most educated, responsible people … The No. 1 thing that we tell people is: ‘Don’t ever think that this can’t happen to you’.“
Be aware that every time a child is strapped in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat of your car, there is always a potential that you might forget your child. This also happens typically with younger children as they are usually asleep and not making any noise.
To prevent accidentally forgetting your child and avoid a tragic incident from happening, check out the must-know helpful tips to prevent forgetting a child in the car on the next page.
Here’s the list of 10 helpful tips to prevent forgetting a child in the car:
10. Place your handbag, briefcase, or cell phone in the backseat beside the baby.
Leaving something you routinely carry with you in and out of the car and placing these in the backseat is an excellent idea. You should not reach to grab it but make it a point to get out of the car to retrieve it. By doing so, you won’t help but notice your child in the backseat. This can help insure that you do not forget and leave your child in the car.
If you think you might still forget to grab your handbag, briefcase, or cell phone, then you might like to do this. Use something that you definitely cannot leave a car without. Note: This tip can only apply to people who drive automatic cars. Sorry, stick shift drivers.
9. Leave your left shoe in the backseat.
You might forget your purse, briefcase, or cell phone, but most likely, you won’t leave without your shoe. (1)
Aside from entertaining your child, stuffed animals can serve a life-saving purpose. A stuffed animal can be used as a reminder that you have your child with you in the backseat of the car.
8. The stuffed animal swap method.
Keep a stuffed animal in the car. When your baby is in the carseat, place the toy on the front passenger seat; when you remove the baby, put the animal in the carseat. This repetitive swap will indicate whether your baby is in the car. (2)
Treat your car like you treat your house.
Don’t you check the windows and doors of your house whenever you leave? Why not do the same with your car?
7. Always check the entire car before you leave (front and back).
The more you stick to a routine, the less likely it will be forgotten. (3)
If checking the front and back of your car is still not much of an active routine for you to do, then consider doing this instead … Take a more actionable routine whenever you leave your car after parking such as …
6. Always open the back door of your car every time you park.
By making this a habit, you can assure yourself that you are not forgetting your baby or toddler in case you have him or her with you.
If you carry a diaper bag with your baby when you leave the house, make sure that you do this with the diaper bag …
5. Leave the diaper bag in front.
This is a good suggestion to avoid forgetting the child in the back seat (child safety seat) of the car. So each time you put your child in the car, keep the diaper bag next to you on the front seat. You are likely to notice the diaper bag when you get off and will then not forget the child in the car. (4)
If your car can allow you to do this with the car seat, then place the car seat in the middle of the backseat …
4. Place your child’s car seat in the middle of the backseat rather than behind the driver.
When you set the car seat this way, it’s easier to see the kid. (5)
Changes in routine such as being assigned to drop-off your child in daycare when it’s not your normal route is one of the most common causes of FBS …
Avoid any distractions and make sure to keep yourself aware of such a change.
3. Be extra alert if your routine changes.
That’s when the risk of unintentionally leaving your child in your car increases. (6)
You might like to solicit the help of your child care provider …
Coordinate with your child care provider and have a system in place in case of a change in routine.
2. Set up a system with your child care provider.
Have them call you if your child has not been dropped off by her father, for example, on a day that mom would normally take the kid to child care. “It’s really important for you to put some things into place; even more so if you’re changing the routine,” says Joann Moss, injury prevention education coordinator with the Kohl’s Injury Prevention Program (KIPP) of Children’s Hospital of Michigan. (7)
Lastly, having a lot of distractions and stress have been major causes of FBS. Having your precious little cargo in the backseat should always be top priority in your mind. Minimize distractions and …
1. Be more “Present”.
Hold yourself accountable to be more aware so things like this do not happen. You can do this by making a conscious choice to interact with your children frequently when you are with them. Talk, sing, play, etc. Just do something other than nothing. (8)
Make it a point to discuss the topic of child hot-car fatalities with every person who drives your baby or toddler anywhere. This includes your family, relatives, grandparents, and babysitters.
Child safety expert and advocate Amber Rollins noted that saying to yourself ‘I would never forget my kids in the car’ is dangerous:
“This mindset creates a false sense of security. It can happen to any parent.”
Again accidentally forgetting your precious child can happen to anyone so please make sure to use any or a combination of the tips mentioned in this article to help prevent such a heartbreaking tragedy from ever happening to your family or friends.
Most importantly, if you ever see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or seem sick, make sure to get them out as quickly as possible.
Let’s help prevent any more tragic deaths of children in hot cars. Please share this article with family and friends. The life you save may be your child’s, a family member’s child, or a friend’s child. Thanks.
Do you have other tips that you might like to share to prevent FBS from happening?