Children Sleeping in the Car
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Children Sleeping in the Car
Does anybody have a good 1.5-2 hour round-trip ''route'' from
Berkeley that they use to keep kids asleep in the car? We
live near Cal and are in need of getting the kids to nap
because of an upcoming evening event. Normally, we wouldn't do
this, but we're desperate! :)
We'll be doing this on a Saturday afternoon after lunch, so I
don't really know if traffic is a factor that I need to
consider... We're new to the area and don't know the traffic
patterns very well.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!
Oh, I remember those days and not fondly! I HATED the waste of
time and gas keeping kids asleep in the car but sometimes we,
too were desperate. Very often it was the only way to get a nap
to happen, especially for my older child.
As for traffic patterns, my suggestion is to stay away from
highways - you may even WANT to stick to heavy-traffic areas
actually. Fortunately we have a lot of those in the Bay
Area. :) Your task is to keep the car moving while wasting as
little gas as possible (i.e., by going at top speeds) and
sticking as close to home as you can. We live in Berkeley, too,
and frequently would get on San Pablo Ave. and drive and drive
north (toward Richmond) and on the really bad days turn around
and drive back past Berkeley and south again toward Oakland
until we got a reasonable nap in. One advantage of this route
is that you are paralleling the freeway (especially
northbound), so if you get all the way north and you have
finally gotten enough of a nap, you can get on the freeway from
where you are and zoom back to Berkeley without having to take
the slow route home. There is often a amount of San Pablo
traffic on the weekends, which, like I said, worked to our
advantage in that we could keep a pace of 15-20 mph which was
enough to keep our son asleep. The only way this route wouldn't
work is if your child is the type to wake up at stoplights,
which occasionally was a problem for us. There are a lot of
those on San Pablo.
mom of terrible nappers
Oy, the car nap. I was its frequent victim/perpetrator a few
years ago. I recommend: head out the Arlington, all the way to
McBryde (where it ends, near Wildcat Canyon in Richmond). They
don't call the Arlington the colic route for nothing - very few
stops, reasonable/slowish speed, reasonable traffic. Then at
McBryde you head down the hill and get on the service road to
80, headed east. Instead of getting on the freeway at San Pablo
Dam Road, turn right onto SPD, and head out that way. You'll
eventually wind into Orinda, again (after a short spell right
after you get onto SPD) with few lights/stops. It's actually
pretty scenic, too. In Orinda you can decide to head up into
Tilden (what is the name of the road that goes out the back side
of Tilden?), or maybe even turn left at that same light and head
out to Briones/Martinez/4, depending on the amount of time you
need. I've also gone straight through Orinda and then through
Moraga, through Canyon, and wound back toward 24/Tunnel Road
area on the Oakland side, but fwiw, I liked the Tilden and
Briones options better.
It is sad, sad, sad that I knew these routes so well, but - my
loss (of time!) is your gain, I hope.
Wow, do your kids wake up when you stop the car? Mine falls
asleep and then can be moved, luckily for us. I would suggest a
drive up towards Santa Rosa. Just get on 80 and keep going North.
There should be no traffic of note.
I don't know what you have planned for the morning of your big
event but to really tire them out, you could go to the Children's
Discovery Museum in Sausalito or Muir Beach in Marin and have
them sleep on the way home (probably only a 45 minute drive but
you could do a detour.
I think you are ingenious and it is a great way to see more of
the bay area!
I used to do long elaborate car naps with my daughter, so I have some
for you. Fortunately we've moved to the point where when we do the car
nap, I just
drive until she falls asleep, and then park back in our driveway. When the
comes that she's likely to wake up after a 45-50 minute sleep cycle, I
the overlap time so she doesn't wake up, then she sleeps for another 45
so. I'm sure some people are in utter horror at this, but we all have
Anyhoo, here's my geographic suggestion--take Martin Luther King south to
51st avenue onramp of 24 going towards downtown. Stay to the left and get
580 going south/east, and take 580 out to the Pleasanton area. This should
approximately 45 minutes. Turn around at an exit that looks like it has an
turnaround. Return back on 580, making sure to stay in the right lanes so
accidentally get bumped onto 238. Take 580 all the way back. This should
about 1/2 hour -45 minutes. Get on 80 going north and and head to
some point (probably when your kids wake up), turn around and head back to
Berkeley. This is the highway option.
Another option that's much more scenic is to drive up to Skyline Boulevard
drive as far south as you can go, turn around and retrace your steps. I
tend to avoid
city streets because the stop lights and stop signs do not facilitate
falling asleep or
staying asleep. Good luck! In case you environmental parents out there are
aghast, I know that what I've done is not great environmentally. I'm
a jogging stroller.
mom with a heavy carbon footprint
Dear Hwy Warriors,
What a fun question. My children are now 24 and 28 but I have
fond memories when gas was cheaper and a ride was a sure way to
put them to sleep. In later years it was a great chance for other
First the Highways
Hwy 80 East to Fairfield 17 miles - Exit at Hwy 12 E to Rio Vista
22 miles, a little slower and quiet out to Rio Vista. Thru
CA-160/ RIVER RD. Continue to follow CA-160 S. CA-160 S becomes
CA-4 W.to Hwy 80 West back to Berkeley for another 69 Miles.
Now City Streets, quiet and few stops
North of Campus get on Spruce St North to Los Angeles Ave, go
left, to the Marin Circle, enter the circle and take the second
right and bear left onto Arlington Blvd, up thru Kensington, El
Cerrito, Richmond and you will come down a hill where Arlington
Blvd ends. This is McBryde go left and you will quickly make a
right on Marin Ave which will shortly turn into Riverside ave
which you take to the stop sign. Turn right at the stop sign onto
Amador st proceed to the first stop light which is San Pablo Dam
Road and go right. If you are adventurous you can take this out
as far as Moraga, home of St Mary's College and turn around and
follow the directions. Take Dam road to Wild Cat Canyon Rd, it is
a stop light out quite a few miles, go right which takes you up a
long hill into Tilden Park. On Shasta Rd bear left and follow
this to Grizzly Peak Blvd where you go right. Take this to Spruce
St where you go left. Follow this down to campus. I used to bike
this and I think this is a 25-30 mile loop.
When the daughters were older I found long car rides as great
opportunities to get into some great conversations. We used to
make regular trips here to LA.
Yes, I did the car naps for my first baby. Desperate. Tired. It
seemed vital that baby nap on an absolutely consistent schedule
daily. Guess what? Never did it for the second. Tried my best to
keep her on a consistent nap schedule, but if she didn't nap one
day or fell asleep an hour or two later while playing or in the
stroller, so be it. It might be rough sailing that night, but
it's okay. And really, I wound up saner in the end by not feeling
so neurotic about her sleep and just getting on with the day.
Both children were equally great sleepers by the time they were
toddlers. No difference whatsoever. Putting aside the comments
on pollution and global warming (there's been plenty), there
really is also an issue of safety. If you're desperate enough to
aimlessly drive around your baby for 2 hours, you're probably
also feeling rather worn out and tired. Not great conditions to
be driving. Hope the sleep gets better soon for both of you!
Done it, wouldn't do it again.
Editor Note: Several responses were received
to this question that reprimanded the original
poster for contributing to global warming, pollution, etc. In response,
several more people posted reprimands to the reprimands. These have not
been included here because they do not meet BPN's Q&A policy of replying to the question that was asked.
I'm not sure I'm looking for advice so much as wanting to hear
other opinions and the reasons behind them.
My kids fall asleep in the car often, usually they nap at home
but sometimes they fall asleep while we're running errands. I
often will leave them sleeping and do quick erreands or check on
them every 10 minutes (I watch the clock). I don't do this on hot
days, I always put up a sunblocking visor in the windsheild and
of course, I lock the doors. The windows are tinted so the kids
aren't visible unless you are looking right in with your hands
cupped around your eyes.
The reason I'm asking is that my husband did this once a long
time ago with our son in a non-tinted car and somone saw and
reproached him (my husband) when he returned saying he was about
to call the police. Since then, my husband hasn't done it.
Seems like a wide divergence of opinions out there. And what's
the alternative when my 3 year old declines so nap with my 1 and
half year old and then falls asleep as soon as we leave the house
in the afternoon? Do you wake your tired cranky kids and drag
them into to store with you? Do you simply return home and not
get stuff done?
multi-tasker with nappers
I would try running the errands in the morning when the kids are awake
and probably much more cooperative. Leaving kids in the car for ten
minutes at a time is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.
I doubt that social services would think too highly of the practice
-wouldn't do it
In my opinion you should never leave your children in the car, even for
a short amount of time. There are alot of things inconvenient things
that we have to do as parents because we ARE parents and so we do it.
The day doesn't actually have to be that warm outside for the temp to
rise to an unsafe level in the car - esp. if you're not letting any air
in and the windows are tinted. And what if, for some reason, your short
errand turns out to take longer? Why risk it. If you want your children
to nap, find a shady place and pull over and stay in the car until they
My oldest child had a hard time napping and so we would go on special
driving loops to get him to fall asleep. I would either leave him in the
car in our driveway, in our garage, or transfer him back into the house.
I would never, ever leave him in a parking lot (if that is what you are
suggesting). Besides, it is now against the law:
California Vehicle Code 15620
(a) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child
who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor
vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12
years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:
(1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the
child's health or safety.
(2) When the vehicle's engine is running or the vehicle's keys are in
the ignition, or both.
It is referred to Kaitlyn's Law. I would imagine that getting caught
would result in a fine, no matter what the mitigating circumstances are.
In my experience, when I would have a kid fall asleep in the car on the
way to an errand, I would either give up on the errand or wait in the
car until he/she woke up. I know it is a total drag when this happens,
and I feel for you. We have all been there.
But I personally would not feel safe leaving my kids in the car alone
Not a good idea! Children have been both kidnapped (sometimes the
kidnapper is initially unaware that there is a child in the
car!) and have been injured by heat, etc. (even when the temperature is
not particularly hot). It may also be illegal, since several recent
highly-publicized cases where children died as a result of this
behavior. I would strongly advise against it. Wake the child up and
take him/her with you when you go into the stores Robert A. Fink, M. D.
This is not advice or an opinion. Simply fact. It is illegal to leave
your child(ren) alone in a car until they reach the age of eight (8).
Before that, it is considered (by the police specifically, but by other
parents I am sure) to be child abandonement. A lot can happen in 2
minutes, let alone 10 I'd call the police too
Parked cars get pretty hot, even if the ambient temperature is not that
hot, unless there is air circulation thru windows (it's the greenhouse
effect). In any case, I personally feel really uncomfortable leaving my
kids alone in the car for any amount of time (altho I confess I
occasionally do when I am loading both kids into the car by myself and
have to chase one around the house, or unloading groceries)...
I do understand your dilemma though-- it's really frustrating to get
them to nap at the same time, or at all. What I have done with my two
kids (now 4 and 1.5) is plan for them to fall asleep in the car and
bring along paperwork, magazines, correspondence, my journal, or a good
book. Once they are both asleep, I find a shady spot on a residential
street, park the car, open the windows for a breeze, lean my seat back a
bit, and enjoy some down time. Sometimes I listen to the radio and it
doesn't seem to wake them. I started this when our house was undergoing
renovations and napping at home became impossible, but I ended up
continuing after the renovations bcs it was a strategy for getting them
to nap simultaneously. I usually got at least an hour and a half of
quiet time this way.
mother of two
I would never leave my children in a car unattended. One time, when I
parked my car in front of El Cerrito Libray, just to drop off some
borrowed books to a library post by the wall, I left them in a car, with
a car still running (because they were listening to a story on tape),
and ran to a post. It was probably only for 10 to 15 seconds, but
during that time, I saw one car parking just in front of mine, and a
driver was just about to come out, only to depart very quickly afer he
saw me coming right back to a car. I cannot stop wondering what he was
thinking of doing to my stuff, and to my kids,,,. Since then, I never
leave my children even for a short time (except in front of Norge
Cleaner in El Cerrito, since I can park right in front of them, away
from foot traffic, and I can see my children all the time when picking
up my laundry.)
If your child tend to sleep in a car when you want to run errands, do
you think you
can bring a branket, and let kids even sleep in a shopping cart? Once
when I was
with my 3 years old son, he fell asleep. He is a kind of boy who never
wakes up once he falls asleep. I just laid my jacket inside a shopping
cart, and let him sleep there while I did minimal shopping, using a
space underneath the cart.
Do you think you can ask your husband to pick up something on the way
from his work? I would rather live with inconvenience of not being able
to get what I plan to get (due to my children falling asleep in a car).
I would regret it so much if anything happens to my children while I was
away, just because I wanted to get milk or something Mom of two boys
i can never understand when people leave their kids in the car even only
for a few minutes. kids are the most adaptable creatures on the earth.
i say so what if our kids are tired and napping . . . . . . get up and
out of the car. they will cry and whine, oh well that's what kids do.
i'm not judging you or anyone elses parenting style, just don't take a
chance! better to be safe than sorry better safe than sorry
I don't think you should ever leave your kid alone in the car. Ever. If
mine fall asleep during errands, I wake them up and do what I gotta do.
If they are really cranky, then I go home. But, mostly it works out and
I get what I need to do done. And, yes, it means sometimes they don't
get their afternoon nap if they futzed around when they were supposed to
I wouldn't do it, because although you're taking precautions against hot
weather, what if something crazy went on with your car, like it caught
fire for some weird electrical reason, or really, what if someone took
your car or kids? Or what if your 3-year old woke and panicked or
started playing around with gears?
It only takes a few seconds for something tragic to happen.
It's not worth getting your errands done marisa
If I saw children of that age alone in the car I would call the police.
There are too many dangerous people out there and a lot could happen in
10 minutes. Our neighbors' son would only nap after a drive in the car.
They took him around the block, parked in the driveway and left the son
there. One of them sat outside with him while he slept. I understand
your frustration. But it's the safety of your children and that's just
what comes with having kids Anon
I know you are asking for advice so I will try to keep from sounding
rude... I also have two children who only nap in the car. But I have
NEVER left them unattended, even for a second.
Not only is it dangerous, someone could take them or worse, hit your car
- it also is against the law. I personally know of a woman for was
hauled off to jail for doing just that. I have also spoken to people who
I have seen leave their kids in the car and also have called the police
and waited for them to arrive. God forbid they wake up and you are gone.
Can you imagine the fear and panic they may feel?? PLEASE do not
continue to do that. PLEASE bring a magazine, your bills, call a friend,
SOMETHING besides doing what you need to get done. I know it is hard
when you have a million things to do and you are desperate for them to
sleep but when you have kids, your needs don't come first. You either
have to decide if you want to get your errands done or have your
children well rested. The police consider that child abandonment and it
is a serious crime. For the safely of your children and your own
freedom, please don't continue to leave your children unattended.
I would never take the risk of leaving my children unattended in a car.
There are too many potentially dangerous outcomes. What if your car was
hit while parked? What if someone undesireable saw you leave your
children in the car? What if something unexpected happened to you, and
no one else knew where your children were? What if your children woke
up and decided to exit the car? Or drive the car? I would trade a
cranky child over each of these alternative outcomes Better Safe than
Unless we're parked at home and I'm carrying groceries in the house, I
never, ever leave my child alone in the car. Ever.
We've made it a real priority to make sure our daughter has consistent
nap times, and so car naps are a distant memory. If your kids are
falling asleep in the car constantly, then you need to look hard at
their nap routines, establish consistent nap times, and schedule errands
around those times. I can imagine with two kids it's harder. I
empathize. But it is imperative that you keep your children with you at
all times, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how little you get
There's no errand worth possibly losing your kids to a kidnapper or who
Inconvenienced but Safe
Here is the one and only question to ask: If your car was stolen and
your children kidnapped while you were shopping, would you thank your
lucky stars that you at least hadn't had to wake up a sleepy, now cranky
Yes, when my children (ages 2 & 3 1/2) fall asleep in the car, I either
turn around and go home to let them sleep at home and save the errands
for later. Or, if the errands are essential, I put them in the stroller
and take them, whether cranky or asleep, into the store WITH ME. If
I've forgotten a stroller, I have the least-sleepy one walk and carry
the other one, or I go home and get the stroller.
OUR CHILDREN ARE TOO PRECIOUS TO TAKE SAFETY CHANCES WITH IN THIS
VIOLENT AGE. Ever look at the back of a milk carton? The parents of
some of those kids may have taken chances like this one, and they regret
it every second of every day.
I understand your eagerness to get things done. I, too, don't have
enough hours in my day. But our children's well-being comes high above
any daily to-do list.
Abundant blessings to you and your family. No ill will intended, only
a fellow Bay Area mom
Whoa. I think it's a really bad idea to leave your children in a locked
car, alone, while sleeping. It only takes 3 seconds to break a car
window....what if your children were kidnapped? I am not perfect,
though. I have left my son in the car sleeping while I go to the ATM,
but only when the special ATM spot is open
right in front of the machine. If it's not, I just keep on
driving. But I feel your frustration, too. Typically after my son's
nap, we run errands. But when he refuses to take a nap, my schedule is
off, and my errands don't get done. But, I try to think of what I would
feel like if I came back to the car and he
was gone. I would kill myself---and the guilt of just that
knowledge stops me from leaving him alone.
So, yes, your errands don't get done. If he won't take a nap, drive
around the block and then park in your driveway and read a book, or take
a nap yourself. Or, yes, wake them up and take them with you. Or, do
your errands at a different time Just don't leave them alone!
I have a feeling you will hear lots back on your post. Both my husband
and I read it, and while we can appreciate wanting to get stuff done, we
both felt strongly that you are putting your children at risk. Even on a
medium sunny day, the interior of a car can rise dramatically in a short
time - 5min. or less. I can understand someone saying they were ready to
call the police...it is not legal to leave your children in a car
unattended. The other day, I put one in a stroller and the other in a
hip hammock, both asleep out of the car...just to get one small errand
done. Perhaps you could look into establishing swapping kids with a
friend on a regular basis to get stuff done - or hire a mother's helper
who can be trusted to stay with kids while you run quick errands. It's
got to be less expensive than the chance of them ever becoming hurt,
etc...I have no doubt that you love your children dearly...I'm sure you
would agree that they are worth more than any errand you could get done.
I sincerely hope you stop leaving them...it's not safe and downright
I think you are underestimating the risk to leaving an unattended child.
Inconvenience and cranky kids don't seem enough of an excuse to stop
being responsible for your young children's safety. I even took my child
out of the car to go in and pay for gas after pumping (it sometimes tok
longer than the expected minute or two)! Especially if you can't
actively see the child (which, as you say, is difficult through tinted
windows), you are putting that child in danger. And even with tinted
windows, and even in relatively mild temperatures, a closed car can get
very hot.(See http://ggweather.com/heat/). Another issue is that if the
child wakes and finds you gone, even 10 minutes can seem like an
eternity to her. And what if you are delayed? Or lose track of time? or
get hit by a car in the parking lot? Whoever helps you won't know
you've left children in the car. Aside form your personal comfort level,
it is probably illegal, depending on the definition of ''significant
risk''. From the DMV website:
UNATTENDED CHILDREN IN MOTOR VEHICLES
It is illegal to leave a child six years of age or younger unattended in
a motor vehicle when:
* There are conditions that present a significant risk to the
child's health or safety. Example: Leaving a child in a closed car on a
very hot day.
* The vehicle's engine is running, the keys are in the ignition, or
both. Children can start or move the car causing injuries and/or deaths
to themselves or others.
Exception: The child may be left under the supervision of a person
12 years of age or older.
The court may fine violators and require the person to attend a
community education program.
Also, the penalties for leaving an unattended child in a vehicle are
more severe if the child is injured, requires emergency medical
services, or dies Better safe...
I'm sure this is one of five thousand negative replies you'll get on
this but a friend was nearly arrested by the police when she left her
twins in the car and ran into work to get her paycheck.
The safety of your child should be your number 1 priority, not
disturbing him while he is napping in the car. If you must run the
errand, please please please get him out of the car.
Otherwise take care of them later when he is either awake or at home
with someone watching him. If something happened to him while you were
away from the car could you ever forgive yourself?
As far as I'm concerned the main reason why you should not do it is
because something might happen to you while you are out running errands.
Then what would happen to your child? What if you lost your keys? What
if you were run over by another car in the parking lot? What if you just
plain forgot (it has happened before)? It is also illegal. I say, if
your child falls asleep, go back home, let him sleep in the car with the
door open while you play outside next to him with your other children or
read if you only have one. Errands can always wait m
My basic rule is that if I can see them and/or the car, then it is okay
to leave them in the car sleeping. I keep them in view the whole time
(or try to).I bring them into the store if they are awake. One of my
kids is an 'explorer' and he is often safer in the car then running away
from me in whatever store/situation I am in. My exception to this is in
our driveway- I will let them sleep there and check every 15 minutes
(not on a hot day of course).
I would never, ever, ever leave a child unattended in a car.
Okay, two exceptions: First, the car is in my own driveway, the child is
buckled in, and I forgot something in the house -- I'll run, and I mean
literally run, inside to get whatever it is and run back. Second, I'm
parked at a bank, fewer than 50 feet and within direct line of sight
from an ATM I want to use, and my child is asleep -- I'll go get my cash
without unbuckling the kid. Glancing over my shoulder the whole time.
Ten minutes is way too long, and going anywhere you can't see your child
is way too far. There are just too many things that could go wrong, and
far too many ways that ten minutes could turn into twenty, thirty or
But honestly, I never found this to be too restrictive. My children
both napped ''on the go'' plenty (my toddler still does sometimes), but
I use slings and back carriers and/or strollers to allow the kid to
sleep while I do errands on foot, and I use services that allow me to do
my errands without leaving the car (the ATM scenario above happens only
when there isn't a functioning drive-up ATM within reasonable reach). I
pay for gas at the pump. On those occasions when a car-induced nap is a
desirable thing, I bring a book along, drive to my destination, and then
stay in the car, reading, until the child wakes up, whereupon we proceed
together to do the errand.
My elder child has outgrown naps; the younger is now at a stage where
she does indeed sleep better on a bed in a quiet room than she does in a
mei tai or Ergo on my back, and I do miss the infant days when she could
easily sleep anytime, anywhere. But it's not that hard to plan around
naptime, and it's not that hard to get at least SOME naptime in even on
days when we've got to be out and about after lunch. Either is much
better, I think, than taking the risk of leaving my child unsupervised
and unprotected in a big dangerous hunk of metal, glass and flammables.
Maybe that sounds extreme, but I think cars are extremely dangerous, and
I don't want to mess around. Better safe than sorry They're Not Allowed
To Play In There, Either
Wow. You're going to hear from a lot of people about how dangerous it
could be to leave a 1 year old and 3 year old in the car. Personally, I
would never risk it.
My 3 year old rarely naps with my 1 year old, so if I need to do car
errands, we go after breakfast, do errands and something fun and then
drive home at the 1 year old's nap time. I carry whichever one falls
asleep into the house to finish his nap.
Sometimes I get lucky and they both fall asleep. I don't go on afternoon
errands if one or the other hasn't napped - unless I really, really have
to, and even then if one falls asleep in the car on the way, I really do
simply return home and not get stuff done. Questions to ask yourself:
would you do it if people could see the kids inside? Are you comfortable
knowing no one would see through the tinted glass that they are in
Sometimes I have to do things later
This is a challenge! I no longer live in the Bay Area. We are in NC.
NC has a law that you cannot leave a child unattended in a car for more
than 1 minute. You may want to check and see if there is such a law
where you live. For many reasons, I would not do it. Not only is there
the risk of someone breaking into your car--have you seen how quickly
criminals are able to do this?--but there is the risk of your car
getting hit or your older child unbuckling and getting out of the car or
messing with the brakes, etc. and causing the car to move. As a child,
my grandmother left me in the car for a few minutes while she ran into
the post office. I was climbing around in the car, knocked the
emergency brake, and the car rolled backwards down a hill into traffic.
What I have done with my two is that I always have a book in the car,
for myself and the kiddos. If one falls asleep, I sit and read for 30
min., giving them a bit of a nap, then I rouse them and we do errands.
If the older one is in the car and it's the little one who has fallen
asleep, the two of us read together for 30 min. I actually often enjoy
the gift of some downtime to read Anon.
It is illegal to leave your children in the car unattended anon
I Really don't think it is a good idea to have your kids stay in the car
napping while you do errands even for 2 minutes or at all. Not only will
you risk having your children taken away from you by child services, but
they easily can be abducted by someone who is WATCHING you as you run
off to do your quick errand.
Something could happen to your car as well while they are in there, they
could wake and become terrified, it could be wrecked into ( I saw a
driver wreck inot a parked car just the other day
) Totally a bad idea in every way. Sure it is frustrating not to be able
to accomplish tasks that you would like during the day, but you will not
be able to live with yourself if something happens. Please reconsider
your actions and hire a sitter to come with you to stay in the car if
you need to. Or do you errands when you know the kids will be awake.
very concerned mom
Do not do this! Your children are at risk (anything from a car-
break-in kidnapping to another car crashing into your parked car to
waking up & feeling abandoned by mom) and you are subjecting yourself to
possible criminal liability and/or a child protective services
investigation. You need to find another solution, sorry.
I'm not sure what you mean when you say you do ''quick errands''
while your kids are sleeping alone in the locked car but this is unsafe
and illegal. I know how it is to have a huge list of things to do but
if my kids are tired, I avoid driving anywhere if I don't want them to
fall asleep in the car. If they do doze off, I go home, or park and
read a book, or wake them when we get to our destination. Please don't
leave your kids unattended in the car, awake or not. The negative
consequences are too great for the risk you're taking. I'm surprised
you continue to do this even after someone approached your husband about
it. If law enforcement were to get involved while your kids were
unattended in the car, you could get a warning, a ticket, or arrested
for child endangerment. You would also have to deal with Child
Protective Services. Of worse consequence would be if your children
were to wake up and become frightened, let themselves out of the car, or
if a stranger were to come and abduct them --CPS Social Worker
I would never leave my son alone napping in a car for longer than, say,
dropping something off in a corner mailbox. And I'm a person who HAS
left my son sleeping in a hotel room while I eat lunch in the hotel
restaurant. This is just a gut reaction, but when I think about it there
really is a difference between these situations
When I left my son sleeping in the hotel room, the restaurant was on the
same floor and I had a baby monitor with me. I also told MANY members of
the hotel staff that my son was asleep and that we were listening in on
the baby monitor. If he was in some sort of distress I would be able to
respond just as quickly as if I was at home, plus everybody knew what
the situation was so if something happened to me (for example, if I
choked on a sandwich) everybody would know there was a baby alone in the
room that needed to be looked after.
If you are leaving your kids alone in a car, it is illegal so you can't
enlist the help of the folks around you. If passersby have NO idea that
there are kids in the car, they are not going to know that those kids
will need help if something happens to you.
Also, it doesn't sound like you have a way to continuously monitor them.
If you are gone for 10 minutes and somebody rams into your car...your
kids could be distressed and it could take you 10 minutes to respond.
Finally, it is illegal so if somebody does find your kids alone in the
car you could face legal trouble. I've heard of kids being removed from
their parents custody for less, all it takes is one very ambitious
I had the fortune to have a garage, and I would pull the car in, set up
the baby monitor and add blankets or fans or whatever. I always wonder
what people w/o garages do. When we have had no room in the garage (and
therefore no garage) I've just brought a book along and parked under a
shady tree somewhere and even taken a nap. I wouldn't feel comfortable
leaving the baby in the car out in front alone, either because something
could happen and I'd feel awful or someone would call the police. I
sometimes even wondered about leaving her in the garage. As your kids
get older the naps aren't goign to be as long anyway, and if you're
checking every 10 min you're not really getting much done, so why not
just think of it as your special reading time?
You will get 500 responses from people telling you that your children
could be kidnapped and it's not worth the risk. The truth is, there are
LOTS of us who do this. I wanted to chime in on the ''go ahead'' side.
Realistically, there is a FAR, FAR better chance that your children will
die in a car crash-- kidnapping are so extremely rare--much more rare
than the media would have you believe.
If you place value in statistics, we shouldn't drive with our children
at all--yet we do anyway.
With the precautions you mentioned (such as the locked car) common sense
says it's okay...but we're getting conditioned out of using our common
sense by the media.
Yes, most people do this sometimes, for the logical reasons you
Try not to listen to the doomsayers.
To napping kids in car-
Just think of how awful your life would be if anything -and I do mean
anything -happened to your kids while they were in the car and you were
not- really sit with that and get the answer you need.
Ultimatley, there is nothing that needs to be done that would merit your
kids safety, well being, lives, your abilty to keep them (if you are
found to be
As I said to a driver who was rushing me as I walked across the street
with my 2 kids:'' Is 30 seconds of your time more important than my
Let the errands go, or have a cranky kid. Stop believing that you have
to and are supposed to have it all done...live realistically. and don't
leave your little ones alone in the car anon
My husband has spoken to moms and dads several times about the dangers
of letting kids sleep in cars while parents run around.
While I have never had the courage to go and tell another parent what is
what, my husband is very passionate on the topic and I must say, I
agree. Even with dark windows, cars can be stolen. Also, what if you are
delayed returning to your car?
How frightening would it be for your child to wake up, alone in a car?
Then, strangers would here a hysterical child and call authorities or
break in to calm your child.
Really, there is no single reason that anyone should leave a child -- or
pet for that matter -- in a car unattended.
If your child falls alseep, then go for a leisurely drive and enjoy the
views. That is what we do. Or, go home. A trip to the cleaners can wait
until everyone is rested concerned mommy
I'm sure you'll get a flood of responses, but somehow I feel compelled
to respond anyway.
It is extremely dangerous to leave your children unattended in a car!
Overheating is not the only danger (although that can happen
surprisingly quickly, on a not very hot day) -- your kids, especially
your 3 year old, could wake up while you're gone, figure out how to get
out of his car seat, and by the time you get back, could be wandering
down the street (10 minutes is a loooooong time to leave a child
unattended!). He doesn't know how to get out of the restraint yet?
Maybe not yet, but he will eventually learn, and at the most inopportune
Even if your kids can't get out of their car seats, if they wake up and
you're not there, they could become extremely upset. Those dark windows
of yours won't stop anyone from calling the police if they hear a
screaming kid inside of your car.
Yes, you should take your cranky kids into the store with you, or ''get
stuff done'' at some other time. It is essential for your children's
safety that you do so!
-- Appalled that you would even ask
You are going to get a serious tongue lashing with this posting. Please
don't leave your kids in the car while you run errands. A LOT can
happen during those 10 minute intervals.
Quit while you're ahead - for your kids' sake. Forget the alternatives
and think about the consequences.
Take a stroller and do errands within walking distance, or shop by
internet as much as possible. We even used Webvan, back in the day when
they were actually a business.
If I see a little child unattended in a locked car with the windows
rolled up, I will call the police. End of story.
Sorry if I sound harsh and maybe they do it the way you do it in other
parts of the world but not here My two cents
I know that the car napping is a hard one to deal with and the
temptation to leave a child napping in a car is strong. But I think it's
not a good idea at all in a public place. Even for 10 minutes seems
risky to me. The child could wake up a minute or two after you leave
and be crying and alone for the rest of the time, someone could hit the
car in the parking lot and you wouldn't know, your child could get
tangled in the carseat or some other unforseen circumstance. Even with
the tinted windows, it also seems risky--someone could break a window
and get to your child if they really wanted to. I also think that it's
against the law to leave a child in the car, so you could very easily
get reported to child protective services. I think if you're in full
sight of the car for a minute or two--to drop off a book in an outdoor
book drop, that might be okay. At home in the driveway, I'll leave my
son in the car while I'm bringing in groceries, but then I stay out in
the yard or on the porch while he finishes his nap.
As hard as it is, I usually cut my errands short or wake up my son if
he's sleeping and I need to go into a store. I try to time errands
before or after likely nap times, but that doesn't always work. I don't
have a good solution, just a strong feeling that leaving any child in
the car isn't a good idea.
Sympathetic but concerned mom
It's illegal to leave your kids unattended in the car. Anything can
happen to them. Don't do it! Wake them up and bring them in the store,
or go to stores at a time when they are least likely to want to sleep,
like in the morning. Not convenient, but you don't want anything to
happen to your kids!
I wouldn't do it. If anything, I would rather leave an awake child,
preferably older than three, in the car, than a sleeping one. There have
been several cases where a car was stolen with a sleeping child in it
(one right in front of Cafe Roma on College Ave--ok she left the car
running, but still). Or god forbid, an actual kidnapper. Somebody
watching you would know you had kids in there, even with your tinted
windows. That said, I will go to the ATM or pay for gas with the car in
eyeshot. As for what to do, I'd take the kids out, shop quickly, and let
them fall back asleep on the way home, at which point they can sleep to
their heart's content in the garage.
Sounds risky to me.
I don't want to sound preachy but I would never leave my little ones
unattended in the car and I always worry when I see other children
alone. Maybe my imagination just gets away from me but it only takes a
moment for something awful to happen, the least of which might be that
they wake up and get scared about being alone. (I REALLY worry when I
see child crying and alone in a car). There is also a state law that
creates liability for parents who leave their children under 6
unattended in a car under certain circumstances. My reaction might be to
call the police as might be the reaction of others who were concerned.
i think it's not ok to leave your child in the car, what if something
happened to you or what happens when the child wakes up and find's them
self alone in a car. if you want to sit in the car while the child
sleeps, maybe read a book or bring in your lap top computer it's ok. but
alone is weird. don't be so lazy! pick your child up and bring them
inside. it worked for us, after they got used to it maybe 4 months. you
have to train your child, you are the parent this is your job. even my
new baby who is 5 months now i can pick him up and bring him inside to
sleep. if they wake up maybe they rested and ready to play again.
good luck, please take your kid out of the car.
the bed is amuch more comfortable or even the couch concerned parent
I'm sure you'll get an earful on this one. Actually, I don't think there
is wide divergence of opinion on this issue: most people firmly believe
you mustn't leave kids alone in the car.
What if someone tried to steal your car while you were away for ''just a
few minutes''? Sorry, but no errand is that important.
Hate to say it, but your husband is right and you are wrong. Yes, every
time you do this you are running the risk of someone calling the police,
and yes, you could end up with Child Protective Services invading your
life. If you are out running errands and your kids fall asleep for a
much-needed nap, your options include: waking them and dealing with
their bad moods; parking and listening to the radio or reading (we leave
magazines in the car for this purpose) or taking a nap yourself until
they wake up or you've had enough; picking the farthest destination you
can drive to so they get some sleep in , then waking them when you get
there; or returning home. I'm sure you're trying to be efficient and
get done all that stuff that needs to get get done, but please, consider
re-ordering your priorities and slowing down a little
Oh boy, can't wait to see how the Mom Police respond to this one! I
think you need to use good judgement. If you're going to be in a store
for half an hour, it seems like you should probably wake your children
and bring them with you (unless there's someone else to stay with them
in the car. If you're popping into the cleaners for two minutes, leave
'em in the car.
You can't just leave the kid in a locked car! Besides the legal and
safety ramifications, what if the kid wakes up and mommy is not there,
how scary. I have two little ones and if I have to run errands with them
I try to bring my teen sitter with me. If it's just me, I will either
wake one up, wait it out in the car, keep driving, or go home, depending
on the situation, but I would never leave one in the car Cautiously
You have my sympathy. I also have a child who falls asleep easily in
the car. She is not easy to wake either and not easy to pull out of the
car to finish an errand once she has fallen asleep. I have spent a lot
of time sitting in the car while she naps. Sometimes that is very
frustrating, sometimes it is refreshing and a quiet time for me to read
a book or just think. I have spent several years planning my errands
around the possibility I will be stranded by a nap.
I want to encourage you to do that too. I'm concerned that you may not
realize how close you are to losing all that you value about your life.
A criminal conviction and time spent in prison will forever change you.
It may not feel like child endangerment to you but it may look like that
to others with power over you. And what if something bad actually did
happen to your kid while in the car alone?
I strongly encourage you to reflect on your needs and try to get them
met in some other way. Can you get some additional outside help to care
for your kid while you run some errands? Can you bring someone with you
who will wait in the car with your kid?
Can you pratice doing without the errand that gets interrupted by the
nap? Maybe if you think carefully about how to honor your needs you can
come up with some creative solutions that keep your napper safe too.
mom of another car napper
I believe the offical law is that you cannot leave them ''unanttended''
for more than 30 seconds. Don't know how ''unattended is defined''. If
you are going to do this, you should educate yourself as to the exact
law. Call Bananas, Inc. to see if they can tell you exactly what the
law says. What I do is I run the most errands I can while they are in
another adult's care (day care, pre school, school, afterschool). If
other adult care is not avilable, and they fall asleep on the way to an
errand and I have time to spare, I park where it is shady and read a
book or take a nap or just listen to the radio for 30 minutes or more.
If I need to get the errand done and they are with me, then I take those
cranky little tykes in with me and count on others'
understanding. If I am on my way home and they fall asleep, I park in
the shade at my house and I garden in the front yard or read a book on
the front step. If you think haveing tinted windows keeps would-be
kidnappers from taking your children, you may be right...but car theives
may still take your car - without realizing the kids are in there. I
think I heard a storey about how a kid was tossed form a car after the
theif figured out the kid was in there. Don't think the kid was
severely hurt physically, but ...YIKES! Another thing to consider is do
you want your 3 yr old to have that image in their brain of you being in
trouble with that police officer? And what if the police took you in
(in cuffs?) and took the kids away? What image would then sink into
your kid's head. So in summary I'd say - don't do it when you are out
and about in town, and use caution when you are at home. Their safety
and mental health is more important than their good nap Signed - a Mom
Who is Understanding of Grumpy Sleepy Kids and their Parents.
I did leave my children napping occasionally when they were little and it was
never a problem--it was usually to run in and return a video (by dropping it just
inside the door slot), unload groceries (we live on a quiet street in a nice
neighborhood) or perhaps to chat with a neighbor while I was standing near the
Since both my kids are now grown up, it's unfortunate to read so many strident
posts from parents who would have called the police on me.
If the cops weren't so busy responding to every 9-1-1 call from some nosy parker
reporting a mom who ran into the dry cleaners, maybe they could be out catching
Follow your own instincts as a parent--I assume you are thoughtful and attentive
or you wouldn't have posted the question--
I read the many messages about car naps and while I agree with all the posts
saying don't do it I wanted to add a different spin to the situation.
You have 2 kids. Life can be crazy. When they both fall asleep in the car, stop
and listen to the lovely silence and look at your beautiful babies. Then take 15
minutes for yourself while they sleep. Keep a good book in the car, a favorite
magazine, soduko puzzles, crosswords, a nail file and some polish. Think of the
nap in the car as time for YOU. I always felt 15 minute naps for my kids were
great at taking the edge off and not leaving them too cranky. I let them know
when we get in the car that I will wake them up when we get to our destination so
they are not surprised by being hauled into Safeway half asleep.
Build an extra 15 min into your errand schedule and enjoy the down time in the
car with them!
Been there and read a book!
You got an earful last week from people who didn't think you should leave your
kid in the car. I just wanted to express that I totally sympathize with your
situation. There was a period of time last year when my then 1-year-old would nap
ONLY in the car, and I really felt so trapped and bored to sit with him all the
time. Then I developed a list of things I could do while in the car with him, and
I always saved those errands for naptime.
It made me feel much more productive. Here is my list:
- Drive-thru ATM (like the Wells Fargo in EC Plaza)
- Get car washed (like at the gas station drive thru)
- Get gas
- Vacuum out car
- Get oil changed, smog test
- Get fast food (not the healthiest but at least I could eat it w/o my kids
- Get coffee (the Starbucks in the parking lot of the El Cerrito Home Depot has a
- Go to pharmacy (a few have drive-thrus)
- Take mail to mailbox
- Errands as others have mentioned where you can park in front and see the kid
the whole time - books to library, videos to video store, rent to landlord, dry
Finally, as other people suggested you can pack your diaper bag with paperwork,
bills, magazines, a laptop if you have one, and find a shady place to park. I
also would frequently park in my own driveway and briefly dash in to get myself a
soda, a book, etc.
I bet others have their lists of ''driving errands'' and can add to this. Hopes
this makes you feel better about losing productive time to naps!
I used a Sit-n-Stroll long past its reccomended weight/age specs because of
sleepy kids in the car. It is a car seat, not the fanciest, but comfortable &
light. Then, if your child is asleep, you just unstrap the seat belt & slide it
over, hoist it up (child is still strapped into it) and snap the levers into
place that make it a stroller. They rarely wake up & if they do snooze off...it
never makes them yell because they can feel/smell you there.
You can get it on line from Safeline Kids . org.....very handy!
You can only buy as much as will fit in a basket....or make a few trips through
the check out. Less irritating than having to scrap your whole plan for the day.
It was also really good for immobilizing wiggly ones in stores.
Smaller than a lot of strollers. TINY WHEELS. And a bit rickety. But, you always
have it with you and your child is already in it I used up 3 of them!
Hi. a previous post about leaving kids in the car got me
thinking about this issue and I have some questions. Is it
legal to leave a child in a car? Is there a certain age at which
it becomes legal? or a set of circumstances in which it's legal?
Like, (assuming window's are cracked and the temperature is
mild) if you can see the child and your're just running in to
get a coffee? I'm interested in knowing both what's legal and
what, if any, conditions make it ok/moral? Is it just a matter
of common sense or what? For example, today I was in a hurry to
do errands before my kids patience expired and I knew they
needed a bite to eat so I tried to get a bagel at a drive
through coffee place and was informed that they didn't sell
bagels because the place next door did. So, I parked the car
right in front of the big bagel store window, ran in, got a
bagel, ran out - elapsed time about 90 seconds. I felt guilty
and anxious about it. I know my husband would yell at me if I
told him. He's told me that you can't ever leave a child in a
car even for a second for fear of car-jacking. Is that an
exagerated fear or should I be more worried? What do you all
My children are napping peacefully in the car at this very
moment. This is the only way that they will take a nap at the
same time. I park the car as far down our driveway as possible,
crack all the windows on cold days, open them all the way on hot
days, lock the doors, leave my home windows and shades open, AND
check on them every 5 minutes. I'm okay with this. However, I
do all of these every time.
As for leaving my kids in the car while I run a quick
errand...well, I used to do that with guilt, but then a friend
of mine said she would *never* do this because she would feel
awful if anything happened. This conversation took place right
after we both stood in a busy parking lot watching a clueless
driver back into the back of another car and denting it. What
if that driver had backed into the SIDE of that car where a
child was waiting or sleeping? I stopped doing quick errands
with kids in the car that day.
I have often wondered about this one, and I almost posted about it, myself. I
think that as long as the conditions are safe (doors locked, not too hot, windows
cracked) it should be acceptable to leave the sleeping baby in the carseat while
you run out to return the movies, or whatever you're doing, but others have
disagreed with me. I'd be interested to learn what the California law actually
says on the subject.
I know it is illegal to leave children under the age of 13 in the
car alone in the state of California, though I too have run very
short errands (ATM, etc.) and left mine in his car seat. Lately,
however, I have talked myself out of doing this - thinking how
I'd never be able to forgive myself if anything happened; and how
easy it would have been to just take him with me - even if only
for half a minute.
Did you see that case recently where a one month old was
kidnapped right out of a car in a grocery store parking lot
while the mom was just a few feet away, returning her grocery
cart? The woman who kidnapped the child did it right in front of
the mother's eyes -- the mom tried to grab the bumper of the
other woman's car as she drove away, but did not succeed in
stopping her. Fortunately, police tracked down the kidnapper
and returned the baby within 24 hours.
Before reading about that incident, I might have done what you
did, i.e. to run into a bagel shop with my child waiting in the
car where I could see them. After reading about that incident,
I will never ever ever leave my child in car unattended for even
a very short time -- it's just not worth it. The bagels and
coffee can wait!
As a mom with two kids, I struggle with this issue a lot.
If we are making multiple stops and one of them is to a place
where I can run in and run out and the car will be within view
on a mild day, I sometimes (but rarely) leave one or both of them
in the car. For example, at the ATM to get cash when there is a
parking space right in front.
Stranger abductions and carjacking make good headlines but they
are relatively rare so there is some risk, but I don't think it
is an unacceptable risk.
I am not aware of any law that prohibits parents from letting
their children stay in a car when they are within view of a
--East Bay Mom
It is against the law to leave a kid under 6 in a car in
california, when the situation could be dangerous to the child.
A brief description of the law is at
http://www.4rkidssake.org/pressrelease.htm; the text of the
law is at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/bill/sen/sb_0251-
0300/sb_255_bill_20011013_chaptered.html. Personally, i can't
imagine leaving my kid alone in a car for any amount of time
longer than it takes me to walk around the car from the back
door to the driver's door. Mere inconvenience to me and or her
is little in comparison to the dangers of this act. It would
take less than 90 seconds for someone to bust a car window and,
at the very least, scare the heck out of a child. Sorry if I
come across harshly, but hearing about child fatalities due to
parents leaving their kids in a car makes me mad. Please
reconsider before doing this.
Whenever I am tempted to leave my child alone in the car, I
think ''what would happen if I had a heart attack right now?''
That sobers me right up and makes me realize no convenience is
worth leaving him alone in a car. And if I ever did, like in my
driveway, I would leave the car unlocked and even the door ajar
so if anything happens to me (good) people could get to him.
I believe there is a law in progress that will make it illegal
to leave a child (I don't remember up to what age) in a car
alone for any length of time. I don't think it's law yet, and
may never become law, but the fact it is under consideration
reminds me of the seriousness of leaving a child alone.
A friend of mine once left her son in a car alone while she ran
into a store. He released the parking brake, the car rolled, and
it was a miracle the car didn't hurt or crash into anyone. That
is sobering too.
Check out Kidncars.com for a full legal and ethical rundown,
but in short:
It is illegal in California. SB255 says ''This bill would
additionally make it an infraction, punishable by a fine
of $100, for the parent, legal guardian, or other person
responsible for a child who is 6 years of age or younger to
leave that child inside a motor vehicle, without being subject
to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older,
and where there are conditions that present a significant risk
to the child's health or safety, or when the vehicle's engine
is running or the vehicle's keys are in the ignition, or both.''
As for ok/moral, listen to your husband. There was a story a
year or two ago about a lady that was watching her kid in her
car from inside a convenience store and still couldn't get
there before the carjacker took off in her car. She tried to
get her kid out but he died in the process. That alone gets me
to take my kids in with me!
OK, most people won't agree with me on this, but here goes
anyway. There are situations and locations where the sanest
thing you can do for yourself is exactly what you did. Yes, a
perfect mother might have anticipated every need and brought
snacks in the car, or a perfect mother would find it peaceful to
unload kids to buy a bagel, and then load them back up. When
you wake up perfect, go for it. Until then, you have to use
your best judgement. As you pointed out you could see your car
the whole time, you didn't leave your kids down the block, or go
and sit at a cafe and have a cup of coffee for 25 minutes. My
rule when my kids were little, was if I could see the car from
the store, and it would only take a minute, I was OK with it,
otherwise the errand would have to wait or the kids had to come
out of the car. I did keep my eye on the car while in the
store. 7 Eleven on Solano Ave., got a lot of business from me
back then, because it has parking right in front, and huge plate
glass windows along the whole front of the store.
I think we have to make room for doing our best even if it is
not perfect. In a perfect world we would never leave our kids
alone in the car for a moment, actually in a perfect world we
could leave our kids in the car without any worry at all.
Remember that most children are hurt by people they know, not
strangers (how's that for comforting?). It is better to expend
our protective energy educating our children about personal
Shastine (grateful her youngest is 8)
If I can park right in front of the bank, I'll leave the kids in the
car while I run to the ATM machine. I don't feel guilty. I don't
think it's dangerous. I do the same thing at the drycleaner,
which has its own parking. If there were other stores where
I could actually park right out front and see the kids while I'm
in the store, I'd do the same thing more often. Maybe I'm
naive, but it seems like no big deal to me. (Now that I've
confesssed this, should I sign my name?)
In Montclair I leave my kids in their car seats, locked in the
car, if its a cold day, they will never be out of my sight and
whatever errand I'm doing is a couple of minutes (drycleaning
and film pick-up drop off and satisfying my caffeine
addiction). Illegal or not I feel its a matter of common
sense. I'm more worried about someone calling the police than I
am about car jackers.
Mother of 3 little ones
I don't mean to keep this thread going forever, but I have a question, still.
Thanks to those of you who posted the info about SB255, but the law says that
it's illegal to leave kids under 6 alone in cars ''and there is either
to the health and safety of the child, or the vehicle's engine is left running
the vehicle's keys are left in the ignition.'' But what if there isn't a
risk? Is it
then just a moral issue? Is this all the State of California has to say on
I have often left my child/children in the car to run a quick
errand, especially if one has just fallen asleep. The eldest is
8years old and there are times when he just refuses to come out
if he knows i'm just running a quickie, so i use my judgement
and if the car is insight i'll let him stay and also keep an eye
on his younger brother (he's 4 yrs). I don't feel guilty about
this at all. I'm not leaving them for hours or even 10
minutes. I believe they are in as much danger in the playground
climbing and jumping on the equipment and i know i take my eyes
off them once in a while when chatting with another parent, it's
I'm curious what the new law will say about children being in
the car when you leave to go inside and pay for gas.
Are parents their children out of their seats when they pay for
the gas or is it considered OK to leave them there? If it is I
consider it OK, just to run into the bagel store. Those gas
lines can be quite long, especially if the lottery is up!
A busy mom
From a nurse who has seen lots of injuries:
Never, never, never, never-- repeat, never-- leave a child alone
in a car, especially a child under age five and probably older
depending on the child's maturity. This is common sense and the
law too. There are many things that can happen besides car-
jacking, which is rare. One is kidnapping (also rare), the kid
setting the car in motion (commoner), falling out, getting out
into traffic (even more common) and so on. Mothering/ fathering
is about self sacrifice. Kids are very inconvenient, that's the
reality. It's a pain in the neck having to look out for them
every second of their young lives, but that is what being a mom
or dad means. What coffee or bagel or errand is worth the risk?
None. Take the child with you every single time or forego the
errand. I did and I was a single mom with no relief or backup
for most of the time I parented. You get used to it. As they
mature you can talk to them about safety issues in an age-
appropriate manner, the earlier the better, as the best child-
proofing is the kind that is internal to the child rather than
external, which is impossible and less desireable anyway. We
live in a world of risks and kids learn gradually to take care
of themselves if you give good instruction. I have worked ER and
taught child safety & first aid at Bananas and many child care
For me, the only thing that counts is the safety of my child, not what is
convenient for me. There are plenty of inconvenient things when you
have children, that's for sure. But their safety is the first priority for me,
matter what. I don't care how small the statistical risk may be - it's not
worth it to me to even take the slightest chance.
Better safe than sorry mom
Not to discuss this subject into the ground, but there was an
incident in Berkeley where a parent went in to get coffee and a
bagel and left her toddler in the car. Then Murphy's Law set
in. It took much longer to get the coffee and bagel than she
expected, AND she accidentally left the car keys hanging in the
car door. There were moments when she couldn't see her car. In
one of those moments, someone stole the car. Needless to say,
she was in hell for the hour it took the police to find the car
(abandoned in Emeryville) with the toddler safe and sound. So,
thanks to quick and vigilant action by the police and some good
luck, it all turned out ok. So, as a mom, I would love to leave
my kids in the car for a few moments, that lesson drove it home
for me that you just should not do it.
Several responses dealt with the legality of leaving a child in the car, and the danger associated with a carjacking or the car being involved in an accident, but few seemed to acknowledge the danger of a child dying from the heat. That to me would be the biggest threat to a child's safety! Children have died from being left in a car unattended, even on a mild day, even with the windows cracked, even for "just a few minutes."
this page was last updated: May 25, 2009
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