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Hot Cars Kill: 5 Low-Tech Ways to Remember a Child in the Backseat

Baby in back seat car seat

Image credit: Amber Alert GPS blog,


Hot cars kill. Today, a Canadian child died in a parked car in Edmonton’s heat. Last week, it was a Toronto-area boy.

Stress, scheduling changes, sleep deprivation … these all affect our ability to function at full capacity and this includes our memory. Parents with young children know that these can be a dangerous combination. But most of us escape through our children’s young years without disaster striking. Unfortunately for some, disaster does strike.

That’s what happens when a parent forgets that a child is in the backseat of the car. While some people find it impossible to believe that any “good” parent could forget their child in their backseat, it happens. Consider this quote from a 2009 article in Washington Post Magazine:

“In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.”

I can’t locate statistics for Canada, but in the United States an organization called Kids and Cars tracks this information and reports that, on average, 38 children die each year in hot cars. It is a painful and tragic way for a child to die, and I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and guilt that the parents must endure.

There are a number of tech devices that can prevent these kinds of tragedies. And although we have devices that tell us when our car might be getting broken into or that we’ve left an interior light on, these devices have not been adopted by the auto manufacturing industry. I’d personally rather have a device that reminds me a little person is in the back of the car than one that tells me I’ve left a door ajar. But this is the reality for today. (Note that if you like tech and money is not an issue, you can buy after-market products for this purpose: Cars-N-Kids, Baby Alert International, Backseat Minder.)

So, if you are a parent of a young child, these low-tech tips are for you. You might be starting a new job, trying to care for a colicky baby, or juggling life as a single parent … whatever the reason, take some of these tips and put them into play until life quietens down a bit. Just in case. Just because.

Here are tips I’ve culled from a variety of sources. I do not want to take credit for them, I just want to share information that could save a precious life.

#1:  Set an alarm on your phone

In many of these cases, a parent’s schedule has changed and rather than dropping the child off at daycare, they’ve driven straight to work and forgotten the baby in the car. Set an alarm on your phone to go off each morning around the time you usually arrive to work. Your memory will jolt you out of auto-pilot to remind you to check the back seat.

#2: Ask your caregiver to call you

Ask your caregiver to call you on your cell phone and at your work number if you haven’t dropped your child off at the regular time. In many instances, the caregiver did call, but only reached voicemail or assumed that the parent would call them later in the day to explain the absence.

#3: Put your purse/wallet in the backseat

I do this already to avoid using my phone when I’m in the car. But if you are with your child, leave the purse or wallet in the backseat as a memory cue. Generally, it is habit for adults to take a purse/wallet everywhere we go, so even if your scheduling got changed at the last minute, out of habit you’ll look for your purse/wallet when getting out of the car.

#4: Put the diaper bag in the front seat

This is great to do in tandem with the purse in the backseat. By placing the diaper bag in the front seat, you have a visual cue when you’re getting out of the car that your child is in the back.

#5: Use a stuffed animal 

When your child is not in their car seat, keep a stuffed animal in it. Then, any time you place your child in his/her seat, put the stuffed animal into the front passenger seat as a visual cue.

Please note that I will delete any disparaging comments about parents who have left their children in cars. It’s just not the point of this post. The point of this post is to try to prevent these tragic deaths by sharing tips and ideas. Thanks for understanding. 

Edited on July 8, 2013 to add: I am so pleased to share that this post will be featured in the Health section on BlogHer in this week. My greatest hope is that this kind of terrible tragedy is never experienced by another family. That it becomes common place for a girlfriend to receive not only a baby monitor at her baby shower, but one of the after-market alarm systems (links in the post above) that alert you that a baby is in the car. And that mothers share these kind of low-tech tips with each other at playgroups. By being featured on BlogHer — the largest community of women who blog: 92 million across blogs and social tools, including 55 million blog readers alone — I feel like we’re getting one step closer. Thank you BlogHer!

Edited on July 12, 2013 to add: Please note that this post has now been translated into Spanish: “Ideas para recordar que tu bebé está en el auto.” I’m thrilled … getting the world out to a larger audience and hopefully ensuring everyone is aware of these simple tips to avoid a tragedy.

Edited on June 24, 2014 to add: The terrible news is that, one year later, these deaths are still taking place. According to Kids and Cars data (USA), there have already been 12 deaths in 2014 attributed to heat stroke in cars. The hottest season of the Canadian year has just begun. Perhaps that explains why this particular post has gone viral in the past week, averaging 3-5,000 views each day. We’re all looking for answers to stop these tragedies: is it sleep deprivation? A change in routine? The newer rear-seating bucket baby seats for cars? Needless to say, no one should get behind the wheel if they are experiencing severe sleep deprivation. A change in routine is generally an unavoidable circumstance. And the legislated car seats are certainly a must. So what’s the answer? I wish I knew. I just hope that by sharing some of these easy tips, there will be a community somewhere that is spared from this kind of grief. Thank you so much for continuing to share this post with your friends and family and for sharing your own tips in the comments below.


  1. I’m having a really, really hard time with this. I just don’t understand. I am not judging, but I don’t understand and if I have to do any of the things you and many others have suggested to remember my child is in the car-to remember not to forget them, perhaps I shouldn’t be driving in the first place:(

    • What’s to understand? It’s almost always a change in routine. Like the Dad taking the baby to daycare for the mom who’s sick. Baby falls asleep in the car and is quiet, on the drive he goes into auto-pilot and does his usual drive to work and into the office routine. It’s a tragic accident. Like someone backing over a child because they forgot to look in their rear view mirror.

      • Actually, Laurel, I should have referred you to that Washington Post article mentioned above. It won a Pulitzer Prize … so clearly, MUCH more articulate than me! Powerful read.

        • Hey Julie
          I read all the articles-I have been consumed by this news:( I understand the articles and I understand what happened but for me personally, I still don’t understand how that happens. I also don’t think running over a child and leaving one in the car are comparable. Just my opinion.
          Note I do feel so bad for the parent involved in each of these incidents-the pain and suffering they must live with forever is unimaginable. I have empathy and I don’t judge but I still don’t understand.
          I do hope this stops though:(

          • Okay, well, if the car example doesn’t work for you, what about a swimming pool … Everyone knows you never leave a child unattended by water, but children die every year from drowning in their own family pools. I see the precautions for remembering a child in the backseat as akin to remembering to close the fence to a pool.

          • laurel have you never had a brain fart? i mean, have you never gotten too little sleep for several days and left your purse, forgot your keys, drove past your exit? i can’t understand how you can’t understand. have you been a mom for 30 yrs and just forgotten how new, overwhelming and exhausting the first baby is? or maybe you are just some kind of unusual person that has a mind like a computer that never glitches (apple lol)

            i’ve never forgotten my baby, but i dreamed about doing it all the time…what a panic feeling. and i have forgotten to buckle the carseat a couple times.

    • Laurel, you’re right — a parent too damn tired to remember that their kid is in the back seat shouldn’t be driving. And women shouldn’t have to go months, even years, without a full night’s sleep. And we shouldn’t be the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t offer a paid maternity leave. And single parents shouldn’t have to shoulder the tremendous burden of raising a child AND working. But it’s not an ideal world, and we can’t always get what we *should* get. Exhausted parents have to get up and go to work, and mistakes get made. If these tips help save a life, that’s awesome.

      I have only this to say to you personally: if you’re not a parent, you can’t possibly understand how horrifyingly easy it would be for something like this to happen. If you are a parent and have never had to function when you are too exhausted to breathe, much less drive or care for your child, you are far luckier than most.

      • I know Laurel personally. And she is a dedicated mother to two. She is certainly not the only parent I’ve met who just “doesn’t understand.” I allowed Laurel’s original comment because she was expressing an opinion, not disparaging the parents in these kinds of situations.

        • I didn’t think she was trying to disparage the parents. I did, however, want to respond to her comment that parents who are too distracted to remember the baby are too distracted to drive. This is not an uncommon sentiment, and is one that I felt needed addressing. Most new parents have to carry on with life/work/driving despite having a new baby and being exhausted, and it’s much more constructive to provide tips (as you did in the original article) than to suggest that the easiest/best solution is simply not to drive if you’re too tired or distracted to remember the baby.

    • I don’t mean this sarcastically at all, but when I only had one kid and didn’t work, I didn’t understand either. And then one night, out of my regular routine, it happened to me.

      • Yes, that’s the thing — these situations often happen when both parents work and there was a change in routine. I am a working mom and feel a great deal of empathy for the parents featured in the Washington Post piece. It’s just not reasonable to think that an exhausted or over-scheduled parent never needs to drive anywhere, as I’ve seen some people suggest. Children shouldn’t be the right of only the most privileged in society.

    • This happened to a friend of mine. She is in jail now for the death of her child (child neglect). Her child was 3 years old and she didn’t forget her, she just “ran into the store right quick” & her daughter was sleeping & she just didn’t make it back out to the car in time. It happens more often than you think. Say whatever bad things you want to but it can happen to any of us.

  2. Kelly Terkuc says:

    So tragic but excellent practical ideas. I use the purse thing myself and have done so ever since having babies as a child died in a hot car the summer I had my son and this terrified me as I was so tired all the time and could honestly see how it could happen. Bravo for writing on this difficult subject.

    • I know what you mean … just thinking about it scares the daylights out of me!

      • I want to go one step further than the diaper bag or toy on the front seat, or your wallet on the backseat because both can be glossed over or forgotten, and I can’t tell you how many times I look at an object and don’t actually register it in my tired, frazzled, busy mind. <- That, btw, Laurel, is how a brain will betray any human. I don't have kids but let me tell you, with the hormones and the lack of sleep and the amount of people coming at me with their problems each day, yah… I can see this happening. Easily.

        My low tech suggestion is this (I have two, actually): for the parent who doesn't normally drive their child around before work but has to occasionally, I suggest putting an empty sippy cup in your lap or between your legs. The second you jump out of the car it will drop to the floor or ground. The plastic sound alone should wake you out of your autopilot mode.

        Suggestion #2. If you don't have a sippy cup to use (because it's full), pin a soother to your shirt or tie. Guaranteed the first person to see you will remark how lovely it is, and that will make you remember your kid.

        See? Both simple, low tech ideas that are great visual and tangible reminders that you're on kid duty that AM.

  3. I’m used to taking my children with me everywhere (they aren’t in daycare), so every stop means thinking about getting three kids out of car seats and into the store… which means I sometimes forgo a stop because it’s so much work. A few times, my daughters have asked me if they can wait in the car, but I’ve said no when it’s this hot. The other day, I waited with them while my hubby ran into a store and yep, it was hot. After five minutes, I was willing to drag all the kids into the store to avoid waiting in the car in the heat. Thanks for sharing these tips. And for not judging. As moms (and dads), we’re struggling to do our best. Judgement doesn’t help.

    • I do remember those days … how much work it was just to get a child in and out of a car. I used drive-through Timmys a lot during my kids’ early years!

  4. My heart breaks when I hear this. Putting your purse in the back seat great idea.

  5. Nice tips. We have to live on that practice. It is for our safety.

  6. I guess I understand why people can’t believe it can happen without neglect or carelessness being involved, but it really upsets me how judgmental and condemnatory some people can be. I’ve done the reading and I absolutely see how it can happen much more easily than most people realize, and I can’t even imagine what those parents have to live with. This is a great reminder.

    • I think it must be a deep primal protective mechanism … that when something is so terrible, a reason needs to exist that it could never happen to them.

  7. Great tips, especially the purse one. No judging here… us parents can get so flustered and sadly things happen. One of these tips just might save a child this summer :)

  8. Thanks for this, Julie. It can happen to anyone.

  9. I read that article in the Washington Post when it first came out and I will never forget. These people got distracted and made the worst mistake of their life. I will never, ever forget reading their stories and I highly recommend reading it.

  10. I agree with Amy’s sentiments for sure-that article is very powerful and should be a must read for all!

    • Absolutely. I don’t think there’s a person on this planet that thinks it will happen to them – which I believe is what you really mean by “I don’t understand”. Too scary to process! A true tragedy. I hope nothing like this ever does happen to you… but if it does I hope you will find comfort from those who have the courage to say “I understand.”

  11. Excellent tips Julie, so so important. I remember when my youngest was a baby and a similar incident happened in Montreal. I was devastated and angry, how could a parent forget his child! But many years of parenting have taught me that mistakes, serious mistakes can happen to anyone! And I don’t judge so much anymore as feel deep sadness for these people. They have such a heavy burden of guilt and sadness to carry for the rest of their lives. I can’t even imagine what that must be like.

  12. These are really, really good tips. It’s just so unfathomable that this kind of thing happens. Heartbreaking.

  13. Nice tips!! You never what can happen in a day! Alarm set on your phone is a great one

  14. Such good information here! So important with all our hot summers! Love the alarm setting reminder!

  15. Laura Daub says:

    Great information for such a difficult subject!

  16. As a Car Seat Tech I have to caution against putting your purse/wallet/skippy cup in to the body of the vehicle at all. Those things would be projectiles in the event of a collision and could harm the occupants of the vehicle.

    So I absolutely love the idea of low tech options for ensuring that children are not forgotten in vehicles, hot or cold, but I prefer the ideas in the comments like pacifier clips on the driver and an agreed upon phone call from the care provider (though the two this week have been forgotten BY their care provider in the car).

    • You’re right, of course. But I have never gotten into the habit of putting my purse in the trunk. I always need money for a drive-through coffee or a kleenex or something from it.

  17. Great tips, it could happen so easily! I never left my baby in the car, but I did leave him on a counter in a store. I didn’t go more than a few steps away, but it made me realize that we often function on auto pilot. This was 25 years ago, and I still remember that sick feeling of “How could I have done that”!

    • Yes, that terrible sick feeling. I know it. Thankfully, we’ve never had to face it for the rest of our lives like these parents will have to.

    • I have 6 grown children. I actually left my first daughter sleeping in her crib as we left for church one time. I had fed, bathed and dressed her first, then laid her in her crib as we got ready. We walked out the door, got in the car and then realized we didn’t have her!! OMG!!! What a frightening realization!
      I was a stay-at-home mom, but with a job, stress, change in routine, I can totally understand how it could happen. It has nothing to do with being a bad parent or neglect. It’s an accident…

      • Thank you for sharing your story, Pam. From reading the stories of parents, I would agree that it is not “bad” parents. It’s a memory lapse that causes a lifetime of despair.

  18. I just hugged the —- out of my son.

  19. I cried my way through that article on Washington Post and then went looking for information about Lyn Balfour. I’m blown away by her determination to tell her story far and wide, despite the judgement she gets. She’s an amazing woman who I know has suffered horribly through Bryce’s death. I really have tremendous respect for her bravery in educating people and advocating for increased safety measures.

    I don’t think I ever heard about these stories until the last couple of years and every one I read breaks my heart for the parents. I think people who feel like they could never, ever do this are overestimating their abilities. As the memory expert in the article said – and I thought this was so important: “If you’re capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child.”

    The world has gotten busy, yes. But no one can say they never get frantic, frazzled or forget to do things they meant to do. Yes, our children are absolutely a high priority, but if my memory actually prioritized things correctly, I would get a lot more of the important things done that I need to do.

    • You caught my attention with this comment because I wasn’t sure what I felt towards Balfour after reading the Washington Post piece.

      So, I just did a little more research on her, and I completely understand what you are saying now… she never says no to an interview, despite how painful it is for her and her family, so that she can raise awareness and try to avoid this happening to any other children. (This video with her and her husband feels so raw to me: a terrible burden to live with.

      • That’s the one that I found too. I was curious after reading the description of her from the Washington Post and her declaration that she’d carry a child for Miles Harrison and his wife if they weren’t able to adopt. I didn’t see her being “cold” so much as reserved and determined. She makes herself vulnerable, but she has to put up a strong front or else I’m betting she’d crumble. Having watched the series of interviews with Lyn and her husband, I could not believe she’d intend to do a child any harm.

  20. I worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse and saw a baby up close who had been left in a hot car. Mom had stopped at home to drop off kids to husband before heading to a mom’s night. In the transfer and pandemonium of kids and dinnertime, dad assumed mom was keeping baby with her and mom thought she’d brought sleeping baby inside in his carrier. Horrible things were said of her in the comments after the local news article, but the people who actually witnessed that child’s suffering and the heartbreak of the family had no judgment or malice toward her, only compassion. I made sure to tell her this and gave her every opportunity to be near her child while we fought to save his life. This was before I had children, and I am learning more than ever that it is impossible to prevent every hurt and mistake out there. But along the way, we can develop compassion and forgiveness in the face of all that will go wrong in this imperfect world.

    • Oh, this poor woman. Thank you for sharing your experience, Elissa. It must have been so difficult for everyone involved, including all of the nursing and medical staff.

  21. I’ve always been in the habit of putting my briefcase in the backseat … even before we had kids. Saved me at least once …

  22. I’m the mom who other mothers constantly told to “lighten up.” I adore my children, and yes, I was over-protective of them. I love them. Who else is going to watch out for their well-being?

    And still–when my son was just over a year old, I took him to day care one morning because his dad and sister were sick at home. Normally, taking him to day care was his dad’s job. My son was always very quiet when we drove anywhere, enjoying the ride and looking at the scenery, often falling asleep in the process. That morning, by the time we were halfway to his day care, I’d already started thinking about a project I needed to finish up at work and had completely forgotten he was in the car with me.

    Then, because he’d fallen asleep, he dropped his sippy cup. It made a big thud on the floor of the car. And that’s when I realized I was in the lane to go straight to my office, not to turn and drop him off at day care.

    I like to believe I would have noticed my son in the back seat when I got out. Anytime I tell this story, my husband says “You would have seen him when you got to the office.” But who knows whether I would have? It might just be sheer luck that my son is alive today.

    I never judge the parents who find themselves in this situation. I was almost one of them. I feel enormous empathy and wish they’d been as lucky as I was.

  23. I didn’t really understand how it could happen either, until it happened to me. I unexpectedly had another child with me, and the baby was sleeping, so I unbuckled the two oldest kids and walked them inside, intending to go right back to get the baby. Only one of the kids needed help making it to the bathroom, and someone spilled some juice, and my brain kept registering two kids, when that particular day, I actually had THREE. Luckily, my sister was over that day and asked, “Do you need me to grab the baby?”

    I had totally forgotten. And I still get a little sick even thinking about it and what COULD have happened. I do employ the diaper bag in the backseat trick now, but I have also started the habit of rolling down the windows of the car once we get home. That may not be a possibility for everyone and it doesn’t prevent the issue, but I think it offers a bit of an extra layer of protection in that it helps prevent the car from heating up as quickly as a car with rolled up windows does.

    • Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is always such a sickening feeling when you realize your child could have been in grave danger. I think whatever precautions we can take, we should take them. Why not?

  24. Great tips!
    I used to have nightmares about this…
    Another tip, and what really eased my fear a little bit, was getting that little mirror for the back seat. If placed in front of a rear-facing carseat in the backseat, you will see your baby’s face every time you look through the rearview mirror to change a lane, back up, or watch traffic changes.
    I feel so much sadness for these parents and hope God can give them the strength to carry on after such a horrible tragedy…

  25. evgeniya says:

    Can’t deny I am judgmental when I read it for first time and few lines. I think anyone who never experienced or knows anyone that ever been there personally will be very judging. But after I read all the comments, I realize that things like this could happen to any of us. I really hope this won’t happen again.Hope the parents could learn something very precious and those who lost their child could move on since I believe it is very hard and painful. Thanks Julie for this amazing information and tips.

  26. A dear friend of my mother in law lost her child this way, and it was *horrible* how the press stained the father who forgot this baby, and he was publicly investigated for foul play. This baby received all my baby’s clothes. Every time my son grew an inch, we happily donated our clothes and toys to this wonderful creature. The father was the one who took care of *most* of the baby’s needs. The mother would always call the dad to make sure the baby had been dropped off by 8 am. The day she forgot to call, he forgot to drop him, and by the time she called to make sure 11am, he was almost dead, and died on the way to the hospital. That day he turned 6 months, and my mother in law had a really awesome pair of jeans and sneakers we had just sent him. It sickens me that people are so hard to judge others, without even having the slightest knowledge of what could be happening in that particular case. This father has tried to commit suicide THREE times already, and is in constant suicide watch. They’re both in psychiatric care… They had been trying to conceive for 7 years, and this was their miracle baby. It’s terrible and I know our motherly instincts want to punch these parents in the face and say: “HOW COULD YOU!” But we should *all* remember, we are after all human, and sometimes human error + unfavorable situations result in a tragedy.

    • evgeniya says:

      Who doesn’t want to punch… But imagining being in those parents position, I feel deeply sorry for them. It is so much easier to face anyone that’s blaming us, but I’m sure the hardest part is forgiving our self. Hope your mother in law’s friend could move on and have another child.

    • I am so sorry to hear this account … how terribly sad and awful. My heart breaks for them.

  27. In a meeting I went to, they suggested taking the shoes off and putting them in the floor at the back of the car.

  28. Chesnie says:

    I can see how it can happen. I only have one daughter and I was lucky to stay home with her but she was always the only thing I ever thought about and I have a small car so I never left her. I out of habit always look in the backseat when I get out and when I lock my door…another thing I always worried about was locking the door with my daughter in so I open her door open my door get her out then shut both doors….

  29. This is SO scary to me because I can SEE MYSELF doing it. I’m so scattered and sleep deprived on my BEST days… I’m so thankful my car is small withOUT tinted windows (something I used to complain about often), so I can’t get out of the car without noticing what’s in the back seat. I feel nothing but heartache for the parents who have lost a child in this way. There is no way to EVER get past it.

  30. Enjoyed reading your post. Some very good ideas to help prevent these types of tragedies. You never know, these tips may save a life some day.

  31. I just wanted to reach out and share some quick information on my invention that can prevent these tragedies from happening. Its called the Backseat Baby Alarm. The way it works is very simple. It automatically plays a music box melody when you get out of your car if you placed your child in the backseat earlier. No loud sirens, no honking horns, just a audio tap on the shoulder so that you look before you lock. When you open the back door to take your child out, it turns itself off automatically, going into sleep mode till the next time. The cost is $19. It was named one of “35 Genius Parenting Inventions” by Buzzfeed and has been features on Fox 6 News and several other news broadcasts. For info on how to order and see a demo video, go to


  32. I think you just have to really be aware and all about that you have a child with you. Busy parents, you take cue on child’s crying – do they usually make sound when their backseat?
    Or are they so quiet? Uhm.. just keep on thinking about your child though, keep on thinking that he is with you. Because, unless you willing to pay the price. right? I mean, you could be charged and all.
    Anyway, you also deal with losing him *grief*
    And sometimes, the blame from like for examples his your granddaughter, from the parents. So, oh my god you are now feeling so low, and then they let you feel so down. How? :(

    from someone who also take joy on looking after her niece or nephew ‘and when the baby cries I just say thank you”thank you for reminding me you’re there, and I need to take care of you.” kinda thing. I hope this helps! :)

  33. This topic and thread with all of its great comments really should be an annual renewal, Julie. And I speak as a non-mom when I say, the more you repeat this annually, the more we can help save kids from being left behind in cars on any day, but especially on the sweltering days.

    FYI, if you think this only happens on days where the temperatures sore, you’re sadly mistaken. We just don’t hear about it until the mercury skyrockets and the cops get involved.

    Let’s all do our part to keep this post moving around online, ok?

    • Thank you so much Stacey! It is just such a terrible thing (it breaks my heart every time I see a new case in the papers). I really appreciate you helping to share these tips!

  34. Take your left shoe off and put it in the backseat.

  35. Jill Bracewell says:

    These are great ideas. I’d also add to the list: When you buckle your baby into the car seat, put your cell phone in the back seat. If you forget your phone, you remember quickly where you left it and go back for it. And we don’t need to be using the phone while driving anyway. I’d also like to see these tragedies not to lead to an immediate arrest. The mug shots of the responsible parents are absolutely horrifying – the shock on their faces so visible. When a child drowns, an arrest isn’t made unless an investigation reveals a neglect.

    • Yes, I think the cell phone idea is perfect … people are in the habit of checking a cell phone regularly. It does seem strange that an accidental drowning is treated differently than accidentally leaving a child in a car. These poor parents — can’t imagine what they have to live with. It’s a terrible, awful way for a child to die and they have to live knowing they put their child through that.

  36. I always wondered how people could do this, too. Then, when my youngest daughter was 6 weeks old I went to work for a day. I had everything together for the sitter and drove right on to the school I teach with her sleeping in her seat. As I pulled up, I glanced back and noticed her seat still in the carrier. Then, I saw where the sitter had called but it went straight to voicemail. I just sat in my car and cried… And I realized that it could happen to anyone. Just a small change in routine or lack of sleep makes a difference!

  37. 2 other ideas:
    1) Hang an infant view mirror in the backseat so that with a quick look in the rear view mirror, you can see your child.
    2) Talk or sing to your child on your commute. They won’t care if you’re off key or what the conversation is.
    Being a parent is an amazing, but exhausting and terrifying experience. We should be helping each other, not judging.

  38. Thanks for the tips. I read the long article you quoted and it was heartbreaking. I firmly believe this could happen to ANYONE! And I pray constantly that it’s not me. I saw a suggestion from a friend’s friend when she posted the article. Her friend says that she always takes off one of her shoes and puts it in the back seat with the children. (Not sure if any other post mentioned this…but I thought that was genius! And have started this) plus its super easy in the summer as I am normally in flip flops! Phones and purses can be forgotten but you will remember your shoe!! :) thanks for posting!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you’ve adopted a memory trick so that you can avoid this kind of tragedy for you and your child! Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know.

  39. I live in a country where I have to have an original copy of my car matriculation with me at all times. We have one car. I often forgot to get it after my wife drove, or she forgot to get it after I drove. We came up with a system. If I get in the car and the seat is pulled up, I need to get the matricula. If she gets in the car and it is back, she needs to get the matricula. These things help, and I certainly understand how someone can forget!

  40. Norman Lee says:

    I would just get a proximity alarm. Attach it to your carseat and the sensor to your car keys, that way if you walk away from the car a certain distance away after leaving your kid inside, it’ll go off. – for iPhones.

  41. I would hope and pray that I would never forget, but who of us can judge? I’ve had days that I’ve driven to work and when I arrived I had no recollection of my drive time – it was all by rote. What is so heartbreaking is that not only have these children died a horrible death, but the parents who are left behind will never be able to forgive themselves or each other. So many lives are ruined. I’m afraid I would just want to stop living if this happened to me. The suggestions you’ve made, if taken seriously by parents, could save many lives. And be careful in saying it could never happen to you – it very well could.

  42. I have always sang nursery rhymes, talked and entertained my children in the car-all 3 on them and at a very young age. Maybe if parents were more “involved” with their children, even in the car, then they wouldn’t “forget” they were there. Sheesh. I still don’t get it.

  43. It’s not just parents this happens to, it’s also dog owners and, you know, every other human being on the planet. I’m so thrilled that Kenoncl feels so confident he or she wouldn’t forget anything, anywhere, at any time, but we’re all not that perfect.

    I would love for this thread to be passed around everywhere online so we get the message about not leaving anything that breathes in hot or frozen cars out there world wide. This needs to be discussed and a solution found. This doesn’t need to keep happening!

  44. I have not read all of these comments so I may be sharing something another friend has shared, but I happen to be a close friend of one of the moms (a mental health counselor) in some of these featured articles who experienced this horrible tragedy. You can believe it or not, but she is one of the best moms I know and yes, never thought this tragedy could happen to her. God has used her horrible story to help others. But to anyone who thinks s/he is not capable of anything kind of horrendous deed, all I can use is the old saying about walking in someone else’s shoes. God forbid, however that it should happen to any of you or that you should have to hold her in your arms in sobbing grief and a kind of pain that no one should ever have to experience.

  45. I just don’t know what to say. Having four kids I am always looking for them. Even when they are not with me I am looking for them. I get a change of routine causes this, I just really do not understand how a child is forgotten. Maybe mine were louder than most? Definitely a good reminder and obviously much needed .

  46. Nice tips! I would probably do this tips.

  47. Montreal Guy says:

    Hello all,
    Great article. A near-miss situation happened to me when I forgot my 7-month daughter in the car on a hot day while stopping at a store. She was rear-facing and sleeping, and my trip did not originally involve having the baby with me. After I dropped my wife somewhere, my mind just blanked out and I lost the awareness that that I had her with me. Thank God I came back to the car before it was too late. I was very lucky on that day that nothing happened since I had planned to go straight by foot to a second store after the first one, and it is only because I bought some bulky items that I came back to the car. My daughter probably spent between 20 and 30 minutes in the car and was sweating heavily when I returned.

    This happened a year and a half ago but I still feel so terrified that I can barely function at work. It is luck, and only luck, that separates me from the poor people one sees in the newspaper articles. I still haven’t found the strength to tell anyone about this event. I feel grateful everyday that my daughter is alive and well, but you can’t believe how lowly I have been thinking of myself since that day. Even if your daughter lives, as in my case, the psychological consequences of going through a near-miss are terrible and it is worth taking a few precautions to never go though such event, let alone a real death.

    As a few tips to the readers, here are a few actions that I implemented since that day:
    – I bought a backseat mirror allowing me to see my daughter through the rearview mirror while she was still rear-facing. To me, this is an absolute MUST for any parent.
    – I disabled the remote locking function of my car keys by opening the remote and removing a small piece. This was definitely a factor on the day when I forgot her, since I quickly walked away and remote-locked from afar while being on auto pilot. I feel that taking time to turn around and manually lock the car door takes me out of the auto-pilot mode every time I exit the car. It also gives me an opportunity to peak through the rear doors to make sure nobody’s left behind, if I had forgotten to do it (which I try to do every time I exit the car).
    – I always leave my employee badge on the rear bench, since I take my daughter to the daycare every morning.

    I am also thinking about buying a tech item, but I am not sure if it wouldn’t give me a false sense of security.

    I hope none of you ever have to go through what I go through (nightmares, anxiety, thinking all the time about whether my daughter is trapped in the car, etc…). Please make sure it doesn’t, it’s well worth it.

  48. So awesome! I have just bought my baby backseat mirror from Ginger Kids Backseat Mirror a month ago too after giving birth with my first child. For me as a mom I really need this because I need to make sure that my child is safe.


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