Naps in the Car

Archived Q&A and Reviews

1.5-2 hour Driving Route for Car Naps?

Sept 2008

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! Highway Warrior

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.

Good luck! 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.

Drivey McNapster

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! anon

I used to do long elaborate car naps with my daughter, so I have some suggestions 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 time comes that she's likely to wake up after a 45-50 minute sleep cycle, I drive during the overlap time so she doesn't wake up, then she sleeps for another 45 minutes or so. I'm sure some people are in utter horror at this, but we all have different styles.

Anyhoo, here's my geographic suggestion--take Martin Luther King south to the 51st avenue onramp of 24 going towards downtown. Stay to the left and get onto 580 going south/east, and take 580 out to the Pleasanton area. This should take approximately 45 minutes. Turn around at an exit that looks like it has an easy turnaround. Return back on 580, making sure to stay in the right lanes so you don't accidentally get bumped onto 238. Take 580 all the way back. This should also take about 1/2 hour -45 minutes. Get on 80 going north and and head to Richmond. At 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 and just 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 totally aghast, I know that what I've done is not great environmentally. I'm transitioning to 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 things.

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 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. Best wishes, Jim

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 policy of replying to the question that was asked.

OK to run quick errands while children sleep in the car?

Sept 2006

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 wake up. Jen

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 unattended Anon

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. good luck. 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 be napping. anon

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

Hi there, 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. anon

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 Sorry

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 done. There's no errand worth possibly losing your kids to a kidnapper or who knows what. Inconvenienced but Safe

Dear Multi-Tasker: 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 child?

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 loving concern. Sincerely, 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 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's not safe and downright dangerous Jennifer

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 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:


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. BPN reader

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? anon

Hi, 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). anon

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 more.

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 trouble? 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. Scary.

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 social worker. anon

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 mentioned. Try not to listen to the doomsayers. Sensible

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 neglectful)

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 childrens' lives?' Let the errands go, or have a cranky kid. Stop believing that you have to and are supposed to have it all realistically. and don't leave your little ones alone in the car anon

Hi- 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 moment.

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. anon

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! Anon

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. anon

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. anon

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 Yours

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 car.

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 bad guys.

Follow your own instincts as a parent--I assume you are thoughtful and attentive or you wouldn't have posted the question-- anon

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 knowing!) - Get coffee (the Starbucks in the parking lot of the El Cerrito Home Depot has a drive-thru) - 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 cleaning
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! Been there

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 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!

Is it legal to leave children in the car?

Oct 2002

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 think? anon

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. anon

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. Jill

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. Anonymous

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! Diane

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 parent. --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; the text of the law is at 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. michael

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. Anonymous

Check out 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! Julie K.

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 safety. 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?) Judith

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 significant risk to the health and safety of the child, or the vehicle's engine is left running or 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 the subject? Jill

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 only natural.

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 agencies. Christine

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, no 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. Julie

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.