Parenting Poll of the Week – Kids Unattended In Cars

This week’s poll comes from an anonymous comment on last week’s poll.

Recently, there have been several moms who have been arrested for leaving their sleeping child in the car while they ran into the store, ATM machine, etc. What is Suburbandaddy?s take on this and it may be a good poll question. Its been tempting, but I have yet to do this.

Tempted, but haven’t done it yet? Sure. And that’s why you didn’t leave your name.

Take this case of a mother who was arrested for leaving her 2 year old sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. The doors were locked and the alarm was on. She didn’t actually go in the store. Just to the front of the store where the bell ringer was collecting donations for the salvation army. This does sound a little extreme.

Have I left a kid in the car for a minute? Of course not! Wink wink nod nod. Does leaving your kid sleeping in the car in the garage count? Yes? Then, I haven’t done it.

There are two types of parents: 1) Those who leave their kids in the car unattended, and 2) Those who say they don’t


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13 thoughts on “Parenting Poll of the Week – Kids Unattended In Cars”

  1. I have left my youngest locked in the car in front of our daycare sleeping while I dropped off his older brother. At that time, they went to 2 different daycares. It was like for 60 seconds and my car was in view most of the 60 seconds. I always have a thought that I shouldn’t do that, but I do. I also have done the sleep in the garage thing with both of them, leaving the windows and our door to the house wide open. That is as far as I go with leaving my pumpkins in the car “unattended”.

  2. Even though I don’t have kids, I understand naps are precious and don’t always come easily–so if they fall asleep in the car, leave them until they wake up! Please, my mom did it with my sister and I and we’re still here to talk about it now…

  3. FYI – How about this scenario – Your driving home when you see a neighbor outside mowing the grass. You park your car across the street, leave your 2 yr. old in the car while you cross the street to visit with her. Next thing you know your 2 yr old is out of the car, crossing the street, and is hit by a car and dies. This really happened recently. So many things can happen. There have been cases where kids have lit matches and started fires. Or what about this – something happens to you and no one knows your child is alone in a car in a parking lot somewhere. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE FOR ANY REASON, NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE.. Why take the chance? Check out these websites:,,,

  4. Andrea just freaked me out for the rest of my life.

    NO more leaving my son in the car while using the ATM ever again.

    Thank you for posting this.

    And that story about the Walmart chick, UMMM….why didn’t the kids stay home with DAD while mom dropped off the coins? or vice versa? You don’t need the entire family to join in on the drop off business. Pull up to the curb and drop your coins to the bell ringers and pull off!

    I’m not judging just wondering how the cops got there so fast!

  5. Dear Anonymous – I am glad that I “freaked” you out. Nothing is worth the risk of losing your child. If something happened, you would never forgive yourself, and the guilt you would feel for the rest of your life. And for what, the ATM machine.

    The Wal Mart chick was teaching her other two children about giving. It was Christmas and she wanted to take their picture putting money into the Salvation Army kettle. Apparently, a shopper in the parking lot saw the baby alone and called the police. I would have done the same thing. Imagine not notifying anyone, then hearing the baby died from hyperthermia. I would “if only” for the rest of my life.

  6. With summer fast approaching I’m so glad you brought up this subject. I answered no to your survey because before we had our son I actually worked on a public awareness campaign regarding this subject. I know way too much about the consequences. Each year, hundreds of children die from being left in cars, both intentionally and unintentionally. Last year more than 200.

    It happens a lot out here in the desert southwest. It’s devastating. Prior to recent laws being passed, it was illegal to leave a pet in the car, but not a child. Luckily our lawmakers have acted for the sake of children. is a great resource of information. And if you really want to be freaked out, they keep track of incidents across the country. Reading them will scare you.

  7. Andrea, ok, um, how does a two-year-old unbuckle their car seat to climb out of a car? and, um, why would you have matches within reach of a baby in a car seat? And, if you are a stay-at-home mom and something happens to you and no one knows your child is alone, until your husband gets home from work, is that illegal? hmmm… let’s have a campaign for no more stay-at-home moms “protect the children, send them to daycare!” unless you have your husband drop them off and he forgets them in the car all day…

  8. Just checking in on this subject. Thank you Andrea and Jason for your raised awareness. My two boys have no clue on how to unbuckle their 5 pt. harness…let alone unlock the door because of the child safety locks we have. Now, my oldest is 3 1/2 and he may figure this out one day. I think the stories are a bit extreme with the parents not being responsible overall for anything their children do. However…I will definitely rethink my reasoning on this matter, because if something happened to one of my children and it was avoidable…I’d never forgive myself.

  9. This is an important topic…however, the Walmart incident was harsh…the mom parked in the loading zone and stepped out 10 feet from the car to drop the money in the bucket with her older children…a public safety officer/security saw the baby unattended and called police, then blocked the mother from getting to the car and then when the mother got upset, she was booked for obstruction of justice…if you are aware of the situation and have taken every precaution, you should be allowed to handle your children as you see fit. I’ve waited several times for 20+ minutes to get the parking space directly in front of the ATM…my husband was away on travel and I was home with my two children (under 5) and pregnant and needed to get some money…it was safer to park them there and watch them than unbuckle them and haul them through the parking lot…if something had happened to me, they were in a high visibility area, but the windows were cracked open and the sunroof up and I was within 10 feet of the car…that being said, I was gone for less time than it take to go to the bathroom at home and I certainly don’t collect them all to come in and sit down within my sight while I take care of personal business…

  10. Andrea, thanks for the info. You’re right! It’s not worth the risk. I can relate because here in the south during summer my car turns into an oven within minutes. I’d never forgive myself if I left her in the car “for a minute,” got hit by a car in the parking lot, or God knows what, and no one knew to rescue my child from the car! We actually bought one of these to put my paranoid mind at ease and keep our daughter safe:

    And momof3… Houses, unlike cars, do not turn into ovens in which children can become trapped and die from the heat. Personally, I feel confident that if Suzi were alone in my house for a few hours she would more than likely live to tell about it. We have babyproofed our butts off! Of course I’d never leave her alone. That would only happen if I passed out or died while watching her.


    returning a shopping cart
    mailing a letter
    filling up the car with gas

    there is a difference in leaving a child in a car in hot weather and cold weather, in the parking lot, or at the curb within sight

    i recommend that before you start labeling her the “walmart chick” you think about what you do — do you want to be the next media “chick”?

    if you have more than one child, it takes longer than 4 minutes to get them loaded/buckled or unloaded/unbuckled if they are in car seats…

  12. I found your blog via cre8buzz and finding it hard to leave here! So my view on this:
    I have never ever left my kids in the car alone not even for a minute. And NO I’m not just saying that. When Sam…who soon will be 3…falls asleep in the car I unbuckle the carseat and bring him in the house still in his car seat. A pain? Yes. But I do it anyways because it’s safer for him to be in the house than left in the car!

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