August 19, 2011

Car Seat Crazy-ness

When I had my oldest son, I was not very educated on car seats. It wasn't until he was about one year that I learned that you don't have to turn them around to be forward facing. I watched a video about car seat safety that changed my view completely. I was guilty of not keeping the straps tight. I didn't properly place the buckle. There was even a time I forgot to buckle the baby in completely (that one I'll blame on mommy brain)
So when my youngest came along, I was determined to educate myself. In doing so, I noticed I became more and more judgmental and frustrated with parents that did not properly restrain their child. I mean, it takes 30 seconds to do it correctly, right?? And Facebook. I see countless pictures posted there, or on blogs, or twitter of children who are asleep in the seats with the caption "oh so cute!" or "look who passed out?" and their straps are so loose they would slip out in an accident-I want to throttle the parent through the computer screen. Or the people on the street I see with infants clearly younger than one forward facing?? AHHHH!!!

And then I realized...maybe they were like me, maybe they just didn't know any better??
What right did I have to judge them when I was doing the same thing with my own child not long ago?

What can we do about this?? How can we educate our fellow parent on what's safe?? I relied on my sons pediatrician, who was not a parent, who told me I could turn him around at 1 year. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have come out with guidelines on how it is safest to keep them rear facing until the age of 2 (or beyond!!!) Our babies are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured when rear faced. That's craziness! That's amazing!

“A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body,” said Dennis Durbin, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician and co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report.

I think we need to implement a car seat class for first time parents. I know I took a birth class weeks before Cooper was born, just like many of you- Why not include the proper ways to install and use a car seat during those classes?? I also think Pediatricians should be educated and up to date on all car seat laws and recommendations and when brand new parents come in for their babies first visit, offer the proper guidelines instead of what "society" says is okay- maybe offer a video on what's safest for your baby? I don't know. I know I can't save the world. I hate sounding all "judgy" when it comes to my fellow mom. But I own up to my past mistakes and want to make the present and future safest for our littlest humans-after all, when they can't speak up for themselves, who is their advocate?? Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie and Uncle...if you love a baby, whether it's yours or not, let's keep him/her safe!
What can you do now??
 Many cities offer a Free Car Seat Check! I know my town has one next month that I will be helping out with along with my fellow Mothers & More girls!!Research!! Check out the new guidelines, read real life stories on how proper installation and usage saved someones life, stay up to date on your States car seat laws (important!!!!) and just be aware of your fellow parent. I'm no longer afraid to speak up when I see a baby in their seat incorrectly. That parent might think bad things of me for being nosy, but if it makes them think, and makes them make minor adjustments, then I consider my annoyance a good thing!!

And now, I will step off my soap box.


mcapril said...

I must admit I'm guilty of turning Tori around to front-facing when she was 14 months old. I asked our ped about it (a dad to two) and he said "You know, there are risks in life - if you don't get hurt this way you'll get hurt another way." He's sort of true, but I sort of disagreed as well. . . 75% better chance? That's pretty amazing.

What it all boiled down to was Tori would *screech* the whole time we were going somewhere if someone wasn't in the back seat with her. I'm not sure if she was bored, or felt alone - but if I was driving solo I'd be insane within half an hour. I quickly stopped going places and doing anything because I couldn't handle the screeching.

Was that the right move? Hell, probably not. Let's be honest. And I do feel a bit guilty about it from time to time.

But yes - a lot of the mistakes I see made with carseats are simply because people haven't educated themselves. We need to have more opportunities to educate parents so that they can at least make an educated decision.

Heather/Life With The Stevens said...

Cooper was a screamer too, which was part of the reason we "couldn't wait!" to turn him around. He would scream for hours on our trips to see family, it was hard.
But yes, education is key!!

Just one of the many reasons I wish babies came with manuals to get through life :D