Parenting

You're Probably Using Your Child's Car Seat Dead Wrong

80


NOT how she rides, obviously.
When people are told they should go see a Car Seat Safety Technician (CPST) or take their seat to a check-up, most people roll their eyes, figuring they can do it just fine themselves. However, 84 percent of kids have at least one critical misuse of their seat -- that means MOST OF US use our seats wrong, and dangerously so.

There are also way too many people who just don't use seats at all, or use them so wrong that their child is in more danger than you could even imagine. On the highway that goes through my town, I saw a little girl no older than 4 in the backseat lean forward and stick her head out the driver's window (two-door car) to look around. When the car started moving, she got on her knees on the back seat so she could look out the back window. Things like that really make you understand why car accidents are still the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14, killing over 30,000 kids a year. What can we do to fix this?!

When the scary video of the babysitter who put a stroller in the back of the pick-up went out, the rare defense of the woman was met with disbelief and disgust from most everyone. However, when a toddler is merely held in-arms because Dad wanted to feed her French fries and actually dies in an accident, more people jump to defense of the parents. They were not charged, but a mom who poorly installed an infant seat rear-facing in the front seat WAS charged when her baby died? A mom who breastfeeds while driving isn't okay, but when a child who wasn't in a booster dies, it's not the parents' fault? And don't get me started on people jumping into cabs without safety seats ...

You see the inconsistency here, right? I mean, when a dad can hold a baby on his lap up front and the law says he's innocent, but a mom who USED a car seat (albeit wrongly) in the front is guilty, what in the world are people supposed to think?

While the manual always has instructions, not everyone reads it. Most people don't or they just flip to the install they're doing, never bothering to read anything else. Like how to use the seat or warnings. Everywhere you look, from TV shows to commercials (even car seat commercials!), magazines, and cardboard cut-outs in stores next to the car seats, seats are used wrong. It's actually RARE that I see a correctly-used seat in print or on TV.

In addition, most hospitals don't even bother checking to make sure baby is safe before letting parents take them home. The nurses LAUGHED at me and said, "You obviously know more than we do!" when I buckled my daughter into her seat and asked if they needed to check harness tightness ... and then after following me to my car, I asked if they needed to check the install, and the nurse said, "Nope, just needed to hear it click!" Because, you know, that's all that matters, right?

What CAN we do to fix this? Sweden has much less restrictive laws BUT much better use -- deaths are incredibly rare due to well-done and very available (and if I'm not mistaken, required) courses in car seat safety. For the US, I'm not sure what would work. You can't write an article about car seat safety without people deciding you're insulting them or it's overkill, which then in turn means they're likely not changing their habits to be safer. I wish I could volunteer at some hospitals to make sure all babies go home safely, with the parents knowing how and why. But what else? Mandatory car seat checks at hospitals? First-offenses for misuse in all states?

What do you think could help the US do way better when it comes to car seat safety?


baby gear, car seat safety, natural parenting, in the news, cars