Why This Mom Flipped Her Son's Car Seat Upside Down

mom flips son's car seat upside down
Rachel McNamara/Facebook

Car seats are one of the most importance pieces of the "child safety" puzzle, but unfortunately that doesn't always mean we use them correctly. As any parent can tell you, it's all too easy to accidentally leave the straps too loose or place a chest clip in the wrong place. The smallest car seat mistakes could have huge repercussions for kids if they're ever involved in a crash. That's why one mom recently shared a genius car seat safety tip that she hopes will help parents feel more confident when putting kids in the car.


Rachel McNamara posted two photos of her son's car seat on Facebook. In one, she's holding the car seat above her head while her son -- who's securely buckled inside it -- reaches down to hug her. In the other, her son is buckled into his car seat as she dangles it upside down.

Facebook/Rachel McNamara

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The photos were probably a fun ride for her son, but McNamara actually shared them for an important reason: to show other parents and caregivers how to safely and correctly strap a child into a car seat.

"After strapping your child into their car seat, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable flipping it upside down," she wrote in the photo's caption on Facebook. "Remember that the chest clip should be at armpit level and the straps should be tight enough to pass the pinch test."

The pinch test, she clarifies later in her post, is a test to make sure car seat straps are tight enough. After you buckle your child in, you should try to pinch the strap near the child's shoulders. If you can pinch it vertically between two fingers, the straps are too loose.

McNamara also cautions parents to wait as long possible to forward-face their car seats, never add accessories (like seat protectors or toys) that haven't been tested for safe use with your car seat, never buckle children in while they're wearing heavy coats, and -- most importantly -- always read your car seat's instruction manual to verify that your seat is installed correctly. To those who think she's being overly cautious, she adds:

People might also say, '20 years ago I didn't even wear a seatbelt and I'm perfectly fine!' Well, that person got lucky. There are many children who are not alive today to tell their story. Times have changed. There are more drivers on the road today. We have more distracted drivers due to cell phones. We also know a lot more than we knew back then about children's bones and development. Car seats are constantly evolving to become safer. There was once a time when cars didn't even have seat belts or airbags. Do you know why cars have seat belts and air bags now? Yup! Because it's SAFER.

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Since McNamara's post went up, it's been shared over 48,000 times. I even shared it with my own mom and mother-in-law to help them answer some of their frequently asked questions about car seats and help them understand how tight the car seat straps need to be whenever they're driving anywhere with my kids.

Obviously, this mom isn't saying we should flip our car seats upside down every time we get into the car. Rather, she's making the important point that we should feel confident that our kids are buckled into their seats properly every single time we leave the house.

No one likes to think about kids flipping upside down in their car seats, since that clearly means your vehicle has flipped too. But this post is a powerful visual reminder that car seats exist to protect kids whenever the worst case scenario becomes a reality, and it's important to take the time to make sure we're using our seats correctly.

If you have other questions about car seat safety, you can find a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area by visiting SafeKids.org.

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