Why Sharing a Photo of Your Toddler's Car Seat Could Save a Life

Child in a car seat
Chicco USA via Lay Baby Lay/Facebook

In a world full of mom-shaming and casting stones, many of us shy away from dishing out unsolicited parenting advice to our fellow moms ... even if it could save a baby's life. But a new study reveals a pretty serious disconnect among parents when it comes to car seat safety and the importance of keeping kids rear-facing, and it just might inspire you to speak up -- or at least participate in a social media campaign to help start the conversation.

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The baby brand Chicco recently released data from a survey conducted in December 2016 that found many of the 500 US participants turn silent when it comes to speaking up about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation to keep children rear-facing until age 2. Though 84 percent of parents say they have no trouble letting other moms and dads know when they're putting a child in harm's way, close to three in four admit they feel uncomfortable discussing why kids should ride rear-facing until age 2  -- even though more than half of parents said they're aware of the AAP's advice.

More from CafeMom: 9 Dangerous Car Seat Mistakes Parents Make & How to Fix Them

As Chicco notes, kids who remain rear-facing until age 2 are five times safer. That's why the brand created the TurnAfter2 campaign, which aims to encourage much-needed discussion about car seat safety. Chicco is asking parents to share photos of their kids in rear-facing car seats, using the hashtag #TurnAfter2. The hope is that this will remove the shaming aspect from the conversation and inspire more moms and dads to follow suit.

Daphne Oz
Michael Simon/Startraksphoto.com

Daphne Oz, a mother of two, cohost of ABC's The Chew and a Chicco spokesperson, recently spoke to CafeMom about the significance of the campaign and how it can help parents make safer decisions without adding the element of mom-shaming so many of us have experienced. 

"I think most parents, unfortunately, have been on the receiving end of unwanted advice," Oz, mother of 3-year-old daughter Philomena and 1-year-old son John, tells CafeMom. "When someone critiques or criticizes us, it can feel so hurtful -- because we're really trying to do what's right for our kids."

More from CafeMom: Why This Mom Flipped Her Son's Car Seat Upside Down

"A lot of parents are hesitant to ever want to dole out unsolicited advice, so the idea of sharing and promoting parents' sharing their images -- and saying from their own perspectives why they chose to follow this recommendation -- means that you don't have to actively pursue a parent to scold or correct," she adds. "The TurnAfter2 campaign is really just about providing this positive and easy way to learn from one another ... It's going to start a conversation and prompt you to question why your child isn't rear-facing without ever feeling attacked."

With 72 percent of parents who participated in Chicco's study admitting they're afraid to talk about car seat safety with other moms and dads, there seems to be an invisible barrier that makes bringing up something as important as your child's well-being extremely difficult.

Still, it's a topic worth discussing because it can save lives, notes Dr. David L. Hill, a father of five, pediatrician, and TurnAfter2 advocate.

"Not enough kids are riding rear-facing until at least 2 years old, which puts them at risk to be injured or killed in a car crash," Dr. Hill tells CafeMom. "....Parents are reluctant to confront other parents when they see them putting their kids forward-facing too soon. At the end of the day, this reluctance can put children in harm's way."

More from CafeMom: 10 Ways Car Seats Can Be Dangerous for Your Kids

While 15 percent of the surveyed moms and dads said they didn't know the recommended age to turn their children forward-facing in their car seats, there are likely other parents who feel it's not that big of a deal to turn kids around before age 2 -- especially if LO is close to his or her birthday.

"Age 2 is the minimum as it is, as they should really be staying rear-facing as long as possible," Dr. Hill tells CafeMom. "Simply put, it's the safest position, so parents should understand that we're trying to protect children's heads and necks in the event of a crash. Just because a child has reached the average height and weight of a 2-year-old, it doesn't mean they should turn forward-facing."

The same recommendation also goes for parents who think they should forward-face children under 2 because they're tall for their age.

Car seat safety infographic
ChiccoUSA

"There are many reasons parents turn their kids forward-facing too soon, but the one I hear about the most is that the child's legs look cramped," Dr. Hill adds. "In fact, toddlers are much more flexible than adults are, and they're more comfortable in that position than you'd think. We need to focus on saving lives, and safety should always come first."

More from CafeMom: Quiz: Is Your Car Seat as Safe as You Think?

With so many studies, updates, and recommendations constantly filling our newsfeeds, no parent is going to catalog each and every piece of advice. This fact alone makes it key to use our networks to spread the word about the importance of keeping kids rear-facing.

"There are a lot of positives that can come out of social media and our ability to interact with people who are going through similar life experiences," Daphne Oz tells CafeMom. "By sharing those pictures ourselves, we can really prompt questions and conversations in a positive way of just informing and sharing that experience with parents who are going through exactly what we're going through."

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