I don't care if Farrah Abraham is in Playboy 20 more times or how much weight she's lost. I also don't care if her 4-year-old daughter Sophia is still sucking on a pacifier. Maybe she just likes it once in a while? What upsets me is that the little girl is in what I assume to be a booster seat -- I can't tell for sure, but it's clear she isn't in a car seat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that children should be in a forward-facing car seat at 4 until they grow out of it in height and weight. Sophia doesn't turn 5 until February 23. This is what I find most shocking, particularly since Sophia's dad Derek Underwood died in a car accident before she was even born.
More from The Stir: 7 Things Every Mom Should Do to Keep Her Car Safe
Car accidents are just that -- accidents. We can't predict them nor can we always control them. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death of children. Many times it's because the child wasn't secured in the seat properly or using a seat that wasn't best suited for them. Putting your child into the next seat too soon is dangerous. A child should rear face as long as possible. A child should be in a forward facing seat for as long as possible. Then to a booster, which they should be secured in as long as possible. There are rules in place for a reason and it has to do with the weight and size as well as age of the child. Their bodies are still growing, still getting stronger, so a car accident and its impact has a much greater effect on a child's body than an adult's.
The NHTSA guidelines read:
Birth - 12 Months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 - 3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 - 7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 - 12 Years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there.
Car seats have different instructions, but the ones I have for my children -- Radian -- allows rear facing until 45 pounds, forward facing until 80 pounds. (See latest rules for LATCH regarding weight.) It's not just the age that should mark when you move your child from rear to forward or on to booster, it's weight, and also height. Which is why I'm concerned about Farrah's daughter Sophia. She is probably around 40 pounds, probably less. Remember, we never want to rush our kids to the next step.
There certainly are cheaply made boosters out there that may say they are safe for kids, but we have to look to the experts here and not only buy seats that are going to keep our kids safest with regard to their height and weight -- that's what the NHTSA rules are for. Sophia looks way too small to be in a booster. Perhaps Farrah will get the message and put her back into a forward-facing car seat.
Do you know about the car seat safety rules?
Image via Farrah Abraham/Keek