A story in USA Today this week struck fear in my heart with a headline that read "Getting Out of Car Seats a Snap for Clever Kids." In a new study, researchers found that half of toddlers have unbuckled their own seat belt. Half! Even worse -- half of those cases happened while the car was moving.
Most of these little Houdinis who were able to do so were under 3, but some were as young as 12 months old. Fortunately, they only undid the top latch, so they were at least still restrained in the seat somewhat and not able to crawl about the car. But still, it's scary to think of them not in there as they should be.
While I hear people say all the time that they never rode in a car seat when they were little and survived, the fact is they save lives ... when used properly. According to Safe Kids USA, deaths in children under 14 from car accidents dropped from 3,587 in 1987 to 2,210 in 2005. So how do you keep them in there?
Of course, there's trying to reason with them and explaining the consequences of not staying in their seats, but we're talking about toddlers, so that will only get you so far. One of the most important things you can do is make sure you are using your car seat properly. Since 75 percent of people reportedly use them incorrectly, that could be part of the problem. Check out these lifesaving car seat rules for a refresher. Researchers also called for more study into devices, like alarms, that would keep children safer.
There were, regrettably, at least two times when I forgot to buckle my son in his car seat for whatever reason. I have never felt like such a bad mother, and immediately pulled over in tears to secure him. But he never got out on his own, and to date, my 2-year-old daughter hasn't either ... yet. Now that I know how easy it is, however, I'm going to be glancing back in my rear-view mirror a lot more often.
Has your child ever escaped his or her car seat while the car was moving?
Image via mollypop/Flickr