If you're not going to look out for your child, then they deserve to have someone who will.
I saw the picture as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed: the smiling face of a 1-year-old old girl in her car seat. Or rather, I saw the smiling face of a 1-year-old who was barely in her car seat.
You see, she was more on it than in it, what with the giant puffy jacket she was wearing that made the straps impossibly loose, the chest clip down at her belly button, and oh yeah, she was forward facing.
I just can’t even process this but all I know is that I was immediately disappointed in her mom.
We all parent differently. I am absolutely a parent that tends to swim against the social norms, a parent who doesn’t always follow conventional ways, and because of that I can respect the different ways we choose to raise our kids. But what I cannot accept is when other parents choose to act irresponsibly.
Does that sound judgmental?
Good, because it is.
What’s my point? Here, I’ll give it to you straight: If you can’t properly secure your child in a car seat, then you should not be in charge of that child.
When the #1 cause for ALL childhood deaths is as a result of a motor vehicle accident, parents should be taking the time to learn the correct way to restrain their children. If you can’t do that then you are knowingly risking their life and I will judge you for that.
Sound harsh? Yeah, it is, but can we take a minute to go over some widely accepted facts and statistics?
- Car seats reduce the risk of fatality by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.
- Booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury in children ages 4 to 8 by 45 percent.
- Children who are moved to seat belts before their recommended ages are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury than if they were properly restrained in a booster seat.
Oh and wait, here’s the best (scariest) one:
- “The overall critical misuse for car seats is about 73 percent”
Are you freaking serious?
So in a country where the majority of parents agonize over choosing the preschool that they will send their kids to, the pediatrician that they choose, the food that they feed their families, 73 percent of us can’t take the time to figure out how to use a car seat?
That is absolutely disgusting and a complete and utter failure on behalf of our children.
In fact when the National Highway Safety Administer ran a survey, the results showed that 20 percent of parents hadn’t even read the car seat manual, meaning they had no real idea if they were even installing the thing right.
Hey, if you want your kid to become a projectile, well then that’s your business — oh no wait… it’s not your life at risk, it’s your innocent child’s — and yes, I have a huge problem with that.
And I’ll tell you why that is: because most of the time a car seat error comes down to nothing more than irresponsibility.
I’ve even heard the excuses thrown around among my circle of friends:
“Well he cried a lot because he didn’t like being backwards, so I turned the car seat around early."
"Well I know we aren’t supposed to put coats on them in the car seats, but it’s such a pain to warm the car up ahead of time."
"I know the car seat expired last year but it’s my last baby so I don’t want to buy a new one."
"I’m pretty sure it’s in right, I keep meaning to have the fire station look at it, but I haven’t had time.”
So wait… would you let your kid do something dangerous just because they were crying about it? Not put sunscreen on them because it took extra time? Would you let your kid eat expired food just because you didn’t want to buy new food? Would you start operating a power tool you had no idea how to use if the risk of using it wrong was death?
Yeah, I know that all sounds a little ridiculous, but so do your excuses.
These are your children! These are the little people that we worry about every day of their lives. We take them to the doctor when they are sick, we hold their hands when they cross the street, we cut up their food so they don’t choke, teach them about stranger danger, and not to play with fire.
We spend our whole lives preparing them for their future, but yet when it comes to the single experience that is most likely to kill them, riding unsafely in a car, people think it’s ok to cut corners?
No. Just no. I am absolutely not OK with that!
Call me a judgmental, call me a b*tch, I don’t even care. I simply refuse to accept parental laziness when it comes to the proper use of a car seat. Parenthood is hard, it’s so hard. There are so many things to worry about, to attend to, and sometimes it just feels like we don’t have one more millisecond of time left to squeeze anything else in, but car seats are not the sacrifice to be made.
The rules are simple:
- Children should ride in a rear facing car seat until they are 2 years old
- Children ages 2 through 5 should ride in a car seat. Not a booster seat, a car seat.
- Children ages 5 to 13 should be properly restrained in a high-back booster seat. Yep, all the way up to age 13.
- Strap placement should be checked every 6 months as your child grows, to make sure they are in the correct slots.
- Parents need to make sure they are not exceeding the weight limit when using the latch system. The combined weight of the car seat and the child cannot exceed 65 lbs.
- Bulky clothes and winter jackets should not be worn when the child is buckled in because in the event of an accident, those clothes will become compressed and your child may slip out of the harness.
- The chest clip should be at the nipple line and no more than two fingers should be able to fit between your child and the straps.
- Car seats expire! Check the label because after the expiration date the materials inside the seat start to break down and compromise it's effectiveness.
And most importantly,
- Have a professional check the instillation! When surveyed, 91 percent of parents reported feeling “very confident” that they had correctly installed their child’s car seat but when checked by a professional, 73 percent of those parents had installed them wrong.
Get it together people, lives are depending on it.
So yes, if I see you putting your kid in a car seat wrong, I WILL judge you and I WILL call you out, because if you aren’t going to look out for your child, they deserve to have someone who will.