Why are we fighting about car seat safety?

We've all been there. In the middle of a raging mommy war on social media, arguing our points to the death. I've been known to accidently cause some Facebook drama over my opinions and beliefs, and since becoming a mom, this seems to happen more often than ever before.

I won't argue about co-sleeping, or attachment parenting. I will never judge your choice to sleep train, or breastfeed. You choosing to baby wear, and me choosing my stroller will not make me put my mommy boxing gloves on.

However, one thing that I can't understand is why mommy wars happen over our kids safety. I've basically stopped giving my opinions to people, because everyone gets SO offended when you tell them they're doing something wrong or potentially unsafe.

Why? Why would that upset someone? If I was doing something unsafe and had absolutely no idea, I would be thankful for someone pointing me in the right direction. Babies and young children can not speak for themselves and their own safety, so its completely up to us to keep them safe.

 A lot of you already know that I am very adamant about car seat safety. After some previous mom wars, I've decided to choose my battles very carefully when it comes to this. Arguing about car seat safety seems silly to me, kind of like arguing about whether or not we should wear a seat belt in the car.

The first post that I've stepped down from is the "No Rear Facing Before 2" suggestion. I am COMPLETELY for this and absolutely will not be forward facing Mason before he turns 2. He is still within the limits of his seat and quite comfortable rear facing. I'll post some car seat stats below. The reason I'm standing down from this one is because it's a battle no one can win. There are 2 very clear sides to this battle- Those who rear face at 1, and those who wait until 2 and above. I've tried many times to offer friendly tips and suggestions when it comes to extended rear facing, but the forward facer's usually don't budge.

To be clear, I don't judge any of you who chose to forward face at 1. We are all doing our best to be the best parents possible, and do the best things for our kids. To be completely honest, before I got pregnant I had no idea what proper car seat safety was. I didn't even like kids that much if I'm being completely honest. I liked my friends kids because they were a part of them, but other than that I didn't really care for them. I did want my own, but other people's kids were sticky little noisy creatures. Fast forward to the mommy version of me, I LOVE kids. They are all so precious and vulnerable, and that's why alarm bells go off in my head when I see them in an unsafe situation.

Currently where I live, you are legally allowed to forward face at 1, as long as the child meets certain criteria. I don't agree with that, but it is what it is, and it's up to parents to educate themselves on best practice. I honestly wonder how many internal decapitations have to happen before people wake up and realize how beneficial it is to rear face, but trying to convince someone of something they don't fully understand or believe in is usually a lost cause.

Also, rear facing has not always been easy for me. I've spend the past 18 months singing Jingle Bells on repeat when we're in the car because he doesn't like being back there alone, and this is the only song that will calm him. I cant wait until he is old enough to SAFELY forward face. I will be very happy to make that transition when the time comes.

What REALLY gets me going is when people do something that is clearly illegal and completely unsafe, and don't care. For example: A few months ago I saw someone post a filthy car seat for sale on a local yard sale site. It was covered in dirt and stains, and she listed it as "In Excellent Condition". She refused to post the manufacturer date, so I politely asked her to do so, as you aren't supposed to sell a seat without listing the manufacturer date and expiry date. It turns out, her seat was manufactured before the current safety standards came into effect, and was not safe to sell. You aren't even supposed to give away a seat that doesn't meet the current safety standards that came into effect in January 2012. Some seats do meet the new requirements, however you need to contact the manufacturer to find out if they do.

After talking to this woman for a few minutes, I discovered that the seat had also expired. She got extremely angry that I was trying to "ruin her sale" and argued with me about how it doesn't matter what the safety standards are, it was safe to use because she didn't see anything physically wrong with it. It's this ignorance and refusal to educate herself that frustrated me. Why in the world would anyone put someone else's child in danger for a quick $50?

Another thing that parents seem to get defensive about it 5 point harness vs booster seat. I've seen pictures of children who are way too small for a booster, way too small to sit still and upright in their seat, and yet their parents think they're ready for a booster and get defensive if you suggest otherwise. Why get defensive? Your kid is literally flopping around in a seat that's not right, and has a twisted seat belt crossing their vital organs, but I'm wrong for politely bringing it to your attention.

I've maybe messaged moms a total of 5 times about these things, so it's not like I'm some kid of car seat crusader out to get anyone who isn't following best practice. I do it because I would feel horrible if I noticed an unsafe child but didn't say anything and then something horrible happened.

Why does it always have to be a fight? Why can't moms educate each other and come together for the safety of their children? If you don't agree with me, politely decline my advice, don't retaliate with a heated argument about how we didn't die when our parents forward faced us early (although many other babies and toddlers did- we were lucky).

For anyone would like to educate themselves further on car seat safety, here are some facts:

  • Parents can reduce the risk of DEATH and INJURY by using the proper car seat for their child's size and using it correctly. I don't know about you guys, but reducing those risks sounds pretty good to me.
  • Correct car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants by 71%  and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.
  • Research has shown rear facing to be 500% safer up to 2 years of age. That's a lot! If your seat limits do not allow you to rear face that long, there are affordable seats on the market that will, such as the Evenflo Sureride. PS: It usually goes on sale at Black Friday ;)
  • The use of puffy jackets and snow suits in the car seat reduces your child's safety significantly. Put them in with their snow suit on, then take them out and put them back in with regular clothes on. See how loose the straps are? All of that space is space your child can fly out of during an accident. Car seat ponchos are awesome and I will be posting a tutorial on the one I made later in the month :)
  • Get rid of the projectiles in the car! Full grown adults have died from their laptop hitting them in the head during an accident. Even items such as a portable DVD player, sun shade or hard book can become a deadly force during an accident.
  • Chest clip. CHEST clip. Not Belly clip. Not crotch clip. It belongs at armpit level. Why? Because in an accident it needs to be sitting against bone, not vital organs. You don't want your child's organs being stopped by the force of a chest clip. That equals internal bleeding and organ damage.

You can find SO much more info by checking out sites like Car Seats for the Littles, and The Car Seat Lady.


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