I wasn’t always as educated and informed when it came to car seat safety as I am now. Over the years since I became a parent, I have learned more and more about the importance of safe and correct car seat use. Unfortunately, my diligence when it comes to my childrens’ car seat safety is often criticized and ridiculed. It can be very frustrating to be criticized for doing what is best for your children, but through my criticisms, I have discovered a few helpful responses when dealing with naysayers.
“My doctor says…”
When my choices in car seat safety are questioned, one of the most common remarks I get are about whatever their doctor said. “My doctor said my baby is big enough to forward face.” “My doctor says rear-facing isn’t necessary after age one.” These comments are endless and difficult to argue with, after all, I don’t have a medical degree. However, a doctor isn’t educated in car seat safety. For those who try to use their doctor’s advice as an argument as to why your choice are wrong, encourage them to speak to someone who specialized in the field, such as a car seat technician. After all, if you have a question about your car’s engine, you wouldn’t take it to your dentist. If you have a question about car seat safety, you shouldn’t ask your doctor, you should ask a car seat technician.
“Their legs are just going to get hurt.”
I rear-face all of my children in their car seats, even the almost-five-year-old. For adults, seeing a child with their legs up against the back of the seat might look uncomfortable, but for a young child, it isn’t a big deal. Some children prop their legs up, while others cross their legs. People seem to forget that children are extremely flexible and positions that might be extremely uncomfortable for an adult aren’t a big deal for a child. Hypothetically, a child could injure their legs if they are rear-facing in an accident, but as a parent, I’d much rather see my child with a broken leg from rear-facing than a broken neck from forward-facing.
“You can use a winter coat in a car seat. You just have to loosen the straps.”
A child should never be wearing a winter coat beneath the straps of the car seat. The space created by the bulk of the coat between the straps and the child’s body can be enough to break bones in a collision. Living in Alaska, the winter coat issue can be a pain, but before we go to the car, my children put on a thin but warm fleece jacket and then their winter coat. We get into the car, take off the winter coat, buckle up, then put the winter coat back on backwards on top of the straps.
“My baby is big enough to forward face, even if she isn’t one yet.”
Many parents mistakenly believe that if their baby is big or meets the minimum weight requirement for forward facing (but not age requirement) that it’s okay to turn them forward facing. These requirements aren’t just about size, they’re about skeletal development. A younger baby’s spine isn’t developed enough to support the child’s head in a collision while forward-facing and the result of a child forward-facing too young in a crash could be tragic. A child turned forward-facing too soon is likely to break their neck and die in a collision.
More from the Yahoo! Contributor Network
Thirteen tips to keep your child’s car seat safe
Extended rear-facing: Why it’s a good idea not to forward-face your child’s car seat
First Person: Why my children are rear-facing in the car