Go check the last picture you took of your child in his or her car seat. Is he strapped in correctly? Would your car seat skills pass if there was a pop quiz?
I have three young kids. I’m in my child-bearing years. A lot of people I know are also at that stage of life. My Facebook feed blows up with pictures of Christmas morning, first day of school pictures and Junior’s first at-bat in his tee-ball league. It also seems like I see pictures of kids in their car seats on a daily basis. A mom selfie with a kiddo in the back seat, a child passed out on the way home from a birthday party. I have no problem with parents showing off pictures. But the problem I have with the photos of kids in car seats? They are rarely strapped in correctly.
Now it’s true that I don’t always know the exact circumstances of a picture. Maybe parents stopped the car for a meal on a road trip and loosened straps before snapping a picture. But the sheer volume of occurrences has me believing that this can’t always be the case. Most of the time, it appears that the non-driving parent is snapping a picture of the backseat passengers as the car is in motion. The kids are beautiful, but the lack of car seat awareness is ugly. I’ve seen twisted straps, chest clips that are way too low or way too high, and straps that are falling off shoulders.
Maybe parents get it right 99 percent of the time and these pictures are the rare instances of a lapse in judgment or being too rushed. But if a parent can’t strap a child in correctly — which is the easy part of the car seat equation — how are they sure that the actual car seat is even installed correctly? My husband used to be the default car seat installer in the family until one day I had to switch all the car seats around in our van. I felt hugely empowered to know that I was perfectly capable of doing it correctly. It takes a little bit of know-how. It takes patience and the deep desire to get it right, which sometimes means starting over if you don’t think it’s in right or reading the manual if you’re unsure about something. It also takes a bit of brute strength to ensure the seat is level and tight.
So go check those pictures. Go check that your car seat is solidly installed. Get it inspected by the pros if you need to. And make sure that each and every time you strap your kiddo in, you do it right, even if that kid throws a fit. I’d rather have a screaming kid who’s correctly strapped in than one who’s quiet and unsafe. If you need a refresher, here’s some basic information. Your car’s manual and the car seat manual are also great sources of information, so read them so you know what to do when it comes to your particular car and car seat model.
Are you sure you’re using the car seat correctly? Would you want someone to let you know if you were doing it wrong? When it comes to my kids, I would want to know! —Erin