Car Seat Safety: The Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To

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Dear Leakies,

I’m not even going to tell you all the things I did wrong with my older kids when it comes to car seat safety but suffice it to say it was bad. Really bad. There was much I didn’t know considering I thought all that was involved in keeping kids safe in a vehicle was getting a car seat (might have used one purchased at a thrift store- ack!), buckling it in a car (this was before LATCH), and strapping them in.

Now, I could argue that my parents weren’t even in car seats and they turned out fine but I know that statistically the whole reason car seats were introduced by my generation was because they absolutely do save lives. My parents turned out fine but many other children of their generation died in car accidents. And my generation also turned out fine with seats that wouldn’t even come close to passing today’s safety standards but again, I understand that those standards are in place now because statistically they make a difference. Maybe not for me, but for some they have. Maybe those different standards have made a difference for my very own children.

Selecting, installing, and properly using a car seat can be a huge pain, literally and figuratively. I have a scar on my shin from installing one of our car seats a few years ago. I’d gladly take another one, that was the car seat my now 7 year old was in when we were in a hit and run when she was a toddler. She was the only one in the car that day that didn’t require medical care.

I’ve learned a lot even since then and I had learned a lot with her 3 sisters before her. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Clek for #TLBsafeKids, to help us all learn together. Sharing information, personal stories, and asking questions, Clek is helping us through #TLBsafeKids to keep our little ones safe. All through the year Clek is sharing information and support for families through our Ask the CPST feature on theleakyboob.com and on their Facebook page and Instagram.

Few topics are as explosive as child passenger safety on parenting social media sites, it can be right up there with breastfeeding in public, formula feeding, and circumcision. There are a lot of feelings tied to how we keep our kids safe and passion can easily turn information sharing into a bludgeon. Even though I sometimes disagree with what I may see on social media and in real life when it comes to child passenger safety there are a few points I have seen come from even the most heated debates.

  1. Parents love their children and want to keep them safe.
  2. Attacking people isn’t a teaching tool.
  3. Information can be overwhelming.
  4. Sometimes the minimum is the best someone can do.
  5. Judging doesn’t help anyone but the judger and even then only with a false sense of superiority.

Learning happens in stages, even as adults. Finding out there is something to learn, figuring out where to get the information and who to trust (Your mom? Your friend? Do you have to go to car seat school?), and fitting all that in with your life reality is a process. We need to be gentle with ourselves and with others through that.

So what do we really need to know when it comes to car seats?

There’s more than can be contained in a newsletter or a single article, in fact, there is car seat school. People can go to car seat school (not really called that) and become Child Passenger Safety Technicians. That’s just how much information there is.

You can find a CPST to help you install your seats (they have lots of bruises and scars from doing this so often) and that’s probably a good idea. It takes some time but often you can find places that offer that service for free and that time buys you peace of mind.

The rules from one seat may not apply to another. Manufacturers are the experts on their seats and your #1 resource for support. Have a question about your seat? Check your manual and if you still aren’t sure, call a manufacturer.

Be open to learning as you go. Get as much information as you can, but standards and even laws are changing all the time so being open to learning as you go can make a difference in how you’re keeping your child safe.

We’re here for you, sharing the journey and it’s ok if you don’t know something, we won’t judge. And there’s no way it could be as bad as what I did with my older girls- I’m just grateful they have lived to tell about it. We won’t judge but we will point out if we see something dangerous because of stories like this heartbreaking one of loss due to unknown car seat misuse.

Join us this Thursday, September 17th at 9 EST/8 Central/7 Mountain/6 PST for a live chat on The Leaky Boob Facebook page with Diono and Allana Pinkerton, CPST (she went to car seat school). We’ll have a giveaway and lots of information to share responding to your questions about car seat safety. Hope to see you there!

If you’d like to read more exclusive tips and articles on real life parenting, up-to-date carseat safety research and wholesome recipes with your health in mind, visit our latest newsletter HERE.

Happy Child Passenger Safety Week!

Jessica Martin-Weber

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