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Mommy Soapbox: Car Seats

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I’ve been a parent for six years. I’ve noticed a few things in this time:
1. Everyone has a different idea of how to do things and
2. That idea is always changing.

This isn’t a new paradox; I don’t think there is a mother out there whose own mother didn’t do things drastically different than we do. When our parents were raising us, they put us to sleep on our stomachs, put us to sleep with bottles, sat us in front of Sesame Street all day, let us run around and play outside from dawn until dusk, and never woke us up from a nap because you “never wake a sleeping baby”. However, I think the most drastic change from then to now is how we were strapped in motor vehicles.

I have memories of long road trips where my parents would put down the seats in the station wagon, lay down blankets, and we’d spend the entire 1,000+ mile trip hanging out in the “car fort” in the back. I simply cannot even FATHOM doing this now. In fact, none of us can, but I’m sure most of us have memories in the car that don’t include buckling up. Would you like to know how old I was when I took my first motorcycle ride? Within the first two weeks of my life. While we all now gasp and twitch at the idea of a newborn in the front seat of the car being held by its mother, that was the norm in the “good ‘ole days”.

I wonder what the uproar was like when it was first recommended that parents keep their children rear facing until 1. It really had to change a lot of things; no longer could parents buy smaller, cheaper cars because they now had to have enough room to safely buckle their children in. They couldn’t just keep baby Junior in their laps anymore. Sadly, I still hear parents whine about this. I have no sympathy. If you have a baby, you have to buy a car that fits them. It’s a part of the deal. When we decided to have 3 children, we knew that having to get a new car came along with the little bundle.

So, you can only imagine the outcry of the new laws and recommendations of keeping your babies rear facing until 2. As of April 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping your children harnessed in a rear facing carseat until the age of 2, for a variety of reasons. This change came after a series of studies where they found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing, and also finding children who are riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing. If you are looking for a great article to read on it, check out this informative one done by CNN.

Brooklyn was my first child to fall under this new recommendation. I didn’t switch London to forward facing until she was 15 months; she was a tiny sprout and took that long to get up to 20 pounds. Brooklyn, however, is a She Beast. She was 20 pounds by six months, and tall as a weed. Although she has thinned out, she is still quite tall and tops the charts for height. But, at 17 months she is still rear facing and doing just fine. Honestly, the person who has the hardest time keeping her rear facing is me! It is so much easier to hand kids things who are facing the same direction as you. Plus, turning their car seat is a milestone that is fun to hit, but now we have to wait a whole year more for it. Brooklyn doesn’t know the difference and isn’t phased. As she grows taller, she will just curl her legs up a little more, but that has been shown to still be better than forward facing. The odds of a leg break in an accident where a child is rear facing are significantly lower than a much more life-threatening injury occurring in a young child who is forward facing too early.

Sadly, most parents aren’t following the new recommendations. Perhaps some people just haven’t heard, but from my experience, most are due to a variety of excuses. I’ve yet to hear one that dims the potential gravity of what could happen. Your child cries in the car? Imagine their cries as they lay in a hospital bed in traction due to internal decapitation. You don’t have the room? There are PLENTY of car seats on the market that are compact and can rear face without taking up much more room than the infant carrier you just had. In fact, most infant carriers can safely harness children until 30 pounds, which would most likely take them to 2 (I’m not sure of the height limit…even if its as low as 35 inches, that could still get them as close as possible).

So, this is my plea to stop posting pictures of your children forward facing at 13 months on Facebook. It makes me twitch. 😉  Seriously, though, if you have questions, do some research and find the answers! Here are some great articles and blog posts done by those who have: (posted above)




3 responses »

  1. I wish more people would stop treating this as optional and start thinking about safety. It is the same with boosters being mandatory until 12 years and 80 pounds. Most people say their kids would “freak out” so they ignore it. It is as if this is one of those topics that people lump with the other mommy wars junk but really, it is just how it is.

  2. Great post, Becki! Couldn’t agree more!

  3. Pingback: Mommy Soapbox: Booster Seats « A Tale of Three Cities

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