Monday, June 30, 2008

A few little rants…
I guess lots of people think I have a “good baby”. What the heck is a good baby? Do some people have a “bad baby”??? Sometimes people say my baby is spoiled… how in the world do you spoil a baby? Is it because I hold him so much, and/or wear him in a carrier quite often? I think the word spoiled means that something went bad (like food). So which is it? Do I have a good baby or a bad baby?
I have an attached and content baby. Exactly what a baby should be. You can’t spoil a baby.

Now on to the proper use of car seats… I can’t think of many people I know who actually follow the laws and use car seats the way they are intended. I saw a statistic that about 80% of car seats are used improperly. From what I see, I think that’s about right.

Let’s just go over a few basics here. First, in order to turn a toddler from rear facing to forward facing, they have to be at least a year old AND 20 pounds. It’s the law here in Michigan. True, if you have a smaller child, you may not be able to turn them around until they are nearly 2 years old, if it takes that long for him/her to weigh enough to turn around. Of course, people who have researched it and are passionate about their child’s safety will typically keep their child rear facing until about 3 years old. It’s safer, and it could be the difference between life and death. Why don’t more people care??? Next, the car seat needs to be installed very tightly in the car. This may require that you put all of your own weight against the seat while installing it so that it is in securely enough to not move. It takes an extra 30-60 seconds to do this. But again, we are talking about safety and using the seat correctly.

The next thing is the chest clip. So many people put this in the wrong place. The chest clip goes across the chest at arm pit level. If it is across the stomach the child will likely to be injured or thrown from the seat in the event of an accident. Sadly, it’s more often I see it done wrong than right. Sometimes, I mention it to the parent. Sometimes the parent is receptive and thankful to know how to do it properly. Other times, they do the nod and smile thing where they pretend to care, but with no intention to change it while inwardly thinking I’m nuts.

2 more things… The car seat harness straps need to be tight; tight enough that you can only wedge a couple of fingers under the straps. Bulky winter coats are not to be worn in a car seat. I know that seems difficult to avoid that during cold Michigan winters, but there are ways to keep your child both warm and safe. (use a sweater instead of a coat, then cover the baby with a blanket in the car. Bring the coat along for things like playing outside, not riding in the car seat).
The last thing I am going to point out is that car seats expire. Most seats have a life of about 5-6 years. The seat may still look good after the expiration date, but the plastic breaks down and is unable to hold up upon the impact of a crash. Also, once a car seat has been in an accident it must be replaced, regardless of its age. Any seat that has been in an accident should be destroyed. If money is an issue, you can get a perfectly safe seat for around $40. There is no reason to use an unsafe seat. I wish more parents cared…