Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Car Seat Safety

One of my mommy soapboxes is car seat safety. I'm not exactly sure how it started, but over the years it's become something I'm concerned about. I know that there is a good chance we'll never be in an accident, and hopefully we won't be--but it's one of those things that you never know, and it could be a life and death situation.

Some of my "musts" have been...

1. Properly installed seats...often meant using rolled up towels or foam noodles to get the tight fit with a seatbelt (no latch in the first car).

2. Middle seat positioning...yes it was a literal pain in my back to be leaning in to the low Saturn I drove to snap in the infant seat or buckle Miss Rose in. But knowing she was safe was worth it. With two kids now, this isn't possible anymore.

3. Extended rear facing...I've been lucky with Gracie because she's much smaller than Miss Rose was at 1 and has her big sister in the backseat to entertain her. She is still in her Graco Safeseat (goes to 30lbs) and is rear facing. I hope to keep her rear facing until she is 2. Yes when I needed to carry her around in the seat it was a little large and awkward, but I managed. Often I'd just put her in a sling instead.

4. Extended harnessing...I think California law says when a child is 4 and 40lbs they can be in a booster. However, harnessing a child provides so much more protection for them. Because Miss Rose is my amazon child, she quickly outgrew the convertible seat we bought her and found there were only a handful of seats that harnessed past 40lbs. She's now comfy in an Apex 65. She'll be harnessed at least until 5yrs old...maybe until she's 6. We'll see.

5. Side Curtain Airbags...this was a HUGE must for me when we were purchasing a new family vehicle. I have a friend who was in a car accident which hospitalized her, but her toddler son was saved from serious injury by middle positioning and side curtain airbags.

I found this story online that demonstrates how important it is to take all precautions when it comes to car safety with your children. The ending is not happy. A family lost their 3-year old son in a car accident because the seat belt used with his booster seat malfunctioned. The family didn't know that there were seats that harnessed beyond 40lbs.

This is a small portion of what they share...

We have since found through an expert that examined the seatbelt, van and carseat that Kyle's seatbelt was ON and latched when we were hit but came off sometime during the rollover. Both Kyle and his booster seat were thrown from the vehicle. Seatbelts do NOT always work, especially in roll overs, so please keep your children in a 5-point harness secured and tethered to the car for as LONG as possible. We have found seats that have 5-point harnesses to 80lbs - the Britax Regent and the Sunshine Kids Radian80. They both can use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system to 48lbs and can be secured using the seatbelt and top tether thereafter till 80lbs. It is WORTH the investment. It is your child's life you are risking every time you put them in the car. Another crucial thing to have is side curtain airbags in the front and back seats in your vehicle - it is only an OPTION in most vehicles that you have to request.

Driving is by far the most dangerous situation you will ever put your child in and no matter how safe YOU are, you never know when someone will run a red light and leave you no time to react. In that moment the investments you made and the thought you put into your child's safety are the only thing that will save him/her. Booster seats are NOT safe, seatbelts FAIL. A 5-point harness tethered and anchored to the car and side curtain airbags would have saved our son's life. If we would have known about them, we would have had them. All the 5-point harness carseats sold in regular stores at the time only go went to 40 pounds (Kyle was over 40 pounds so we thought he had to move into a booster). We did not know you could order a 5-point harness seat for larger children.

We all have our soapboxes...and this is mine. I do encourage you to make sure your children are in the safest seat and best position for them. Do some research and make the best informed decision you can.

A little extra money, a little pain in our backs, are nothing compared to the precious lives of our children.


  1. Great post! I work for a company that sells baby car seats and we work really hard to provide parents with this information. Most state laws are the bare minimum at best, so best practices are to follow your car seat's harness weight limits and choose a seat with a high limit. With seats up to 80 lbs, keeping kids safe is super easy.

    TipToeTurtle Blog

  2. Love this post! My sister has taught me a lot about this topic also. It drives me crazy when people just decide that at one year they should turn the baby around. I know it can be hard to keep them rear facing but I have heard that their spines really are not developed enough to handle the impact of being hit and jolting forward. I appreciate your post and will use all of your advice with mydaughter once she arrives:)

  3. PS love the new back ground.


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