Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A vent about carseats!

This will probably be one of the most judgemental posts you will ever read of mine and I will go ahead and give the disclaimer now, but I absolutely will not apologize for it. I mean every word that I'm about to say.

Reading the discussions online regarding the recent AAP recommendation that parents rear-face their kids until two has really made me think. I rear-faced Jackson until he was a year and a half old. He was 19 months old when I turned him- it was actually around the time he self-weaned. I decided that with this baby, I would rear-face him until he hit the weight/height limit on his carseat and knowing how skinny my kiddos are, that will be when he is around 4 years old. This is why...

The science behind extended rear-facing is undeniable. Rear-facing kids in 5 point harnesses are 500% safer than their forward-facing counterparts. That is a HUGE number!

I turned Jackson because I felt happy with my decision to continue rear-facing him until he was 19 months old. I thought that him having the extra 7 months was GOOD! And it was! If I'd turned him earlier than a year, he very well could have died two days before Christmas in 2009 when we were rear-ended by an SUV (that put me in physical therapy for 6 weeks 6 times a day and still causes me back pain) at a red light by being internally decapitated (a major cause of car accident deaths in kids that forward face too early, because their spines are still in 3 separate "pieces" and their heads are sooo heavy compared to the rest of their bodies)- which is not a thing meant to cause doubt or fear- look up the YouTube videos! He was 11 months old at the time. If I'd turned him "a month early," I could have lost my son, so I am passionate and outspoken about this.

Do NOT turn your child forward-facing before 1 year. In my opinion, it is reckless and dangerous. Any excuse that a mother could come up with to do so is NOT good enough and she needs to have her head examined.

As far as the moms I know making fun of the recommendation to extend rear-facing until 2, saying that their kid screams or their legs are scrunched- turn up the music and let them cross their legs. A loud kid is better than a silent, dead kid. Yes, I said it. I don't like everything the American Academy of Pediatrics says (read: vaccines)- but this is good information that is undeniable, even for a crunchy skeptic like me.

I didn't rear-face Jackson until two, but if I knew then what I know now, I absolutely would have, at a minimum. Keelin is too tall and too heavy to rear-face in her Britax, but I am thankful that I kept her rear-facing for well over a year. And again, I thought I was doing pretty good, there.

You live and you learn. Don't hear the facts and mock them. Take the facts to heart, take the research in and make a positive change for your kids. With Keelin, I didn't even know people kept their kids rear-facing past a year. I felt like the odd man out! With Jackson, I felt like I was doing something good, but didn't realize how seriously he could be injured in an accident even up to the age of two. I thought that at 1 we were out of the "danger zone" and anything past that was just gravy on my safe baby!

With our third child, Little No-Name, I am ready to bring him into this world and rear-face him until the cows come home, nurse him until he stops- there is no amount of ridicule that will change my mind, no differing opinions that will make me choose popular opinion over the absolute best for my children.

Now, here is where I am going to get a little judgey.

I do judge moms that buckle their kids in with big coats on and don't listen when told it's dangerous. Your child is not in their seat tightly enough if they are wearing a coat.

I do judge moms that leave carseat straps loose, when the dang directions tell you how to buckle them and tighten the straps properly. Read. The. Directions. Please, no slack straps! And chest buckles go on the chest, not near their lap!

I judge moms that forward face before a year, because there is NO excuse for it. It's dangerous AND illegal. I only personally know two people that have done it and I was absolutely appalled.

I judge moms that carry their babies in bucket seats with their legs hanging out- get the kiddo a convertable carseat and HOLD your baby! Heck, I'll give you one of my extra baby carriers or wraps! Just pick up that child, please! And get them a carseat they fit in properly. Geez.

I judge my mom friends that put their kids in booster seats with seatbelts when they are NOT old enough (yes, manufacturers say they are, but not safety experts) to be in one. They aren't recommended by safety experts until kids are SIX and the manufacturers say FOUR and 40lbs. That is absurd! Put the child in a 5 point harness and potentially save his or her life.

If I offended someone, okay. But I think that when you have the right information about safety issues regarding your kids and choose to do what is cute, convenient, or cheapest- then you really just need to hear the facts one more time, I hope. I know there are a few mommies that read my blog and a lot of you have similar parenting mindsets to my own, so I doubt any of you are going to read this and be offended, but I offended some people on my Facebook earlier, so I figured I should put up a warning :)


Samantha said...

I think there is a difference between judging someone for a parenting choice (cloth diapering vs. disposables) and judging them for breaking the law and putting their child in danger.

Another blog I read said it well too, Safety isn't about convenience. I forward faced my son just after a year because that is just what I was told to do by my pediatrician, and my son was a screamer and we were going on a 7 hour car ride, my thought was YES! now he wont scream the whole time! But knowing what I know now, I would have happily listened to him scream if it meant saving his life.

Something we do have to remember though is that lots of parents just don't know. I wish it wasn't so hard to casually mention things like this when you see them in real life.

Though I do hope the new baby is a little more tolerant of the car seat ;)

MrsP said...

I agree with you, Samantha. There is a big difference between my parenting preferences (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, child led weaning) and something like carseat safety.

I think that there are a lot of people that know what is safe and choose to do what is convenient. The laws are printed in carseat manuals. The proper usage directions are printed in carseat manuals. But some parents just choose to not read them or read them and ignore them. Oh, or consider it a "milestone" when they turn the carseat around.

And I do wish it was easier to mention these things in casual conversation, but I am aware that a lot of moms don't read the material that I read or feel the way I feel, so I would come across as a crazy, judgemental, carseat lady :)

tia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tia said...

I had addi in a booster not too long ago, she finally weighed enough and her pediatrician gave the go ahead but when I read more into it, after I had already purchased one and put her in it, I realized it was far too early and way too dangerous. I returned it and put her in the old 5 harness. After seeing the changes and rules on the news yesterday, early morning, I was wondering to myself, "Why didn't they come up with this stuff sooner." Most of it is common sense, but do they just sit in a room, pandering on what they think is wrong? It seems it should have been done years ago. Really.

Now, I don't think I'm a horrible mother for putting my child in a coat when its cold outside, and buckling them in their car seats. You have to be educated about the safety of your children, if you are going to have them. It's what we responsible mommy's call, caring, or what I call giving a shit. I DO NOT, however, change the seat belts to accommodate the thickness of the coat- yes it takes an extra second to put them in comfortably but I don't agree with the parents who adjust the seat belt to the fluffiness of the coat. Adjusting a seat belt because they don't fit due to clothing, its absurd.

I have known mom's who don't look into the whole "when to move my child from rear to front facing" and do whatever they want. Hell, I've seen mothers and fathers put their new born in a front facing position. I didn't know with Adriana, so I did my research, again something her ped told me and family as well, but I made sure to understand what was right since she was so little, for so long. I did for a short while, have her front facing, but I moved her back. Again, something I learned on my own. Ryland stayed rear until 18 months- I'm not sure why I didn't go until two. I don't really recall- but if I could do it all over again, I would have kept him in much longer.

I saw your post on facebook, but it seemed people were too involved, so I stayed quiet.

Kory said...

I'm right there with ya on this one mama, and you know, sometimes people are offended by the most ridiculous things. My daughter is still rear facing at 2, and I plan to keep her there until the 32lb rear facing limit and in the seat until the 65lb limit, despite all the crap I receive from friends and family.

MrsP said...

Dangit Tia, I had a long response written out for you and it got deleted. *sigh* Anyway, the gist of it (lol) was that if straps are properly tightened on the child not wearing a coat, then most coats (anything more than a light jacket or fleece) won't fit without having to adjust the straps, so sadly a lot of parents will adjust the straps to accomodate the coat. To remedy the kids being cold vs. unsafe, we got some nice Columbia fleece jackets that fit under the straps with no more thickness than a sweatshirt. I actually have one or two in the bag of clothes I have for Miss Addi- one is lime green fleece(actually a boy's jacket, but Keelin picked it out) and the other is a hot pink light jacket! I really need to get that stuff to you, by the way! I'm also really proud of you for keeping her in a 5 point harness. I recently turned Jackson back to rear-facing because I started to feel like I'd made a terrible decision by forward-facing him when he still had plenty of height and weight before he outgrew the rear-facing capacity of his carseat. So now he'll be rear-facing until he is 35lbs (and knowing my kids, that will be around the time he is four!)

Kory, I get a bunch of flack from moms I know, too. And you know what, the only people I care about answering to are the little loves of my life! :) If they are safe, then anyone can feel free to comment! There is so little in this world that we can control, but we DO have a choice, that is only ours to make, as to how our children are buckled into the car.

MrsP said...

Tia, here is a link to some pictures that some moms took illustrating the coat/carseat concern! I looked it up for you <3