Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pet Peeves & Car Seats

We all have pet peeves, some of them are small annoyances like nails on a chalkboard, or the sound of someone snapping their gum. Sometimes they are big pet peeves like unvaccinnated children, or mainstream media.

For me, my biggest pet peeve is seeing children riding in a vehicle not properly restrained. I have to admit though, while it is a major pet peeve of mine I am not guilty of not properly restraining my kids.

I know I am not perfect. I know I have made many mistakes, like we all have. I know I am a hypocrit when it comes to my own pet peeve when I replay a video of my kids in the car and decide not to post it on Facebook because my kids weren't the safest they could be while riding in the car.

Like many people, I will still hold my ground on what I believe to be the best choice for our family at any given time. However, realizing we are all only human has made me take a step back and not be so judgmental because we do not know what someone else's situation is.

That picture of a sleeping child in a car with the seatbelt behind their back makes me cringe. At the same time, though, I can't make a judgement based solely on one picture. Maybe right after that picture was taken the parent corrected the seatbelt. Or maybe it was just a long day for them and they felt it would be okay for the drive. Do I agree that it is okay just once? No, absolutely not. Yet, I am also guilty of making a decision in the name of "just this once" and everything turning out alright.

That picture of a baby riding in a car seat that is too big, too small, or with twisted straps makes me want to get on my soapbox about the importance of using a car seat properly. But I don't. Maybe they borrowed a car seat while they waited for their new one to arrive. Maybe they were on the tail end of a road trip and those straps ended up twisted but driving all day with a cranky kid they just overlooked the fact that it's not very safe. I think everyone should be aware of the proper use of a car seat and at what age a child can safely use the next seat up, but sadly some people just go with what they have always done or what "everyone else" says is okay.

I'm not here to judge you... although sometimes I do. I just want you to know there is a safer way to travel with your children. With car accidents being the leading cause of death in children it is our responsibility to do our own research and find the best seat for our children. Even if that means they are 9 years old and still riding in a 5pt harness. Or 12 years old and riding in a backless booster seat.

Let me tell you, their friends won't be riding in the same seats they are. Some much younger won't be riding in car seats at all. Some kids are big enough to ride without a car seat but only if their feet sit flat on the floor with their back straight on the seat and the seatbelt sitting across their shoulder and over their hips. More often than not, the kids riding without at least a booster are not meeting those criteria. Your kid may complain, they may pull the friend card, but you should be pulling the mom card. Don't be afraid to insist they ride in a proper seat until they are big enough to ride without. Don't let them ride without just because they don't like the seat or just because none of their friends have to. You wouldn't put your kid on an amusement ride that they aren't big enough for... so why would you put your kid in a seat they aren't big enough for?

So now I will step down off my soapbox, even though I am not trying to be all high and mighty. Education on these things in our children's life is so important. We research vaccinations, we research the best neighborhoods and the best schools, we research our vehicles for their safety ratings... we should be doing the same with car seat safety. I don't always agree with the AAP but their guidelines for child safety in the car are very good. While these guidelines are not laws, they are still important and worth a good look to be able to make an informed decision in regards to your child's safety.

I hope with this blog I at least gave a little bit of helpful information without sounding too bitchy and that at least one person will consider putting in the research instead of doing what they have been told from their older relatives or the laws that vary so much from state to state.

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