Being a parent is a tough job. Your children rely on you to meet every need; both those they can articulate and ones that as an adult, only you know are important to their well-being. Yet, it can be extremely difficult to sort out all the information from books, magazines, individuals as you try to establish a parenting plan. Add to that evolving laws and regulations from health agencies, and your head might start spinning. One of those ever-evolving rules is the use of car seats.
Generally speaking, most people in the United States would probably acknowledge that it is best practice to restrain infants and young children in some sort of seat when they are in a vehicle. Just where in the car, and what type of seat, and up to what age, may provide a bit more variety of answers. Afterall, I can recall sleeping in the back of our station wagon on long road trips and lying in the bed of my dad’s truck for short errands around town in the summer. But to think about doing the same now with my own kids turns my stomach. I mean, surely everyone knows that children need to be restrained in car seats in the back seat. Or do they?
In a recent incident, an 11-month old boy died from injuries sustained when he was ejected from his front-facing car seat. Additionally unfortunate is the report that the three-point harness hadn’t been secured between the legs of the child. The mother, a former nurse assistant, admits that at the birth of the child she was unsure about proper car seat installation, but the hospital was unable to help because of potential liability issues.
The car seat had only recently been switched to forward-facing so that the mother could keep an eye on the child (she was not the driver at the time of the accident). Just weeks before the accident, a photo of the child in the front-facing seat was posted on Facebook. However, research shows that rear-facing car seats are 500 percent safer than front-facing seat for children up to age 2. Individuals have questioned if the accident could have been prevented if someone would have spoken up and let the mother know that as of April 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their age. (Nine years previous the Academy cited the minimum age and weight limits as 12 months and 20 pounds. Therefore the first birthday often marked a milestone for turning the car seat.)
As with many things, increased research and technology, often bring about revised recommendations from the experts. Though car seat recommendations have changed, certified child passenger safety technicians, local fire stations, and safety fairs are all able to assist parent with car seat questions.