Car seat safety continues to be a hot-button issue throughout parenting circles. When can they face forward? How old is too old for a booster? How high should that chest clip really be? Well a mom from Greene, Maine named Rachel McNamara recently went viral for her helpful car seat safety tips — that have been pretty eye-opening, to say the least.
The reason? In two side-by-side photos, McNamara can be seen holding her baby’s car seat overhead as well as upside down — with her baby still in it. And it’s all to raise a pretty important question for parents: Can your baby’s car seat contain him or her if your car flips or rolls over in an accident?
“I’d like to clarify that I’m not advocating that parents should be flipping their kids upside down before every car ride,” she notes. “Just that they should feel confident that their child would be safe IF the car seat was flipped over in an accident. I think this is a great visual and shows just how important proper car seat use is.”
McNamara then goes on to add several other important car seat safety tips.
“When they are rear facing, the straps should be at or below their shoulders, and when they are forward facing the straps should be at or above their shoulders,” she shares. She also emphasizes the important of the “pinch test,” which means if a child is strapped in correctly, you shouldn’t be able to pinch any part of the strap between two fingers.
McNamara also touches upon proper car seat installation, noting important factors like using latches and tethers as well as keeping babies rear-facing until they hit 2 years old. She addresses the fact that parents often believe their kids are cramped or uncomfortable, but this is simply not true. Young kids have limbs that are much more pliable and flexible than we do as adults. Plus, the bottom line is rear-facing means life-saving.
Additionally, Rachel warns against adding extra items to the car seat such as infant inserts, shoulder pads, and toys, as these may compromise the car seat’s safety and effectiveness. And finally, she calls out a common mistake parents make — strapping their kids into car seats with puffy winter coats on. With a coat in the way, the straps aren’t able to restrain the child tightly enough. Instead, she advises to keep the child warm by placing a blanket or coat over them once they are strapped in properly.
McNamara emphasizes the crucial step in checking your car seat manual several times throughout her post. Car seats are made by different manufacturers, which means different manuals and guidelines. And she of course doesn’t recommend “testing” your baby’s seat by flipping her upside down unless she IS properly strapped in.
The viral Facebook post has received well over 2,000 comments so far, and most are generally supportive and appreciative of the information Rachel provides. Quite a few commenters even stated that they’d never be strong enough to lift a heavy car seat overhead with a baby inside. But that’s not really the point, after all — the message McNamara is sending to all of us is to know our car seat safety like the back of our hand. She also suggests visiting Car Seats for the Littles for more information and visiting your local police or fire station to help you properly install the seat.
Taking this topic lightly or pulling the whole “I didn’t ride in a car seat and I turned out fine” excuse is, quite frankly, unacceptable. There’s a reason the rate of car accident fatalities among children has declined by 94 percent since 1975, and it’s because of these safety measures. Our kids deserve to be safe, and it’s our job to ensure they are. So kudos to this mom for reminding us all to check our car seat knowledge before we get behind the wheel.