I am really nervous to talk to you about this. My insides may be turning just sharing this with you. I really value our friendship, and I hope you can see that, so I am saying with nothing but love....
If you're friends with me on Facebook, you likely have a little piece of my heart. Which also means that your kiddos are special to me too. If I see that there may be something potentially dangerous that you're doing with their car seat buckling, I don't judge you AT ALL, I just figure maybe no one taught you because at one point no one taught me either. But, I am so thankful people told and taught me because when you know better, you do better, and our kids are safer.
Its not that you are a bad parent, selfish, or lazy, I don't think those things at all!! I definitely don't think I am the perfect parent! I just think that parent's almost always aren't taught what to do (and what not to do), and it can be dangerous for our babies. It is why nearly 75% of car seats are installed wrong! So I am going to share this with you, because the little piece of my heart that you hold wants you and your kiddos to be safe.
I am also talking to you because of a blog I read by Holly Wagner (You can read it here). Her son died in a car accident. Just a few days prior she had posted a picture online of her toddler improperly buckled in his seat and NO ONE said anything. She wants that to change. Everyone is now too afraid that a parent will feel attacked. I'd hate to ever have you be the one writing that blog...and I would also hate you to feel like I was attacking you, because that is the last thing I am trying to do when I say something about the way your child is buckled.
So seriously, I love you all. I have nothing but respect for you as parents to parent in whatever way you think is the best way to raise your kids, but the way you buckle your kid in, is not about a parenting style. Car seat safety isn't about being over protective, a helicopter parent, free range, or whatever new parenting style there is. It isn't about conventional vs organic, or physical discipline vs gentle parenting. It is about the fact that when your child is in a car, they need to be safe and a car seat is useless in an accident unless it is used properly. That is a fact, not an opinion.
So, I am posting this link to share with you some tips on buckling up safely. One of these might be something I see in your picture, so as someone who loves you and your child, I am sharing this with you. If you don't see anything in this picture that you think relates to the one you posted, please feel free to message me and I would be honored to help talk to you without judgement about the things I was taught for proper car seat use. If you want to talk to someone other than me please go to http://cert.safekids.org/find-tech-0 to get a local car seat tech to check your seat!
First, I would love to share, is for you to check to see if you're using the right seat for your child. The wrong seat won't protect your child's body in an accident.
Your child's chest clip needs to be at armpit level. If its lower, the chest clip can really do a lot of damage to the soft tissues of your baby's organs during an accident. It is meant to be over the thick breast bone. Also, the chest slip keeps the straps close enough together that your kid won't go flying out of the car seat and be thrown out of the car completely. Straps should also be "snug as a hug"
Using after-market products like these shoulder pads actually voids the warranty of your seat. Another common issue, is the Bundle Me warmers that go between the baby and the car seat. This can leave extra room in the straps and make your seat unsafe in an accident. Shower cap styles like the one below are consideres safe though! Car seat companies do not test the safety of their seats with these products, and the makers of these products don't test their products installed either! The only products you should be using in your seat are the ones that came with the car seat, and ones that do not interefere with the amount of space between the straps, seat, and your child.
Also, did you know new recommendations say that all children should be rear facing until they are TWO? The bones and cartilage in the body are not strong enough under 2 to be able to absorb and protect that fragile neck of theirs in a forward facing accident! Also, proportionately, the head is much bigger and the weight of the head CAN snap their neck if their bones and cartilage are not strong enough yet. It has nothing to do with maturity.
If they are forward facing, the straps should be at or ABOVE shoulder level. If they are still rear facing (which is safest), the car seat straps should be at or BELOW shoulder level.
If at the end of the day you're thinking "well I didn't use a car seat when I was a baby and I turned out fine!", I want you to stop and think about all the kids who didn't turn out fine. They are the reasons these laws and regulations were made. Those kids' lives were why car seats are regulated, tested, and come with manuals. Simply having a seat doesn't make you safe. Using the seat the way it is intended to be used, makes it safe.
Once I am confident in my installation, the three checkpoints I use when buckling in my child are:
1. Twisting - I make sure all straps are not twisted
2. Tightness- I should not be able to pinch the straps.
3. Chest Clip- I move the chest clip to armpit level.
Again, I love you and I love your children. I am not judging you, your child, your parenting skills, or anything of the sort. I am only sharing because at one point, I didn't know either. I want our kids to grow up, have playdates, and say "oh yeah, our moms are friends so we grew up together". I also don't want to be responsible for the guilt I would feel if something happened to your child, and I didn't say anything. My pride, your pride, and our friendship is not as valuable as your kid's life and because of that I hope you can see I am here with love and compassion.