I like to consider myself a highly informed mom. I do a lot of research when it comes to my daughter and the things that she needs in order to stay safe. When I decided to switch my two year old to a front-facing car seat, I got a lot of backlash from other moms. I understand that rear-facing is encouraged until my child reaches the maximum rear-facing requirements. I’ve read every statistic thrown in my face and I’ve even taken the time to consider my options. I spent countless hours researching child passenger safety laws in my state to make sure what I was doing was completely legal. I even went a step further and consulted a CPS tech in my area to make sure the car seat my daughter was in, was the correct size for her age (which it was). It was settled and my research was done. My daughter met the front-facing requirements, and was in the correct seat for her age. Problem solved. Now I can go on with my life.
As my daughter got a little bigger, I started adjusting her straps and making sure that she was comfortable in her seat. She started pulling her arms out from under the chest straps and was all but wiggling out of her seat. As the well-informed mom that I am, I started doing a little research. Maybe this wasn’t the right seat for her after all. I again contacted a CPS tech in my area to figure out what the issue was. After a 30 minute meeting with the CPS tech I was told that I, the well informed mom who did all of her research, had my car seat installed INCORRECTLY! What? Me? No way! Although my daughter was in the correct seat for her age and was at the correct requirements for front-facing, I didn’t even have the dang thing hooked up right! The anchors I had snapped into my car weren’t correct. Since her seat is in the middle, I was supposed to use the seatbelt to strap the seat down (This varies by type of car and type of seat. What is correct in my Nissan Altima, may be wrong in your vehicle). Also, her chest straps were too loose and her headrest was too far down. The CPS tech showed me step by step how to properly install the car seat. She also showed me how to double check the straps to make sure they are tight enough, and fixed her head rest to the proper height. When the CPS tech was done installing my daughter’s seat, I carefully inspected it. It looked almost identical to how I had it set up before, with very minor changes. Much to my surprise, not once did the CPS tech ever mention my decision to front-face my daughter early. Her main focus was making sure my FRONT-FACING car seat, was simply installed correctly.
It wasn’t until the drive home that I realized how much of a difference these “minor changes” made to the seat. My daughter, although she was trying hard, couldn’t get her arms out of the straps. She couldn’t wiggle out and I didn’t need to pull over on the side of the road to put her arms back under the straps! I also noticed that the car seat itself barely moved when I hit bumps in the road and went over train tracks! Thanks to a 30 minute meeting with a CPS tech and very minor changes to my daughter’s car seat, my daughter is 96% more likely to survive if we’re involved in an accident. I’m not writing this post to have the “rear-face or front-face” mom war. I am still sticking with my decision to front-face my daughter. The point i’m trying to make with this post is simple. Regardless of the seat you buy or how long you make your child rear-face, it’s always important to make sure the seat is installed correctly. You can be the most informed parent out there, do tons of research, and still be wrong. If I wouldn’t have asked for a second-opinion, Lord only knows what would have happened if we would have been involved in an accident. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When it comes to your child’s safety, no question is a stupid question.