Is your child’s life worth 20 minutes of your time?
According to SafeKids.org, motor vehicle accidents are the leading killer of children 1 to 19 years old in the US. The best way to protect your child is to put them in the right safety seat, which is properly installed, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. When used properly, child safety and booster seats are proven “life savers,” reducing the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
Car seats are a hot-button for me. It’s a simple step, but ignoring it could literally get your child killed. I understand that Ducklings don’t like to be restrained. Believe me, I know how physically exhausting it can be to get a good install – especially on a rear-facing seat. And don’t get me started on installing a car seat in a two-door. I get that it’s a hassle to check the install and fit every time you get in the car. But we’re genuinely talking about life and death.
Full disclosure: I have ZERO patience for the reasons that parents and caregivers give for skipping this step. Some of the most common excuses in my experience:
He really hates being in a car seat, he cries the whole time. What I am supposed to do – let him cry the whole trip?
Yep, let him cry the whole trip. Ideally, you would have the opportunity to take several short rides around town *with the baby properly restrained in the car seat* to get him acclimated to riding in the seat. But that’s not always doable – particularly if you’re a foster parent who has to drive to pick up a child.
I’ve listened to a child screaming in her seat for an entire 90-minute drive – it broke my heart to let her cry, but we had to make the trip, and she had to go with us, so she had to ride in her seat. I rode where I could see her and she could see me, and I tried talking to her, soothing, singing, playing, etc, throughout the drive. But at no point did I indicate that getting out of the car seat was an option. Evidently she figured that out, because she didn’t make a peep on the way back. And hasn’t since.
I’m just driving right around my small town and I’m really careful and I only go 25 mph.
Are you really willing to bet your baby’s life that everyone else in your little small town is really careful and only going 25 mph? Or that a cow won’t dart out in front of you? (I don’t know how small your town is)
Yes, I know that cows don’t really “dart”, so we’ll let that go for now. For argument’s sake, let’s say no one in your little town drives over 20 mph. Then one day, as you’re very carefully, very slowly, driving down the main road, Miss Daisy (going in the opposite direction) swerves to dodge a squirrel and hits you head-on. No problem, right? You’re both only driving 20 mph, so it’s a minor impact, right? Except airbags can deploy when the vehicle crashes at speeds over *12 mph*. And when it does deploy, the airbag is moving at between 62 and 180+ mph. So if little Suzy is sitting on your lap (probably near eye-level with the top of the steering wheel) when that airbag deploys….
We didn’t have car seats when I was a kid, and I turned out just fine!
Ok, fair enough. Do you also let your kid eat lead paint and spend all day in chain-smoking Uncle Ned’s second-hand smoke? If your answer is yes, you win – it’s probably better if you limit your influence in the gene pool, anyway.
What other excuses have you heard for not taking the time to protect your child from the leading cause of death in children? Let me know in the comments.