Advice About a Mom That Doesn't Always Use a Carseat for Her Toddler

Updated on December 05, 2009
A.W. asks from Kenmore, WA
30 answers

So this is a really tough one. I have a sister-in-law that doesn't always put her toddler in a car seat. most of the time she does, but I just found out that there are times she doesn't. Apparently it's been this way since she was just a newborn. I'm sick about it. My husband has already had a fight with her about it once awhile ago, but nothing has changed. My in-laws are totally fine with it and actually allowed it to take place right in their own car last weekend. Does anyone have ANY ideas on what can be done (besides yelling at her, which won't help)? Is there anything that I can do, short of reporting her to the police? Has anyone else dealt with something like this?

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N.Z.

answers from Portland on

Most states have an 800 number that you can call to report, unrestrained children. I, myself have called in a few parents. When I saw a child laying in the way back of a car drinking a bottle. When I say a small child standing up in the back between the two front seats...
Next time you know she's unrestrained call it in. They won't know who did it, and you'll be doing them a favor.

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H.M.

answers from Seattle on

You could send her one of those videos that are out there about keeping kids in car seats. Maybe it will reach her, and make her realize how precious her "baby" is to her and that she would want to do anything to keep him safe.
Best Wishes, Hillari

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L.C.

answers from Portland on

So I guess I would be the one to say - its none of your business what she does or doesnt do with her child. Is it unsafe - yes. Is she placing her child in potentail harms way - yes. If you and your husband have voiced concerns about it to her, then she knows better and how you feel. But you cant force anyone to do anything and its not your place to own this - it is hers. If you are with her when she does it - refuse to get in the car and drive unless she complies. Calling the authorites will set the entire family up for long term fighting, espically if the parents let her do it. And poteinally place the child in protective services away from the family for days/weeks/months. How will that affect the child? Ask yourself is it worth that? Other than her 'sometimes' not placing the child in the car seat - is she a good mom? I say - voice yoru concrns, stop the behavior if she is with you other than that leave her alone to make her own parenting choices and mistakes.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

Well.... if she rides in your car and won't buckle the toddler in a car seat, booster or in a regular seat belt.. don't start the car until it happens. That's a simple fix.

Seeing as how she doesn't listen to you or your husband, if you see her driving from your home without the child buckled up, then call the police as she drives away. They can pull her over and give her a warning or a ticket. This may seem a little harsh, but a whole lot less traumatic than attending a funeral or sitting by the bedside of a child who has a broken back or neck, one that is in a coma as a result of bouncing around in the car when it came to a sudden stop or was involved in an accident.

I wish you well.

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R.S.

answers from Portland on

It sounds like she can't be reasoned with even though your husband has talked to her.

You could tell her calmly that due to the law, you will call the police if she doesn't have her child in a car seat in your presence. That you are tired of watching her do something unhealthy and potentially dangerous to her child. Tell her that you mean it.

In addition to putting her child at risk, if she's riding in other people's car she's putting them at risk at receiving a ticket.

I bet even though she'll be mad at you she will always do it in your presence. You can't control what she does when you are not around so I'd concentrate that.

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R.C.

answers from Portland on

Report her to the County, Child Health Services, or the police. I would not hesitate. The state/county protects the child. Children have the right to be safe, whether or not their parents are able or willing to provide that.

These people are not taking the welfare of the child seriously, and you don't know what else they are not doing or doing that is putting the child at risk. Even if they're not doing anything else now, they obviously will in the future. They need parenting classes.

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

Annisa - This isn't a tough one for me at all. My son is alive because he was in a car seat when we had an accident. He spent 2 MONTHS in the hospital, a MONTH of that on life support. He LIVED because he was in his car seat. The University of Washington actually took his seat to study and see what exactly in the seat helped to save his life.
I have pictures of my poor son strapped up to every machine, 3 chest tubes in his chest, breathing tube, head wrapped, tubes in his nose, down his throat, in his veins...it's horrendous and can make you sick to your stomache. He was 3 weeks old.
I know people that have done that as well. I will sit down with them and show them the pictures of my son. Why? Because a picture says so much...it's hard to IMAGINE your child so severely injured, but to actually SEE a picture of someone's child struggling to live...uff...powerful. AND HE WAS BUCKLED!!! He absolutely would have died, instantly, if not buckled in.
Who cares if you are getting into a fight, or if there is family rift?! It is so much better that, then sitting in the hospital waiting to see if your child will live, or going to pick out a child sized casket.
L.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

I understand your concern. I will not transport any small child without a car seat because that is the safest thing to do. One of the things I have said to my grandchildren is that it's also against the law to not use a car seat. They don't want me to get in trouble which helps them decide to get in the seat and buckle up.

That said, I'm 66 years old and have seen a couple of generations safely raised without the use of seat belts or car seats. That may be where the grandparents are coming from. The use of a car seat is only important when there is an accident or near accident. But even then it's not always important.

People are gambling with their child's safety when they do not use a car seat. The possibility of injury is small and so it seems like a safe gamble to them. I don't know how to get around that attitude.

I wonder if your sister-in-law is one of those people with a "don't tell me what to do" attitude. If so you may have gotten involved in a power struggle without realizing it. A good way to deal with a power struggle is to give them information and tell them that the decision is their's. To add that you are concerned but because you know that it's their decision you will back off. And then see what happens. It's possible that that space will allow them to think about the possible consequences instead of the reflex no.

One reason car seats are more important now than they were when I and my daughter were growing up (she's 29 now) is that cars are more lightweight and sustain major damage when struck. Although they are designed for safety they do not provide as much protection as the older more heavy cars. Current cars are made of plastic and aluminum. Old cars were made of steel. Current cars are small. Older cars were large. For many reasons older cars provided much more protection against passenger injury.

Another fact that increases the need for car seats and seat belts is that there are many more cars on the road which increases the chances for an accident.

I would add some personal experience here that might influence your sister-in-law. I've survived an accident only because I was wearing a seat belt. It's true that in a few cases people survive because they weren't wearing a seat belt. However, this is not the case with small children and babies. In an accident, even a minor one, their small bodies are thrown forward and then backward and around in a car. Adults' weight and size prevents some of the being tossed about.

I'm speaking as a retired police officer who has experienced seeing car accidents. I've seen people thrown from their vehicle and killed. Yes, I've seen them stay in their vehicle because of a seat belt and also killed but the circumstances were such that they would've most likely been killed with or without a seat belt.

I have seen a baby survive because he was buckled into a car seat. The seat wrapped around his body and cushioned him from the force generated by one vehicle hitting another one. The car seat protects in many ways and not just in holding the baby in one place.

I wonder if they use a seat belt alone with the toddler. This can also cause damage in an accident and probably allows them to think that she is safer. A child's body is much smaller than the bodies seat belts are designed for. The shoulder harness can decapitate the toddler. I've seen it break an adults shoulder bone. Still this is better than hitting one's face against the dash or going thru the window.

A child would probably be thrown out of the lap belt because their body is too small for the space allowed between where the belt is attached to the car and the place where it is buckled.

There are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to use the car seat. Some people resist following the law without realizing that the law is there to protect them. The law has a reason based on scientific study.

So.....perhaps it would be helpful if you could find a way for the parents to become educated. They could read up on car seats on the Internet. You could research sites and give them addresses to those that you think would appeal to them.

You could also arrange for them to meet with a traffic officer in the police department. The officer would not have to "know" that they don't use a car seat. Many people are interested in the details and many officers like to talk with parents. The fire department has a program in which they show parents or anyone interested in how to use a car seat. They are the ones who see the child after an accident. They would be a good resource for education, also.

If I were you I would talk with the officer or fireman before having them talk with the parents. Some officers and fireman do a much better job than others. I arranged for a meeting and was disappointed that we were given a laid back fireman who showed a definite lack of interest in the subject.

In summary, I too am concerned when people do not buckle their babies/toddlers into a car seat and when they don't use seat belts for children or themselves. At the same time I know that the possibility of being in an accident is low. I express to them that they are taking a chance and even if the chance of an accident is low are they willing to take that chance? How would they feel if a drunk crosses the center line, hits them, and their baby dies because she wasn't in a car seat? I admit that that may never happen but there is a chance that it will.
Then I don't bring up the subject again. Sometimes they do then use the seat belt. Sometimes they don't. It is their decision.

Note: It is easier to use a car seat when one remains in the car. Would it help for you to help make using one easier? If they can't afford a car seat in each car perhaps you could provide them with a second seat. You may be able to get one from the Fire Department or hospital emergency room who provide them for free for people in need.

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M.T.

answers from Honolulu on

First of all, you need all of the facts. Is the kid loose in the car or is someone holding her and is it a ride next door or across town?
You can only take care of you and your kids and I am afraid that whatever you say or do is going to go in one ear and out the other. She will do what she wants to do and nothing anyone says will change it.
Just give her the facts and pray that nothing happens to show her she needs to be in a car seat (like an accident that really hurts or kills the baby).
That really is about all that I can see that you can do.
I hope it all works out.

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H.G.

answers from Portland on

Report her anonymously to DHS or CPS. The police will just give her a ticket. They won't take her child away but they will put the scare into her to put that poor child into a car seat, always. I dissagree with Lynn C or anyone else who says it is non of your business. All children, strangers or family deserve protection of their lives from ingnorance.

My husband & I were leaving a store one day in the summer & saw a mother leave her infant child in the car (to sleep) with the window open & walk to the resturant near by to have lunch with her whole family present. It was far enough away someone could have taken the baby without their knowing. We walked up to them & told them it was against the law & that if they didn't properly supervise that baby we would call the police. This mother acted like she was so put out. She got the baby out of the car begrudingly. We drove off but came back 10 minutes later to make sure they were doing the right thing. I feel like I should have just called the police instead of giving her the chance to do the right thing because of her attitude. I now have the local police non emergency phone number on speed dial on my cell phone to report such incedents.

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D.W.

answers from Portland on

Dear A.:

I have to say that it is your business the same as any child being neglected is your business, especially in your own family. It is proven beyond doubt that carseats save lives the sames as seatbelts and they are breaking the law on top of making really dangerous decisions about there childs safety. I find it to be selfish and lazy on their part. What excuses do they give you for NOT using a carseat? If this were me, I would turn them in to the police or wherever you report this type of crime. This is a crime in the since that they are putting their child in harms way as if they were leaving the child with a person of risk or letting them play in the street. Please champion for this child regardless of the outcome with the family. If it were me I would rather save a life than remain friends with someone that does not share my same values. Good luck to you in this.

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D.J.

answers from Seattle on

Maybe collect information about accidents that had unrestrained children. Check YouTube and the net for the safety seat demonstrations that show what happens when a parent is holding a child.

It only takes one accident. A lady that ran into my husband had put her six year old son in the front seat. She had a baby buckled into it's seat in the middle of the back seat. The baby was fine, the boy in the front was wearing a seat beat (meant for an adult) and he suffered a lacerated liver. The lady said that was the first time she had ever put her son in the front. He wanted to be there and since it was a short drive she figured all would be well. She didn't count on hitting black ice and sliding her vehicle into my husband, her front passenger door (where her six year old son was) connected with the front of my husbands van. The baby was safe. Even though there was glass all over the baby didn't didn't even have glass on her. I mention this because the boy should not have been in the front seat (and even though he was restrained it was an adult seat-belt and he was too small) and he got injured, plus it shows that the baby who was properly restrained was fine.

If showing her consequences of what happens to unrestrained children won't work, I agree with the annonymous phone call.

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K.G.

answers from Portland on

You don't give details on age and kind of car but Washington law is that if the child is in a car with shoulder belts they have to have a booster until age 8 or a height of 4'9", if the car only has lapbelts then no booster seat is required and kids usually start using a booster seat at 40 pounds or so. It really isn't your business unless she is transporting your kids in her car or her child is in your car then you can have a say. I have a friend that leaves her 4 year old alone in the car while she runs into a store, (has her childs whole life) and I looked it up and it isn't against the law to do that in Washington, you just can't leave the car running with children under 15 alone in it. Just chalk this up to parenting differences.

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S.D.

answers from Bellingham on

Sorry to be blunt about it but it is a child's life. She needs to learn her lesson the hard way, without compromising the life of the child. Report her anonymously. It would be better for her to get a real shock like that than to have not said anything and the baby ends up hurt or even worse - dead from an accident. It is a hard fact to face, but you never know when some drunk driver (no matter the time of day) will come from out of nowhere and demolish the car that that baby girl is riding in. I feel very strongly about this. NO need to fight or argue - do the right thing - turn her in.

P.S. My mother once turned in my sister for truancy because she had tried everything else and nothing had worked. My sister was never truant again. :-) Some folks learn their lessons the very hard way.

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A.F.

answers from St. Cloud on

Hi A.! Lot's of responses! And for all those who say it's a "tough call" please know that choosing to do your part to keep children safe should not be a tough call. I hate it when we think of possibly offending an adult to be more serious than a child's safety and well being.

I LOVED what Nicole Z. said. It was absolutely the most practical advice you received.

A woman in my small town would not always use a car seat for her baby. When the child was a toddler the mom got into an accident when the little girl was roaming through out the car and the mom is now paralyzed. The child was fortunate to have survived with minor injuries but her mother is forever paying for her negligence.

You are a good Auntie to feel sick about it! Call the police station in your area using the non emergency line and ask for specific instructions in the event that you witness your SIL's child go unrestrained.

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L.G.

answers from Eugene on

Does she want to lose her baby in a crash even one that occurs only in the car.
My father used to put his arm out to cushion me as I slid off the front seat when he hit the brakes.

It was dangerous even when my children were young and car seats were not made for children over 2 years of age I made them sit in the back and wear their seat belts.

Your sister in law is breaking the law and endangering her child. First talk to your brother- in- law privately. It is his child too.
I once went to the funeral of a 19 month old whose mother was nursing him in the front seat while his father drove. A car broadsided them and the little guy died.
It might even be a police matter. Child endangerment is a serious offense.

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B.D.

answers from Seattle on

Not much you really can do short from doing what might be necessary, which is notifying CPS or the police...which it shouldn't have to come down to that. But, they should know better. This is something that some parents don't realize is just because it might've worked when we were younger, doesn't mean that it'll work now. They create safety items and regulations for a reason...to ensure the overall safety and well being of the wee ones we have. I know someone who's put her infant seat in forward facing...her infant is only 7 mo. My daughter's father (he and I aren't together because of some of this thinking) refuses to put a safety gate around his wood stove, but will put a safety gate at the stairs. Doesn't make sense, eh? There's lots of people out there who think their beliefs surpass what reality is. If you have tried everything necessary, maybe it's time to go to the next level. I pray that all works out in a peaceful manner. Good luck.

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B.C.

answers from Seattle on

As of June 2007, WA state law says: "Children less than eight years old must be restrained in child restraint systems, unless the child is four feet nine inches or taller. Children under thirteen years old must be transported in rear seats where it is practical to do so. The fine for improperly restrained children in motor vehicles is at least $112 per child."

The toll free number you can call is 1-800-BUCK-L-UP.

When my oldest was little, the law in WA was you had to be 60 lbs and/or 4'9" to be out of a booster seat and my daughter was 13 yrs old (in 7th grade) before she was big enough!

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R.M.

answers from Medford on

also, putting a toddler or a small child in a regular seatbelt can cause serious if not fatal internal injuries if in a car crash. So this is note a safe alternative.

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D.J.

answers from Seattle on

I work in court and I have seen few cases like that. It is a criminal charge for parent neglecting and the judges are very hard on the parents even when is just once. The second time is concidered felony and they can lose theirs parenting rights. I hope they can understand that.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

Reporting her to the police sounds just fine to me. Tough love!

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A.B.

answers from Portland on

There is definitely reason for concern here and it's your responsibility as a knowledgeable adult and family member to give her as many resources to inform her and if need be bring in the authorities. If she's willing, there is a really great website with lots of info on carseat laws and safety etc. www.car-seat.org. Also, showing her some videos of a child during a crash may help bring it to life for her. Search for child carseat crash test on youtube.com there are a ton of really "scary" videos on there. If that doesn't work definitely call and anonymously report her to DHS.

Oh, and a response to all the people out there that say, "I didn't have to ride in a carseat and I made it ok..." Even in "minor" accidents more children and babies just died than survived COMPLETELY UNSCATHED

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

You do not mention the age of the toddler, and if he is completely unrestrained. There is never an excuse for unrestrained children. But, depending on the age, it may be safe to have them in a booster with the regular seat belt.

I would talk to the father, since talking with her seemed to do little. A child's safety is so much more important then hurting ones feelings.

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A.R.

answers from Yakima on

Wow, it's amazing that a parent doesn't think enough of their child to do such a simple thing as putting them in a carseat! First off, I would never allow my child to ride in a car with her (without you or your hubby there to make sure your children were buckled in). I would never let her child ride unrestrained in your car when you are driving. I hate to have government involvement in our lives, but in this case it's warranted. Even if it FOREVER causes a rift in your family, you will have potentially have saved that child's life in case they get in an accident (or even slammed on the brakes to avoid one!!) How many times do you hear a news story where people were ejected from a vehicle and died or became vegetables due to not wearing a restraint? One of my cousins lived for 20 years mentally and physically disabled due to a car accident when he was 18 months old. This was before child seat laws were enacted. You can't imagine the heartache our WHOLE family went thru after that accident.
Shame on her and your in-laws, my parents tease me about how I 'survived' without all the baby proofing and safety measures, but they are safe, healthy and alive!

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S.M.

answers from Spartanburg on

Carseat's not only keep children safe during a crash, they keep them safely in the car. During my time working at the local newspaper I saw many infant and child deaths. The worst was when a mother didn't take the time to put her toddler in a car seat. The toddler fell out of the moving the car and was struck by the car behind them. It was absolutely devastating to say the least. I still feel so sad for the lost of that sweet baby. Something so tragic could have easily been avoided by the use of a carseat.
Talk to her, try to make her understand. I'll send the link to the news article if you want to show her that.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

Wow this is a tough one! I am totally amazed that they don't use a car seat. How frightening!!! I'm with the other moms about reporting it, even though it could cause some serious trouble in your family. Think about how you would feel if the family was in an accident and the child was hurt becasue she wasn't in a car seat. It would be worth the family tension to potentially save this child's life. I wish you the best of luck in this situation and applaud you for reaching out for help and wanting what is best for your niece, especially when it seems that her parents don't.

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P.R.

answers from Seattle on

I have to strongly disagree with one of the entries. It doesn't matter where you are, your kids need to be buckled in. Even if you are backing up in your driveway or driving down your own mile long driveway an animal can dart out and the first thing we do is slam on the breaks. The other consideration is that a child needs to be restrained because they can climb over the seats, open the door, fall out the window and many other things that we may never thing about.

You would be surprised about how prevelent this is in my area. The moms think that once the kids get into elementary school they are old enough not to use a carseat or seatbelt. This infuriates me. Why have a baby if you do not care enough to do simple things to protect that baby. It only takes a couple of seconds to buckle the child in and it only takes one second to lose your child forever.

Whatever you do, please do something. I applaud you for bringing this subject up because although we all strongly agree that it is wrong most of us refuse to say anything to our family and friends who break this law...easier to call the police on a stranger than be known as the difficult, know-it-all mom.

Good luck and please do something.

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

Educate her. Her son's life depends on it! This is what I sent to a mom's group I'm a part of. It's not confrontational (I don't think), but gets the point across.

I found this clearing out my favorites and was surprised I hadn't seen it yet! It's from the [url=http://baby411.typepad.com/babybargains/car_seats/]BabyBa...] website. It was dated April 1, 2009.

Experts: Toddlers belong in rear-facing car seat until age 2
The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending toddlers stay rear-facing in car seats until age 2, according to a report released today. (See below for full report).

The AAP reports:
Recent data shows why toddlers between ages 12 and 23 months who ride rear-facing in a car safety seat are more than five times safer than those riding forward-facing in a seat.

This replaces a previous recommendation that toddlers be rear-facing until age one. Other safety experts recommend rear-facing for "as long as possible"---this is the first report that specifies age 2.

The only hitch to this recommendation: some car seats won't be able to safely hold a two-year-old rear-facing. Why? According to CDC growth charts, the average weight of a 24 month old baby is 28 pounds (boys) and 26.5 pounds (girls). (FYI: We corrected these figures after a reader below pointed out our initial post overstated these numbers---we apologize for that).

While most convertible car seats work to 35 pounds rear-facing, a few models still only go to 30 or 33. Example: Combi's new Cocorro convertible seat only goes to 33 pounds. And the Combi Zeus is only 22 pounds rear facing. Most Britax seats, however, are 35 pounds rear-facing.

And remember that the 27-28 pound weight of a 2 year old is the MEDIAN figure---or 50th percentile weight. The biggest babies (100th percentile) would be close to 34 pounds by the time they hit their 2nd birthdays.

Bottom line: be sure you get a car seat that works rear-facing to at least 35 pounds.

---

Above, we posted a link to a summary of this report that is on the AAP web site. The actual article in the AAP news is on their subscription-only part of their web site (that is, not viewable by the public). Since we've received so many queries about this today, we are reprinting the entire report below:

New advice: Rear-facing car seats safer for children until they are 2

by Lori O’Keefe • Correspondent

Toddlers between the ages of 12 and 23 months who ride rear-facing in a car safety seat are more than five times safer than toddlers in that same age group who ride forward-facing in a car seat.

Overall, children under the age of 2 are 75% less likely to die or experience a serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat, according to the first U.S. data to substantiate the benefits of toddlers riding rear-facing until they are almost 2 years old (Henary B, et al. Inj Prev. 2007;13:398-402).

There is a common myth that rear-facing toddlers whose feet reach the back of the vehicle seat are more likely to suffer injuries to the lower extremities in a car accident, according to a commentary co-written by Marilyn J. Bull, M.D., FAAP, AAP District V chair and one of the co-authors of the study. However, lower extremity injuries are rare with rear-facing seats, Dr. Bull wrote in the commentary (Bull MJ, Durbin DR. Pediatrics. 2008;121:619-620).

Rear-facing seats are more likely to support the back, neck, head and pelvis because the force of a crash is distributed evenly over the entire body. Forward-facing children are more likely to be injured because the force of the crash is concentrated on seat belt contact points, and younger children’s heads are disproportionately large for their small, weak necks, according to the study.

“I teach my medical students that parents worry about leg injuries but that it is far better to send children to orthopedic specialists to have lower extremities treated than to send them to neurological specialists to have cervical spine injuries treated,” said Dr. Bull. “I put it into the context of rehabilitation potential: fracture vs. paralysis.”

In Sweden, children ride in rear-facing seats until the age of 4, which has been proven to be 90% effective compared to children who ride unrestrained. However, car seats are engineered differently in Sweden to allow older toddlers to remain rear-facing longer.

“Since motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death in children, the Academy must do whatever it can to educate our members and the general public about the safest ways for children to ride in motor vehicles,” said AAP President David T. Tayloe Jr., M.D., FAAP. “We should make sure all of our members know to encourage parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as they do not exceed the size limits of the car seats.”

Dr. Bull noted that it takes less than 30 seconds to tell parents that children are five times safer riding rear-facing until their second birthday — a statistic that is likely to stick with parents.

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

You're right... this is a real tough one.... in large part because it's hearsay, and even if completely true, we don't know the variables involved.

Obviously if they're abusive &/or neglectful, the solution is the police. If they're merely ignorant as to the whys of carseats (and a person would have to live under a rock for that) the solution is education.

Here's some devil's advocacy for you though:

When and Where do they not use a carseat? There are actually many situations in which I know of people who don't, that are actually quite practical & or necessary:

Out in the country:

- In their own driveways. I have many friends out in the country, with driveways that can get to be several miles long. Not only is a seatbelt unnecessary, but the laws don't apply in your driveway. ((I also know 10 year olds who are taught to drive in their driveways, and they'll drive the car from the house to the mailbox on regular occasions.))

- Driving over gentle cross country. I also know people who drive on their own, or neighbor's, property. It's impractical to walk mom and baby and toddler to the river 2 miles away, when all you've got are fields, and a few woods that are driven through easily enough. Obviously you don't go over rough terrain with babies, although it can be fun for toddlers (not too rough, or you risk shaken baby syndrome, it tends to be city people on vacation who take their little ones on terrain no local ever would), mum & dad by virtue of it being THEIR property would know where and how to drive safely through it.

- On farm equipment. No place to strap in an infant carrier or car seat. Certainly doesn't keep kids from riding with their parents on them.

In the city:

- Moving the cars around in the driveway. I can't even count the number of times I've had my toddler in the car unrestrained when I'm moving it around (so hubby can park closer to the door for getting heavy musical equipment in the house... my usual spot since I have small child (or earlier infant carrier) + the 10 tons of stuff that come with taking a small child anywhere, the dog, groceries, etc. I'm certainly not going to leave a small child alone in the house, or worse, outside begging to get run over while we move the cars around. It's also rather ridiculous to go to the trouble of getting him strapped in for driving 1mph for 10 feet worth of distance & 60 seconds worth of maneuvering. Ditto moving cars around for parties, car washing, etc. I've also used it as a teaching tool for why we DO use carseats.

- Apartment complex parking lots. Theoretically you COULD have a person going 20mph in some of them. Most are designed to make that impossible. In the family friendly complexes we've lived in, not only would it have been physically impossible, but we ALL went very very slow. Kids are actually *playing* in the parking lot. Most of my neighbors and myself have taken our kids in the car without seatbelts/carseats when we're changing spots within the complex (for a variety of reasons, you usually have to at least once a month, if not once a week). This is a common sense thing. I've been to complexes where they're huge, and people drive fast... but most were huge and slow or small and slow.

- Toddler driving. I know many many many parents who have let their toddlers "drive". Aka, they're on their laps, and have their hands on/near the wheel. This is in their own driveways, on their deadend street, and intracomplex. Going at idle speed. While I would be the first to call 911 if I saw it on the freeway/highway/street... the chances of anything going wrong in 0-5mph are soooo slim... I'll also be the first to smile and wave when I see it in a driveway/complex/dead end street.

There are other examples, surely, but you get the drift. If the "sometimes" fell into those categories, where the risk is slim to none, and taken cognizantally, I wouldn't be concerned one bit. And conversely, if the opposite is true, I agree completely with Marda and several others.

Next question: Rear Facing Vs. Forward Facing???