For Angela Brown, keeping her babies in their rear-facing car seats for as long as possible is something she wishes she’d done sooner. Take it from one who knows…
Read more: What’s the ideal bedtime for kids?
Mom’s horror story could have been avoided with rear-facing car seat
The Australian mom of two was involved in a horrible auto accident this past February. Her SUV hit a tree head-on after she left a dental appointment, resulting in a flip-over crash that was worsened when a tree snapped and trapped everyone inside the vehicle.
Both of Angela’s infant daughters had been sitting in the backseat strapped into their car seats, but with one crucial difference — one child was in a forward-facing seat and the other was in a rear-facing seat.
The child in the rear-facing seat survived the traumatic accident with no visible injuries. But her daughter who was in the forward-facing seat was not so lucky.
She sustained life-threatening injuries and had her back broken in multiple places.
‘[Doctors] discovered she had broken her c2, c3 and tore all her ligaments in her c1. She was one of the youngest to be fitted with a Halo Brace… the doctor told us that most children with her injury don’t normally make it,’ Angela wrote on Facebook to mark the three months of recovery her daughter has so far undergone.
‘I was always unsure about when turning my babies around [was right] but after our crash and the hard evidence we are presented with, I will forever rearward face my babies as long as I possibly can. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. It could cost you your babies life.’
Some important reminders about child car seats
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep children in rear-facing seats until age 2.
But as long as your child doesn’t exceed the weight or height limit of the car seat, you might consider keeping them rear-facing for longer — especially in light of Angela’s story.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind: While it isn’t clear whether or not faulty installation played a role in Angela’s case, the sad reality is that most child car seats are installed improperly.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly.
In most places around the country, you can go to a local fire station for a free install. The firefighters typically have been trained in proper car seat installation.
If that’s not an option, use this child car seat inspection station locator from SaferCar.gov to find another approved inspection station near you.
Finally, we’re all familiar with the many car seat recalls that have been reported in recent years. U.S. officials recently encouraged parents to register their car seats with the manufacturer so they will get notified in the event of a recall. Get more details here.
Don’t do this with your car seat!
Closer to home, an Ohio mother warned others about the dangers of putting a child’s car seat on top of a shopping cart after she had a close call earlier this year.
Lindsey Wisnewski was finishing a shopping trip with her preschooler son and infant son when the incident happened.
She was strapping her older son in his car seat, while her younger son’s car seat was sitting on top of the shopping cart. Winds caught one wheel of the cart and pulled the cart and the seat down.
The incident was a close call for Lindsey, who shared what she learned in a Facebook post.
She detailed her thoughts in a caption of a photo of the aftermath, asking other parents to never put car seats on the top part of shopping carts.
‘I post this PSA without judgment, as I myself did this with both (of my) boys. Up until about two years ago, I thought the seat was safe since it clicks into place. But the car seat in the picture was ‘locked’ into place.’
Lindsey made sure to emphasize that accidents can happen. ‘Had my baby actually been in the seat, I wouldn’t have left it unattended. But accidents happen in the blink of an eye.’