I am very much FOR the use of car seats. Car seats are essential for protecting our children from death/injury in the event of an automotive collision.
However, what started as a quest to protect our children (the design of car seats) during automotive travel has led to something else altogether.
Car seats have morphed into multipurpose infant care devices. They are used for:
- Carrying baby virtually everywhere
- Setting baby down
In essence, cloth covered plastic buckets have almost completely replaced the safest infant care device of all time, one which has effectively kept baby humans safe for thousands of years – a parent’s body and arms!
Think about it. When you see a baby, where is it?
As an experiment, spend some time at a coffee shop. Keep your eyes peeled for a mom with a baby. You can’t miss her. She’ll be lugging a heavy car seat. It will look awkward. That’s because it is.
Car seats were designed to be used in motor vehicles. Hence the “car” in car seat. They weren’t designed to be used as tote bags.
The advent of the car seat has probably quadrupled the income of your local chiropractor!
If you stay at the coffee shop for a few hours, not only will you get a nice dose of caffeine, but you’ll also get to see dozens of cute babies.
Most of them will be in car seats. Most of them will remain in the car seat.
The odd, occasional baby will be snuggled against mom’s (or dad’s) chest in a sling.
You might, possibly, be lucky enough to see a baby being carried in nothing other than its parent’s arms. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Because, as unbelievable as it sounds, not only have we decided that a car seat is the safest place for an infant to be, even in the coffee shop, we have also decided that a parent’s arms are a rather unsafe place for an infant to be. Unless that parent has an infant sling.
The result is that babies spend hours in car seats – many of which are not in an actual car.
I’m not criticizing parents. It’s a societal thing. My son took his fair share of naps in his car seat when he was a baby. I never gave it a second thought. And why would I have? It’s the way we do things.
But if you were an alien from another planet, and you came to Earth and saw the way we humans tote our babies about in car seats, you’d scratch your head too!
Come on! Admit it! You’d wonder just how crazy the human species was, wouldn’t you?
It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.
But do you want to know the not-funniest thing of all?
Car seats are frequently not used correctly – i.e. they are frequently not used in a way that would afford the infant protection in the event of a car accident.
Because, for reasons I cannot fathom, car seat manufacturers appear to be on a quest to make car seats even more challenging to use correctly than the snaps on infant clothing.
Being morbidly curious, I did a little research, and discovered something that blew my mind.
The training I would need to become certified to teach parents how to correctly use and install a car seat, is twice as long as the training I would need to become certified to teach those same parents how to provide basic CPR and first aid to their child.
Apparently, it’s harder to teach someone how to safely transport a child from home to Starbucks than it is to teach them how to provide basic lifesaving measures.
If only I was joking.
The National Highway Traffic and safety Administration has determined that in order for me to be certified to teach parents to correctly use child car seats, I need to attend 4 full (8 hour) days of training.
On the other hand, the American Heart Association has determined that for me to be certified to teach CPR/first aid to new parents, I need only half that amount of time – 8 hours of online coursework and one full day (8 hours) of classroom training.
Is it really too much to ask that a car seat be simple enough to use that a parent doesn’t need to seek out a highly trained technician in order to learn to use it correctly?
And, while we’re at it, can we step back and look at ourselves? I mean really look at ourselves, like the aliens did when they came and left their crop circles.
Human infants are meant to be cuddled by human adults. Not by plastic, cloth covered buckets.
If you have a baby, please do yourself several favors:
- Buy an infant carrier sling – there are dozens on the market
- Put a car seat in your car. Then have it checked at a car seat check location www.seatcheck.org
- Use your car seat every single time you take your baby in the car – without fail
- When you get to where you’re going, leave the car seat in the car
The car seat belongs in your car.
Your baby belongs in your arms!
Cuddle your baby while you can. One day you will wake up and see your baby driving his own car – trust me – I did that very thing just this morning!