Thursday, April 8, 2010

Informed Decisions

Here I am again, in the late night hours, when my head should be on the pillow. Tonight the fault is my own, and a new blog I've been reading. Over an hour ago, I started reading this post, and all the comments following it....and here I am, unable to sleep.

[There are so many levels to this conversation and points that have been made that are swirling around in my brain. I will have to come back to this point another night and go down the other paths.]

Car seat safety is important to me. VERY important. Quite often I contemplate saying something to a parent who I see using (what seems to me) an improper car seat, or not using one at all, or using one incorrectly. Just today during swim class, I contemplated (for the 5th week) telling a mom that her son was too tall for his infant seat, and that the belt was no where near tight enough to restrain him in the event of a crash.

But now I've read the previously mentioned post, I wonder if I did the right thing by not saying anything. First of all, I'm not known for my tact (in fact, I might be known for my lack thereof at times). What don't I know about this parent? Maybe they tighten up the buckle when they put the seat in the car. Maybe they use the infant seat because they can't afford the next size seat or they are waiting for one to be donated to them. Maybe she keeps meaning to go buy the next one but it's hard to get out to the store with two young kids. Maybe it's just easier to use the seat to carry him in to swim lessons (and this was the last week) and now that it's over she'll move him up to the next one. Maybe if I say something to her, she'll feel like yet another mother is judging her and she'll react with anger (or worse!). BUT maybe she has no idea that he's not as safe as he could be and would welcome the information.

It's that last maybe that tempts me to say something, but the one just before that scares me into silence.

I guess if you are making an INFORMED decision it's different. For example, I didn't realize when I moved Trevor to a forward-facing seat at 15 months (and 20 pounds) that I had any other choice. My pediatrician said I could turn him around. So I did. Now I know that it's safer for Izzy to stay rear-facing until she's at least 2, and 35 pounds (based on my car seat). Likewise, I've learned that T & B are both MUCH safer in a 5-point harness, so that's where they will stay (no matter how UNCOOL Trevor thinks it is compared to some of his school buddies!).

BUT...I had to find this information out on my own. By doing the research and reading and talking to experts (who also happens to be a friend!). It wasn't information that was given to me at the hospital, or the pediatrician's office, or anywhere else. It's very hard information to find if you don't know where to look. And how are you even supposed to know to look??!??! I mean if your pediatrician (a person with a higher education) tells you its safe to turn the car seat around, why wouldn't you believe them?

The lack of information really concerns me in this area.... People are told rear-face your child until they are 1 year old; they see booster seats for children who weigh 30 pounds' so they think those are the best/only choice. But it's not.

I can understand that it's not my right to make the decision for you, or my right to judge you for the decisions you have made (I'll try not to at least, but I'm still working on that one!). But I want to help you make the best decision for your child and make sure you have all the information before you make that decision. Is that wrong of me? Is it wrong that I want to help keep a child safe because they can't make those decisions on their own??


Joanna said...

Tegan I totally agree with you. I have thought of ways of saying what I want to say without it seeming all judgemental. I have in the past said to the child, "Well, look at you getting all big for that carseat." I then said, "Wow, you really are getting big for that carseat." Then pause. Usually, the parent will say something like, Oh yeah, I'm going shopping this weekend, or I'm switching them out soon. I've even heard "you really think so?" I then tell them what I know about carseats and the fact that their head shouldn't come over the carseat back at all.

I even recently told a good friend of mine that her sons eyes looked slightly crossed or that one seemed lazy. She said, "thank you, I've been trying to get my husband to see it and it's good to have someone else see it too. He thought I was crazy." So,sometimes it's a good thing to mention. What's the worst that could happen, your intentions are good. I do believe it takes a village to raise kids, so mention it.

Angela said...

Tegan...are you sure you don't have a calling in this area...LOL! You'd make a great parent educator. I can see it safety talks at parenting groups and showing off your blankets. It's an untapped market I tell ya'. But seriously I struggle with the same issue because usually in my experience people DO take it the wrong way and get hostile. I've resorted to handing out my business card first before saying anything. And I often preface with, "I just to do (insert car seat error) too before I became a technician." I find it's easier pointing out errors to strangers rather than friends.

And don't get me started about how I've been telling my sister since my nephew was born 2 months ago that my his neck was tight and to keep on eye on it and to mention it to the doctor if it didn't get better. I even said it to her at 2 weeks, and 1 month. Finally I said it again at Easter and told her to just ask the doctor for MY piece of mind. You know what...I was right. He has torticollis and needs PT. I had been telling her all along to catch it early before he gets plagiocephaly and needs a helmet. PT is covered by insurance - helmets aren't. SHEESH!!! I'm not judging you, I'm trying to help. I don't get a high or a buzz of being right. Get over it. Okay I'm done hijacking your comments with my vent....LOL!

Ilanna said...

see - Mikki was turned around at 1 year and 24 lbs. But i had a reason. I had been told to keep her rear as long as possible. The problem was - the rear facing seat that she needed to be moved to - created a visibility issue for me, and I couldn't put her rear facing behind me b/c then i could keep my seat in a comfortable position for driving. Visibility and driver comfort to me are more of a safety risk at that point.

now of course I know that my infant seat can accomodate a larger infant than she was, and so Talia will probably stay rear facing a bit longer - but sometimes it's a safety trade off.

*however* - i do agree with Joanna - if presented properly, it's always good to inform. I mean - that's part of the whole BF argument right now - it's not that necessarily the choice between feeding options - but the lack of education making the choice uninformed....