Ever since Miles was born, the car seat has been always been an issue.
Not for him. For me.
You see, the gosh-darned things are just so hard to install correctly. The guideline, they say, is no more than an inch of wiggle room side-to-side. I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to achieve that.
I mean, I’m a grown man, of not insubstantial size, and I’m literally standing in the back seat of the car, pulling those belts as tight as I can with all the strength I have. I’m also fairly intelligent, smart enough to read an owner’s manual and figure things like this out.
Still, it seems like it’s never quite tight enough.
So a few days before Owen was born, we took both our cars over to St. Mary’s for a car seat safety program they were putting on.
Thank goodness for these folks, who are certified by the National Standardized Child Passenger Safety Training Program. They are truly doing good work. A quick evaluation on both cars and they told me what I expected, that neither of Miles’ seats were as secure as they should have been.
They showed us how to make sure they were as tight as possible, which is not nearly as simple as it seems.
For example, we learned that the “LATCH system” belts we had been using to install Miles’ seat wasn’t adequate in either of our cars.
The LATCH system (standing for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) came into being in the early part of the 2000’s and was supposed to be a universal, foolproof solution for installing car seats.
For newborns and infants, it does just that – for toddler-sized kids, it’s more of a hit-and-miss proposition and even something as insignificant as the shape of the seat back can mess everything up.
St. Mary’s registered nurse Terry Cooper showed us why the “latches” weren’t working for us and showed us how to secure the seatbelt in the more traditional way with the lap and shoulder belts, which in our specific case, proved to be a far safer and easier method.
I could go on a rant about how the car manufacturers and car seat manufacturers need to get their collective acts together and collaborate on a truly universal system for car seats, but if that hasn’t happened by now it’s probably not going to.
Instead, I will simply point out the importance of making sure your children’s car seats are 100% safely installed.
The good thing is, both Deaconess and St. Mary’s here in town have car seat safety programs. My guess is most hospitals have something similar in place.
If your car seat doesn’t seem quite secure enough, it probably isn’t. Make an appointment, and they will check everything out for you at no cost.