No parent wants to imagine their baby's car seat being flipped upside down, but one mom is going viral for her eye-opening photos that are teaching parents an important lesson about car seat safety. Rachel McNamara shared two snapshots of her little one strapped into a car seat and being held both above her head as well as flipped upside down. Her point? to make parents consider an important question the next time they buckle their little one in: would the child be protected if the car rolled?
Rachel isn't telling parents that they should flip their little ones each time they get ready for a drive to ensure that they are properly restrained, but instead to keep in mind some vital safety tips. "Remember that the chest clip should be at armpit level and the straps should be tight enough to pass the pinch test," she wrote on Facebook. "[Parents] should feel confident that their child would be safe IF the car seat was flipped over in an accident. I think this is a great visual and shows just how important proper car seat use is."
Although Rachel notes that every car seat is different and that parents should always read the manual first, she reminds them that in most cases, the straps should be at or below their child's shoulders when they are rear facing. When they are forward facing, she notes that the straps should typically be at or above their shoulders.
She also clarifies that the "pinch test" is something that parents can do after the child is buckled in and the chest clip is in place. "You shouldn't be able to pinch any of the strap between two fingers," she wrote. "This test should be done near the shoulders. If you can pinch the strap here's what to do: move the chest clip back down, tighten the straps, move the chest clip back up, and test again."
Rachel also warns that proper car seat installation and which direction your baby is facing are equally important factors in car seat safety:
There should be less than an inch of movement of the car seat at the belt/latch path. Always use the top tether when forward facing. Only uses the latch system OR the seat belt to install your car seat. Never use both (with the exception of a few brands).
Check your car seat's manual. If you need help installing your car seat or have any questions about what seat would be best for your child or the best fit in your car, call your local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).
Rear facing as long as possible is always the safest option. Both the NHTSA and AAP recommend rear facing to the MINIMUM of 2 years old. But ideally they should rear face until they max out the seat's weight and height limits.
There is a common misconception that once a child's feet can touch the back of the seat that they need to be forward faced because their legs could become injured in an accident. This is simply not true. Their legs are actually LESS likely to sustain injuries while rear facing. Some people may say "my child looks so cramped rear facing". But truthfully toddlers are extremely flexible and can find very creative places to put their legs to get comfortable. Please consider extended rear facing your child. Car accidents are the leading cause of injury and death in children.
Rachel is surprised by the attention her post has gotten — and jokes that she would've changed her outfit if she knew it was going to go viral — but hopefully as the message is shared more parents will be able to ensure their children are safe as can be in their car seats!