Friday, August 26, 2011

Ranting and Raving: On car seats

Very important note: I live in Denmark where car prices are at least 180% higher because of taxes.  A basic brand new Volvo station wagon, the epitome of safety, costs $30,000 in the US and $97,000 in Denmark. A more modest Ford Focus costs $17,300 in the US and $48,720 in DK.   When I say we can’t afford a new car, I’m not bitching about a “mere” $10,000 investment.  Car seats are also far more expensive, starting at $233 for just the seat.

I tell you it’s a conspiracy.  A conspiracy between car companies and baby car seat manufacturers.

It goes like this: you have to buy a brand spanking new car seat for your baby.  Why?  Because of SAFETY.  Old seats don’t have 5-point harnesses.  The plastic of an old seat may be compromised.  It may not hold up in an accident!  It may have been in an accident, rendering it NO GOOD.  An old car seat is worse than… than… NAZIS!  You wouldn’t put your precious bundle in the arms of HITLER would you?  I didn’t THINK so.

So you gotta buy a new car seat.

Only, here’s the funny bit - new car seats are designed to only go into new cars.  Doubt me?  Try sticking a new car seat into a 1998 Volvo station wagon, following the directions printed on the side of said seat.  It doesn’t fit.  You were SUPPOSED to be using an Isofix base, which cost an extra $233 (‘cause they’re sold separately in Denmark doncha know), but since you have an older car that doesn’t HAVE Isofix capabilities you are stuck trying to follow the alternative directions for LOSERS who don’t have new cars.  Obviously, with the introduction of Isofix, car seat designers have decided to punish those of us who dare drive old cars because these instructions just don’t work. 

I mean you CAN buckle the seat into your car… as long as you don’t actually PLAN on putting the baby in it.  

The seat belt wraps around, over and under the seat.  If your child is already in the chair, she’s going to be tilted and jostled while you wrestle with the belt.  If you plan on putting the child in after you fit the chair in, you will need to bend and twist the baby like a balloon artist to get her in.  Alas, having gotten the baby and the seat in, you discover that she’s tilted in a way that forces her to either sit straight up or slump over at the waist.  Your child will have an uncomfortable ride with her head planted between her feet.


You can ignore the directions and find an alternative way of strapping the seat in…


Well, if you are really worried about it, just buy a new car!


And it doesn’t end when your child gets bigger.  Oh no.  A child needs to be in a car seat until age - get this - “at least age 8... preferably 12."

This means that your child will finally be able to sit in the front seat a mere four years before you hand him or her the keys and say “go get mamma a box of bon bons.”

But how can you argue with SAFETY? What kind of parent doesn’t want to make sure their child is safe??  Who wouldn’t expend every effort, no matter what cost, to protect their baby???  If you can’t afford to buy a new car seat every year for 12 years and a new car every 3 years well then, you shouldn’t have had a child! This isn’t the latest fashions from Baby Gap or the latest toys from Lamaze - THIS IS THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR BUNDLE OF JOY!!

Statistics back up the car and car-seat makers - putting your child in an approved and properly installed car seat has DRASTICALLY lowered the number of deaths and injuries in car accidents.

Of course, the best way to lower the numbers even more is to never put your child in a car.  Abstinence, so I hear, is the only way to be 100% safe.  In fact, we should just get rid of cars all together.  And then we can ride about on bikes or, better yet, WALK.  (Because have you seen the seats for children on the backs of bikes?  UNSAFE!!)  I mean, seriously, a car seat until 12?!  Why don’t we just roll them in bubble wrap and unwrap them for their weddings?  We can explain the facts of life as we march them up the aisle.  Or they can just figure it out on their own.  God forbid we tell our children about such things, it may scar them for life.  They’ll have to see a therapist! 

Do you think I’m going over the top here?  That I’m exaggerating the pressure on parents from the AAP and other safety agencies?  I’m soooooo not.  Go here: Have fun!  Or don’t, cause it could lead to injury and NO ONE should EVER be INJURED.  EVER.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not advocating letting my child play with marbles and paring knives.  Nor am I going to just chuck her in the back seat and tell her, “hang on kiddo, mommy has a ferry boat to catch!”  I’m just saying that in its exuberance to make sure every child reaches 14 without a scratch (after which it’s open season on teens), society has sacrificed reason and feasibility.  It places an unobtainable burden on parents below a certain tax bracket, guaranteeing they are labeled “bad parent” before they’ve even had a chance to teach their kid to open beer bottles with their pacifiers. 

Now I’m pretty much okay being told I’m a bad parent because I am not sending my child to day care until she’s older, because I read “The Three Little Bears” to her instead of “Much Ado About Nothing” and because we dance to Lady Gaga rather than Mozart.  Those are my choices on how to raise my child.  But I am NOT okay with being told that I’m a bad parent because I can’t afford to keep my child safe. I want more than anything to keep my child safe.  That my ability to do so is limited by my income PISSES ME OFF.   Particularly since car companies and especially car seat designers seem to have decided to ignore the vast majority of the population that drives old, used cars and *GASP* had the audacity to breed.  Children are NOT a privilege restricted to the wealthy.

So, car companies and car seat manufacturers, get your butts back into your engineering chairs and figure out a way that us normal folks can keep our children safe in our older, but still fully functioning vehicles!  


  1. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Those GITS.

  2. With all the new precautions and safety measures, I sometimes wonder how I managed to survive my childhood. :p

    (and I would go with a used car seat, but bought from someone I knew and trusted)

  3. We went with used seats from a trusted source. It just seemed so dumb to spend so much on something she's going to outgrow in less than 6 months! We're already on our second seat because she outgrew the newborn seat. I expect her to outgrow this seat by the time she turns one - if not earlier.

  4. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Wait what? It's not "one size fits all"???? THOSE GITS!

  5. I FREAKING love this! Now, the midget hasn't been in a car seat since she hit 4. We had the Hyundai, and her knees hit the edge of the seat perfectly and the seat belt hit her perfectly. Of course, the law was different 8 years the time the law said your child is in a car seat until 4yrs or 40 pounds. And since my child is an Amazon, apparently, she was 40 pounds long before she turned 4.

    Now, the law here is 80 pounds and 4' 9" and my nieces and nephews are still in car seats. And my 4Runner is from the 90's, so their carseats, even though they are front facing carseats, don't sit right in my backseat. I get so angry at those damn carseats! It's not pretty. And I don't even have to do it every day, and they can hold themselves up no problem, but they still piss me off.

    For what it's worth, I think safe driving is more important than a carseat. Not that I don't approve of carseats. I do. I reported a couple once who had their little one crawling around in the back seat, but safety needs to be an option for all parents, not just the rich.

    Also, for what it's worth, our kids, the kids of the poorer parents, who will have to sometimes not give our kids everything, will do better than those bubble wrapped darlings of the upper crust, because no amount of money can protect you from life, with all of it's wonders and surprises and hard knocks.

    Also...duct tape works wonders and would probably keep her safe in an accident.

  6. 80 pounds??? Dude, I was in JUNIOR HIGH before I hit 80 pounds! In fact, I may have been in high school... I don't think I hit 100 until junior year...


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