Hey kid, turn around!
May 17, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

My niece is 14 months old, 29 inches tall & 19 pounds. My sister in law already has her forward facing in her car seat. When she mentioned she was planning to turn her around once she hit 1 and asked if I had turned our son around yet I said no way (he's 16 months)! I said it was illegal in some states to turn them around until 2. Her and her husband shrugged it off and said well not here . Should I say something more? Should I send her some articles explaining the benefits of rear facing? Is it not really a big deal? I have no plans to turn my son forward facing regardless, but I would feel awful if something happened to my niece and I never spoke up. I mean no one plans to have an accident. Should I say something or just stay out of it. I know the usual advice on Ask is to stay out of it, but I'm asking anyway.
posted by MayNicholas to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total)
You really should stay out of it. You wouldn't want them to be judging your parenting choices and that is exactly what it is. Their choice.
posted by Roger Dodger at 10:48 AM on May 17, 2014 [23 favorites]

Stay out of it. You've already said it once, and that's as many times as you get. The rear-facing until 2 years old thing is a fairly recent development, but still, stay out of it.
posted by ambrosia at 10:52 AM on May 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding Roger Dodger: stay out of it. They won't change her carseat around based on anything you say or articles you send or whatever the law is, nor will you change your child around based on anything they say..... the only result of not dropping this right now & never mentioning it again is bad feelings between you and them.
posted by easily confused at 10:54 AM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would send her an article about it and see if it impacts their decision. If it does not, so be it. Alternatively, if you do absolutely nothing, and things go wrong, you will likely regret it until the day you die. You are not "judging" their parenting choices by giving them access to information. You are just trying to make sure they make their decisions with the best information available. They may not know all the facts.
posted by jcworth at 10:55 AM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Stay out of it. There is no age at which forward-facing suddenly becomes as safe as rear-facing; if we were going for what is safer, we'd all of us be rear-facing except the driver. Different people work that safety calculus differently. I turned my daughter front-facing at 1 because when she was rear-facing every car ride was a shrieking hell of misery and when she was forward facing she loved riding in the car, for example. She is already aware of your opinions, she's already aware of the information (it's basically impossible not to be), you will just come off like a nag.
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 AM on May 17, 2014 [23 favorites]

but I would feel awful if something happened to my niece and I never spoke up.

You did speak up. Now drop it. "What about the children?!?!" is a cliche because everyone would feel awful if something bad happened to a child; that's not an excuse to insist on giving unsolicited advice just because something bad might happen.
posted by jaguar at 11:03 AM on May 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

They probably think you are a little paranoid. I'm sure they'll look at whatever you send, though.
posted by michaelh at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I turned both of my boys around at age 1 (or there abouts, one is now almost 5 and the other is 2). They were both squished and miserable rear facing. Hell, even their pediatricians said rear facing till 1. Each parent has their own calculus about dangers, and unless they are being super negligent (which this does NOT count), the you can say your opinion when asked, and otherwise, leave it be.
posted by katers890 at 11:13 AM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

They might have a reason to turn her around early. My oldest got turned around at one because he would scream when he was rear facing. In my mind, a forward facing one year old was a lot safer than a car full of shrill baby screaming. I am happy to report he's still alive, despite my horrible parenting.
posted by katypickle at 11:16 AM on May 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

This change from turn around at 2 versus 1 only happened in the last few years.
But more importantly, butt out.
posted by k8t at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


(I find it really interesting how this varies by location - I am in Canada, and everyone I know switched to front facing at 1 year. However the internet tells me that Americans think that is crazy. At any rate, if I were your niece's parents' shoes, I would be polite but very very irritated if you sent me any "information" about the issue.)
posted by barnoley at 11:20 AM on May 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

The Internet would seem to say that even in states with explicit rules for rear facing seats none of them require them past one year

Source here
posted by JPD at 11:27 AM on May 17, 2014

"I said it was illegal in some states to turn them around until 2."

This is not true in any state, and some states do not mandate rear-facing seats at all. (Most parents still USE them, but fewer states than you think require it.)

30ish deaths in 10 years (2000 to 2010), some due to user error, were enough to get drop-sided cribs pulled completely from the market. If 75% of parents were installing and using car seats incorrectly, they would be pulled from the market LIKE THAT, because "user error" isn't acceptable in products for babies. That's because a lot of the "All the car seats installed wrong!" is a litigation strategy by car seat companies to disclaim liability when their seats fail to protect infants in accidents. (Which isn't to say car seats aren't installed wrong, but I'd give that 75% number the side-eye, and wonder why car seat manufacturers have gone to such lengths to advertise their products as "ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO USE! SO HARD!") Which is to say, use common sense, but it's worthwhile to ignore a lot of the COMPLETE HYSTERIA and resulting STRINGENT RULES OR DEATH around car seats, because a lot of it has more to do with profits than with safety.

The APA recommended rear-facing until 2 in 2011, which I recall because it was between turning around my first child and my second child. Before that they recommended age 1 and 20#. It's much more important that the child be in a seat that is comfortable and convenient enough that the parents and child will use it consistently. If you've got a 16-month-old who fights the backwards seat (so it's hard to tighten enough) and distracts the driver the entire drive by screaming their head off, that is considerably more dangerous than a frontward seat that the child complies with.

And really, if child car safety is that big a concern, the most important step you can take is to drive way less with your kids in the car.

Butt out, and focus your energy on getting residential speed limits dropped from 25 to 20 mph, which helps a lot in reducing pedestrian and child fatalities, and has the benefit of attacking the problem from a societal direction rather than getting up in your sister-in-law's face and calling her parenting into question.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2014 [18 favorites]

You get to raise your own children, but not other people's children. Which is good, lest she flood your inbox with articles supporting her position and argue the point every time she sees you.
posted by Houstonian at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Should I say something more?

Never say a word about any other parent's choices unless they're letting their three year old grill steaks or something.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

The rate of people accidentally leaving a kid in the car is correlated with rear-facing seats. There are different ways to calculate the risks involved in using rear-facing seats. You've spoken up, now leave them alone.
posted by studioaudience at 11:36 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Alright. I won't say anything more.
I do want to clarify though: I wasn't judging her or her parenting. I thought it was a bigger deal than apparently it is. I must just visit the wrong websites. You know, the ones who scream DANGER, as opposed to, meh, no biggie. Plus, I think I must have too many friends who are certified car seat techs, so my info is skewed.
Thanks for the reality check MeFites!
posted by MayNicholas at 11:39 AM on May 17, 2014

The whole rear-facing/forward-facing debate is currently a big one on any parenting website for infants/toddlers. It is definitely one of those thing "internet people" care more about than your average parent.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:42 AM on May 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

[An aside to anyone who clicked through to that GHSA site that specifically calls out Florida and S. Dakota for having no booster seat law... the Florida Legislature finally passed a law this year (CS/HB 225); now up to the Governor to sign it.]
posted by easement1 at 11:45 AM on May 17, 2014

Gotta stay out of it.

At least she's still buckling them. Pretty small chance she'll be in an accident that results in internal decaptiation (atlanto-occipital dislocation) & some car seat is better than no car seat in nearly all accidents. & every day the kid is stronger.

I'd advise her on a really good forward facing seat if she's going to flip the kid anyway; one with optimal side-impact protection.
posted by tilde at 11:48 AM on May 17, 2014

I am wondering what your actual "question-behind-the-question" is.
"If I send her this article, will it change her mind?" - you are the better judge of her character and your relationship to her than we are. I know, for instance, that I will accept my mom's nagging more readily than anyone else's. If she sent me an article to follow up, I would read it. Especially if she apologized and indicated that this would be the last time she mentioned the issue.

"If I don't send her the article, will I regret it forever?" - again, you're the better judge of that than we are. Can you let this go?
posted by Omnomnom at 11:57 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

May, just want to add that I didn't mean to imply that you were being judgmental, but that many new parents will perceive any comment related to their parenting as judgey. My wife opted for a birth outside of a hospital without drugs which is uncommon in the States. I had many many family members and friends remind me of the risks and things that could go wrong and give me a sidelong glance as they bit their tongues. I know they were doing it out of the best interests of our future baby. But, they all came off as slightly judgmental because we weren't having our baby the way that they had their baby. So even if you weren't intending to judge, it may be perceived that way.
posted by Roger Dodger at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I completely understand your view. A lot of people have the idea that not doing anything or not speaking up somehow relieves them of guilt if something were to happen due to their lack of taking action. Lack of action is just as bad as commiting an action if the result is catastrophic. I'm not saying you're wrong or right on the issue because there are many reasons why they might have chosen this. Just that I respect the fact that you are willing to take responsibility for the potential result of "not trying." I find too many people in the world often choose to do the easy thing rather than the right thing. Assuming your intention is motivated by sincere worry rather than judging someone else then speaking up was certainly not the easy thing to do.

Having said that- you DID already speak up about it. And at this point there's nothing you can do so drop it. Not doing so will only stir up bad blood between you and the parents. I personally don't think what her parents are doing is a big deal, but I've never been in their shoes so what do I know. What I do know is that we can't control everything around us and sometimes we just have to accept that we did all we could. At this point IF something bad were to happen to your niece due to her parents choices you can look back and know there is absolutely nothing more you could've done to prevent it. They are her parents after all and ultimately their choices are going to be the ones that have a huge affect on her for better or worse no matter what. If this is the worst they are doing as parents I would say the little girl is pretty lucky to have them. Give up trying to control the situation and just accept that you can't. Your sense of duty as a devoted aunt/uncle should have been satisfied. Focus now instead on developing a relationship with your niece which you won't be able to do by pissing off your parents.
posted by manderin at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to add, you two have kids that are a few months apart and are cousins. Inevitably this has and will continue to produce comparisons between the two children by those that know both. This is somehow more painful than a comparison to a random baby on the street or babies from your parenting group. This can be with regards to milestones, parenting choices, behavior, whatever.
And this doesn't stop once the baby milestones are done. I'm the parent of a 5.5 year old with a cousin 9 months younger who is much more advanced - speaks more clearly (my kid has a speech delay), reading better, etc. And a tiny bit of me is sad when I hear my kid Skyping with his cousin and I see the differences. This is the way it is though.

Just saying that given the closeness in age, even if you all don't live anywhere near each other and the kids barely see each other OR on the other side, you see each other all the time - be sensitive to the fact that every kid is different, every family is different, and comparison and/or commenting is really futile.
posted by k8t at 2:35 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

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