Do I Say Something?

What would you do if you had a friend or aquantiance who had their kids in car seats that were clearly unsafe? I’m not sure what to do…

I have a friend – a newer friend- that has two kids; a newborn and a kid Lucas’s age. I happened to see them in the car before she got them out (and right after she had stopped and walked around to get them) and I was shocked. The newborn (like, weeks old newborn) was in a infant seat but the straps were super loose. Like, extremely loose, to the point where I don’t even know if it was doing anything. If she were to slam on the breaks at all, going 40,50, 60 MPH, that baby would not stay in the car seat.

The toddler, age three, was in a booster seat, using a normal/adult seatbelt going across his front — or maybe it wasn’t even on his front? I didn’t see if he had it over his chest or behind him, but I know for sure he didn’t have any other straps/buckles being used, it was just the shoulder/waist strap.

SO. I immediately cringed at this. I am not judging her, I am legitimately concerned for her child’s safety.

Is it my place to say anything??

I feel like, if my kids were in any danger, I would want someone to tell me. Maybe she truly doesn’t know that you need baby straps to be tighter??

I’m not super close with her, so I was thinking what I should do. Maybe I could even drop off a “car seat safety” brochure or something on her doorstep? Or would that just be ridiculous and make her feel awful? I don’t know! Is it my place to say anything or should I stay out of it? I don’t want to be rude, of course, and maybe I don’t even know what I’m talking about and I’m totally wrong. I just can’t stop thinking about these kids in the car seats and praying that mama doesn’t get in a car crash!

What would you do?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

9 thoughts on “Do I Say Something?

  1. I think I might find a good article on carseat safety and share it with her, like, “Look at this interesting info I found. It tells all about how to check and make sure your seats are properly installed, etc.” That way you can hopefully avoid sounding like, “I'm so right and you're all wrong” about it.

    What the hey, this might be a good time to check your seats out and make sure everything is ship shape – then you can honestly tell her you checked yours too.

  2. If it were me I'd just reach in and tighten them, and say 'there, that's better!'.. the baby's straps were a little loose! I think an article is WAY too impersonal if you've known this person more than a few days. Alternately, you could just flat out say, in the nicest way.. 'hey I couldn't help but notice that little johnnies' car seat straps seemed a little loose the other day'… and then whatever she says in return, unless it's NO, then just say that you always make sure they're.. whatever. we do a finger width underneath, that's what our instructions say.. I dont know…at least it's a talking point. Then again, we live in the midwest, where it's okay to touch a friend's kid and butt into their business, at least a little bit.

  3. I think you need to say something- I'm not big into “what ifs” but what if she was in an accident next week and someone got hurt. You would feel terrible you knew they weren't safe. Maybe you can just play dumb, “Oh, is he big enough to be in a seat with just the seatbelt?” just act like you don't know- see what she says. Car seats are something to not mess around with, and clearly the 3 year old should be in a 5 pt harness still.

  4. I liked Jill answer. I know personally I loosen then to get the baby if he/she was sleeping, fussing, ect and maybe that happened the last time and now she is distracted by her 3 year old and talking to you so she did not notice. I love my kids and do EVERYTHING to keep them safe but sometime your brain is not on. By nicely stepping in you fixed the problem. If you see it again then you might say something. I would not jump to conclusion without seeing it multiple times. I am not sure on the booster. While harness are the safest, its a height and weight rule. Here 3year might meet it. Mine does. I might put that one up for parental decision. If it is really bothers you, maybe share the article with the class, or something so she does not feel singled out.

  5. I have tightened other people's kids' straps more than once. I've also chickened out a few times, and fretted about it.

    Usually, I'll say something like, “I'm sorry, but I just have to say something. His straps should really be tighter than that. . . .” and then tighten them up and explain how they should be.

    Someimes I've said, “When I had my seat inspected, they told me . . . . ” (true or not)

    Also, re a couple of above comments, I just have to say something 🙂

    The “one finger under the strap” rule is actually not the current recommendation, because it's too lose. The best way to test the tightness of the strap is to make sure that you cannot pinch up any at the collar bone.

    My almost-4-year-old daughter is still in a rear-facing 5-point harness, so I'm not totally up on the booster and booster-with-belt rules, but I'm pretty certain that there are age requirements (oh, looked it up – at least 3-4 years) for any booster, and there's the “five step test” which addresses both size and maturity for a belt-only booster.

    I can't imagine many 3 year olds “passing” that test.

  6. The carseat issue is much easier to handle than the not old enough to be in a booster seat issue.

    I had a semi-close friend see a picture of my youngest in her carseat on facebook. The retainer clip was not high enough up on her chest. He sent me a private message and said he didn't want to step on my toes but…

    While it did catch me offguard, I knew he meant well. I knew he didn't think I was a bad parent. It just made me extra cautious putting her in her carseat.

    I think you should say something. Make it a joke. Help her put her kid in his carseat and say something like, “Good gracious girl! These straps are not tight enough. My baby would wiggle right out of those.” (all while you are tightening the straps and laughing.)

    You know, in all honesty if you piss her off… oh well. At least she will think about it every time she throws her kid in the carseat.

    Good luck!

  7. I've been exactly here. Seen my best friend have her infant in a bucket seat that wasn't even strapped into the car. He was only buckled by the chest buckle, but it wasn't seatbelted or latched into the car. He was also forward facing WAY before 1.
    Her other son was at the time 3 and I had seen him in a backless booster with shoulder strap behind him, also seen him walking around the vehicle and sitting on his sister's lap.
    He is now 4 and is in no seat at all.
    I was considering reporting this to the police, but I am her best friend and I know she'd know it was me. I tell her I'm concerned for the kids safety but she doesn't care and just brushes it off…
    I don't know what to say here hun. But I'm in the same position.
    It's not as bad here now… Her little guy is almost 2 and he's forward facing but in a correct seat. Her oldest is 4 and in no booster, which is our law. But this isn't as bad an offense as it was a year ago.

  8. @Amy, some states have laws. Our's is you can't be in a booster until you're 4 and 40 pounds. Then you must remain in one until you're 8 and/or 80 pounds and/or 4'9″.

    Personally my daughter is 5 and 36 pounds and she's in a 5pt harness still. It's not because she's not at 40 pounds, it's because it's safest and she'll remain in that seat until she's at it's limit.
    My son is 7m and rear facing in a Britax Marathon and he'll remain in it rear facing until the weight limit (35 pounds).

  9. I just removed my 7 year old from a 5 point harness. She has just reached 40lbs and can have a booster seat. I am a carseat nut and think in a kind and gentle way you could just mention the loose strap..or schedule a day to go and get eveyones carseat checked out at the local fire department or police station, follwed by a trip to Starbucks ;)…that way no passsing judgement and a knowledgeable person can do the correcting and proper installation. Carseats are a hot issue, but the people strapped in them are worth the few minutes of awkward conversation!

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