There is so much I didn't know when I became a mother. I didn't know how breastfeeding worked; I didn't know projectile poop was real; I didn't know what sleeping in hour long intervals over the course of weeks does to a person mind, body, and soul; and I definitely didn't know a damn thing about car seats. There is so much, as a new mom, I wish I knew about car seat safety. While a great number of internet PSAs and better-versed friends (eventually) taught me much of what I know now, I still feel retrospective panic when I realize how many things I had been doing wrong that could have been disastrous, or even deadly.
I honestly didn't give car seats much thought before my first child was born. It was like, "Okay, is this the safest brand? Will he fit in it? Will the seat fit in my car?" It was just an item to purchase, install (albeit awkwardly) and then not think about. But the truth of the matter is, there's a lot to consider when it comes to a car seat; things that you have to continually think over well after you've picked your brand and made your purchase. There are a whole bunch of car seat safety tips to take into consideration each and every time you buckle your baby in, for instance, and which car seat you'll inevitably have to transition to once your baby outgrows your initial selection. Seriously, you guys; this never ends.
Now, I'll level with you: there are some people out there who can get a bit, um, overzealous about car seat safety. You probably know one or two of those people (or maybe you are one of these people); the ones who, the minute they see a picture of a baby in a car seat on social media, immediately run through a mental safety check and audibly gasp if something is amiss. In their worse moments, they may even get judgmental about it. Please know that, while a comment might be ill-timed or made publicly when it should have been sent privately, those people (yes, the overzealous ones) have the best of intentions. We all try to forgo judgment and share information it's just, well, in the heat of the moment an information swap may seem more like an outright shaming session. Trust me, a mistake is not a moral failing. After all, we don't know what we don't know, right? Take the photo above, for example: this is one of my son, from back before I realized that the chest clip should have been up higher. I'm grateful to a friend who wasn't a total jerk about it when pointing it out to me. Now I know what to do; now my child is safer; now I can pass that information on to others. See! Improved safety and no judgment required!
And so, in the spirit of not knowing what we don't know, here's a list of things that every new mom wishes she knew about car seat safety. If you've been here and done that, don't beat yourself up. Trust me, you're not alone. If you're a new mom yourself, just consider this a friendly information swap, from me to you.