Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our Car Seat Wasn't Safe. Oops.

Subtitle: How to Make Your BundleMe Safe (in 20 seconds)
Last night I posted this picture on Facebook, which prompted an email from Marie, a friend of the blog, which led to a bit of an education for me.  As it turns out, I was doing something incredibly common that's actually a bit dangerous. It took me less than a minute to fix the problem, and I wanted to share it all in the hopes that others may learn from my mistake. (Others learning from my mistakes has been a bit of a theme lately. I need to stop making so many mistakes, I guess.)  Anyway, here you go:
I know three car seat rules:
Rule #1: Car seat straps should fit snugly (if you try to pinch the strap, there shouldn't be any slack to pinch) and the chest clasp thingie should fit over the chest (not the belly), in line with the armpits/nipples.
Rule #2: Kids should, ideally, be rear-facing as long as possible (at least until 2 years old). 
Rule #3: Kids should never wear big winter coats in their car seat.  An impact will cause the coat to compress and the straps will end up being surprisingly loose.  (This photo album illustrates the best way to wear a big coat in a car seat---I don't know the woman who made it, but she's a car seat safety person and you can click through the pictures to learn more. This video, made by the same person, also shows why thick coats are a no-go.)
I had these three rules down, and actually felt a bit more car-seat-informed than average.  Because of Rule #3, I never put Will in his car seat with a coat on---he wears his normal clothes and a hat and is kept warm by his BundleMe:
Only 8 weeks old and already giving me attitude about having his picture taken.
As it turns out, the BundleMe, used the way that it is shown above, is actually not safe either.  Who knew? 
We live in a large city and walk a lot. Everywhere. Will's car seat snaps into the various strollers that we use, and he definitely needs to be bundled as we approach another New York winter. I swear that almost every stroller that I pass in the city is sporting one a BundleMe, or other bundling thing.
The problem, as seen on this very informative website, is that the part of the BundleMe that is under Will's body can compress in an accident, causing the straps to loosen and freeing Will up for more of an impact.
Here is Will "before"--strapped in snugly, with the BundleMe underneath him:
The BundleMe sans Will:

So, I took the BundleMe off and put Will back in. I didn't fully believe that a thin layer of fleece would really make much of a difference. But look:

That's really loose!

The site I posted earlier included this video---a (really) easy way to make the BundleMe completely car seat safe---and still snuggly warm.  First, I tightened up Will's straps.

Then, I grabbed a pair of scissors and simply cut out the part of the BundleMe that fit under Will, so that there wouldn't be any material between his body and the back of the carseat.

I cut out the velcro sides too
The modified BundleMe looks like this in the carseat:

And Will fit right in. I didn't have to loosen the straps at all:

And it must still feel warm and snuggly, because it took him about 11 seconds to fall asleep:

I was glad that Marie took the time to email me and let me know that the BundleMe wasn't really safe the way that we were using it, and I was happy to learn about a simple way that I could fix the issue and make the car seat a little bit safer. 
In writing this, I wondered if it would reach people who would think: "Oh please---I use a BundleMe and I'm sure it's totally fine. *If* (and that's a long shot) we're in an accident, how much is that little bit of compression really going to make a difference?!" (eyeroll)
As a total non-expert, I can see where they're coming from--but only for a second.  Firstly, because I think that every little bit of extra slack probably matters for things like whiplash.  And secondly, because if all that it takes to fix the problem is awareness, 20 seconds, and a pair of scissors . . . well, why wouldn't you?
Disclaimer #1: I am not a car seat safety technician, nor am I even particularly educated about car seat use. I've linked to people who seem to know way more than I do, so if you have any car seat questions please visit one of their sites---don't send them to me!
Disclaimer #2: I am in no way affiliated with any of the car seat sites that I linked to, or the BundleMe line of products.


Unknown said...

Wow, I loved the Bundle me and never imagined that they were unsafe. Thanks!

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Felicia Fedrick said...

Amazing post! In your opinion, what is the best convertible car seat and why? Looking to switch my daughter to it (reverse still) and then when she is one switching to forward-facing. Thanks!

webflow said...

I am so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.



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