A woman has reflected on the importance of properly using car seats while revealing how the seat, and her “nagging,” likely saved her three-month-old son’s life.
Mary Rebecca, from Memphis, Tennessee, discussed the importance of car seat safety in a 2018 Facebook post, in which she recalled how she’d asked her husband David to send “hourly updates and recaps” about their three-month-old child William on her first day back to work after maternity leave.
According to Rebecca, her husband did as she asked throughout the day, at one point sending the new mother a photo of the baby in his car seat on their way to Walgreens.
In the Facebook post, Rebecca revealed that, in response to the photo, she’d asked her husband to correct the straps on the child’s car seat, recalling: “My nagging wife reply was to correct William’s position in the car seat - the straps were too loose and the chest clip was way too low.
“And because I know my husband, I’m sure that he laughed at me and rolled his eyes before tightening the car seat and fixing the chest clip.”
Rebecca’s instructions likely ended up saving the newborn’s life, as shortly after she’d given the directions she received a phone call from her husband informing her that they had been involved in a car crash.
According to the new mother, her husband and son were a few miles away from home when a driver pulled into oncoming traffic in an attempt to make a left turn, which forced David to slam on the brakes.
“David just didn’t have enough time to stop - it could have happened to anyone,” she recalled, adding: “He slammed on the brakes at nearly 50 miles an hour before colliding with the front passenger side door of her SUV.”
However, according to Rebecca, their son was perfectly fine, with the mother revealing that the three month old was so well restrained that he slept through the crash.
“My precious little bundle of joy was so well restrained in his car seat, THAT HE DIDN’T EVEN WAKE UP,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “Even with the impact of the two cars, William only received a minor jolt - so insignificant that he was able to continue on with his nap, and then spend the next two hours flirting with nurses in the Le Bonheur ED.”
David, however, sustained injuries in the crash, with Rebecca noting that her husband broke his foot in three places and suffered three dislocated toes.
While their car was totalled, Rebecca acknowledged that “cars can be replaced - my boys can’t”.
The new mother then went on to share car seat guidance for infants, explaining that “all infants should be REAR-FACING in the back seat until at least the age of two and snuggly secured in a FIVE POINT HARNESS in a car seat base that does not move more than one inch in any direction”.
“I am so thankful that my husband took the extra one minute that was necessary to put William in his car seat safely,” Rebecca continued. “I can’t even begin to imagine how different the outcome could have been. I truly believe that the reason my family is at home sitting on the couch with a pair of crutches instead of down at the hospital is because of my annoying nagging mom voice.”
In the Facebook post, Rebecca also noted that she would be throwing out the nearly new $200 Britax BSafe 35 car seat that protected her son, as, according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the “expensive, barely broken in” car seat was “now garbage”.
“Any car seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe motor vehicle incident where the car cannot be driven away from the scene of the crash immediately becomes defective,” she explained. “When my husband and I realised it would have to be replaced he turned to me and said: ‘We are getting the same damn car seat because that thing did his job.’”
Rebecca concluded the post expressing her gratitude for the safety of her family and the hospital staff who treated them, before praising Britax for “making an incredibly safe car seat”.
“And most of all, thanking my husband - who has finally proven that yes indeed he is actually listening when I nag him!” she continued, adding: “Information on car seat safety and proper installation can be found online via safekids.org, at your local children’s hospital, or local police department.”
Rebecca’s post has since been shared more than 45,000 times, prompting her to share numerous updates, including one in which she urged fellow parents to avoid using “those cute little car seat strap cushions that seem so necessary to protect your baby’s sensitive skin from being rubbed by the strap” as they can be “deadly”.
“Any aftermarket item added to your seat can compromise the safety of your child. Adding padding to the straps in an effort to make your child more comfortable will enable your little one to slide out from underneath the security of the harness and can cause them to be ejected from the seat and prevents the harness from compressing completely in the event of a crash,” she explained, adding that the guidance also applies to winter coats.
In the comments under Rebecca’s post, many parents thanked her for sharing the story and for the important reminder.
“YES! There’s really no such thing as being too overprotective when it comes to kids and car seat safety!” one person commented, while another said: “Thank you so much for sharing this! So glad your little man is okay and that your hubby is relatively okay! Prayers for quick healing! I always stress the chest clip!”
In one follow-up, Rebecca also noted that Britax reached out following her post and offered to replace the car seat for free, with the new mother noting that she asked the company to instead donate the car seat to the Forrest Spence Fund, a non-profit organisation that assists the families of children with critical or chronic illnesses.
She also revealed that the family’s old car seat would be donated to the hospital where her husband was treated, so that it could be used to “educate new parents on how to safely and properly secure their newborns”.
As for why she decided to share her story, Rebecca told Today that she wanted to stress that car seats “do save lives”.
According to the NHTSA, children under the age of one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
“Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward- facing car seat with a harness and tether,” the transportation agency states.