Car seats make me feel inadequate. I feel like I'm a reasonably intelligent person but car seats make me feel clumsy and dumb (probably because there's so much relying on the correct installation and use.) I jumped at the chance to attend Chevrolet's Safe & Sure Child Care Seat Installation Workshop Vancouver launch last weekend.
Boring disclosure-y stuff: I was invited to attend the workshop and received some food and goodies for attending. I had no obligation to write this post and I am not being compensated for it. All opinions are my own.
Chevrolet and Parachute are hosting FREE child car seat installation workshops in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. It doesn't matter what kind of car you drive (it doesn't have to be a Chevy!) or what kind of car seat you own, simply register and a trained technician will give you hands-on instruction on how to install your car seat in your car.
I feel like car seats are one of those parenting topics that people tip toe around because it doesn't matter how you're doing it, you're doing it wrong (see also: breastfeeding / formula feeding, sleep training, etc.) There is a lot of noise out there surrounding car seats (how long do you keep your child rear-facing, when do you move your kid to a booster, and so on so forth.) I was interested in attending the Safe & Sure workshop because I thought I was doing Grady's car seat correctly but I wasn't sure. And ... dirty little secret time ... I had never actually installed the car seat myself. Any time we needed to transfer Grady's car seat to a different car, I would get Shawn to do it. Stupid, I know.
I really enjoyed the workshop. The technicians were knowledgeable and delivered their information clearly and in terms that were easy to understand. I installed a car seat (all by myself!) with a technician giving me step-by-step instructions. It gave me the confidence to move Grady's car seat myself and know that I'm doing it correctly and Grady is safe.
I tweeted some photos during the workshop, including this one featuring information on the different stages of car seats (and the associated age, weight, and height requirements):
Katie pointed out that the Stage 1 recommendation is the bare minimum and actually, kids are much safer staying rear-facing for longer. This is where that uncomfortable grey area exists. Technically the requirement (in Canada) is that children stay rear-facing until they are at least a year old so I understand why the poster was printed with that information. I should point out that every one of the three technicians at the workshop I attended did recommend that children stay rear-facing longer than just a year. And really, the information on the poster isn't wrong it's just the bare minimum requirement versus the recommendation that children stay rear-facing for longer than a year (and up to four or five years depending on the weight and height restriction of the car seat.)
I'm glad I attended the workshop because it taught me something useful and relevant to my life, but also because it got me thinking about car seat safety in general. Instead of being a topic rife with judgement, keeping our kids safe when they travel in cars should be a space where we can all weigh in and support one another to make the best choices. Let's filter out all the unnecessary noise and start helping each other.
If you live in or near Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, I suggest you check out the Chevrolet Safe & Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshop. You might learn a thing or two.