The Importance of Child Car Seat Safety + Hire a Certified Expert

Dusty and I have always taken car seat safety seriously and when we got a new car seat for Rowan, a convertible seat from Maxi Cosi, we decided to hire Melinda Britton, Owner of Doulas of Marquette, to share her expertise. Melinda is not only a Certified Doula, but she’s also a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and has undergone extensive training to learn all the ins and outs of child car seat safety. She’s the best!

Melinda is currently offering 10% off this $100 service, all you have to do is mention that you read this blog post to get your discount. Any future appointments for the child the car seat was initially installed for are only $50! This service is for those looking to go beyond a quick check, and the appointment is completely done around your schedule and at your home. To reach out and contact Melinda and set up your appointment, you can email her at or call 906-869-0000.

Idea: Consider gifting this service to your prego friend for her baby shower! Gift certificates are available. You can also do a payment plan before the date of service if you’d like to pay in smaller chunks!

First, a little background info that I think is extremely important to know. This service is also available at your local or regional Health Department and Fire Department, however, given the convenience of having someone come to our home and given the logistics, we opted to hire Doulas of Marquette.

I was in shock to read that according to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety; car seat, booster seat, and seat belt misuse varies from 70% to 90% throughout the country. These statistics have been further broken down by region, and according to the data, there is an 85% misuse in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That’s nearly 9 out of 10 children in the Upper Peninsula who are not safely secured in vehicles. The scary thing is…automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in children 0-12 years old.

Dusty and I realized quickly – this is a big freaking deal!

Often times, mistakes come from not having the correct information or, outdated information. There are a lot of factors that play into misuse of car seats, some of them include; car seats are hard to install, human error, being in a rush, not having the correct car seat, and not being aware of the resources that can help. Every family should have their car seat and installation inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. End of story.

What is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician?
A Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician is someone who has attended and successfully passed tests, and practicals during a four-day intensive workshop learning about all of the elements that go into helping keep our children safer while we drive on the roads. They are experts in the following; all of the types of car seats available, considerations with different ages, sizes, multiple children in a car, understanding different vehicles, knowing the safest spots to have your child or children, the proper use of buckles and belts, best practices and the things that will keep your children the safest, they know the laws and what is legally required in your State. But most of all – they help us protect our most prized possessions…our babies..and they give us the piece of mind we couldn’t get by guessing our way through car seat safety. Each time I buckle Rowan into his car seat I feel a sense of calm and security…knowing we are doing it right.

It’s important to find a recently certified Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. A Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician should be up to date on their certificate. This is important because if this individual has let their certification lapse, then they may not be aware of the most up to date information concerning recalls, safety, and recommendation from National Highway Traffic Safety.

Our Experience Working With a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician
Before our appointment, Melinda asked me what car seat we used and what vehicle we were installing it into. She worked with our schedule and came to our home which was really nice and convenient. We showed her our vehicle and she got to work flipping through the car seat manual, our vehicle owners manual, and tapping into her knowledge base. After reviewing everything on her own first, she then walked through things step by step. This was SO helpful. We didn’t feel rushed, she took her time, she explained things in detail, and allowed us to ask the really important questions. All of the “WHY?” or “HOW?” questions we’ve had but didn’t know how to answer. The total appointment took about roughly 1.5-2 hours. This is hands down the best investment one could make for their child or new baby.

Here are the steps Melinda recommends you follow when preparing to purchase or install a car seat in your vehicle.

1. Finding a safe car seat, that is appropriate for your little one.
When purchasing a car seat consider your child’s age, weight, height, and developmental level. These things will help determine the kind of car seat that is the safest. Often doctor’s offices will allow families to stop by for a quick measurement and weight if this information isn’t easily available. If your child is too big or too small for the seat, then it shouldn’t be used.

2. Get to know your vehicle and how the systems work for using a car seat in it.
There are a lot of important things to consider when installing a child car seat. Where should the seat go? Where is the safest spot? Should you use the safety belt or LATCH System? Can you use both? Always be sure to read your manual thoroughly and consider all options and which is the safest.

This was the part Dusty and I felt the most confused on. We weren’t sure. And while our manual was somewhat helpful, we still questioned whether or not we were properly installing the seat. Come to find out…we were a little off.

3. Hire a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to check your car and also give you an action plan for moving forward throughout your car seat journey.
Dusty and I looked online, read our manual, watched a few videos and did our best to install the car seat to our best ability. Something in our gut just told us we were “guessing” and this wasn’t something we wanted to be guessing on. It carried the most precious cargo we have ever had in our possession. We knew deep down we couldn’t just guess on this one. There were a lot of things in parenthood we had chosen to “wing” but this wasn’t one.

4. Rear face for as long as possible.
72% of crashes are frontal crashes, with the heads of young children being disproportionately large when compared to their bodies, making it safest to have them rear facing for as long as possible. When a child is rear facing for as long as possible, their spinal cords are protected longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child be rear-facing for at LEAST two years, but ideally longer. When rear facing, a child’s head, neck, and back are better supported. The concern is typically how long the child is, but there have been zero studies that show an increase of leg injury in rear-facing car seats. In their second year, research shows that children are 5x less likely to die or experience an injury when rear facing.

5. Let’s settle the debate. You should NOT buckle your children in with a jacket on.
There is no way to tighten the harness as tight as it should be when a child or infant has a coat on. There should be zero slack or ability to pinch any of the child’s safety harness. With extra room because of a coat or snowsuit, it gives more movement to a child’s body in the event of a crash and can cause more serious inquiries. Best alternative: turn the heat up in the car ahead of time, dress baby/child in thin fleece layers (but no bulky coats), and they can still use a warm hat and gloves! If you’re concerned about transporting them out of the car after you reach your destination – we’d suggest unbuckling them and helping them into their winter coat after the car has stopped and you’ve reached your destination, you can do this while still inside the warm car.

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