You know what kind of shopping I hate? Car seat shopping. For me, there is nothing else that brings such strong feelings of mommy guilt. I get caught up in all the safety features and end up in the town of crazed, worrying mothers. I usually enjoy shopping (well, as long as I have some extra money to spend), but car seat shopping is the worst. Desirae has just about outgrown her infant car seat, so I had to start the dreaded quest of finding her a new one.
I spent HOURS of research before even going to the store, so I was able to read all about ratings, car seat pros and cons, Sweden’s infant mortality rate, rear facing vs. forward facing, etc. My research helped me narrow down what kind of car seat I wanted. But once I actually went to the store, I was still overwhelmed by the vast selection of versions of the EXACT SAME THING. How are there so many different car seats?
And that right there is the worst part. There are SO many car seats, and, while I’m just standing there losing my mind, all the car seats are bragging about their safety features. This one has two layers of side impact protection, but this other one has three! This car seat has three recline positions, but this other one has seven! This car seat is made of steel! This car seat has a rebound bar! This car seat can rear face up to 50 pounds! This car seat has special shock absorbing foam! This car seat is safe in racing cars! This car seat is indestructible! This car seat is made of fireproof spaceship materials! This car seat IS a spaceship! THIS CAR SEAT WILL SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!
As a mom, I begin to wonder. Do I really need a car seat that rear faces up to 50 pounds? Is my child going to be safer in a car seat with seven incline positions? Is the car seat made of steel, worth an extra $75? Am I a horrible mother for putting a price on my baby’s safety? If I am in a car accident and my baby gets whip lash, will it be MY FAULT because I didn’t buy the car seat with three layers of side impact protection?!?! What does my car seat choice say about me as a mother?? All the safety features get in my head!
The mommy guilt gets to me, and then I need someone to give me a little pep talk. I always make sure to bring my husband with me so he can keep me grounded. (Plus, I’m a verbal processor, and I can’t seem to process the OVERWHELMING amount of information in my head.) Then I talk with my sister after I’ve made a decision so she can validate the safety of my purchase. I’ve recently given the car seat shopping pep talk to a couple of my friends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need it sometimes! I think I’ll probably need a little dose of reality every time I go car seat shopping. (Michelle, thank you in advance for helping me regain my sanity.)
I have to remember that the most important thing about car seat safety is installation. I could buy the most expensive car seat with all the special features, but if it isn’t installed correctly, it won’t matter. There are multiple car seats in a variety of price ranges that are all very safe. I don’t have to spend $400. Back when I was a kid, car seats were a joke, and when my parents were kids, they didn’t even have car seats. They didn’t even have seat belts! And hey, we all made it through childhood alive. Plus, if I was really concerned about having the latest and greatest safety for my child, then I’ll have to sell my car seat in a few months to upgrade to the newest model. Also, I need to go sell my car and buy the safest car for 2016. If I really follow the through the logic of having the “safest” item for my baby, I realize how insane it is. Most importantly, I have to remember that God is sovereign. He is the one keeping my child safe, not me. All I can do is make the wisest decision I can and trust God for the rest.
Next time I go car seat shopping (which I’m already dreading), I’m going to come back and read this. Hopefully it will keep me out of crazy town. Third time’s a charm, right?