What Would You Do?

Corrie and I were at Toys-R-Us this week, and I was loading my packages into the back of my mini-van.  While I stood there, a woman pulled up into the parking place next to me.  She drove a new Ford Expedition, and she was smartly dressed.  She climbed out of her door and walked around to take her baby out of his car seat.

His rear-facing carseat.

His rear-facing carseat that she had in the front seat next to her. 

And I think my mouth involuntarily gaped open a bit.  I thought anyone with access to an episode of Dateline NBC would know how dangerous this is.  I thought it was beyond common knowledge that you never put a rear-facing carseat (or any carseat) in the front.  And (let’s just go ahead and not deny that we form judgments based on appearances, whether it’s right or not) she seemed to be the kind of person who has the resources to know better.

I shuddered just a little, and I gave a fleeting thought to saying something to her.  I knew nothing good would come of that (how would you react to a complete stranger giving you advice in a parking lot?).   I worried a little about that baby’s safety, and I wondered about my own instincts and prejudices–would I have been more or less concerned? more or less surprised? if the mother in the next parking spot had been a young teenage mom in a beat-up old Datsun. 

Mostly, it just made me curious.  What would you do if you had seen this?  Or if you had been at a dinner party with a very pregnant friend while she downed two glasses of red wine (that’s happened to me, also).  Or you had seen a parent angrily and hurtfully disciplining a child in a store (I think we’ve all seen that)?

When would you speak up?  Would you ever?  Why, or why not?

117 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Krista says:

    um, well, isn’t that car seat thing actually illegal? I think I definitely would have had to say something. My FIL is an accident reconstruction specialist and this just SCARES me!
    The one in the grocery store is a harder call…

  2. Gwendolyn says:

    Reminds me of the time I saw a woman put a baby carrier, with baby inside, on the hood of an idling car. It was in park, but she just plopped the child on top as if it were a sack of potatoes inside and not a fragile little baby. Hmmm. Such a hard position to be in, whether or not to say something. Coming across as judgemental is NOT going to help the situation.

  3. Courtney says:

    Technically, depending on who your medical provider is, red wine is allowed in pregnancy, moreso in the later months. European women drink wine throughout their pregnancies and their babies turn out fine.
    I probably would have left a little note on the windshield wiper of the car that said, “It’s illegal, and extremely dangerous, to have a carseat in the front seat.” But that’s just because I’m not the kind of person to walk up to a stranger and say something, because I wouldn’t want to run the risk of getting punched. πŸ˜‰

  4. Carol says:

    The primary danger of rear-facing infant seats in the front passenger position is due to air bag deployer. Newer Ford Expeditions do have an air bag on/off switch. It is quite likely that this lady has the air bag switched off.
    It would still be safer to have the infant seat in the back, but the front position may not be as dramatically dangerous as it would appear.

  5. Wilm says:

    I live in NZ.
    I was advised that it is preferable to place all child car seats (particularly rear facing???? not sure about that!)in the rear of the car as it is always a safer spot, but that it is ok to place in the front as long as you do NOT have a front passenger airbag.
    Our vehicles don’t have passenger airbags and I often have my 5 year old in his booster seat in the front.
    And I sometimes placed the rear facing child seat in the front too – not often, but sometimes. Particularly when we shifted to the other end of NZ when Aidan was 7 months old, I wanted to be able to see that he was ok (DH was driving our other car so I couldn’t sit in the back with baby).
    Cheers, W

  6. margalit says:

    Your NZ commenter is right. If the airbag in her car was disabled, she’s perfectly legal. In my state it isn’t illegal to have a car set in the front seat, but you rarely if ever see it. Most people DO know that it’s not the safest thing, but you don’t know her circumstances. Maybe she was a single mom and needed to keep the car seat where she could see her baby. Maybe she carpooled her other 5 kids earlier in the day and put the car seat up front so the kids could sit in the back where they were safer.
    I wouldn’t have done anything because I believe that there are often circumstances that we hadn’t thought of. If the baby were LOOSE in the car, you bet I would have reported it, but the baby was in a car seat and unless you KNOW that the air bag was working, it could have been fine.

  7. Linds says:

    The UK Department of transport says that rear facing car seats are allowed providing the airbag is deactivated. Here children up to 12years or 4ft 5″ have to use some form of child restraint as from last year.
    Do I speak up? Difficult one. I have spoken to a woman in the supermarket who was battling with a tantrum, just before I thought she was about to lose it. I smiled at her, offered to help her get her babe into the pushchair, and told her that we had all been there and lived to tell the tale. She gave me a wobbly smile, and the babe was so surprised to see a stranger, that she shut up. In a supermarket situation, most parents are mortified when their child misbehaves, and seeing a circle of people with disapproving expressions could just make things worse, so a smile and a little empathy before things go wrong can never be out of place!

  8. Nicki says:

    When our first was born we had a Jeep Wrangler and he would SCREAM in the back seat because it was so noisy (even though the top was up). We did some research and found that it isn’t illegal for them to ride in the front if the airbag is off, like the others have said. We did buy a new car within the month, though, because of the safety issue.
    I’m not sure what I would say if I saw a pregnant woman swigging more than a little drinky. I’d probably avoid direct confrontation and say something to the person in charge of the wine. Or maybe make a joke about baby getting tipsy or something. It’s always easy to think you’d say something until you’re in the situation!

  9. Meg in Sydney says:

    I think that you have to weigh up the greater consequence to the safety of someone (in this case, the child) rather than the potential that this woman would have got angry with you. Likely the worse thing that will happen is they swear at you and tell you to mind your own business…so your pride is hurt and your feelings bruised but you may give them cause to rethink what they are doing.
    Obviously you have to also weigh up your own safety – is this likely to turn violent towards you (like intervening in a domestic dispute)?
    My advice is to follow your gut instinct. If the nagging, overriding feeling is to have said something out of fear for a child’s safety (especially as children have no other voice in many circumstances), then you should act on that. This may seem pedantic or bordering on ‘over-intervention’, but when in doubt, contact the police and ask them to check on it. Take the license plate of the vehicle and call the police to drive by and check it out. If they are uninterested in your concerns, then atleast you may be at peace that you have tried to prevent a dangerous situation.
    I went to the police station after seeing 2 young children under 5 crossing the street alone in the middle of winter dressed in diapers and sleeveless shirts. I actually stopped my car (unbelievably other cars passed by and did not stop!) and asked them to take me to their home. These kids compliantly led me to their home, not giving a thought to the fact I could have been a kidnapper! I called the police to go check on the children and apparently the mother was known to them and the children were often found wandering the streets due to the mothers’ addictions. Very sad situation, but as a mum myself, I could not have just not done anything.
    Ok…so very lengthy, and not at all intended to judge you, Shannon, for your response in this situation. I know it is a tough call. I hope you will not be offended by my directness.
    Blessings to you and yours.
    Meg in Sydney Australia

  10. CarrieZ says:

    Technically the really big danger with rear-facing seats in the front seat is from an airbag. Some of the fancier cars have the ability to turn off that airbag. However, the middle of the back seat is still the safest place regardless. ‘Round here, if you’re in a pickup, kiddo’s pretty much gotta be in the front seat since it’s the only one!

  11. Andrea Payne says:

    I guess I’m just the outspoken one. I have said something in all three situations. I try to be nice about it. I usually start by asking some question about the kid and when I show true interest, then the other moms are usually more open to my advice. I find that a lot of the time there are circumstances that I don’t know about and that make the situation different. A friends son was having seizures, she always had him in the front seat so she could keep an eye on him. I guess whether or not to say something is a very personal decision. Listen to your gut.

  12. Laurel Wreath says:

    “you have such a beautiful baby there” as you walk over and look at said child.
    “You know when I was little I use to put the car seat in the front like that also, but some one told me it was dangerous. Have you heard that at all?”
    “Well have a nice day and have fun with that special blessing.”
    Say it non confrontational, but make her thing. =))

  13. Georgia Mom says:

    I probably wouldn’t say anything in all those situtations. I’m a whimp. But, I have a friend that her husband was the county coroner and one time he saw this family with a baby, out of the carseat, being held by an adult in the front seat. He got out of his car at a red light and handed them his business card and told them that if they didn’t put that child in a carseat, they would need his number. Now that was bold!!! But, when you see the devistation that can be prevented by parents using some common sense, then you just get a little bold about these things!

  14. biodtl says:

    That’s a hard one – I don’t know that I would say anything – maybe I’d strike up conversation like someone else suggested and just sort of mention it in a friendly way. I have seen so many people driving around with kids being held or jumping around with no car seats and I never know what to do – you’re on the road, so you can’t talk to them. Sometimes I wish there was a ‘hotline’ to call.
    As for the disciplining mother, I have been known to do what the ‘experts’ suggest – strike up a conversation and express that you know how hard kids can be – just diffuse it a little. It’s worked for me.
    The wine-drinking mom? NO WAY would I say a thing. Unless I knew that she was drinking every day all day, I would keep my mouth shut. My doctor gave me permission late in pregnancy to have an occasional beer or wine and I did. I would be extrememly upset and offended if someone said something to me.

  15. Katie says:

    I agree with everyone on if the airbag is turned off that it is legal to put a carseat in the front. I, on the other hand, still place my baby in the backseat because it is safer back there. But I guess if you would have seen me in the parking lot that day you wouldn’t have thought that, being that I am a pregnant 19 year old with a 2 yr old and an 8 month old. All I’m saying is enough with the judgement that all teenagers are bad parents. It is simply not true at all.

  16. Striving\Tessa says:

    I have heard, but never done, that in the case of an overly angry adult disciplining, to ask if they could use some help. Sometimes it makes them stop and think, and I would definately do this. About the carseat thing, it is tougher because it is a more in your face thing. but it is about childs safety and not necessarily about the hurt feelings of an adult. Talk maybe the only thing, and I do not blame you for your stereotypr thing. I probably would be the same way.

  17. Katiebod (Roses are Red, Violets are Violet) says:

    I have never directly confronted someone but I did call the police last year when I parked next to a minivan that had 2 young children (under 3 or 4) and a newborn all strapped in their car seats and the car was turned off on a hot day. The baby was screaming and the little kids just had these blank looks on their faces. Once the police got there I had to rush off to an appointment…I wish I knew how it had turned out.

  18. Elena says:

    Maybe the airbag was on, maybe it was off. You just don’t know. So I guess I’d give her the benefit of the doubt… and bring it up anyway, saying rather sheepishly that I was sure she’d already thought about this, and the airbags were off, but I just had to bring it up just in case…

  19. chocolatechic says:

    Laurel Wreath~~great idea. I would have thought of that 5 hours later.
    Generally when something like that happens, I say something like “I wonder if she realizes that it is illegal to put her car seat in the front like that” to one of my children, just loud enough for her to hear.

  20. Kerry says:

    I have spoken up when I have seen a child in a rear facing car seat facing forward with the seatbelt slung across the top, but air bags can be turned off so I don’t know that I would have said anything. Maybe.
    Wine? Possibly…depends on the situation.
    Discipline? Most likely not, unless it was actually abuse then I would do or say something.

  21. Jenni says:

    I’m with the weenies who would have left a note on the windshield. That’s just how I roll.
    As far as the discipline goes, I tend to stay out of it because I’ve never felt that the child was in gross danger, but if I did I would step in. I hope.
    With the wine issue, I wouldn’t say anything. I know the issue is fraught with emotion, but I’m siding with biodtl (previous comment) on that one.

  22. VerrySherry says:

    When we first moved to Ireland I was pregnant and living in the countryside; I quickly learned that many moms are told to put carseats in front seat, so if baby needs mom or a pacifier or bottle, mom can quickly attend to them while in the driver’s seat!!! Unbelieveable. (ah, um, nevermind the fact, that driving and doing otherwise together is so dangerous?!)
    However times are achanging, even over here. Less and less do you see carseats in the front seat–mainly due to the airbags, that, and that we’ve moved nearer to City.
    But, it sickens me to see all the under 5s that you see sitting on passenger’s laps. Those passenger have as seriously mistaken belief if they think they can hold a child safely through an accident. I’ve even had to correct my MIL–for she is of the old school and would allow it for short distances. NO WAY! I speak up everytime–they blame it on my American roots.

  23. Lisa B @ simply His says:

    I’ve been that mother — in an old Pathfinder (no passenger side airbag). I had driven to my parents house which was about 45 minutes away from mine. Not a long drive, but long enough for me to want to move my daughter to the front seat to keep an eye on her. We had gone out to dinner and this guy came up trying to tell me it’s illegal.
    Well, no. It’s not illegal — it may not be the safest place and it might not be the smartest thing to do, but it’s not something I’d be thrown in jail for.
    I wouldn’t have said anything to the mother — nor the one drinking wine — nor the one disciplining her child roughly. I guess that might be the introvert in me. If I was *really* concerned with the actions, I might try to talk to the person — develop a relationship with them, find out where they are coming from and what might be behind their actions — but I definitely wouldn’t be confrontational “holier than thou”.

  24. Prisca says:

    This may be a crazy thought, but do you suppose she kept him up front because she can’t reach him while he’s in the back seat?
    Either way, I do tho think that using humor you could diffuse the problem if you want to have ‘the conversation.’ I might also go the note on the car route. It would make me feel better, at least. πŸ™‚

  25. TracyMichele says:

    I struggle with this almost daily. I see car seat/child endangerment issues literally every day. Children in car seats in the front.. not strapped in, children (3-4 at a time) piled in the front of a pick-up truck, children riding in the BACK of a pick-up, 3 toddlers riding in car seats set in the back of an Explorer.. in the cargo area, moms holding infants in the front and back seat of a car.. unbuckled themselves. The list goes on and I honestly do not know what to do in these situations. If I call the police, by the time they respond the offender will most likely be gone. Can I single handedly take on every infraction I see in Middle TN? If I approach them, how soon until the parent gets angry with me and places me and my own children in harm’s way? I like the idea someone said about placing a note on the car. I might have to draft one and carry MANY copies with me. I’m eager to see what other people suggest.

  26. Summer says:

    In the case of the pregnant lady drinking wine I would most definitely have spoken up, but the other two are a little more difficult.
    I think having a carseat in the front pasenger seat is advised against due to the airbag hazard. Perhaps she had turned her airbag off or didn’t have one. I probably wouldn’t have said anything either.

  27. Nancy says:

    I would and do speak up. (Even if it is via a note) I try to be nice, and approach in a caring way. But, usually I get a dirty look or comment back. I really don’t give 2 chits what they think of me speaking out … they are either reacting in ignorance or embarrassment. Either way, my words have PLANTED THE SEED … and as I walk away, I pray it takes root.

  28. Andrea says:

    I give people like this dirty looks, but she could have had the airbag turned off. I have a friend that has an extremely fussy baby. That baby rides in the front of their suburban and she and the other two kids sit in the back. Some people just do what they have to do?? Personally I would just let my baby scream in the back seat. I wouldn’t have said anything, maybe the back seat was full of front facing car seats?? You never know the situation that people are in.

  29. Cris says:

    Oh, this is easy for me. Depending on the circumstances I say something like … I didn’t know that you could do that (insert, drink with preg/put carseat in front) I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t because yadda yadda. Most often either the other person learns something or I do like they could say yeah you’re righ tbut I have the air bag off.
    Now if someone is angry I don’t get in the middle of it because it could only get worse.

  30. colicmommy says:

    What’s up with everyone getting so tizzyfied about 2 glasses of wine at a party when you are late pregnancy?
    If you drink often, yes, your baby will have severe effects from it. But, my husband is from Europe, where the official recommendation given at prenatal appointments is “no more than one drink per day.” Babies are fine and do not display higher rates of FAS or FAE over there from this advice.
    Everyone has her comfort level. I don’t drink at all in pregnancy, but if I had a friend who drank rarely, or maybe just decided to let loose once at a party and have 2 glasses of wine and that were it? I wouldn’t worry about it. I would NEVER ever go up to a woman and say anything about it. Why? If she’s really drinking heavily, you’re saying something won’t stop her. I promise. Heavy drinkers don’t stop because some acquaintence said something. On the other hand, if she’s 36 weeks pregnant, miserable, and this is the first wine she’s had the whole pregnancy….what you say will just piss her off and make her feel defensive. I would probably leave the party, were I her. Either way, whatever you say isn’t going to have a positive effect.

  31. Jessica says:

    I would probably be less upset if it had been a beat up old Datsun because it wouldn’t have had an air bag which makes it so much more dangerous.
    I was once in a walmart parking lot and this lady was beating her child with a belt (not spanking, there is a difference) in the middle of the parking lot. I decided to say something to her. That poor child just looked so empty. She cursed me out… but I feel better that I stood up for that child.

  32. Justpssingby says:

    For the child in the carseat, I probably would have approached the lady and go something like, “Oh! Did you manage to dismantle the airbag in your front passenger seat? How did you get them to do that? I wish I could put my baby in front like that, but it’s too dangerous of course with a front airbag… in an accident, the child’d get flippedd etc etc etc… it must be so handy to have gotten the manufacturers to dismantle it for you!” or something… heh.
    with the rest, I really wouldn’t know… *shrug*

  33. Lorri says:

    I guess one thing to consider is whether or not you would want someone approaching you or calling the police if they think you are doing something wrong.
    For instance – we homeschool. Perfectly legal and we abide by the laws in our state. Would I want a visit from family services b/c a neighbor or stranger saw my kids outside playing during public school hours. NO!
    We do not know the extenuating circumstances that surround a stranger’s life. Like someone posted on the mother having the car seat in front b/c of baby’s seizures or having the airbag turned off or whatever reason.
    One day the police drove us home when our car broke down…not enough seatbelts in police car – but the policeman was not concerned – I think my dd was on a lap and seatbelt around both people. It was an extenuating circumstance.
    A situation like kids locked in a car with the windows up and it’s hot – well stick around for a few minutes to make sure mom didn’t just run in to pay for gas (I’ve done this – with car parked right next to the front door of the store)…different if it’s a mall or large store – need to use your best judgement obviously.
    A pregnant woman drinking wine – if it’s a family member or friend, wouldn’t hurt to say something to them in private, but again with a stranger you just don’t know their situation.
    Most of all – we need to remember that we are not the people police. We are not responsible (within reason) for the actions of people around us. And I don’t mean standing idle by while a knife-wielding woman is harming someone – yes call the police.

  34. Tara says:

    I have been known to call the police non-emergency number and report people who don’t have their kids in car seats. They’re usually not very helpful and sometimes are downright snarky on the other end of the phone, but at least I did SOMETHING! I have also seen a lot of the infant car seat/carrier thingers (I call them baby buckets) buckled in facing forward! That just makes my blood boil. Hello, the directions are printed on the car seat for heaven’s sake! I think if I hadn’t had the guts to say something in person I would have jotted a note and stuck it under the windshield.
    Sorry, car seat safety is one of my soapbox topics. *stepping down*

  35. Happy Momma says:

    For Krista, It is not illegal to put a child in the front seat, it is “recommended” that you don’t.
    We recently saw someone with their child in the front seat, but it was a much older car well before airbags, hubby and I got upset, but we both agreed at least they were in a car seat.
    In this situation, I have to honestly applaud you for not saying something, I don’t think I could have had that much self-control. The mother probably knew the risk, but given her “status” it was more of a comfort thing i.e. she could keep the baby quiet by plugging the baby right next to her, rather than driving around town listening to a screaming baby.
    Today’s newer Fords and Chevrolets have automated cut offs for the airbag. If the seat belt is clicked and it is under 85 pounds the air bag will be turned off. I however don’t trust technology to always be accurate. Hubs has one in his truck, and he turned it off when I was HUGE with baby, but I always thought….what if today is the day it breaks.
    As for riding in the back of pick up trucks….well we are guilty of allowing that when we are in the middle of a field at the ranch, or somewhere away from traffic, I did it as a child, and I survived…..I can hear the gasps now.
    The wine, I just don’t touch too much conflicting reports on it, so while I don’t choose to participate in the drinking while pregnant, I am not going to say something to someone else.

  36. Karen @ Simply A Musing Blog says:

    I have to be the biggest wimp on the face of the planet, because I hate confrontations. I wouldn’t have said anything to the woman in the car, nor to the pregnant woman…maybe someone in the store, but it would depend on the circumstances. Does that mean I wouldn’t have fretted about the child’s safety? No…I would most certainly have been worried for the child. I am a lot more prone to speaking my mind with those I know, since I rarely listen to the “advice” of well-meaning strangers.

  37. Kristin says:

    I agree – what good would saying something have done? It’s likely that she knew exactly what she was doing and felt guilty about it anyway. Mothers cannot take a step w/out feeling guilty these days.
    I agree that the front seat is not the safest seat in the car – however, most state laws only prohibit placing a car seat there IF THERE IS A PASSENGER SIDE AIRBAG. If the airbag can be turned off then it’s legal to put the child there. It wasn’t the safest choice this woman has made. But then again, how many of us leave our children in the car while we run into the gas station to grab a gallon of milk? Or how many of us put a pot roast in the oven on Sunday morning and leave to let it cook? How many of us send our children to public schools where there is a medal detector at the door?
    This world is not safe, and if we took precautions to protect ourselves and our children every step of the way – we’d look like the Michelin Man.
    My 2 cents.

  38. Christine says:

    Sorry – didn’t have time to read all the comments – apologize if this has already been addressed … however, what she did may actually have been fine. Our car automatically turns off passenger side air bags when the weight is not enough.
    When my daughter was a baby, and had ridiculous reflux and screamed non-stop the entire hour’s drive to a nearby town, I purposefully drove our older car (no airbags) so she could be in the front seat beside me. I spent the entire drive jiggling toys and cleaning her up as she vomited all over herself. I once had a woman slow down while passing us, to flip me off. I just smiled. She didn’t know. She assumed I was a Devil Mom.
    When my nine-year-old pops in the front seat, the air bags turn off. These devices are amazingly sensitive, and are there for things just like this.
    So, she might be a totally okay mom, afterall!

  39. gretchen from lifenut says:

    Well…I don’t know if you remember reading this on my blog, but I called the cops on some people because their baby was sitting on the mom’s lap in the front seat as they were driving. There were mixed reactions in the comments. Some thought that was the right thing to do, others noted I didn’t know the circumstances—what if they just flew in and the airline lost the carseat? What if they were on their way home from a wreck, where the carseat was ruined? What if there was a true family emergency and the carseat was elsewhere?
    So, do you go through life assuming everyone has a good excuse or nobody does? There are dangers in both approaches.

  40. Christine says:

    The Safe Kids organization publishes little cards you can anonymously mail and report things like this. The Safe Kids folks will then send the driver a reminder about properly securing their kids in the seat. You have to get their tag number, the time and place of the incident, and what the problem was. I keep a few cards in my car; makes me feel like I’ve done something and yet it’s anonymous. I even sent one in on my neighbor, who drove around the block (so he said) with their newborn not strapped in because the straps “hurt” him.
    Check your area for car seat inspections and you can get them there.

  41. Karla ~ Looking Towards Heaven says:

    i don’t know about this particular vehicle, but our truck allows you to turn off the passenger side airbag.
    There were times we had to go places with our baby in the truck and it only has one seat, so obviously they are going to sit in that seat and not in say, oh, the bed of the truck.
    Blessings,
    karla

  42. Sarah says:

    Like several people here, I, too, have been that Mommy. My husband travels full time, so to see him — or our families — I have to go alone.
    When our oldest was an infant, I had to make a 10 hour trip alone with her. Obviously, it would be safer for her to be in the back, but it would also be safer if I could ensure that I wasn’t traveling alone with an infant after dark.
    I called each state police department through whose jurisdiction we’d be traveling to ask them the legalities in their state. Each was *very kind* to explain not only the importance of disabling our airbag but also *how* to disable the airbag and how to position the infant seat for maximum security.
    I left very early in the morning with my sweet baby in the back, and we made it for about 8 hours that way (well, we obviously stopped FREQUENTLY for feedings, diapers, feeding the baby… oops). But by the end of the trip, my daughter was *miserable* and I ached to comfort her. The next time we stopped, I moved her seat to the front and drove the rest of the way in the right lane.
    Was it ideal? No. Was it necessary? Yes. Was I criticized? Unfortunately. So, I try to remember that experience when I see things like you did. Ironically, I have a hard time seeing babies who are *obviously* too young facing forward positioned thus in the back. Specks and logs, my friend, specks and logs. πŸ™‚

  43. Ronnica says:

    I saw a mother hit her 3- or 4-year-old kid when he “scared” her after going on a walk with his dad. She then yelled at him and went and waited in the car while the dad put he, his younger sister, and stroller in the car. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, I’m not a mom, so I couldn’t say that I would never do that, but I still couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what I could do, so I did nothing. (Though I might have considered calling the cops if there had not been another adult present who certainly appeared to be looking out for the kids)

  44. Jes says:

    I am the type that would stare and say something- I would say “Oh, is it safe to have carseats like that? I always heard it wasn’t” that’s the way I work.
    I did almost call the police on a couple of people that were in a car in front of me a few weeks ago. If my husband hadn’t been in the car I would have. He discouraged it.
    But they had a child around my daughter’s age (15 months) in the back seat. He was sitting in a car seat, but from the looks of it he wasn’t buckled in it. a few times he stood up and turned around waving at me!
    I care too much about the safety of children to NOT say anything.

  45. Jill (CDPJ) says:

    Don’t come to my house if you don’t want to see a very pregnant woman drink two glasses of wine. I’ve been known to do that over the past month or so πŸ™‚
    But I know what you mean about the car seat thing. The Boy goes to a preschool with a very diverse makeup and I see moms and dads putting their kids into the car with no car seat from time to time. I wonder if because of their culture or their economic situation whether they just don’t have access to information about safey like those of us with ready access to media, internet and quality medical care. But I have never said anything… though I have considered saying something to the director to see how she would approach the topic with the parent.

  46. Courtney says:

    I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I saw car seat offenses MUCH worse than this in my days as a drive-up bank teller. The majority of my customers had children flying all over their car not even buckled.
    I will never forget seeing the people who had their infant seat carrier in the front seat facing FORWARD with the seat belt buckled across the top. What?!!? My goodness! If you stopped quickly, that thing would fly right off the seat since the hooks on the top of the seat only go one direction.
    I’m quite certain that my jaw dropped to my chest and it was all I could do to not give the apparently negligent parent a verbal lashing.
    The really tough part… they came to my window all the time.
    What do you do? I probably would have been reprimanded or fired for saying anything.
    Arrghhh…
    I liked the commenter who suggested putting a note on the windshield.

  47. Laura says:

    Yep for some reason I cannot keep my mouth shut, especially when it comes to car seats. I always say to myself “Laura don’t say anything, it’s none of your business” and the next thing I know I’m saying something. I didn’t even realize this about myself till hubbie kindly pointed it out to me.

  48. Princess Leia says:

    In the case of the woman you saw, Shannon, I think I would have been confused and just said, “I didn’t think you could do that!” (Which would have been true.) She then would probably have instructed me as the others have above, I could have graciously received the knowledge, and we both could have gone about our days without worry or judgement.
    But my ability to be “gracious” really depends on how _my_ day is going.
    We of course were told that the middle of the back is where you put your car seat. But hubs and I both wondered what you do when you have two? Obviously they can’t _both_ be in the middle…so why not start the first one out by the door since it’s FAR more convenient anyway. The policewoman who checked out our car seat agreed with us.
    But more importantly, if you are ever in the situation where an airline has lost your carseat, you can ALWAYS rent one (probably at the airline’s expense) from a car rental place. Or always “gate check” it so that it has a much smaller chance of being lost in the first place.
    And even MORE importantly, _***NEVER***_ place a seat belt around both yourself and your child. I have two degrees in aerospace engineering, so please listen as I explain the physics of the matter.
    In the event of a sudden stop, the seat belt locks in place. At that point, both your body and that of your child still have the inertia you had when you were moving forward and therefore want to _KEEP_ moving forward at that same rate. At the point of the sudden stop then, your child has not only their own weight pushing them up against the seat belt, but also the weight of _YOUR_ body pushing (crushing) them up against the seat belt (and the added “g” forces of the sudden stop effectively make both of you weigh more).
    You are far more likely to hurt or kill your child by putting the seat belt around both of you than if they were sitting on your lap without the seat belt.
    This is true on airplanes as well. “Lap sitters” are safer without belts than with.

  49. Chappyswife says:

    I’ve been the woman who judges too quickly while not knowing all the facts, and I’ve been on the receiving end as well.
    When my oldest was small, he got too close to a colt and his face was scraped in a split second. A few days later I HAD to go shopping to get groceries, and the dirty looks and scowls I received were brutal and abundant.
    Now that I have 3 children ages 5 and under, if I go somewhere with just the 4 of us, I put the baby in his carseat in the front where I can watch him. There is no airbag, and I am extra extra cautious while driving. This is the safest situation right now for our family. It is not ideal, and I will change vehicles as soon as I possibly can. All of our seatbelts are used all the time.
    In the meantime, it would upset me very much if I were approached by someone about this as I am doing the best I can.
    I am learning the hard way to realize that I don’t know what is happening in other peoples’ lives to make them behave the way they do and instead lifting them up to the Father because He does know. More and more often I am trying to be led by Him on whether or not I need to say anything.

  50. Marie says:

    I don’t think we can judge people about such things, they could truly be acting out of ignorance. In the case of the woman with the car seat, I’d wait for her to go inside, then I’d write a note nicely explaining how dangerous it is and also how ILLEGAL it is. Nicely, from a place of true caring. As far as the friend with the wine, I’d try to gently stear her away from alcohol for the rest of the night, and the next day I’d call her up and ask her if she knows about how dangerous that can be.
    I have seen people judge too hastily in these instances. It is not our place to judge. It is our place to love, to be a friend and a good example. Approaching someone in a confrontational, judmental, superior manner will serve only to isolate them, which only makes the problem worse, and makes yourself look snooty.

  51. crystal says:

    I think you CAN put a carseat in the front seat if you it doesn’t have a airbag. Maybe she could turn the airbag off?
    That is just my understanding as we had a miata when my son was first born with no airbags and husband would pick him up from the sitters with him in the front seat.

  52. MoneyDummy says:

    I’ve seen a few instances where mothers thought they were intervening, when in reality they simply weren’t familiar with the law or the safety realities of the situation. The one that springs to mind is an online message board where a woman had had her son buckled into his carseat, locked the car doors, and run into the store to grab milk. He was in her sight the entire time and the temperature was moderate. He was in no danger and, statistically speaking, was probably safer from accident than if he had gone into the store.
    However, another woman called the police. (Intervention one.) When the mother returned to our forum to share her experience, she was heavily castigated by the other women there (intervention two), and asked whether she felt bad because she had been caught, or because she realized what a horrible thing she had done.
    The truth was that the child was perfectly safe, and that it was NOT illegal to leave a child in a parked car in her state. In my opinion, she had NOT done anything wrong and did not need to be intervened on in either situation.
    I always keep those things in mind when I see someone doing something that a magazine tells me I should disapprove of. In this case, I would have thought, “Educated woman who seems to be breaking what I thought was a serious duh. It must not be as much of a duh as I thought it was.”
    Then I would have researched it on my own and found out what the safety and legal issues are.

  53. Christa @ No End in Site says:

    I hate situations like this. My husband is a police officer, yet female friends of mine are always telling me, “Don’t tell Nate, but I sometimes [insert ways they broke the law in regards to their children’s safety.]” It puts me, and then my husband, in such a bad situation! My husband has actually had to ask a friend of ours who is a grandmother, to turn the car seat back around (she tried to make her grandson forward facing too early). I agree with the lady who said she might have left a note on the car… Or I might have called the police and had them deal with it. πŸ˜‰ Yuck, though.

  54. Tia says:

    My daughter has a variety of different life threatening medical conditions. When she was a baby, I was a safer driver having her in the front seat, where I could see with a sideways glance that she was still breathing, than I would have been if she had been in the back, when I would have needed to do some serious contortions to check the same thing. I did make sure the airbag was dismantled though. So, no, I wouldn’t speak up about that.
    Two glasses of wine at a party? Nope, wouldn’t speak up about that either. Two glasses at a party isn’t likely to cause the damage anyway – two bottles and I might say something, probably along the lines of “are you ok, you seem a little stressed?” rather than anything else.
    Tia

  55. Melanie says:

    I am known to my friends as the car seat narc. I am also the hot dog and grape narc. I’m not proud of it. That’s just me. I do try to say things in the right way, with the right tone, (with a LOT of prayer behind it) but I am one to say something. Sometimes I think moms do what is convenient. Let’s face it. It is much easier to tend to a crying baby when you can reach them> We just forget what COULD happen.
    And since I am commenting, here are a few things my child’s Pediatrician shared with me-
    He had one patient whose parents turned the car seat around too soon. The baby did not weigh enough. They were in an accident and the force of the crash caused the child’s neck to snap. He is now paralyzed from the neck down. If he had been rear-facing, (in the back seat of course) he would have been fine.
    One of his patients died from HALF a grape. Cut them in fourths, Moms.
    Always cut hot dogs lengthwise. If you cut them across, you are just making tiny corks to get stuck in your child’s airway.
    Thanks, Shannon for the opportunity to share.

  56. Susanne says:

    I am usually afraid to confront strangers, but with issue with child safety, I think at the least, I would have at least just left a friendly note on the windsheild making her aware of the danger. That way you still would have said something.

  57. Cory says:

    One time at a movie and lady had 2 little ones with her. The youngest couldn’t have been more than 18 months or so. He wouldn’t sit still and the lady (his grandma, I think) told him several times that she was going to “whup” him if he didn’t sit still. She took him out and I followed her to the bathroom where I asked her to please not spank him. I told her that he was just too young to sit through a movie and that I would stay with him in the lobby if she wanted me to. All of this while I was crying and shaking. It still makes me cry to think about it. She told me that she wasn’t going to hurt him, that she loved that child and that he COULD sit through a movie (HE WAS NOT EVEN 2!). She was very concerned that I was so upset. She ended up trying to make me feel better. She didn’t spank him that I know of. My problem is not with spanking. It was that he was so young and couldn’t possibly have understood, not to mention done what was expected of him.
    Other than that one time, I am mostly a chicken and would never say anything to anybody. I don’t know what “possessed” me that day.

  58. Lisa says:

    I have on a couple of occasions talked to Moms in checkout lines. One, obviously “strung out” on something illegal I told to shape up or I’d send my son out to the parking lot for the cop. Probably I made it worse for the kid at home though. I talked to the little one in a soothing voice about how hard it is for Moms somedays and that I would pray for her–that someone would help her out so she could rest. The Mom caught up with me in the parking lot [I was scared!!] and thanked me. I got her life story. It was as expected.
    In another instance I rather loudly pointed out the Security Guard and cameras to my kids. Another man joined in. Mom took the hint. Kid also did and quit nagging for whatever it was he wanted [he way old enough to know better!]
    Normally I pray and don’t say anything.

  59. Kristi says:

    As far as the wine thing, after the beginning of the third trimester, docs say a glass a day is fine…just no more. The car seat – I’m thinking I would just casually and sweetly ask if she has the airbag turned off because, you know it’s really unsafe to have a carseat in the front. Even if she spit in your face, you’ve made your point…done all you can to help the safety of the child. The discipline thing…no matter what you say, it would end ugly. I wouldn’t do anything.

  60. jen at Conversations says:

    In our state, it’s illegal to allow a child under the age of 12 to ride in the front seat. Maybe Courtney had a good suggestion of leaving a note on the windshield. Maybe it was an aunt or other care giver that just didn’t know.

  61. Lexi says:

    Just bc something isn’t technically illegal does not mean it is safe. Forget the airbag….what if you had a head-on collision and something from the other car came in through the windshield? Or the front of your car crumpled enough to crush the child in their carseat?
    At least if you were in a truck you’d more likely be higher than whomever you hit…
    The thing that bothers me is people who have their little kids in regular seatbelts, when they need to be in boosters until they’re 80-100 lbs. Kids die unnecessarily bc they’re not properly restrained.
    I like the idea of a note on the windshield. That way there’s less chance of a confrontation, and bc they have no reason to be defensive, perhaps it will make them at least think about it.

  62. Olive says:

    While it being illegal is a matter to be discussed, it’s not really the point here. Since I’m not a mom I can’t comment fully on this, but in reality, the child’s safety is what’s important.
    Yes, definitley say something! Like Kristi just said, even if she spit in your face, you’ve taken the right step to aviod something far worse down the line. What if there was an accident and all she could say, was “no one ever told me?” Maybe it was the kids aunt who didn’t know better, maybe the truly is ignorangt, maybe she had a good reason for what she did.
    At any rate, I think, if done lovingly, she’d be appreciative of your concern and help.

  63. Robin says:

    The 2008 vehicles have a new feature. When you connect a car seat it automatically turns off the airbag. I just learned this last week.

  64. Melinda says:

    Okay, I’m going to try to state my thoughts nicely. Please forgive my bluntness.
    1. We need to stop worrying about offending people and start worrying about the children’s safety. (This is sort of a different topic, but I’m sort of offended by people who are offended.)
    2. I probably would have left a note on the window, or engaged in a light conversation. Most are right, we don’t know the circumstances, but we won’t know, unless we ask.
    3. Those people who had babies with medical necessiaties who needed to be watched constantly, I understand why your children where in the front seat. Everyone else… I’m sorry, let the child scream. You may be frustrated by the end of a trip, but your child is safe. I’ve gone cross country more times than I can count, by myself, with a cranky baby in the backseat. I’m still here to tell about it.
    4. To those who leave their child in the car while paying for gas, your child is not as safe as you think. There was an incident here in the KC area, where a mom did that. While she was in the store, a man hijacked her car, and pushed her little boy out while he was driving. The little boy died. If you can’t pay with a debit/credit card, then I HIGHLY recommend keeping your children with you at all times.
    5. To the lady who mentioned the 18 month old at the movies, you were so right to do that. I have a 30 month old who can’t sit through a movie. I do believe in correction at an early age, but “whuping” an 18 month old is a bit excessive. Kuddos to you.
    6. As for other discipline issues, if it is a single parent, you have no idea how much a “Can I help you in anyway?” can mean to them. Sometimes, they are just worn through and frustrated and frazzled. A little compassion can go a very long way.
    I think that’s all I have to say. There’s also the story of the family that the mom was holding the baby on her lap (before car seats were required). A truck crossed the center line and they were in a wreck. Dad died, mom died, and the baby ended up with two broken legs. True story. It was my friend’s older sister.
    Okay…….. NOW I’ll step off my soapbox.
    Hugs,
    Melinda

  65. Bailey's Leaf says:

    After picking my jaw up from the ground, I would pray. Pray lots. I wouldn’t confront her personally, because we all know in parenting we’ve done some pretty dumb stuff. I would have probably left a little note on the windshield. “Gosh, I couldn’t help but notice baby’s car seat in the front seat. Just worried about holiday shoppers not paying attention and accidents . . . and so forth. Bad things happen when air bags hit car seats. – From one mama to another.” I know that I have a hard enough time when I see young ones in the front seat anyhow, let alone babies in car seats. Everyone should know better.

  66. Laura says:

    I know where we are at (Texas) it isn’t illegal to have a baby in the front seat unless there’s an airbag. And if the airbag can be turned off, then it’s supposed to be safe. We were blessed that we had a car with a backseat, but I know many families around here who only have trucks – and their babies have to sit in the “front” seat, so to speak.
    I’ve put my 6 year old in his booster seat in the front seat of our car on occasion, when the backseat is filled with younger children (playdates & such) because we don’t have an airbag on that side. I don’t do it regularly, and never on long trips, but in a pinch, yes, I’ve done it. Of course, now he wants to do it all the time, and I have to say no, because I feel better when he’s in the backseat.
    That said, if you were really that uncomfortable, I’d have left a note on her windshield, saying it lovingly that the back seat is best, or front seat w/o the airbag on.
    What really gets to me are the parents who don’t even strap there kids in, in any seat, which is illegal, but so very very very unsafe. I just saw someone yesterday, when we were driving through a school zone – in this big honking SUV (suburban or excursion) – with her 6-7 year old hanging between the front captains chairs chatting with her. Oh no, not happening – I’ve actually taken down license plate numbers and called 911 on those parents – they deserve a ticket for being so careless. I would have yesterday had it not been a school zone – but I had to keep my eyes focused ahead and couldn’t make a quick u-turn.

  67. Crystal says:

    As someone who doesn’t have kids myself I tend to hold my tongue, I don’t want people to think that I’m only giving advice because I don’t know how hard it is having kids.
    The first comment is much of my reaction too, isn’t it illegal. Also, most newer cars, especially SUV’s have warning labels in the visors to warn parents against having children of any age in the front seat.
    Maybe they did it just for that trip to load up the back-seat or something, I can only hope, but even still I don’t think I’d ever put a child in the front. And I think if I saw that I’d speak up. I mean yes she’s a stranger so she could be bitter about that, but also, she’s a stranger so what do I have to loose, if things went well I’d have the knowledge that I helped that babies safety.
    As for the other examples, it really depends on the situation, a lot of times things look worst then they are because we don’t see the bigger picture.

  68. Valerie@Consider It Done says:

    Maybe you should have said something. Although, now that these commenters have brought quite a bit of perspective (and did anybody mention that some cars automatically switch the airbag off if a certain weight isn’t reached in the front seat?)to the conversation, you might see the whole situation differently next time, and not feel the need to say anything.

  69. FeeFiFoto says:

    I would cautiously ask if she knew it was dangerous. My younger nephew, who turned 12 today (yay!) had a serious case of reflux as an infant; once he stopped breathing so from then on he wore a breathing monitor to bed. They drove with him in the front seat because they had to watch him to make sure he didn’t choke.

  70. Andrea says:

    That’s a toughie. Because maybe she really didn’t know, if she wasn’t actually the mom. Or maybe there was a reason she couldn’t put the baby in the back? Saying she’s similiar to Brittany isn’t very nice – Brittany wasn’t using a car seat, and if that had been the case, then yes, you should have said something!!
    As to the grocery store – you know, you never know what a parent has gone through that day. I know myself I have likely seemed very frazzled with my kids and not so patient!
    I guess what I’m trying to say is we never really know what the person’s situation at the moment is.

  71. Toppytiger says:

    The air bag can usually be turned off and sometimes with a little older infants to toddlers it’s safer to have them in front. A friend’s son had figured out how to unbuckle his carseat at 18 months. She had to keep in front when she drove alone with him to make sure he stayed buckled.

  72. Kate says:

    I think you need to give a mom a break sometimes! I’m sure she knew it was not the safest place to put the child, but that may have been the only option that day. I hate it when people offer me their “suggestions”. I may not parent the same way that you do. As long as what they are doing is not illegal, leave them alone.

  73. Karen says:

    Because my kids are so close in age, we ran into a situation where my oldest had to be put into the front seat in a forward facing car seat. Before the youngest baby was born, we went to the Sheriff’s Dept and had them install all of the car seats for us so that we would be safe AND legal. My son’s preschool freaked out and I had to go get a certified letter confirming my story so they wouldn’t call DHS. (Which we weren’t doing anything WRONG, but who wants that headache!) We weren’t in a position to get a new car due to medical bills for the oldest at the time. People EVERYWHERE stopped me and others left me nasty notes. It was fine at first, but got really annoying later. It was obvious the backseat was FULL with other car seats and that I had no other option at the time. People don’t know your situations, but feel entitled to judge you.
    I have also had people try to help when my autistic son has had an “episode” in a store. Again, they don’t know our situation or that I have to fight to hold his arms and legs to prevent him from hurting himself. It is over in a few minutes if he is left alone. When people start trying to “help” he gets more agitated and it keeps going. While I appreciate the good intentions, when a mom says everything is fine, let it go.

  74. molly says:

    I am former employee in a well know child retailer. You would be shocked by how people treat there children in public. The best way I found I could end the problem (smacking a child upside the head in front of me, shaking a child to stop them from crying) is to get involved with a cheery “is there a problem? Can I help?” If I saw what you saw, I would probably start a conversation, something like “That is an adorable carseat! Were did you get it? It is so great that your car can disable the airbag so that you can put your child up front with you!”
    But it IS illegal, in my state, to put ANY carseat up front, despite the situation

  75. Jen says:

    I’m such a wimp sometimes, but when it comes to children, I might have spoken up and maybe played the legal card… If I was the mother…I probably would have at least outwardly been gracious and accepted the advice, and depending on the situation, I may have done something about it later. It’s not like it’s an “opinion” on how to raise your children…

  76. Karen says:

    If the airbag is off I don’t see the problem. Is it the SAFEST place in the car? Obviously not. Would I put my kid there? Not if I had other more safe options (like the back seat). But if the airbag is off, it’s off. She’d have to put it in the same place if she were driving a pick-up truck.

  77. Nicki says:

    As for when to say something or not, moms, we have to find a middle ground in all of this! I don’t think that we all need to be going around constantly knitpicking other mothers for their choices in how they parent. However, if a child’s welfare is at risk, we should say something! Although, it has to be said with a level head and in a compassionate tone. Or, notice needs to be given to people who will be able to handle the situation the best way.
    And, on the other side, we have to stop with all of this prideful, “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids!” and “Don’t judge me!” stuff! We have to be honest with ourselves, we don’t always do it right! So, maybe it would be good to get suggestions or insight from someone else (hopefully, that someone will have some tact when they give it to you.) You have the choice to take it or leave it. If what they are saying is ridiculous, smile and move on. However, you might do yourself, and your children, a favor and really examine what was said. There just might be times, that if your honest with yourself, you may realize that they may have had a good point.
    Which leads me to this… πŸ™‚
    If you are leaving your kids in the car while you run into the store for just a minute, please, do not assume that they are safe. This is more than just the dangers of sweltering heat. Kids can climb out of their carseats/belts and then begin playing with things that can cause them danger. (Caution: as soon as you say that yours would never do that…it will happen. Never say never.) I once heard about a mother leaving the kids in the car for just a minute and one of kids ended up setting the whole car on fire, with all of the children strapped in the car, burning. Then, let’s not forget, the young Missouri boy who was drug to his death when the mom went into the store real quick and the car was stolen. Similar situations like these, have happened over and over again.
    A few years ago, I had to chase a car rolling in a parking lot. The mother left the child while she ran up to the ATM machine. She didn’t know that her daughter could get out of her seat on her own, but she could. So, the little girl climbed up into the front seat and hit the gear shift, putting it into neutral. After it had rolled about 60-70 yards, another bystander was able to jump in the car and get it stopped. It stopped only a few feet from a utility pole, a pole that was only a few feet from a deep ravine.
    Now, I’m not ‘judging’ any of these women for their choices. Nor, would I be ‘judging’ any other mother if I saw her about to make the same decision and I shared with her what I’ve learned. The truth is, any one of these stories could have been me at one time or another. However, I’ve learned from these horrific things that others have experienced and I have chosen to use them when making decisions in my own parenting. You bet I’m also going to share these thoughts with others, just in case they haven’t thought of it. I would hope that someone would do the same for me, if I unknowingly was putting my children in danger.
    Geesh. I’m sorry Shannon. If I still had a blog, I would have posted this on there. :{

  78. Reedja says:

    I never comment on other mother’s choices to them directly, because part of me thinks “There but for the grace of God go I.”
    I remember once, about three years ago, when I had my two year old, my four year old, and my twins who were about three months old. While I was picking up some things at Safeway, my eldest daughter Jemma slipped away while I wasn’t watching. I turned around, and calmly looked around me. When I saw that she wasn’t nearby, I started to feel cold, and of course my two year old Harper started to have a temper tantrum.
    She threw a box of cereal into the cart, hitting her little brother on the leg. His twin started screaming because he was crying.
    And so there I was: one screaming two year old, two screaming new borns, my daughter nowhere in sight. I jerked Harper up, and tried to carry her, but she flailed around and her flopping hand connected with my nose so hard tears came to my eyes.
    That is the closest I have ever come to hurting one of my children. The screaming was filling my head, and my nose was throbbing, and panic was filling my heart. It took every ounce of self-control I had to put Harper gently down in the shopping cart. I still remember that moment: how I had to concentrate on every single breathe and remind myself that it was nobody’s fault.
    Eventually, we found Jemma by the cupcakes, and also we found two elderly women who were shaking their heads over me.
    “You should have better control over your children,” one snipped at me. “They shouldn’t be acting like that.”
    I almost started crying. I managed to get myself through the check out line, get the kids quiet through candy, and get us into the car. I sat in the front seat for a moment, unable to move, because I was convinced that I shouldn’t be taking care of my children, that I shouldn’t be their mother. I had almost hit Harper. I was angry at Benjy and Aliza for crying. I had let Jemma get away from me.
    And then a kindly-looking woman came and knocked on my window. “Hello, there,” she said. “I saw what happened in there, and I just wanted to say that I respect you for keeping in control. I know how hard it can be sometimes, and I just wanted to say that you’re doing a wonderful job.
    That woman is the only reason I made it home in one peice. Later, I was diagnosed with postpartnum depression and Jemma and HArper started school, and my twins grew out of that fussy stage, so everything turned out all right. But when I think about what could have happened, how the tide could have turned, I shudder still today.
    Long story, I know! But I feel that it’s important for us moms to stick together and never cut down, only offer help.

  79. Jodi W says:

    i’d write down her plate numbers – call the cops and explain you didn’t want any trouble – but perhaps they could pull her over and educate her about carseat safety. DUH!

  80. jenn says:

    Granted I have not read through all of the comments here and rarely leave a comment here because there are so many – so if I am repeating something, forgive me….but I am a social worker, have worked for DHS in the past and currently facilitate parenting classes for those who are court-ordered to do so. There is an organization in Oklahoma (though I believe it is nation-wide) called Safe Kids – on their website, you can reveiw the current child passenger safety laws and then you can also report a violation of such laws on the site. Safe Kids will then send the driver of the car a friendly reminder of the law and that they were spotted violating the law. The web address is http://www.oksafekids.org.
    As for other incidences, like the grocery store, I would just encourage everyone to see each parent as a human being. Having worked with underprivileged families for awhile, I have learned that most all parents want to be good parents and want good things for their childre – but some are required to overcome huge obstacles or cycles of parenting before they can get there. But they have no idea how to do this – some may not even know they need to change – it is “normal” to them. When I see a struggle in the grocery store, I sometimes say sympathetically something to the parent like, “is there anyway I can help you? Looks like you all are having a rough time.”
    However, Oklahoma law (and probably all states) requires ANYONE to report any suspicious parenting to DHS – if you get that feeling in your gut that something is not right, report it. Or you can be held accountable and fined with a misdeamenor for “failure to report.” The statewide hotline for reporting abuse in Oklahoma is 1-800-522-3511.
    I know there is more in this comment than is needed…but it is my passion – keeping kids safe and helping parents learn how to do this.

  81. Lisa B @ simply His says:

    I found an interesting site that links to all the car seat safety laws in each state. I only clicked on a few states (including my own — which was what I expected it to be). I was surprised to see some of the other states not be as defined as others.
    http://www.carseat-safety101.com/1-car-seat-safety-laws.htm
    If you felt compelled to say something, definitely don’t through an “illegal” into the mix unless you know for absolute certainty that it is illegal in your state. Otherwise, you might joke or play it off like others here have suggested. But I still wouldn’t have said anything myself πŸ™‚

  82. Penny says:

    and I would have prayed… Prayed for the baby to be safe, for the mom to recognize if the baby was in a bad situation. Prayed for the child who was getting a little too much punishment – that the parent could/would calm down and wrap their arms around their little one in love.

  83. Lynda says:

    It is NOT illegal to have your carseat of any position in the front seat!!!! Newer models of any vehicle have the safety feature on the air bags. If I am in the vehicle alone my infant goes into the front seat. My DD had problems in an infant car seat due to really bad colic and without being able to see her or comfort her next to me, I would not be able to go to dr.’s appts, or anywhere that needed to be going. It’s neccessity for some situations. What if your child was choking and you didn’t know it on the spitup because all you see is the back of the carseat instead of your child’s pretty little face?! Just let someone say something to me in the parking lot or anywhere! I’d rather KNOW what the state of my infant is in rather than just hope she is okay by herself in the back seat! I don’t really have to worry about it anymore as my oldest is almost 6 and can be of BIG help sitting in the back seat.

  84. Lynda says:

    Also to add. It specifically states in my carseat manual to have the infant car seat in the FRONT seat if driving alone. And that is the newest GRACO model with the alphabet theme.

  85. laura says:

    hmmmm…..
    in our state it is not illegal to have it in the front seat. it’s not safe if one has a front passenger air bag. but a newer car like you described does have a switch off for such an event. my minivan in fact automatically switches it off if it senses less than 100 pounds. did you know if you are 5’2″ and 100 pounds or less sitting in front with a front passenger air bag isn’t safe either?
    another thought which a stranger might not know is perhaps the infant has a condition that would necessitate mom keeping close watch over…a floppy airway comes to mind. my son’s medical issues as an infant made it necessary and shuttling him to 6 different doctors when he was that small made it impossible most times to have someone drive me and him so I could watch him in the back of our van. So he slept in his rear facing car seat in the front passenger seat with the air bag disabled. i’m glad he did because i did have to pull over a couple of times due to breathing issues.
    one can assume they know but really, do they?

  86. Kathy of the HavinsNest says:

    I’m so glad our kids were out of car seats by the time passenger side front airbags were the norm. I can’t imagine having an unhappy or ill baby in the back seat and me in the front. If I had one in a car seat now I’d turn off the air bag – which the person you saw had probably done – and put the car seat and child in the front seat.

  87. jenn says:

    i was on the carseat advocacy committee at the hospital i worked for, for TEN years. we did “checkups” in various parking lots of places where kids would be in carseats i.e. parks, toys r us, grocery stores… people would pull in we would hop in the back seat and or look in the back seat, show them what was wrong (hardly EVER were they right 100%) and provide materials to fix the problems and or other information.
    first of all:
    carseats are made strictly to hold a child in place of the seat they are sitting in should the car be impacted severely or flipped.
    IN THE STATE OF TEXAS
    the only time it is allowed to have a child (someone under 18 years of age) in the front seat of a car is when the child weighs at least 100 pounds. if you are an adult that weighs less than 100 pounds you are sitting in the front seat at your your own risk/choice. if you are a child and weigh less than 100 pounds you do not have the right nor inclination to make that decision. the adult in the car is liable and hopefully smart enough not to put a child in danger. it is NOT recommended. it is not all about the airbags people. it is about the fact that car seats, not carseats, were made for adults. the seatbelts are not made to fit a child properly. if you are smaller and in the back seat the chances of being thrown out of the window lower if you are not in a front seat. the chances of you being thrown out of the car lower yet again if you are in a properly fitted and properly placed carseat.
    second:
    the airbag issue… they CAN and DO go off without being activated. it is not wise to depend on that on/off switch alone. we, the carseat speacialists, were completely, positively and just dang sure to stress that it is NOT recommended. unless your baby is a chronic choker (REAL reflux, people) they are not likely going to choke on their own spit up. they cough, they recover. it happens over and over all day long. I promise you, with all my heart, it is NOT WORTH THE RISK! you can pull over and give cpr if needed (which is unlikely to be needed), you CANNOT decompress a crushed baby’s head. which is what happens if a bag goes off in the front seat. front OR rear facing.
    Now, the most challenging part of carseats and rules was non-compliant parents and the rules themselves, yes the RULES. they change too often and are confusing to the public because of this. DO NOT follow the rules of a carseat manufacturer. only follow their instructions to install the seat. the liklihood of the recommendation of the carseat manufacturer being correct is small, they are usually out of date and wrong in your state anyway. check with your department of public safety and or call the children’s hospital in your area or county and ask if they do carseat check ups. they probably do.
    i do not remember the statistics, but front seated children were less likely to survive than back seated children, thus the rules/laws. it was not because of airbags and so the airbag theory really isn’t the issue.

  88. JP's MOM says:

    That is the primary reason I think these newer cars should NOT have an airbag on/off switch.
    It gives people a false sense of security when the airbag is off their child is safe. Afterall it was not until airbags came along that we were all told children should be in the back.

  89. Mari-jane says:

    I used to be the one who kept quiet and worried about it all day, sometimes longer. After dealing with a sad situation that could have been prevented I decided not to be the quiet one anymore. I have addressed similar situations numerous times. Most are not pleasant conversations, yet suprisingly, some are. Either way, if I make that person stop and think even for a moment, or make them look up the dateline article on how dangerous the carseat issue is, then maybe it was worth a few minutes of uncomfortable conversation in a parking lot or store. Maybe it will make enough difference to change or save a life. I don’t aproach them in anger, I aproach them like a friend I am worried about. I aproach them like the young, scared, uninformed mother I once was. You never know if they just needed someone to tell them where to go for help, or just needed to hear a friendly voice when everything else in their life is going terribly wrong. We tend to feel it isn’t our place or our problem. I used to feel that way, and I missed out on the feeling of doing good, of making a difference, of touching just a little bit more of this earthly world I am living in. It far outweighs the nasty response you sometimes get and it far outweighs saying nothing at all. Another bonus, my 6 year old son notices others more and often points out someone in need, whether it is an elderly person who needs help or someone struggling to deal with their child. It isn’t in a nosy way. It is with concern and compassion. What better way to teach than by example.

  90. Everyday Mommy says:

    One of the most painful burials I conducted when I worked as a funeral & cemetery director was that of a 2 year old boy. He was so precious, with a full head of soft, blond curls.
    His father had been working on the family car in their driveway. The front end of the car was elevated on two, steel car ramps which are so popular with do-it-yourself mechanics. While Daddy worked, the little boy played with his toys near the front of the car.
    Suddenly, the car slipped out of park and rolled forward off the ramps. The daddy was standing near his toolbox and watched helplessly as the car crushed his small son. The daddy rushed to him and tried desperately to lift the car off the tiny boy. Tragically, the front tire landed squarely on his chest and crushed his tiny heart. He died instantly.
    Neighbors rushed to try to help, but it was too late.
    If only someone had said something.

  91. Amy says:

    I once saw a woman driving with a small child (4 or 5 years old) hanging out of the window in the back seat. Seriously, the kid was standing up, probably on the arm rest on the door, and the window was lower than her hips. It was absolutely terrifying. We followed her, and called THREE different police departments (city, county, and state) as we moved from district to district, and none of them did anything. I was on the phone as we passed the state police post, saying, “Please, please, this kid is going to get seriously hurt!” and no one came. So I made my husband follow her all the way home, and I ripped her a new one.
    So, um, yeah. I would’ve said something! I’d rather get punched than find out later that some poor innocent child died, and I didn’t do anything. (And the story about the dad working on the car just broke my heart…)

  92. Emily Kay says:

    “the only time it is allowed to have a child (someone under 18 years of age) in the front seat of a car is when the child weighs at least 100 pounds. if you are an adult that weighs less than 100 pounds you are sitting in the front seat at your your own risk/choice. if you are a child and weigh less than 100 pounds you do not have the right nor inclination to make that decision.”
    God, I hope that’s not true…I’m doing some research after I post this comment. πŸ™‚ So I’ve been risking my life by driving a car since I was 18? I’ve NEVER (aside from being pregnant) weighed over 100 pounds or been taller than 5′. If what you’re saying is true, car manufacturers should be sued for making “dangerous” vehicles for those of us who are “vertically-challenged.” πŸ™‚ Because of my size, I know my children won’t weigh much either…am I really expected to place my 14-year-old child in a booster seat because she weighs 75 pounds? (Yes, that’s what I weighed in middle school.) I would have DIED from humiliation had my mother done that to me!

  93. Anonymous says:

    Okay, Jenn from Texas, no offense, but where did you get your information? I just did some research and found the following:
    “As of September 1, 2005, Texas law requires all children younger than 5 years old and less than 36 inches tall to ride in a safety seat that is appropriate for their size and height. All children younger than 17 years must ride buckled up, whether in the front or back seats.”
    Everything else is merely “recommended” for a child’s safety. Thank God, I was beginning to get a bit worried. πŸ™‚

  94. Overwhelmed With Joy! says:

    I had a car seat violation situation within my own family not long ago (well, within my in-law family).
    We wer all in Mexico on vacation and Oronzo’s parents wanted to show us a neat shell beach that they said was only 5 minutes away. There was no way the 4 kids we had with us were going to fit in one car with the adults unless we didn’t take the carseats and just sat them on our laps.
    Oronzo and I refused to do it and got much grief from his parents and one of his siblings. We stood our ground and said it wasn’t safe (even if it wasn’t illegal in Mexico) to have the kids in the car without carseats.
    Another of Oronzo’s siblings sided with us and refused to go in that one car with their small daughter as well. So, the 4 of us and our 2 kids piled into another car and followed behind, as Oronzo’s sister rode with her 2 kids unrestrained in the car.
    The 5 minute drive ended up being much longer than that. No, there were no accidents but what it came down to is that we were not willing to jeapordize the safety of our child in that situation.
    Can you imagine having to live with yourself if something DID happen to your child because you did not have them restrained properly in your car? No thank you!
    As for when do you say something? I don’t know. If I see a child being physically abused in my presence, I’m not only going to step in and try to protect the child, but I’m also going to report the parent!
    But if there’s a way to try to difuse the situation before the abuse happens (as one commenter suggested), I’m going to try that too!
    Good post!

  95. Naomi (Urban Mummy) says:

    FUnny you should post this. Just a couple of days ago I saw someone picking up (or was it dropping off?) their toddler at preschool. They were driving a smart car (it’s a 2 seater) and the toddler seat was, obviously, in the front. And it got me thinking, and I thought that you couldn’t do that!

  96. Lisa P in California says:

    I would have DEFINITELY said something as nicely as possible. ie: “Excuse me, you may not be aware, but they passed a law that putting any child car seat in the front is illegal and they can ticket you pretty severely for it.”
    If I was rudely ignored, I would feel obligated to call emergency services. It may sound severe, but a child’s safety is at risk and I can’t have that on my conscience.
    I’ve seen children brought to preschool while sitting in their grandparents’ lap. In that case, I discretely said something to the director and she relayed my concerns.

  97. jenn says:

    emily kay:
    ^Okay, Jenn from Texas, no offense, but where did you get your information? I just did some research and found the following:
    “As of September 1, 2005, Texas law requires all children younger than 5 years old and less than 36 inches tall to ride in a safety seat that is appropriate for their size and height. All children younger than 17 years must ride buckled up, whether in the front or back seats.”
    Everything else is merely “recommended” for a child’s safety. ^
    not ONCE in my comment did i say that a child did not have to be in a carseat!!!! i said it was not recommended for A CHILD *someone under 18 years old* under 100 pounds to sit in the front seat. these are recommendations made by the state and trained carseat ADVOCATES.
    i completely support carseats hence the name “carseat advocate”. that is why i went on explaning the size of a car’s seat not matching the size of the child. i also nowhere stated that a 75 pound child needs to be in a carseat. i apologize if that mistakenly crossed over in my comment.
    but this misunderstanding further explains the whole issue and my point. it IS very confusing. and unfortunately, yes, cars are NOT made for small drivers. they are made for average height drivers. i totally understand your issue in that itself as I am 4 foot eleven myself! :0)
    if my recollection of information was misleading i apologize.

  98. Dawn says:

    I don’t know what I would do in that situation. The other day a girl, about 21 years old, at my work was telling me how she went to the store that was right next to her apartment complex. She didn’t have to drive on a main road to get home, just a small road into her complex. She had her two-year-old son on her lap. A man in the parking lot saw her and stepped in front of her car. She rolled down her window and told him to move. He said he would as soon as she put her son in his car seat. She explained that she was only going next door. He said he didn’t care and that if she drove off he would call the police. She was telling me this story and acting like the guy was an idiot. All I could think was good for him. I wish I dared to be more like that.

  99. Tara says:

    I was thinking about this issue more and thought of the woman’s perspective. It has been mentioned I’m sure, but perhaps the woman wasn’t the child’s mother and didn’t know the safety concerns about having the car seat in the front! πŸ˜‰

  100. Erin says:

    I think I would have had to say something about the car seat thing. That is one of my big things – my 7 year old is a little over 40 pounds and her friends are not riding in boosters any more. However, if they ride with me, they ride in my extra booster. I am just fanatic about that! The red wine thing I don’t think I would say anything about because some doctors say a glass or two of wine is not going to hurt the baby. The discipline thing I have learned the hard way with a difficult child – I have no idea what that parent has been going through, so unless they are physically abusing their child, I let it go. I would hope someone would do the same for me if my girl was having one of her stinker days!

  101. thara says:

    I probably wouldn’t say anything to the carseat person or the wine drinking person, I probably would offer support to the mother in the grocery store (because I have been there before). A situation that I came across recently had to do with two children 5-6 yr old boy and his baby brother/sister (not yet one)being left (with windows down on a not very hot day) in the parking lot of walmart, the problem (beside being left alone by themselves) was that the 5-6 year old was HITTING the infant and telling it to shut up!(which only made him/her scream more) I didn’t know what to do…. should I start talking to the kid to distract him? should I tell a walmart employee. I was so worried about that baby but I did not know what to do.

  102. Heather O. says:

    What is sad is when you DO say something, and nothing happens. I’m not one to speak up very often, but one time Dh and I pulled up to a convenience store, and there was a car next to us, engine running, with a small child bouncing around in it. I pegged him to be about 3 or 4. He was not strapped in, and THE CAR WAS RUNNING! I thought it was surely a mistake, so I left DH and my own 4 year old in the car, and went into the convenience store. There was only one other person in the store, so I went up to her and said, “Is that your blue car?”
    “Yeah”.
    “Is that your son in it?”
    “Yeah”
    “Did you know that the car is running and that he’s not strapped in?”
    “Yeah. He’ll be fine. He won’t touch anything.”
    I didn’t know what to do after that, so just stayed in my car and waited until she left, to make sure her son didn’t touch anything. In this case, she was right–he was fine, but I still can’t get the experience out of my mind. I have no doubt the woman thought I was an interfering twit, and my comments made no difference to her. Oh, how my heart ached for that little boy. Should I have done something more pro-active? Maybe. I don’t know, and these situations are so very hard.

  103. Sparks says:

    We frequently have our 5 week old baby in a car seat while riding on a wagon pulled by our draft horses…and it’s not attached to anything. It just sits there and rocks back and forth with the motion of the wagon. Does this make me a bad mom?
    Also, there was a time that in putting in the carseat the seatbelt lock malfunctioned and allowed the seatbelt to loosen up. I went around a corner and the whole carseat, base included (which was in the back seat) tipped to the side, and my little guy was dangling there in the harness happy as a clam. Does this make me a bad mom?

  104. Tina says:

    Sparks, I don’t think you’re a bad mom…I’ve had mine tip over, too! And there have been a couple times that the kid has been safely in the carseat in the back, but I’d forgotten to buckle him into the harness.
    What I keep thinking is that when I was a kid, we didn’t even HAVE carseats and we would frequently have 6 people in the front seat of the pickup. We all survived!

  105. Sally says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with the women having the glasses of wine. There’s no way for you to know if that’s a regular thing or a treat at a holiday party, and if it’s a treat, then she isn’t doing anything to harm her baby and it’s her choice. I have a ton of friends who are pregnant right now, including me, and we’ve talked about how we’d all like to go out to a nice dinner together and get a bottle of wine to share…but we’re too afraid of being approached aggressively by judgmental people to do it.
    I would probably say something to someone being too harsh with their kid in a store, but I don’t know what I would do about the car seat thing — she could have turned the airbag off.
    Tough situations!

  106. Rachel says:

    I don’t know what I’d do in these situations but I do know the one I would panic about most is seeing a pregnant woman drink anything alcoholic. And so would any other adoptive mom who is raising a child damaged because of drinking. There is NO known “safe” time or amount, a pregnant woman can drink and not harm her baby. Why take the chance?

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