There's no etiquette-approved way to do this is there?

Telling strangers they’re using an infant car seat wrong, that is.

I hate, hate, HATE seeing babies improperly restrained. And I feel a serious pressure to point it out to the parents, because in an accident, their kid could be terribly injured. But whenever I’ve bowed to that internal pressure and tried to mention, “Oh, that clip is supposed to be at armpit level,” or something, no matter how lightly and self-deprecatingly I approach it, I always feel like a douchebag. Of course, I feel awful not saying anything too, since I picture the kid being launched out of the seat in an accident. But after going back and forth on the issue I’m coming to think that it’s probably not Miss Manners-approved to criticize even if I mean well, and even if some people just didn’t realize and are grateful for the info.

(Oh, and I’m not talking about telling people they ought to extended rear-face or not put a 4 year old in a booster, just actual, objective misuse of products in an unsafe way.)

But I thought I would ask you guys before absolving myself of responsibility for possible launched babies. What says the Dope? Moral obligation or intrusive rudeness?

How do you even interact with strangers in a way where you would notice how they are using a car seat?

To your question, I think you could point out “These seats are so confusing, but you might want to put the strap over this way, for better safety in case of an accident.”

I see to many small children riding around in the back seats unbelted or standing up or sitting in the lap of an adult in the front seat. I don’t think I would get angst over someone having the chest clip an inch too low.

I’m wondering this too. And baring an egregious misuse of the seat (which I might mention if I saw it), how can you be confident that what you think is ‘correct’ is actually ‘correct’? Are you a fire-fighter? EMS? If so, I think in your capacity in one of those roles it would be fine to point something out, but otherwise I might just keep it to myself.

The latest one was a mom picking up her older child from daycare with a baby bucket over her arm. I’ll also bump into people at YMCA or park pushing a bucket around in a stroller frame.

I wouldn’t notice a slightly low chest clip or, say, the angle of installation. But it’s easy to note a chest clip down by the baby’s navel, along with straps so loose they’re draped over the baby’s upper arms. Basically you could lift the baby out of the seat easily without unbuckling them. Or when a baby is strapped in over an incredibly puffy winter coat. The thing I see the most is people balancing a car seat on a shopping cart, which creates a fall risk and/or can damage the latches that hold the baby bucket in the base in the car.

When I have approached people, I have indeed tried to say something like, “I didn’t realize this until a friend told me about it . . .” or in cases of something clearly illegal I’ll just tell the person they could get ticketed for it, like I’m just trying to help them out, you know?

The parents may loosen the straps on the carrier when they have in the stroller and then retighten them when they put the carrier into the car. I’ve done that many times.

I’m curious what sort of responses do you typically get? “Geez, thanks”; incredulous stares; or “get up out here bee-otch!”.

The difference is that parents who are using the car seat are clearly trying to protect their little ones, and mistakenly think it’s enough to put the child into the seat and click the buckle. So, presumably, they want the protection for their child.

I’ve wondered how to handle this myself - I often see things like this: straps fallen

I like** Procrustus**’ suggestion, and plan to use it in the future.

No, there is no really good way.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, it just means you’re going to piss some people off and you’re going to feel like an interfering busybody and you probably won’t be making new friends of these people.

But think of it this way: you’re, literally, saving lives. Which do you value more highly - the egos of adults (which will be bruised for, literally, less than a day before they forget all about it) or the lives of infants?

Yes, this *is *an unironic “think of the children” post. :wink:

Yep - the tension required to keep a child safely strapped in at 100 KMPH is different than the tension required to keep them safely strapped in at 2 KMPH when you’re pushing them around in a stroller.

Frankly, unless you see someone about to drive their car with the carrier still sitting on the roof, I think I would STFU.

I’m not a parent, but I’m assuming when you remove the seat from the car it’s normal to loosen the straps/release clips so the baby is more comfortable? I can remember being uncomfortable in child seats way back when, and if I can still remember that now (25+ years later) I must have been pretty darn uncomfortable. Why would you keep your child securely battened down if you’re just strolling down the street? Perhaps they want to be able to pick their child straight out of the seat, in case it gets fussy/starts to cry, etc?


Well said.

Oh absolutely. In fact, I once drove my kid home from the mall completely unstrapped because we’d been strollering around shopping and I undid everything, then totally forgot about it when I installed the bucket in the car! The times that I have mentioned loose straps in these situations, I have usually said something like, “Oh, those look loose - do you give that [pointing to tightening strap] a good tug when you get in the car?”

And the thing is, sometimes people say yes pleasantly, and sometimes they say yes in a disgruntled fashion, and sometimes their eyes get wide and they say, “Oh my god, I didn’t realize they weren’t tight enough, thanks!” Those last people are the ones who make me feel like maybe I do have an obligation to speak up.

So, obviously I haven’t been there for these interactions; however, are you sure there’s not a bit of scarcasm you’re missing?

The reason I ask is that were I confronted by someone I didn’t know about the tightness or looseness of my child’s car seat strap my response would probably be something like ‘Tighten them?!?! Holy shit you’re supposed to tighten them?!?!?’ but I’m a bit of an asshole like that and perhaps all the strangers you’re approaching are nice people. :smiley:

Please do not ever do this. If you absolutely must be a buttinsky when it comes to other people’s kids, then restrain yourself to mentioning it when they’re actually in the car.

Isn’t this just the flip side of the why do strangers butt in and tell me how to raise/feed/dress my baby threads? There’s no incorrect way to buckle the kid in when you’re out of the car and that seems to be when you are seeing them. So you see parents doing something that isn’t actually wrong, assume they don’t know how to do the other, correct thing, and then pre-bust them on it? I know you’re just trying to think of the children but it sounds like maybe you are that stranger buttinsky people are always complaining about.

Another vote for not saying anything unless you see the kid actually in the car.

I agree it’s best not to say anything unless you actually see them doing something obviously dangerous…I have called 911 on people before when I’ve seen them driving down the freeway with a baby on the driver’s lap. That’s just…completely idiotic and beyond any guilty feelings on my part for ratting them out.

That is a good point. I guess I have seen my friends who are car seat techs bitch about people actually, definitely driving their kids around like this often enough that I made that assumption. But you’re right, especially since many babies spend a lot of their time in the baby carrier portion of the seat, maybe I should just assume the other direction - they’ve loosened the straps for non-car use and know to tighten them before driving.

alice_in_wonderland, there definitely have been a few people who seem genuinely interested and appreciative when I’ve brought up an issue with them, like we had a whole, nice conversation about that and ancillary parenting stuff. If they were being sarcastic, they were extremely subtle as well as highly invested in jerking my chain. :wink:

But yeah, I feel like a buttinski when I try this. And to be realistic, I doubt many people would change their behavior based on such comments. (Maybe this is all some karmic lesson to teach me empathy for Christian proselytizers?)

Not to be painting with a brush, but it seems like many in the MYOB crowd are not parents.

Done in a light hearted way, it can be a very useful thing. As a parent, I did however mind sanctimonious asshats that looked to be working their own ego instead of being nice strangers doing a nice turn.

I’m trying to imagine in what context a child in a car seat would not need to be strapped in for safety. Carrying? Nope, straps should be on and tight 'cause those things are heavy, tippy and people trip and babies get flung. In a shopping cart? Nope, straps should be on and tight 'cause how many threads have we had about crazy people who don’t watch where they’re going and run into other people’s shopping carts? Just sitting on the floor? You never know when the wee one is going to figure out how to arch their back and turn over, and just like they should be strapped in or in constant contact on the changing table… In the car? Obvious.

So what am I missing here? I can’t think of a single time or circumstance, save when you’re actually putting them in or taking them out, when it’s safe and okay by the manufacturer’s instructions to have the straps loose on a child safety seat.