I’m a really big advocate of “listen to your gut” parenting.
I don’t particularly endorse or subscribe to any specific parenting method, and I have no parenting books to recommend. I subscribe to the “you do you” method … like, sure, take advice from whomever you want (just maybe not Dr. Oz?), but ultimately, make your parenting decisions based on what is best for YOUR family.
Even if no other women in your family breastfed, breastfeed! If you want to sleep train but your BFF is a co-sleeper, sleep train away! Prefer strollers over baby carriers? Keep on rollin’! Cloth diapers are your jam even if your in-laws hate them? Fluff those butts!
There are many “this or that” debates in parenting that are unnecessary because there is no right way or wrong way to accomplish 99.9% of parenting tasks. Here are seven undebatable reasons why you should see a car seat technician.
1- Car seat safety is not a choice.
Using car seats correctly is a matter of right or wrong. It can (lest I sound overdramatic) be a matter of life or death … or minor injury versus severe injury.
Each year, on average, 3500 Canadian children are injured in motor vehicle collisions and 61 are killed. [source]
Getting into a vehicle with our children is statistically the most dangerous thing we do with them on a daily basis. Using car seats correctly is a concrete and effective action that every parent can take. And I do mean every parent. There are car seat solutions to fit any budget. There are car seat solutions for families that only travel in friends’ vehicles or taxis.
2- Car seats are surprisingly difficult to use correctly. Most car seats are installed INCORRECTLY.
Statistics on car seat misuse vary depending on the source. I often see stats that about 50% of seats are used incorrectly. As a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), the unofficial statistic I hear from my colleagues is pretty close to 100%. And it’s not because parents are stupid or careless. It’s because there are a lot of things to know about car seats and vehicles that I only know because I took a three-day course and now know exactly where and how to find answers to most car seat issues.
3- A car seat technician has specialist knowledge.
When I completed my CPST training, I was horrified by how much I—a diligent parent if I do say so myself—had done and was still doing incorrectly when it came to my children’s car seats. I felt frustrated on behalf of safety-conscious parents everywhere: you could follow your car seat manual word for word and still not have your child’s seat correctly installed. There is just so much to know, and a CPST will know (or will know how to find out) all the information you need to use your seats in your vehicle. I typically spend at least an hour on research before I help someone with their unique car seat and vehicle needs.
4- A car seat technician will empower you to use your seats correctly.
A CPST is not a car seat installer. Yes, we will install your seats, but mainly, we will TEACH YOU how to install your seats. Say goodbye to the stress you feel when you need to take out your car seat to clean the car or you need to swap your seat into a different vehicle. When you know how to do it, and when you know what information you need to do it correctly in an unfamiliar scenario, the process will go smoothly!
5- A car seat technician can save you money.
One of the most frustrating things for CPSTs (and parents!) is parent has shelled out hard-earned cash for a car seat that doesn’t meet their needs or cannot be used safely given their child’s size and age or their vehicle. No parent wants to hear that the $300 car seat they can no longer return is useless to them, and no CPST wants to be the bearer of that news.
If you get in touch with a CPST before you put an infant seat on your baby shower registry or before you head to the store to get your child’s next car seat, you can avoid buying the wrong seat for your situation. I admit that I used to think that any car seat would fit any vehicle. This is simply not the case It’s really easy to fall into the trap of “oh, my sister has this seat and loves it!” But has your sister had her seat checked? Do you own the exact same vehicle and have the exact same aged/sized child as her?
If you have a budget in mind, a CPST can help you respect that budget and meet your child’s needs. CPSTs often know where to get the best price, too! Some CPSTs will even go to the store with you to help you pick the right seat.
Certain seats are flat-out incompatible with certain vehicles. This is the kind of knowledge that techs learn with experience and through networking with other techs. The info can be difficult to find as a consumer because no manufacturer or store wants to tell you that the seat they’re selling won’t work for you. Car seat techs have no ulterior motive and make no money from selling you a given car seat!
6- A car seat technician won’t judge you.
Behind every CPST is a parent or caregiver who has made their own mistakes in the past. Having your car seat checked is not a pass/fail scenario. We don’t care if your car has Cheerios and used tissues on the floor. We don’t care if every aspect of your installation needs to be corrected: we just want to teach you how to do it correctly.
7- A car seat technician can help you plan for the future.
Meeting with a tech for a “prenatal” check can set you on the path of future car seat success. Whether you’re planning on a big family or if you know you’ll be switching vehicles within the next couple of years, your tech can help you plan for those eventualities. Stay in contact with your tech: when it’s time to move to the next stage, when you have a problem or a doubt, they’ll be happy to help you out.
Whether your child is 0 or 12, any time is a good time to meet with a car seat tech.
Prenatal checks are a great way to know you’re leaving the hospital with baby riding safely. It can also prevent you from being told incorrect things about your seat by well-meaning nurses. But whether you’re about to shell out the big bucks for a deluxe new seat or your child has been using the same seat for a couple of years, any time is a good time to meet a tech and learn how to use your seats correctly.
And when I say 12, I do indeed mean that a child who is no longer in a seat of any kind can benefit from meeting with a tech. Techs are also trained to make sure older children fit the adult seat belt correctly. Many children are taken out of boosters too soon, and there are some great, super-low-profile boosters than can help achieve a safe fit for older kids without being obvious.
There’s a car seat tech that will fit your budget.
I’m a big advocate for CPSTs charging for their services: our time and expertise is valuable. That said, there is always going to be a way to get your car seat checked without having to pay. There are community-based car seat clinics where techs volunteer their time. There are techs who simply do not charge. Techs who charge for car seat checks often offer many value-added services, such as going to the store with you. In all honesty, even if you pay a technician for their time, you’re still going to come out ahead because they’ll have saved you a lot of time and probably money. (Plus, they’ll have made your children safer!)
Techs certified by the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada are insured for volunteer checks and those who run their own businesses will have purchased additional insurance.
We parents have so much on our minds: meeting with a CPST will give you peace of mind that your car seats are safe and used correctly.
Canadian Car Seat Tech Directory
|Clayton Heights/Cloverdale and North Delta||Danielle||Car Seat Safety|
|Langley & surrounding||Stacey||Safety Stacey|
|Shuswap/Thompson/Okanagan||Kayla||Maternal Oak Doula|
|North and West Vancouver, Vancouver||Holly||Safer Seats|
|province-wide||Car Seat Techs of Alberta|
|NW Calgary||Jennifer||Calgary Car Seats|
|Calgary area||Melanie||Melanie S. Car Seat Tech|
|Calgary/Central Alberta||Sonja||Tender Touches Doula Services|
|Okotoks and surrounding||Hazel||Belts & Buckles|
|South Edmonton||Christine||Buckle Up Butter Cup|
|South Edmonton||Deanna||Buckets to Belts|
|Edmonton and area||Samantha||Car Seat Connection|
|Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo||Angie||Buckle Up Wood Buffalo|
|Edmonton and surrounding||Trudy||Edmonton Car Seats|
|Winnipeg and surrounding||Susanne||Carry Kiss Connect|
|Morden, Pembina Valley||Julie||Pembina Valley Car Seat Techs|
|Winnipeg & rural (can help find someone in most of MB)||Erin||Manitoba Child Passenger Safety Coalition|
|Deep River, Arnprior||Allana||Allana CPST|
|Renfrew County||Jessie/Allana||Renfrew County Car Seats|
|Cornwall, Apple Hill and surrounding||Tracey||Cornwall Car Seats|
|GTA including Halton||Melissa + Stephanie||Lil’ Squirts|
|GTA and surrounding||Stephanie||GTA Installs|
|Scarborough and East Toronto||Celia||Celia A. CPST|
|Ottawa||Seats for Kids|
|Ottawa||Best Fit Car Seats|
|Ottawa||Sean||Safe Seats Ottawa|
|Ottawa and surrounding||Sharalyn||Car Seat Maven|
|Kingston area||Kelly||KB Carseating|
|KW, Cambridge, Guelph and surrounding||Carly||Carly K, CPST|
|KW, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford, Woodstock||Amy||The Nesting Instinct|
|Stratford and surrounding||April||Marley and Me|
|London, St. Thomas and surrounding||Katie||London Car Seat Safety|
|London||Lisa May||Bump and Beyond|
|Across southern Ontario||Shelby, Amy, Eva||Soap My Ride|
|Hamilton||Jennifer||Healthy Families Hamilton|
|Halton, Peel, GTA||Jennifer||Jenmcinnis.firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Burlington, Oakville & Milton||Rachael||Halton Car Seat Installations|
|Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, North York||Debbi||Harmony Yoga|
|York Region, South Simcoe and New Tecumseth||Rebecka||Safe Travels Car Seat Services|
|Montreal & surrounding *service disponible en français*||Marie + Luis||Little Cupcakes in Car Seats|
|Montreal & surrounding||Marwa + Angela||Kids en Route|
|HRM, East Hants and surrounding||Melissa||Melissa M. CPST|
|Moncton area||Amy||Greater Moncton Car Seat Safety Coalition|
|Fredericton||Kelly||NB Safe Little Passengers|
|Atlantic Provinces||Child Safety Link||1-866-288-1288