A viral post about winter carseat "chaos" is an important reminder not to judge parents.
Every parent has felt the piercing gaze—or received the unsolicited advice—of the world's Judgey McJudgersons.
While it shouldn't be the case, judgment seems to go hand in hand with modern parenting. What babies and kids eat, where they sleep, how they behave, what they wear, etc. appears to be fair game for every sanctimonious bystander's opinion.
I once answered my door holding a sleeping six-week-old baby in my arms, just to be met with the mail lady's tut-tutting admonition, "Ooooh, you're gonna spoil that baby." Thanks, Marge.
Parental judgment is an issue. And as one mom on Facebook recently pointed out, it's unfair because times have changed, the rules are different, and best practices are constantly being updated.
In a viral post, a mom reminds us that a small child without a coat likely means parents are simply doing their best to keep their kid safe.
Nicky Campbell recently took to Facebook with "a winter PSA" to the Nosy Nosertons who judge parents when they see a baby or toddler without a coat in cold weather.
"If you’re out and about and see a parent with a baby/toddler who isn’t wearing a coat, pleeeeease don’t assume that parent is some kinda monster who doesn’t care if their kids freeze," she wrote.
"New car seat guidelines avidly warn against children wearing coats in car seats—and this makes it really challenging for caregivers (particularly those with multiple small children) to get kids out of the house then in the car then out of the car again and into the destination," she continued.
This is the freaking truth. Bundling a toddler in a coat is a feat in and of itself. No one in their right mind is going to put on a toddler coat's to walk to the car, then take it off to put them in the carseat, then put it back on to walk into a store or school or wherever, only to take it off again when the kid gets too hot.
"Seriously it’s chaos," Campbell continued. "And since there’s not a great commercial product to solve this issue yet, everyone comes up with their own solutions. Some use blankets. Some use lots of warm layers/hats/gloves. Some (God bless them) do the coat-shuffle at every stop and decided their kid would survive the 12 second walk from the car into Best Buy without the bubble coat. So what I’m saying is, cut parents some slack. We’re trying. And we’re doing everything we can to make sure our kids are warm while maintaining what’s left of our sanity. Thanks 🙏."
Yes, it is actually less safe to put a child in a harnessed carseat with their coat on.
A lot of older folks—and some younger ones as well—seem to be under the impression that carseats and coats are a non-issue because we all survived our own childhoods. But tales from times when these carseat safety guidelines didn't exist aren't proof that it's safe.
The no-coats-in-carseats guidelines have actually been around for a couple of decades, but these kinds of changes take a while to catch on. Now we have visual proof for why they exist now, however. Check out this video that shows how much slack even a relatively thin winter coat actually produces (keeping in mind that in the force of a crash all of that padding will compress to basically nothing):
The bottom line is that we need to cut parents some slack and assume that most parents are doing their best.
Statistically speaking, the most dangerous thing parents do is put their kids in a car, so any way we can make it safer is a good thing. Kids aren't going to get hypothermia if they go without a coat in the cold for the minute or so it takes to go from a warm car to a warm store, nor are they going to be harmed by huddling under a blanket in their carseat as opposed to being strapped in in their coats. So if you see a wee one without a coat, relax and be thankful that their parents are conscientious about carseat safety.
When we know better, we do better. And by now we should all know better than to judge a parent unless they are actively, blatantly harming their child. There are a millions ways to raise healthy, happy kids, and we're all just trying to do our best out here.