Car Seat Update: We Have Acheived Safety!
The Dude and I went to the county car seat inspection event today, where a certified inspector from the state worked with us. She is the state expert on special-needs seats, in fact.
The first bit of good news is that I can quit banging my head against the wall on getting insurance coverage for a special-needs car seat! The health department has loaners for people who require special-needs car seats. I never knew this until I called to ask! They had two available for us to try.
But we never even got to look at them.
This is the second bit of good news: The inspector said our current seat is safer for The Dude than any special-needs seat would be.
The way she explained it is that all the special-needs seats have to compromise on some safety aspects to achieve accommodations compared to regular seats, so if a regular seat will work, it would be safer for the child than a special-needs seat.
I'm sure the special-needs seats are not UNsafe, but I suppose they were tested on crash dummies wearing the casts/braces for which they are designed. Maybe kids with different configurations would not be as safe as those with the intended casts/braces. Currently, there are no seats designed for Mehta casts.
But, she said the folded towel under The Dude's rear (which we'd placed there to increase the angle of his sitting posture due to pressure against his legs from the cast) is FINE! And she added one behind his back, too, to eliminate a small gap between him and the seat. She said these make him safe and secure, more so than a special-needs seat would do. (I feel so validated!)
She also made certain the car seat was properly installed in the car and gave me some tips on getting the harness to stay in place on the cast's shoulder straps.
And she also said you do not need an expensive car seat to have a safe car seat.
I'd expressed some reservations over this seat since it was somewhat inexpensive compared with many others, and one which was purchased in a moment of desperate need rather than after copious research. But she said many times that she really liked this seat, that it is very safe, that it works very well for The Dude, that it fits perfectly in my vehicle. (Any more validation, and I might begin to think I have this mothering thing down pat!)
Now, I must admit I am slightly chagrined that the inspector had to correct the installation of The Dude's car seat. See, The Dude's Daddy and I are quite capable of reading manuals, following instructions, and installing car seats. Or so we thought. But it really is true that 7 out of 10 kids in safety seats are improperly restrained. Really. So yours is more than likely one of them. (What do you want to bet those other 3 have been to see the certified inspectors?)
I cannot express how glad I am to have gone today. I am a new convert: I believe everyone should have their car seat inspected with their child in it. So go do it now. Your county health department is where to start calling.