Getting a car seat can be a mind-boggling business.
There are so many to choose from, at different price points, for different sized-kids - and there are often heated debates about whether or not to buy rear-facing for longer seats (you can read everything you need to know about them here).
Not to mention the fact there are many, complicated laws around the whole topic.
But now a mum - also a paramedic - has shared a Facebook post detailing how, in the many crash scenes she's witnessed in her role over the last 20 years, the ONE thing that's made the difference regarding how badly or otherwise a child was hurt in a car crash, was how tightly he or she was strapped in.
On her Facebook page Project Hot Mess, she writes:
The post in full
"Alexander turned 4 and we decided it was time to get him a new car seat, with a baby on the way we knew we could use his old one for her and buy him a new seat for the next 4 or so years.
"So we purchased this one and love it.
"I'm a member of a lot of mothers groups and communities and the discussion around car seats is ALWAYS a heated one. People give their opinions on rear facing vs forward facing, side seat vs middle seat, chest clip height (FYI - Australia doesn’t use chest clips), straps, wearing jumpers… if there’s something to have an opinion on, it has been discussed before.
"But I wanted to share something my husband and I were discussing.
"See, together we have over 20 years of on road experience as paramedics. We have been to more car accidents than you could imagine and seen more mangled car seats than I’d like to share.
"While we know the science and research backs up our opinions, that’s not what we are sharing here. We wanted to share what we have seen and experienced in our job.
"When you become a parent you spend AGES researching the ‘best’ car seat. You look for safety features, star ratings and reviews and fret over if you can afford the best.
"But, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a car seat if you DON’T strap your child in.
"Between my husband and I, in our 20 years experience, we have NOT seen a single child harmed in a car accident where the child was restrained in their seat properly.
"Not a single one.
"We’ve seen car seats ejected from vehicles, we’ve seen cars that have rolled over so many times you can barely tell which way is up, we’ve seen accidents where you would be certain there would be no survivors.
"But in our experience, the biggest difference between a child’s safety hasn’t been if they were in the $600 car seat or the $200 one. It’s been about those straps.
"How tight are you making the straps on your child’s seat? Can they pull their own arms out of them? Can you only fit one or two fingers underneath them? Do they have a big puffy jacket on that stops them from being strapped in properly?
"Would you be confident in doing THIS to them? Would you be confident in turning your child upside down in their seat?
"Car seats have incredible safety designs now, they are designed to cocoon your child, protect them as they roll and are thrown around in an accident. but they can only do this if your child is restrained properly.
More like this
"So next time you buckle your child in, ask yourself… would I be confident in turning them upside down in their seat right now?"
The post has been shared more than 30,000 times - and generated more than 6,000 comments - proving this one's a topic that really resonates with parents.
"I love this message so much!" says one mum. "I've never been able to afford the $600 seats, or a new seat for each new baby (our current seat was given to us as a replacement on an 8yo seat), but if you don't strap them in, it doesn't work!
"I go so far as to adjust the straps depending if she's wearing a jumper."
Another said this: "I see so many threads on most pages that get out of control, rear facing v forward facing and car seat brand wars, it's a nasty battlefield mostly.
"But the clear message and fact here is if they are used the way they are intended your child will be as safe as they can be and that's the point everyone should focus on!
"We have an expensive seat for our 18mo only because we got it on sale but our second car has a cheaper one but it has been doing the same job."
So, there you have it: above all else, a really good reminder to make sure you do a check-over just to be certain your little one's strapped in correctly.
(P.S. Here's how to do the pinch test strap check in case you need it ??? )