With one graphic post-car-accident photo, Therese Gilbert grabbed the attention of parents across the world.
This mom of three is passionate about car-seat safety and wants parents to understand what could happen if their toddlers are switched from a rear-facing car seat to a high-back booster seat too soon. "This is what a seat belt injury looks like on an adult - who was correctly secured in the car and had a frontal collision," she captioned the brutal photo on Facebook. "It looks very bad, doesn't it? This was an adult — imagine this type of an injury or worse on a child."
Therese blogs about car seat safety and came across this upsetting image while doing research for a post on extended use of rear-facing car seats. She explained that the difficult image shows trauma to the chest muscles and tissue as well as some minor lacerations to the neck from the seat belt burning into the skin on impact. She's hoping that this visual will serve as an important reminder to all parents. "Far too many jump to a HBB [high-back booster seat] the moment the child hits the minimum weight limit for example," she explained. "Turning forward-facing is not a milestone to look forward to. The differences in safety between forward facing and rear facing — are too great. Don't be in a hurry."
The concerned mom acknowledges that parents don't always have a choice, especially once their child has outgrown their current car seat, and isn't advising that children ever use a rear-facing car seat above the approved weight limit. "But when you have the option to rear-face your child — take it. And do it for as long as possible," she wrote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, at least until they are 2 years old. When a baby outgrows his or her infant seat, they should still sit in a rear-facing, convertible seat because it offers better protection to a child's head, neck, and spine during a car crash.