"The straps are too loose and the chest clip is way too low."
That's the "nagging wife" response Rebecca Tafaro Boyer, who was on her first day back from maternity leave, sent to her husband David when he shared a photo of their baby, William, in his car seat
Fifteen minutes later, when the pair were involved in a car crash, that "nagging mum" text would save little William from certain injury.
"Friends, let's have a quick chat about something that some of my family members think makes me a super annoying over-protective mom - car seat safety," Ms Boyer wrote in a Facebook post after the accident. "So today, my first day back from maternity leave, I demanded that my husband send me hourly updates and recaps on how baby William was handling his first day away from mommy."
When David and William pulled into the shops, and her husband sent a snap of their bub in his car seat, Ms Boyer told him to fix the way William was positioned. "Because I know my husband, I'm sure that he laughed at me and rolled his eyes before tightening the car seat and fixing the chest clip," she writes.
But not long after hanging up, Ms Boyer received a panicked phone call from him.
"Honey, we had a car wreck," he said, adding that he and bub were both fine but the car was a write-off. Not far from home, a woman had pulled into oncoming traffic to make a quick left turn.
"David just didn't have enough time to stop - it could have happened to anyone," Ms Boyer writes. "He slammed on the brakes ... before colliding with the front passenger side door of her SUV."
Amazingly, not only was little William completely unharmed, he didn't even stir.
But his poor dad didn't fare as well, breaking his foot in three places. "The car is a loss, but cars can be replaced," Ms Boyer writes. "My boys can't."
And she shudders to imagine what might have happened, had her baby not been secured properly.
"I am so thankful that my husband took the extra one minute that was necessary to put William in his car seat safely," Ms Boyer writes. "I truly believe that the reason my family is at home sitting on the couch with a pair of crutches instead of down at the hospital is because of my annoying nagging mum voice .. [He] has finally proven that yes indeed he is actually listening when I nag him!"
Ms Boyer added that the car seat her little one was in was the Britax BSafe 35. And while it would need to be discarded, despite being "expensive and barely broken," they'd be buying another. "We are getting the same damn car seat because that thing did his job," she wrote.
Ms Boyer also shared some advice about how to discard the seat after an accident. "It can be recycled,"she said. "BUT - before you stick that thing out on the curb with your bottles and cans, make sure to go HAM on it with a knife and pair of scissors! Cut out the straps, remove the fabric, spray paint it with the word defective, and then drop an anvil on it for good measure. People will actually scoop your defective car seat up off of the side of the road and attempt to resell it in an effort to make a quick buck!"
In an update, Ms Boyer added that the car seat that saved her baby's life would be used as a teaching tool.
"Our old damaged car seat will be donated to the NICU at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital so it can be used to educate new parents on how to safely and properly secure their newborns," she said.
Mistakes occur in three ways:
- When the child seat or restraint is installed or a restraint is moved from one car to another.
- When a carer puts a child in the car. For instance, any slack in a seatbelt or harness – if you can pinch some fabric between your fingers it is too loose – may allow the child to move during the crash.
- Errors caused by a child who may take an arm out of the restraint or fiddle with the sash.
Find information about car seat safety and Australian regulations here.