When Would You Tell Another Parent Their Baby Is in a Potentially Dangerous Situation?

It’s happened to any mom active on Facebook. You’re scrolling through your newsfeed, smiling at cute babies, laughing at funny memes, and reading what your friends are up to. Then something catches your eye. The adorable baby smiling out at you though your screen is in her car seat improperly. Maybe the straps are too loose or the chest clip is at her belly button. Perhaps she’s front facing when you know she’s not even a year old or wearing a thick, puffy coat under the straps. What should you do? Message the mom and let her know her baby might be in danger and risk offending her? Say nothing and let a baby continue to ride in the car in an unsafe seat? For ideas and opinions, I turned to real moms to see what they would do. 

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Image via Flickr/ Saul Mora

Some moms felt that Facebook isn’t the place to correct another parent. Some felt that it wasn’t their place to intervene in another mom’s parenting. 

Laura T. said that she wouldn’t say anything through Facebook. “Facebook is not the place to call someone out. If you’re concerned and they are your friends, talk to them about [it].” She also felt that if you weren’t close in real life, you shouldn’t say anything at all. “I feel like if you don't know the person well enough to talk to them outside Facebook it's not really your place.” Andrea W. agreed. “No, I would not say anything. Facebook isn’t the forum for doing that. Safety is important, but I wouldn't want to embarrass someone by calling them out on such a public space.” 

Other moms felt that when a child's safety is at stake, it’s everyone’s responsibility to speak up. 

Kara H. said that her friend got offended when she pointed out a potentially dangerous situation. But she was glad she did it anyway. “Someone needs to be that child's advocate,” Kara H. shared. Mandy H. agreed. “The stakes are too high to NOT say something. This is not just a parenting choice, it's a child's life that could be saved.” Laura S. pointed out that, whether through Facebook or in real life, every mom has been the recipient of car seat advice at some point. “We are all in this thing together. And none of us instinctively KNOW everything about car seat safety. Someone tells us at some point!” 

Lindsey T. shared how she felt when she was the recipient of car seat advice through Facebook. “I actually had someone message me after I posted a video of my daughter letting me know what I was doing wrong. (I did not have the straps across her chest in the right place and her head rest was a notch too low.) Truly, I appreciated her private message.” Her appreciation for the advice inspired her to speak up if she sees something potentially dangerous. “Now, I politely message the friend and pass the information along. Most are receptive of the information without being defensive. We all want safe babies!” 

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Factors like how well you know the mom in question and what the exact issue is might influence your decision to say something or not. Amber S. had some suggestions for how to make sure your words are helpful instead of judgmental. “I always try to do it in a super friendly manner. No one wants to offend another mama who is just trying to do what's best for her baby. I usually go with something like, ‘Look how sweet your little baby is! Don't forget to tighten up those straps before you start rolling. 🙂 Keep that beautiful babe safe. Hope you guys are doing well!’ So far it's been either positively received or no response.” 

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So readers, what would you do if you saw a potentially dangerous situation for a baby on social media?

What do you think?

When Would You Tell Another Parent Their Baby Is in a Potentially Dangerous Situation?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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