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Get your car seat checked. Start here.

The story of how I became a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) starts long before I owned a baby store. I was a new mother and I was trying really hard to chill out. Babies are so small, so fragile. It’s easy to let fear drive you to irrational behavior, especially during the early months. I didn’t want to be that kind of mother. So I relaxed.

But when it was time to move my baby to a convertible car seat, I perused the manual for a moment or two before I became overwhelmed by all the illustrations and legal jargon. I felt fear boiling up inside me again,  so I took a deep breath. Just put it in the car, I told myself. The baby will be fine. And so I did the best I could, and I was sure that was good enough.

A few weeks later, I was leaving a playgroup with a friend whose baby was just a few weeks older than mine. She was much less relaxed than I was. She glanced at my car seat and reached in to feel how securely it was installed. She rocked it back and forth easily and her eyes widened. “You need to get your car seat checked! This isn’t in properly.” She explained that she’d brought her car seat to her local police station and they had checked it for her. “Mine doesn’t feel like this.”

I practically snorted. What a worry-wart! She’d brought her CAR SEAT to the POLICE? I smiled and nodded, thanked her for her feedback and drove off, shaking my head at my friend’s anxiety level.

A week later, as I was packing to drive to New York for the weekend, my phone rang. It was my friend, and she was calling me from the side of the road. She had just been in a car accident (everyone was OK), and all she could think about was my loose car seat and my upcoming four-hour drive. “Please,” she told me, “you never know what can happen. Go get your seat checked.”

Well, now that karma had gotten involved, I wasn’t feeling quite so relaxed. I called the Brookline Police department and begged the officer to see me, even though she didn’t have an actual appointment available for several weeks. Casey Hatchett, who has since become a friend, spent a good, long time with me, instructing, pushing, pulling, and tightening until the car seat was completely immobilized. I drove to New York the next day with great peace of mind.

After that, I became a noisy advocate for getting car seats checked, and I never quit. When I finally had the time to get certified this past summer, it felt incredible to finally be able to help parents myself. Now, I’m delighted to announce that Magic Beans has started offering car seat installation services in all of our stores.

Parents can now make an appointment online to meet with a Child Passenger Safety Technician for a one-on-one car seat checkup. We’ll teach you all about how your car seat works, and we’ll show you how it fits into your car. We’ll give you the confidence you need to install the seat yourself, because it’s an essential skill. And we’ll make sure you drive away with your seat installed properly.

Our car seat installation service costs just $19.99 when you purchase your car seat at Magic Beans, and it’s $39.99 if your seat was purchased elsewhere. This makes a great gift also, if you have a friend who you suspect may need a kick in the pants to go and get her seat checked. I’m just saying…

5 comments

  1. I think it is totally awesome you are making car seat safety checks so easily accessible but to tell you the truth I am Kind of disappointed you are charging for such an important safety service. Don’t you think parents will just visit their local police dept for free.

  2. I’m actually surprised you’re charging, there are many places that do it for free. And I’m not talking about the FD or PD – they’re often not Certified.

  3. With regards to charging for car seat check-ups…

    We have debated a very long time about this exact issue. This service, which is widely available through not-for-profits and government agencies, is available thanks to the generosity of donations and grants. As a for-profit business, we can’t offer a service like this, which is time-intensive and requires special certification, for free. So we had a choice: offer the service for a fee or don’t do it at all.

    Our customers have asked us again and again to offer this service, because budget cuts have led to long wait times and reduced hours in many communities. Ultimately, we felt that we can offer an experience that is at the same high level as all our other services, and we can promise little or no wait time before getting an appointment. All our techs are also supervised by one of the most experienced CPS technicians in the state, to ensure the quality of our work and so that any complicated situations can be addressed quickly. We are not looking to gouge anyone. We are simply trying to be responsive to the needs of the parents in our communities, and to do so in a commercially responsible way. There are other businesses around the country that are asking $50 or more for the same service.

    Our technicians volunteer their time to help out the agencies that offer these services for free, and as company a we do our best to help and support those agencies in any way we can. It’s so important that services like this continue to be available free of charge. We are not looking to compete with them, but rather to be a convenient alternative. Also, if we can attract the families who are willing and able to pay for a service like this, we will help free up resources at the non-profit agencies to focus on families who can not pay.

  4. Where I live, in Los Angeles, a standard fee for a private check is $50-80. I don’t personally charge, but I’m not a business and I do ask that clients make a donation to one of several organizations I work with. It’s not wrong to offer a service for a fee, especially when it comes with minimal to no wait time (my free clients have to work around my schedule; most public fitting stations have a 2-4 week wait) and good service and advice (I hate to say it but you never know if you’ll get a passionate, involved tech, or one who doesn’t care at many public agencies.)

    Good luck, and may you help keep many babies safe!

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