Okay... I'm dumb and I don't know how to quote y'all so I'll just kindof address some stuff:
I guess my point was... I use my bucket. Daily. And generally I love it. But I see abuse, too. Yes, I know ppl buy cheapo second hand ones to use shopping, etc.... but the times I see the old expired ones or kids to big for them is when I see them in other social situations being strappped into one to GO INTO the car... like leaving my mom's group playdate or church or from going out to coffee, etc. I myself have considered buying a cheapo seat for ds1 to play with.
The lady at WIC literally looked at me like I had 2 heads when I didn't bring my bucket, and I asked her "What about people that don't use them?"... she honestly had not encountered that. I think the point is that I know lots of people who don't use buckets, and I see lots of babies in expired ones or in buckets long after they have outgrown them at WIC, but nobody says anything -- THAT is the scary part.
There's no reason I couldn't have held the babe to weigh us both, then put him on the baby scale and taken the difference. The nurse said that wasn't an option bc she needed to 'see' my 'official' weight, so my suggestion was for her to hold the baby. When I go to WIC I see parents sitting in chairs with baby in bucket at feet, either rocking the seat with a crying baby very vigorously or not even looking at the baby or acting like they care, speaking to their children horribly, not supervising older toddlers while they are playing/fighting, etc. IMO the staff at WIC should not be allowing/encouraging that sort of environment, WIC should be a place where parents can get support to do loving and caring things. (yes I know that the nurses are probably understaffed, underpaid, and overworked)
As to the one mom at church... I'm not trying to judge. I just happen to know that she works pt from home and lives with her mom who watches her toddler and the baby during the day, makes meals, and does light housekeeping... and is at church with mom, teen son, and dh. None of them pick up baby, instead handing over a paci at each utterance until baby screams, she bf's, then puts the baby back down. There is another mom I know who often brings her little one in the bucket... she has a very high needs toddler and *needs* her baby in the bucket but interacts with him and takes him out to bf... I totally get that. I just don't get the entire loving family sitting around watching the baby play by herself in the bucket, especially at church.
I *totally* agree that there are some babies that won't calm down without being in a carseat, and sometimes that's the only way a stressed parent can get baby to sleep (like my neice who sleeps just fine now). Sometimes babies scream in the carseat because they scream all the time. IMO, there's a difference here, especially if the parent is using the seat SAFELY (straps adjusted correctly, recline done correctly, handle up/down per manufacturer, seat not expired or too small, not perching seat in inappropriate places, rocking it violently, etc.).
So, again, I agree with the OP... it seems like there is a social acceptance of leaving babies in buckets, and places almost seem to make it easier to do so, sometimes to the detriment of some poor little one who is stuck in their bucket all day...