PARENTING

Advice on car seats: extended rear-facing

rear-facing

I think Courtney has already written a post on this matter a few years ago but I believe that this is such an important subject and needs to be revisited! Let’s talk about rear-facing car seats.

I’ve always been really strict about driving my kids in car seats and safely buckled at all times – even if only driving them a few meters away. I get goose bumps and even get angry when I see kids driving unbuckled or the worst thing ever – sitting on their parents laps!

We lived in Denmark when I was pregnant with my first baby, Tila, and in Scandinavia people have a habit of driving their kids rear-facing up to age of four or even longer! (Since 1965, all children in Sweden travel rear-facing until at least four years of age, and deaths and serious injuries have been virtually eliminated!) Did you know that the majority of accidents make up frontal collisions? Rear-facing is proven to be 5 times safer than forward facing.  The thing is that when a child is rear-facing the forces caused by the crash are distributed along their entire body (head, neck and back) but when a child is forward facing, crash forces cause much more stress to the neck and potentially more chances for serious or unfortunately (too) many times even fatal head and spinal injuries. For example: if you have an accident at 50km/h with a child that weights 15 kg and is forward facing, his neck is going to be struck with about 200 kg of crash forces and if he would be turned back, forces would reduce majorly – to only about 50 kg! There is a great website on this matter with even more information, crash test videos and also retailers that sell rear-facing car seats – it called RearFacing.co.uk.

There are many questions that rise up whenever I start a conversation on this subject with parents, like why until 4 years and if it really doesn’t get too uncomfortable for the kids at this age because of the limited space for their legs.

To answer the first question as simple as possible – baby’s head accounts for about 25% of its body weight, which is huge compared to adults (only 6%), plus their bones are still very soft (it takes around 15 years for the human skeleton to fully mature), now both factors combined in a crash can cause the spinal cord to stretch up to 2.5 cm, which basically means internal decapitation leading to paralysis or death.

About the comfort. No need to worry, rest assured! There are actually more possible leg positions when facing back (criss-cross, over the sides, up on the vehicle seat…) than front where legs are only dangling the entire ride (my front-facing 7-year-old keeps complaining how uncomfortable she is every single day!). Plus again, the rate of leg injury is much higher when facing forward. So, in my opinion, there is really no reason or excuse to turn the car seat around before your child turns four.

We have been using BeSafe carseats for our first two children but tried (and love) the MaxiCosi with our third one. Their newest 2wayFix base also allows rear-facing car travel from birth up to age four.

I’m curious to know how many of you drive your kids this way and which car seats you’ve used and love?

– Polona

Photo courtesy of BeSafe

You can read more from Polona on her blog Baby Jungle or visit her online boutique Baby Jungle shop!


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Comments (14)

Estelle
January 17, 2017

When our two were babies rear facing seats were quite tricky to get in the UK and we had to import them. Thankfully now they are much easier to get hold of and can even be purchased on the high street. Both our children were rear facing until they were 5. I still think a great many people don’t consider rear facing seats for a variety of reasons (cost, compatibility with their car, lack of awareness), but I do see many more when I’m out and about than 5 years ago.


Lisa
January 17, 2017

This makes me feel guilty mine switches from babysit to front facing car seat when they were 15 months …. just the norm here in Ireland …. used kiddy pro which I thought was good …. I think you buy Best that’s available …. good to know about rear facing though …. only thing is the rear facing kid would miss out on the fun in car a bit if facing the other way …I know that’s not the priority here but might be something to overcome .


Polly
January 17, 2017

My toddler has a big mirror, so he can see what the driver sees!


Clio
January 17, 2017

Definitely not the norm in Ireland anymore – I think more and more awareness is being raised around this issue. We just got the joie stages with us rear facing until 4 and at €200 really affordableb


Jo
January 17, 2017

I’ve had a rear facing car seat (Bsafe) for past 2.5 years for my now 3.5 year old daughter. I had the same concerns as others … What will they do with their legs? Will they get bored facing backwards? My daughter has never once complained about her legs and not knowing what to do with them (but I rarely see her sat on her bottom on a chair at home with her legs over the edge for long periods of time either). She has never complained about her view. They just see different things and they don’t know any different. We often get shouts of ‘aeroplane’ or ‘cow’ that she can see. What helped for us was having friends who already had the car seat that could reassure us of our concerns. My only issue has always been that her head falls forward when she sleeps but I’m not sure this is purely from it being a rear facing car seat as people have the same problem with other seats.


January 17, 2017

I couldn’t have said it better Jo, thank you! My thought exactly. They don’t know any different any they actually don’t have any less of a view just from a different site/angle 🙂
Our heads fall forward too but mine does too on the front seat facing forward haha! I wish they could have more of an inclination too.


Shannon in NYC
January 17, 2017

My daughter, who will be 3 in April, has been rear-facing for nearly two years now in a Clek Foonf, and will likely remain rear-facing in that seat until she maxes out the height and/or weight limits for rear-facing use (this should be at least age 4). Our experience with this seat has been really positive – she’s never complained about discomfort with her legs, and the Clek sits her up quite high, so she can easily see out of the side and rear car windows. The one drawback is that the Foonf is huge and heavy, so not well-suited for travel. For that reason, we have a Clek Fllo (very similar to the Foonf, but a bit lighter and smaller) that we use when flying and renting a car at our destination (we install it forward-facing on the plane and rear-facing in the rental car), and an IMMI GO car seat (which is forward-facing only) for taxis and Ubers at home in NYC. For those in the US looking to purchase an infant seat that will allow you to keep your child rear-facing in a convenient and easy to carry bucket seat until age 2 (on average), check out the newly-released Chicco Fit2.


Christine
January 17, 2017

Another plus point for our rear facing kids: They can interact with the dog in the boot! Ha!
Everyone else just has to crane their necks


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Celia
January 18, 2017

We’re in the process of researching a new car seat for our 15 month old daughter and I’d love to get a rear facing one but we have one big dilemma – no car! We mainly use seats when we visit family or friends outside London, or for the occasional uber journey, so we need a seat that doesn’t require isofix and isn’t too heavy – does anyone have any recommendations because at the moment we’re really struggling!


Maddie
January 31, 2017

Celia, check out the mifold, it could be a solution.

I have the same issue. No car and 2 small kids and we use taxis a lot. It sucks!

http://www.huggle.co.uk/mifold-booster


Penny
January 18, 2017

I was convinced that rear facing is a lot safer, so I bought a very expensive rear facing seat for my daughter in 2011. She got carsick on every ride, even if it was just 5 minutes.It was a nightmare. I had to clean the seat almost every week. This hadn’t been a problem when she was a baby, but as soon as she was a little older, she had to throw up constantly, and thus hated car rides. I wrote a desperate email to the well- known Scandinavian manufacturer – a two line comment was all I received: We have never heard of this problem. I can’t believe that my daughter is the only child in the world who has motion sickness. In the end, I bought another seat, forward- facing – she is better now. I was shocked how unreceptive the brand was. Bottom line, for my other kid I also bought a forward facing seat, I didn’t want to take any chances. Yes, I believe forward facing is safer, but if driving turns into a nightmare for the child and the whole family and the costs for two carseats on top of everything…


Karine
January 21, 2017

God I feel guilty! Never heard that kids up to 4 could ride rear facing. The regulations where I live is 12 to 18months for all the exact same reasons mentioned above. So my 3 kids were forward facing probably way to soon… But I must say that all three were much more happier forward facing and there has always been a space issue in the car with rear facing seats. Safety has to come first so I still wish I would have known this…


January 24, 2017

You shouldn’t Karine. I read a great tip in one of my favourite books (Hannah’s Gift): “Make the best decision you can with the information you have at that time.” But every parent should know this and it’s a shame it’s not shared more…


Megan
June 3, 2017

Any recommendations for traveling with/ without convertible car seats?or which type to bring?


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