Why it’s important to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible

child in a rear-facing car seat

*This is a guest post 

Your child is one.  Congratulations!

Is it time to switch him or her over to a forward facing car seat?

Many parents have been made to believe that a child’s first birthday is some sort of rear-facing graduation.  But car seat safety experts disagree.

In the UK, the law states that after 15 months a child can begin facing forward whilst the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until they are at least two years old – many states have laws dictating that one year and 20 pounds is the minimum age to turn a child’s car seat around.

But the truth is that the longer a child remains in a rear-facing car seat, the safer.

I know what you are going to say. Your son screams his little heart out whenever he is in the car seat. He gets motion sickness.

Your daughter is so awake that she needs to look out or she’ll get bored. Or her legs are so long it’s uncomfortable for her.

We’ve heard every reason under the sun.  And guess what? None of those reasons stand a chance against science.

In 2007, the University of Virginia published a study finding that children under two years old, who weigh less than 75 pounds (34 kg), are less likely to be severely injured or killed in a car crash if they were rear facing.

Let’s look beyond this study for a moment though.

Children, and infants in particular, have very immature bones and ligaments and their heads are heavier and bigger than their necks, making their structural support system a bit wobbly.

If a child is facing forward at the time of a car accident, their head and legs are thrown forward and a lot of force is put on their spines.

A child seating in a rear-facing car seat on the other hand, has his entire body cradled, providing better support to his head, neck and spine, and preventing the head from being thrown forward, away from his body.

When a child is seated in a rear-facing car seat, the force of the crash is spread throughout the entire seat area, which reduces pressure on the body.

The proof is so airtight, that nationally recognized injury prevention specialist and pediatrician at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University., Dr Ben Hoffman said that “In a rear-facing car seat, the chance of injuries to the arms and legs in a crash is less than 1 in 10,000.”

Because of the above reasons, it is recommended to keep children in rear-facing car seats until the maximum height and weight allowed on a car seat is reached.

What are your thoughts on the car seat debate? When did you keep your child rear facing until? Do share in a comment below.

Why it's important to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible

Author bio: Rachel Fink is a mom of 7 cute children and a blogger at ParentingPod.com. She likes to read and listen to music, and is passionate about gentle parenting in a not-so-gentle world.

Picture credit: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Image Library

9 comments

  1. We turned Zach at 10 months because at the time (4 years ago) we had no idea about the safety aspect of rear facing. Oscar is almost 11 months old now and still rear facing. We have an iSize seat which goes up to 15 months so we’ll have to re-evaluate once we get to that stage!

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