The American Academy of Pediatrics just recently changed their recommendation to rear-face your kids until the age of 2. Some of you might think it's silly or outrageous but there are facts you need to know:
- Rear-facing is safest for both adults and children, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing carseat during a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a baby's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing carseats may not be quite as effective in a rear end crash, but severe frontal and frontal offset crashes are far more frequent and far more severe than severe rear end crashes.
- Rear-facing carseats are NOT a safety risk just because a baby's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
- Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths. Motor Vehicle Crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under. http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html
Now I know rear-facing your kids until age 2 (let alone 4) poses a lot of questions and/or concerns. "My kid weighs 35 lbs at 15 months old and outgrew the rear-facing car seat weight limits!" or "My son's legs are scrunched up so much it looks uncomfortable."
Both are legitimate concerns and the first statement will not be solved until manufacturers get on board and produce car seats with higher rear-facing weight limits. The second statement is easily disputed: It is better for your baby to have a broken leg than a broken neck.
However the statement, "But it's much more convenient for me and my child to forward face," bugs the crap out of me. Safety should always trump convenience.
My now 3 year-old was turned at 17 months because that is when she finally hit 20 lbs. Had I known this information back then I would not have turned her and she would likely still be rear-facing. She is only 29 lbs. My Britax Marathons have a rear-facing weight limit of 35 lbs.
My almost 15 month old is still only about 18.5 lbs but will absolutely remain rear-facing until at least 2 years old. Honestly it's not about the weight. It's the age of the child that is most important. The bones in a baby's (1 year olds are included in the "baby" category") neck are not strong enough to hold their heads back from the force of inertia and can cause internal decapitation. Yeah, it's as bad as it sounds.
Basically children are FIVE TIMES safer rear-facing than forward-facing. Like I said earlier, things are changing and most likely so will the laws.
You don't need to spend a pretty penny to purchase a pretty carseat. All carseats are safe when installed properly. So buy a cheap convertible with a high rear-facing weight limit and make sure it's installed properly. Britax Marathons are pricey but I got good deals off Amazon.com with free shipping. I can suggest many cheaper convertibles if you'd like. Just ask.
Even many pediatricians are not aware of these new recommendations and will give a parent the go ahead to turn their child around once they hit one year AND 20 lbs. It is outdated information.
If all this information still doesn't convince you then hopefully these videos will:
Thanks for reading. It's long but it's a subject I feel passionate about. We can't control everything in life and bad things are bound to happen but many things can easily be prevented if you have the correct information.