Did you know that car crashes cause more fatalities among children between ages 1 and 14 than any other accident out there? Considering that, you’d think that more people would do anything in their power to make sure that their children are safe and sound during their rides.
So what can you do to make sure that your child is safe as it can be during the ride? Over the years, numerous studies have shown that a rear-facing car seat puts the child’s body in an optimum position if a car crash occurs. In fact, according to research from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, a rear-facing car seat can reduce your child’s injuries by more than 90%.
There are tons of reasons why people select to forward-face their children too early. So we’re going to go over some misconceptions about rear-facing seats and show you how to keep your child safe.
Misconception #1: The Pediatrician Says You Don’t Need It Anymore
So when should you get rid of your rear-facing car seat and allow your child to ride while facing front? Most pediatricians recommend that you shouldn’t do that before the child is at least two years old. Moreover, according to AAP, you should possibly wait even more.
A rear-facing seat will support your child’s head in a proper way and prevent it from moving independently while you’re driving your vehicle. Even if you feel that your kid is maturing faster than others in the same age range, you should still be careful.
The thing you need to understand here is that spinal maturity occurs with age. No matter if your child is 15, 20, or 25 pounds at 18 months, their spine is developing at a normal rate. That means it is vulnerable to various injuries and that it needs correct support.
Misconception #2: Older Children Don’t Like Rear-Facing Seats
Your toddler probably has a huge list of things they don’t like: early bedtime, fruits and veggies, so on and so forth. We can go on for days because toddlers are small creatures filled with energy and their emotions can switch in a micro-second.
When your child starts crying while you’re strapping them into their seat, chances are, they are not crying because of the direction the seat is facing. Maybe your child doesn’t like being strapped in any seat, or maybe they didn’t have a long enough nap… You catch our drift.
Just because your child tends to cry for a couple of minutes during the ride doesn’t mean you should completely give up on a rear-facing seat. You wouldn’t let your child run into a busy street even if it starts crying, right? And if your kid is 12 months old, a rear-facing seat will make them 532% safer.
Misconception #3: Your Child Feels Uncomfortable in the Seat
One of the biggest concerns for most parents is the comfort of their child, but you can’t put comfort above safety. While your child will steadily grow during this period and will start out-growing their chair, they probably won’t feel as uncomfortable as you think.
You’ve surely found your child sleeping in seemingly uncomfortable positions before. Kids sleep upside-down on beds, sitting on kitchen counters, or even hanging halfway off the couch. That’s because your toddler’s joints are far more flexible than ours. The flexibility allows them to feel completely comfortable in even the weirdest positions.
Even if your child is sitting with their legs crossed in the car seat for most of the ride, their little legs will feel perfectly fine when they get out of the care. Just face it: unlike most of us boring adults, toddlers don’t really care too much about the position they are in.
Misconception #4: The Child is Too Big for the Rear-Facing Seat
This is possibly the number one reason why so many people abandon the rear-facing seat too early, and it correlates with the last item on the list. The fact is, even if your toddler is more than 35 inches tall at this point, it doesn’t mean they’ve outgrown the chair… not by a long shot.
Most rear-facing seats have 40-pounds and 40-inch limits. That means a regular two-year-old has at least another year of comfortable sitting in the seat. There are even some models that go beyond that limit, so if you want to keep your child in the seat for longer, you can always go for a larger model.
Lastly, if you’re worried about the leg space, you need to be aware that your child will easily find a comfortable place for their legs. They will be totally safe too: leg injuries with a rear-facing seat are practically non-existent.
Final Thoughts on Rear-Facing Car Seats
If your child is still younger than 2, you shouldn’t even consider letting them ride in a forward-facing seat. In an ideal situation, you would have your child riding rear-faced until their fourth birthday. By that time, their spinal ossification is mature enough for a front-facing and probably won’t get seriously injured if a small collision happens.
What’s more, the rest of their body will be able to withstand the force of a car crash and they will be more prepared to handle the situation mentally by the time they are 4 years old. You can start preparing them for front-facing seats around the age of 3 and ditch the baby chair during the next 12 months. Nonetheless, if you want to keep your little one safe – have them ride rear-faced for as long as possible.
Rachel is a busy mom of seven that somehow manages to find the time to contribute to the Parenting Pod. She currently holds a Bachelor’s in Applied Science and Engineering and loves sharing her personal and professional experiences with other people around the globe.