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Tuesday, August 4, 2009
You may remember this post from a while back about rear facing car seats. I was amazed by how many emails and phone calls I got about the issue since the post itself didn't get any comments. It is almost like people want to whisper "I keep my child rear facing too." I certainly know the fear of being judged as neurotic, I felt it when I wrote that post, but this is an important issue and worth talking about...even at the risk of being called crazy so here I go again!
Below is the updated recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I put the most important info in bold at the top of this post and it is in the middle of the article. I know lots of people think it is much more convenient to have them forward facing but keeping J rear facing has not been difficult at all for us. We have a large mirror on his headrest so we can both see each other and he just sticks his hand out to the side for me to hand him things so it is no big deal. He is actually closer and easier to reach in a rear facing position than he would be forward facing. Of course, after reading articles like the one below I'd go through whatever inconvenience was necessary to make him 75% less likely to die or be seriously injured in an accident. There are so many things we could do as parents to make our lives more convenient - it would be more convenient not to feed a newborn every three hours or not to supervise our toddlers in the tub but we don't let the convenience of those things effect the decisions we make about them. For me this is the same kind of issue. I think the stats are high enough that the risk of having them forward facing is comparable to that of leaving a two year old in the tub alone. I'd love to hear your thoughts but more than anything I'd just like you to read the article below and make your own decision.
AAP comments on rear-facing car seats. There is a well known myth that toddlers in rear-facing car seats whose feet can reach the back of the vehicle seat are more likely to suffer injuries to their legs in a car accident, however these injuries are NOT common in rear-facing seats.
New research indicates that children under 2 years of age are 75% less likely to die or experience serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat and, toddlers between 1 and 2 years of age are 5 times safer than toddlers who ride in a front-facing car seat.
The reason behind this conclusion is pretty simple. When an accident occurs and a child is rear facing the force of the accident is distributed evenly over the entire body, forward facing children, because the force of the car crash is concentrated on seat belt contact points, can suffer from neck and head injuries because children’s necks are weak and their heads are disproportionately large for their little necks. Dr. Bull, who wrote the commentary for Pediatrics, states, “…it is far better to send children to orthopedic specialists to have lower extremities treated, than to send them to neurological specialists to have cervical spine injuries treated.” Makes sense!
According to the AAP, all infants should ride rear-facing in an infant car seat or convertible seat. If an infant car seat is used, baby should be switched to a rear-facing convertible car seat once the maximum height (when the infant’s head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat) and weight (usually 22 pounds to 32 pounds) are reached for that infant seat, as suggested by the car seat manufacturer. Toddlers should remain rear-facing in a convertible car seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight recommended for the model, or at least the age of 2. (if you have a Britax Marathon car seat it goes up to 35lbs so J is still rear facing even though he is over 2) To see if your car seat is installed properly and to find a certified passenger safety technician in your area, visit www.SeatCheck.org or www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm. You also can call 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243) or 888-327-4236.