Car seats are essential for every parent until their children attain the age and height where they are eligible to use the adult seat belt. A booster seat can be used as an alternative when a child is too big to fit into a car seat but too small for the adult seat belt. When can a baby face forward in a car seat is a concern that parents and caregivers have to address from the minute they set out to buy one.
Rear-facing car seats are safer than frontal facing ones because of the prevalence of forward crashes as compared to those that happen from the back. Also, a collision from the rear has lesser force since the two cars are traveling in the same direction.
Additionally, the distance between possible points of impact and the child are far apart. This makes rear-facing car seats safer than those that face the front.
Typically, rear-facing car seats are ideal for children at their infant and toddler stage. This aspect is essential and parents ought to pay attention to it. The transition from rear to forward-facing has to be done at an appropriate age, or as directed by the manufacturer of the car seat to minimize chances of injuring the baby.
Before the age of two, harnesses and the design of frontal facing seats may cause head, neck, and spinal injury to the child.
Transition to a forward-facing car seat has to be done when the child is of age or when their weight and height dictate that this action is necessary. To rule out the many misconceptions regarding rear-facing car seats, parents need understand the different types of car seats in the market.
Manufacturers in this business offer an array of options each with unique features. One should be able to know what they are looking for to buy the best. There are three types of car seats in the market. They are;
The rear-facing car seat is the standard type needed for newborns until they attain a certain age. It ought to be fixed in the back seat of the car facing the back. Sometimes, people fit it in the front seat, but this move is not recommended. There are various kinds of rear-facing car seats, and one should acquire one that fits their needs and that of their kids. The assortment availed by manufacturers include;
Rear-facing only car seat – this design is small and comes with a carrying handle. A detachable base allows for it to be fitted on the seat of the car. If more than one car is used by the family, more bases can be bought. This car seat is only ideal for traveling. Any other use such as feeding or sleeping outside the vehicle is not recommended. Important to note is that, not all seats in this category have detachable bases. Some brands do not have this feature. It is vital to check this characteristic before buying a specific brand.
Convertible seat – this design comes with an array of options for caregivers. It allows for conversion from rear to forward-facing when the time is right. They are bigger than the rear-facing only seats but cannot be carried around because the base is non-detachable and it has no handles either. This type of car seats are ideal for travel only, and any other use is highly discouraged.
Three in one seat – models that incorporate this design can be used in different ways. They can face the rear, front, or used as a booster. The main advantage of this type of car seat is that your child can use it for an extended period.
Before purchase, one should confirm that they fit in their car while facing the rear owing to their large size. Unfortunately this type of seat is limited to car use only as they do not come with bases that can be removed or handles to carry them around.
Booster – this type of car seat comes in handy when a child has outgrown the toddler seat but cannot use the adult seats in the car. It is used in a forward-facing position due to its bulk. It comes with a set of harnesses that can be used to secure the child in the seat. The car’s seat belt can also be used when using this type of car seat.
Forward Facing Car Seat Regulations
Other than instructions provided by car seat manufacturers regarding the use of their products, caregivers ought to ensure that they are within forward-facing car seat regulations (focus on USA). Most of the rules set for seats in this category are made by the federal government, but it does not end there. Individual states have added regulations that one must abide by. Some of the laws by state are;
Booster seats are to be used up to when the child is six years
Convertible seats in forward-facing position or forward-facing seats are to be used until the child is at least forty pounds of five years of age.
A child passenger restraint system that meets outlined regulations must be used at all times when using the car until the child is six years of age.
Children who are older than four years old but less than eight weighing more than twenty pounds but less than sixty-five and are under fifty-seven inches in height must be properly secured in a booster seat or any other type that has been approved by the federal government as an ideal child passenger restraint system.
If a child is older than four years old but under 8 years of age but goes beyond the tallness and mass requirements in the previous paragraph, they may be secured by a seatbelt.
Once the child attains the age of eight, if they do not exceed the weight and height requirements, it is up to the driver to decide whether it’s ideal to let the child ride in the seatbelt or to keep using another federally approved child safety device.
All children who are under eight years of age and who are not more than four feet nine inches tall are to be restrained in a correctly installed child restraint system
The above are some of the laws that caregivers in the respective states ought to follow to the letter. Matters of age, height, and weight must be factored in when buying and using a car seat in all states.
Recommendations from sources on the wide web may not be in tandem with the regulations in one’s jurisdiction. It is, therefore, necessary to go through forward-facing car seat regulations in your locality before use. Other factors that will affect a parent’s choice of a car seat are;
- Age of the child
- Compatibility with your vehicle
- Size of the child
Why A Rear Facing Convertible Car Seat Is the RECOMMENDED CAR SEAT
A rear facing convertible car seat has been found to be the best and safest convertible car seat according to many organization such as Consumer reports and safecar.gov.
Check out the best rear facing car seat for small car
Many of us do not know when to switch to a convertible car seat given that the carry on carrier seems so convenient.
A recent report by Consumer Reports which were carried out in accordance with state laws and new safety guidelines recommends that it is advisable to purchase a convertible car seat by the time your child is one.
Results Favor Rear Facing
According to the results of the study which is the second phase of tests to be done on rear-facing car seats, many car seats in the market reflect expected levels of compliance with the new rating standards.
The objective of the tests was aimed at determining the capacity of different seats to protect the kid’s head in the instance of a crash.
The test is different from that carried out by governmental agencies that do not include tests for car seat safety when the child comes into contact with parts of the seat during a crash.
Head injuries are a critical component of safety and hence this report analyzes this aspect in terms of what happens when the child interacts with the back of the seat in a rear-facing position.
Consumer Reports crash-tested rear-facing child car seats using a 22-pound dummy in place of a one year child. Only one seat of the 25 seats tested had the dummy banging their head against the back of the seat.
24 seats were tall enough and had enough room between the child’s head and back of the seat and hence the head never touched the front seatback.
The report also analyzes the seats according to ease of installation and use since as they assert that the even the best child car seats will not be fully effective in protecting your child in a car crash if they are not installed properly.
Implications of the Results
- Height of Car Seat is Critical. It was established that since many rear-facing only child car seats weigh in at 30-35 pounds a parent may believe that these seats are adequate until the child exceeds that weight range. Nevertheless, many children will be taller than those seats before they exceed those weight limits. As such the child should be on a convertible car seat by the time they reach one year to prevent such a scenario.
- There is a Need for one anyhow. A convertible car seat is essential if you are to keep your child rear-facing until they attain the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Reports recommends children ride in rear-facing mode until they are two.
- Best Safety for the child. The results of the report show that an infant car seat is inferior as compared to a convertible car seat in protecting the head of the child.
- Safety Outweighs the Inconvenience. Most of us feel bad losing the portability and convenience of the infant carrier. However, with a growing child, the portable carrier becomes progressively heavier making it less appealing. The Journal of pediatrics established that letting baby sleep in their baby car seat outside of the car is dangerous. As such we should not feel bad when we have to wake up the child to take them out of the rear-facing seat since this is for their safety.
- Make the Switch ASAP. In order to benefit from greater head protection offered by a convertible car seat, it is better to switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat at a no later age than one.
A boon about this report is that it does not tell us to buy more seats but rather tells us to buy sooner what we will need further along anyway.
The Britax Marathon Clicktight and the Chicco NextFit were the top rated convertible car seats from the report.
While these are high-end convertible car seats that are quite pricey, the report recommends the Cosco Scenera NEXT and the Evenflo Sure Ride as the cheaper best convertible car seats.
To ensure that you have installed your car seat properly, visit safekids.org for car seat checkup events near you.
Rear Facing In Rear End Collisions
Last Update November 12th, 2016 I have been asked on several occasions whether or not rear-facing would really be safe if you were to be rear-ended.
My response up until now has been that frontal and side-impact crashes are the most fatal accidents and that serious rear impact accidents are not very common.
Therefore the child is best protected being in rear facing convertible car seats for as long as possible, in the most common types of accidents.
Why Rear Facing Car Seats are Safer
The statistics are on our side, According to Crashtest.Com, frontal and frontal offset crashes combine for about 72% of all crashes.
Side impacts are about 24%. Rear and rear offset crash only account for about 4%. The odds of being in a serious frontal crash are many times greater than being in a rear-ender.
However, it does happen and people have always asked “what if I was seriously rear-ended with my baby rear-facing?” Well, I now have an answer for you!
Meet Eliza, she was born on June 28, 2004.
Eliza has always been pretty small, and at 16 months old had just barely hit 20lbs.
However, lucky for Eliza she had a Mom who did her research.
She knew how much safer rear-facing was, and even after the Pediatrician told her she could turn Eliza forward-facing she didn’t.
She planned to keep Eliza rear-facing until the 33lb weight limit on her Britax USA Marathon.
The morning of November 5 when this picture was taken Kevin was wearing his favorite shirt and necklace.
It was just before a game so they were in their Buckeye gear.
Little did they know when they set out on a drive later that day that the shirt and necklace would end up being cut off of him.
While driving with 8-year-old Kevin and 16 months old Eliza they encountered a traffic jam on the freeway.
Mom saw this in plenty of time and slowed down and stopped accordingly.
That is the last thing Mom or Kevin remembers before waking up in the ambulance.
Apparently, the person behind her did not see the stopped traffic and rear-ended their stopped Dodge Stratus going 65MPH.
I think if any rear-end accident tested the safety of rear-facing it was this one.
Eliza escaped with only marks on her shoulders from the harness.
Kevin and Mom are quite banged up, bruises, etc. Here is Mom’s account of what happened.
“The kids and I were involved in a car accident last night.
Other than being ouchy and bruised, we’re pretty much OK.
I was on the freeway when the cars all in front of me were stopped and traffic was backed up.
I noticed this in plenty of time, so I slowed down and stopped normally.
That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the ambulance.
Apparently, in between there, someone hit us from behind going from 60-65 mph.
I’ve heard “Your car is pretty messed up.”
and “Your trunk is pretty much in the back seat of your car.”
When I woke up in the ambulance all I could think about was the kids.
I wanted to know if they were OK and where they were.
I was being transferred to the hospital and they were being transferred to the Children’s Hospital.
I was told that they seemed to be OK and that I needed to concentrate on me.
I get the shivers every time I talk about the accident.
I’m shaking now.
Anyhow, I was checked out.
CT scans and x-rays.
I was released.
They called a cab for me to be taken to Children’s Hospital.
I had the nurse call grandma to have her go be with the kids.
Apparently, when she got there, they were treating Kevin but Eliza was at the nurses’ station drinking apple juice and eating cheerios with the nurse.
She has a couple of small marks on her shoulder/neck area from the straps, but nothing else.
She was up running around at 1:30 am before they released Kevin.
Kevin is about in the same shape I am.
Bruises and sore.
They are having him wear a neck brace for 5-7 days, just to be on the safe side.
They said his CT scan was clear, but kids’ necks are so small that they like to have them wear it on the small occurrence that the CT scan missed something.
When I got to the hospital, Kevin was sleeping and we had to wake him up to get him to eat something and walk a bit before they’d release him.
His nose is bruised and swollen and he has bruising under both eyes.
He doesn’t remember much about the actual accident either…so I guess that’s a blessing.
We haven’t been able to get a copy of the accident report yet, so we don’t know anything about the other driver if s/he has insurance…who was the first on the scene…who called 911 for us?
When I talked to the insurance lady today and told her that we had been hit while at a complete stop and the other driver was going about 65 mph, she said she was surprised she was actually talking to me.
I’m so thankful that I always make my kids buckle up.
I’m so thankful that even though Eliza is 1 year old and 20 pounds that I have her rear-facing.
I’m so thankful that we spent the extra money and bought a Britax.
N.B The Britax is the best convertible child safety seats that you can buy.
I’m so thankful that besides a few bruises and sore spots, we’re all OK. We’re all alive.”
Before acquiring a car seat, it is essential to consult a certified child passenger safety technician for guidelines on the minimum standards that one should meet.
For children with special transportation needs, the parent or caregiver should shop for a seat that is appropriate for their needs. For some, it may be necessary to request for customization.
Installation must be done with utmost care to cancel out malfunction risks. It is essential to read through the manual that comes with the seat to ensure proper installation. An inch test can also be done to confirm that the seat is securely in place.