Why Rear-Facing Is So Important

SPJ&E

New member
Some may wonder why my first son was rear-facing until he was over 3 years old and why my almost 2 year old son is still rear-facing now. Most don't really want to hear WHY, they just think it's weird. For those of you that care to read this and gain knowledge on the subject, I'm going to tell you why my boys will be rear-facing for as long as possible and then harnessed as long as possible after that.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for as long as possible for the best protection. This means that children should rear-face to the maximum limits of a convertible carseat...which is 30-35 lbs. (depending on the seat) OR when his/her head is 1-inch from the top of the carseat shell. The rule that most parents know is that children must rear-face to at least 1 year AND 20 lbs. (the child must be BOTH 1 year and 20 lbs., not either or). What is not well known is that 1 year AND 20 lbs. is the bare minimum and it is strongly recommended that they be kept rear-facing for much longer.

When a child is forward-facing, there is a lot of stress put on his/her neck in a crash. The weight of a child's head in a crash causes the spinal column to stretch...the spinal cord, however, is NOT meant to stretch! The spinal column can stretch up to 2 inches but the spinal cord can only stretch up to 1/4 inch before it snaps, which means paralysis or even death. This is referred to as "internal decapitation"...the child's head would be slumped forward and it would look as though he/she was sleeping. It doesn't matter if the child has great head control...that means nothing. Data is showing that a forward-facing child is 4 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than a rear-facing child of the same age.

Rear-facing seats do such a great job of protecting children because the back of the carseat absorbs the crash forces. The child's head, neck, and spine are kept in alignment, allowing the carseat to absorb the forces. The child's head is also kept contained in the carseat, decreasing the risk of coming into contact with projectiles.

Something I hear often is "His legs are scrunched up, he must be uncomfortable" or "Won't his legs be injured that way?". There has NEVER been a single reported case of hip/leg/foot injury from extended rear-facing. Even if there were...a broken leg is much better than a broken neck.

Children are much more flexible than adults, so what may be uncomfortable for us, is not for a child. If you watch a child playing, you will notice that they choose to fold their legs up...they don't sit with them straight out or hanging over the edge of the couch. My boys fold their legs up in the stroller and squat or sit with their legs underneath them when playing quite often. They have never once complained about being uncomfortable in their carseats...never...the just fold their legs, hang them over the sides, or prop them up on the seatback. That is comfortable to a child.

Just the other day, when we got into the car, my 3 year old got in his brother's seat (rear-facing) and refused to get out. I asked him several times if he was sure he wanted to ride that way and he said yes. After being forward-facing for almost 3 months, he chose to sit rear-facing again and didn't complain once. He's hovering around the rear-facing weight limit though, so I did turn his seat back around forward-facing today.


Watch this video...it contains crash test footage of a rear-facing seat vs. a forward-facing seat, you will see the HUGE difference it makes on a child:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=kRP7ynNI8mI

And this one has lots of pictures of older/larger kiddos (including mine)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psmUWg7QrC8

And here are the links I got this information from (there are many others I've read, but these are the best)
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/stayrearfacing.aspx
http://www.childrestraintsafety.com/rear-facing.html (there are pictures of my big man on here)
http://www.thecarseatlady.com/car_seats/rear-facing_seats.html

Extended rear-facing pictures (my guys are Pacey and Joshua)
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/RFAlbum.aspx
http://www.childrestraintsafety.com/extended-rear-facing-gallery.html

As far as being harnessed as long as possible, think race car drivers. They wear 5 pt. harnesses, not just seatbelts. A 5 pt harness is much safer in side-impacts and rollovers, which tend to be very serious/deadly crashes. Most children outgrow their carseats (most go to 40 lbs.) before they are truly ready for a booster. The bare minimum for a booster is 4 years and 40 lbs...a child should be in a 5 pt. harness until then and even longer if possible.

Extended harnessing pictures
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/FFalbum.aspx

Even at 4 years and 40 lbs, a child should only be moved to a booster if he or she can sit in it properly for the entire trip, every trip. It is extremely important for the belt to fit properly and stay in place (lap belt as low as possible, touching thighs, and shoulder belt between neck and shoulder).

The 5-Step Test.

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?


http://www.carseat.org/Boosters/630.htm

If the answer is no to ANY of those questions, the child needs a booster seat. A 4-8 year old child in a booster seat is 59% less likely to be injured in a crash than a child of the same age wearing a seatbelt alone. On a side note, a booster must always be used with a lap/shoulder belt and it is also important than any person riding in just a seatbelt wear a lap/shoulder belt, not a lap belt only.

You can't control how others drive...accidents happen, it's just a fact of life. So why not keep our children as safe as we possibly can...that is one thing we CAN control. If I am in an accident, I know that I've done everything I can to make my boys as safe as they can be in the car. I know that any injury they have will not be because I did not protect them and I can live with that!
 
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ADS

gwenvet

New member
New data is showing that a forward-facing child is 4 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than a rear-facing child of the same age.

If you found a reference for this number I would be really interested to read it. I just want to be able to back up what I say to people with a reliable source, especially when it comes to statistics.
Thanks.
 
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Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Your video just talked me into turning my 2-1/2 year old back to RF.....thank you for the information!
Isn't that a sweet and powerful video? Not to steal Sam & Pacey's thunder for her awesome article, but wanted to mention the rear facing YouTube video was made by a young woman who wanted to encourage her sister/sister in law to keep her little niece rear facing. She posted on the board a while ago in the Car Safety forum in a thread about the video. I think her user name is KWalton or something similar. At any rate, two thumbs up for a great article, and for the video's creator. :D
 

SPJ&E

New member
Isn't that a sweet and powerful video? Not to steal Sam & Pacey's thunder for her awesome article, but wanted to mention the rear facing YouTube video was made by a young woman who wanted to encourage her sister/sister in law to keep her little niece rear facing. She posted on the board a while ago in the Car Safety forum in a thread about the video. I think her user name is KWalton or something similar. At any rate, two thumbs up for a great article, and for the video's creator. :D
She is absolutely correct and I meant to include that with the video but in the midst of writing all of that, I forgot! I did ask her permission to post it with my article though. Thanks for adding that, Jeanum!
 

AdventureMom

Senior Community Member
So I got to thinking, after reading the article and watching the videos, "I wonder if it's too late to turn Nolan back around?" He's a skinny 4-yr-old... so I ran and got the scales and he weighed in at 34-lbs. Oh well. He watched the crash-test dummy video with me, and wanted to be turned back around. I told him that he's too big but that's why we're always buckling him in his seat really tight.

Maria

Update: I crossposted this on the carseat forum and got some answers - sorry for the double post...
 
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VKOrsi

New member
Thank you so much for the info.
I always read about the importance of RF, but when asked about it couldn't tell a correct answer, now i can do it, and show everyone the videos.

(in the EU RF is only until 9-10 month :( usually (excepst for Finland and Sweden), you even can not get RF carseat :thumbsdown: )
but my boys were RF :love: :love:
 

Shannon+2

New member
Thank you again for this....I am new to the board but not new to this information. It does help to reread this when I am wavering on the idea of switching my 2 year old around.
 

CTPDMom

Ambassador - CPS Technician
If you found a reference for this number I would be really interested to read it. I just want to be able to back up what I say to people with a reliable source, especially when it comes to statistics.
Thanks.
I think that # might have come from the Injury Prevention Study.

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/13/6/398

"Results: Children in FFCSs were significantly more likely to be seriously injured than children restrained in RFCSs in all crash types (OR = 1.76, 95% CI 1.40 to 2.20). When considering frontal crashes alone, children in FFCSs were more likely to be seriously injured (OR = 1.23), although this finding was not statistically significant (95% CI 0.95 to 1.59). In side crashes, however, children in FFCSs were much more likely to be injured (OR = 5.53, 95% CI 3.74 to 8.18). When 1 year olds were analyzed separately, these children were also more likely to be seriously injured when restrained in FFCSs (OR = 5.32, 95% CI 3.43 to 8.24). Effectiveness estimates for RFCSs (93%) were found to be 15% higher than those for FFCSs (78%)."
 

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