A lot of people have asked me, "Can't you turn Myers' car seat forward facing yet?" According to the laws of Georgia, we absolutely could. In fact, we could have turned him forward facing on his first birthday since he was over 20lbs. We have chosen not to though, and I thought I should explain why.
When Myers was born, George and I had never heard of extended rear facing. We assumed that we would buy a forward facing seat for him when he turned one and that was it. Then I read a magazine article in Parents magazine. It shared that rear facing is 5 times safer for children under two, and that in countries like Sweden, they routinely rear face their kids until 4 or 5 years old. This got us thinking, and so we started to do our own research. We read articles about the benefits of extended rear facing. We watched crash tests on youtube (some of which are chilling). We decided that we would rear face our kids as long as possible.
These are some facts about extended rear facing from Car-safety.org:
- 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 car seat during a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing car seats 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 car seats are NOT a safety risk just because a child's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat. (Myers often crosses his legs or props them up on the back of the 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.
Another question I have been asked is, "Doesn't Myers complain?" He has never been in a forward facing car seat, so he doesn't know the difference. Also, a rear facing car seat is slightly more reclined which makes long car trips and napping in the car more comfortable.
The fact is, riding in a car is by far the most dangerous part of our day to day lives. George and I have found a way to keep our kids a little bit safer for a little bit longer. Extended rear facing may not be the norm for most people, but George and I have never been the type of people to follow the crowd.
Here is a video on youtube about the importance of rear facing.
P.S. We also plan to keep our boys harnessed for longer than average, so expect a blog on that one at some point in the future!