If you were to ask those closest to me, what am I most passionate about, it’s this. Keeping children rear facing for as long as possible.
It’s a stage in every baby’s life, often an exciting one for the parents involved. The moment they get to switch them into a forward facing car seat and let their precious bundle see out of the front window for the first time. Most parents that you speak to when your little one reaches 7-10 months will ask the question, ‘Have you turned them round yet?’ and then usually be shocked if you say no.
But what is the rush? Why is turning them round such a big thing? It’s because that’s how we’re made to think. We are told to turn them round as soon as they hit 9kgs and can sit up unaided for a certain amount of time. It’s what everyone expects us to do. Scandinavian children are kept rearfacing in their cars until they are at least the age of 4 and their parents wouldn’t dream of turning them forward before this.
So why not over here in the UK? All parents want to keep their children as safe as possible so why are they encouraged to turn them round?
Rear facing is 5 times safer than forward facing especially in frontal collisions which are the most dangerous of crashes. When a child is forward facing and a frontal collision occurs the child is flung forward in the seat, being caught by the harness. This puts stress on the neck, the spine, and the internal organs. The neck is completely unprotected and as the spine and skeleton of a small child are still growing and not yet solidified into bone, the neck is vulnerable to the great force it’s being subjected to in a car crash.
In worst case senarios a child can go through what is called internal decapitation. The neck and spine is stretched to such an extent that the spine snaps and basically means the child has been internally beheaded. This is of course fatal.
In a rear facing car seat, the child is flung into the back of the seat and the force of impact is distributed along the whole back of the seat. The neck, spine and internal organs are not subjected to the stress of the force and are therefore protected.
Of course you will get people giving the most ridiculous reasons as to why they have turned their children round. ‘They don’t like facing backwards’ ‘Their legs are squashed’ ‘They can’t see out the window’ and ‘RF car seats are too expensive.’
If your baby has been in an infant carrier since birth then all they have know is rear facing, so chances are their not unhappy with rear facing, they just don’t like being strapped in to the car seat! Yes their legs can look a bit cramped up and if you did have a bad car crash, chances are they might end up with a broken leg but better a broken leg than broken neck, surely? As for the window, in a rear facing car seat, they are just as high up as forward facing with a good view out of both the side and back windows. They probably have a better view as they don’t have the front seats in front of them. And yes the car seats are on the pricey side but you can’t put a price on your child’s safety.
I’m not asking that every one rush out and buy a rearfacing car seat for their little one, well actually I would love that, but I’m not going to judge people for turning their children round and making their own decision. I just ask that you please research it before you make that decision. If more people choose rear facing then eventually companies might realise and release more affordable rear facing seats.
If, after researching, you still think rear facing isn’t for you and your family then that’s fine but if I can convince just one parent to keep their child rear facing until at least the age of 2, then I will be happy.