In certain parts of the world, it's actually common practice to keep your child in a rear-facing seat until they are four years old. Surprisingly, however, this practice is not so common in some of the more developed western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.
This fact is pretty troublesome when you consider the fact that car accidents are a leading cause of premature death of children aged between 1 and 14.
What's worse, the vast majority of people who do use rear-facing car seats abandon them too soon. Since most of them associate the transition to the next type of seats a milestone similar to the transition from crawling to walking, they tend to take their children out of these seats at the age of two.
But you have to face the facts: just because you think so, it doesn't mean that they are ready for the transition to the next seat, because…
Besides safety, comfort is probably the biggest concern when it comes to rear-facing seats for most parents. Let's face it: most of these seats are rather small and larger children look pretty uncomfortable sitting in them. But sometimes, things look way worse than they actually are.
For starters, even the taller children don't have long legs. Secondly, as long as your child proportions are within the recommended weight and height limits of the seat, they will be just fine. Keep in mind, children's joints are a lot more flexible than ours.
That means, your child probably won't feel too uncomfortable even if their legs are in an awkward position for 30 minutes or so. And as research has shown, contrary to popular belief, the extremities of your children aren't at a bigger risk of breaking when they are sitting facing backward.
Possibly the biggest mistake people make is taking their child out of a rear-facing seat too early. Sometimes they do it because of their gut feeling and other times, they consult their friends before doing it. Some people even consult their pediatrician.
So if your pediatrician tells you it's the right time to place your kid in a front-facing seat, it's completely fine to do it, right? Well, not exactly. You see, in order to assess this, a pediatrician needs to have a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technicians) certificate. And surprise, surprise, most of them aren't certified.
And don't get us wrong – chances are, your pediatrician does a great work with your child – but it's not likely that he's up-to-date on the latest child-safety research. And if he recommended that you take your child out of a rear-facing car seat before their second birthday, he's making a huge mistake.
In the end, some parents – and their parents as well – think that there's no real need for these seats. You may be thinking: my parents didn't keep me in a rear-facing seat when I was young and I turned out just fine. Where's the problem?
Simply put, times changes, and with times, so did laws and regulations. As we mentioned numerous times throughout the article, tons of studies have shown that rear-facing seats reduce toddler and infant injuries and fatalities in car crashes.
Now, that doesn't mean that your parents have bad intentions when they tell you that you don't need a rear-facing seat for your child. Of course not. And just because they've been lucky with you it doesn't mean that you'll be. Accidents happen all the time and it's definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Installing a baby seat is definitely not that hard – but still – mistakes happen from time to time. and why not get the seat inspected by a professional before you put your kid in it? If you don't know any technicians, browse a bit online, and find a technician near you.
Placement of the seat is also pretty important. Surprisingly, the best spot for a rear-facing seat is in the middle of the backseat. That's because there are fewer objects that can possibly hit the seat if you collide with another vehicle on the road.
When your child is along for the ride, you need to make sure that their straps are not loose. Again, although it may seem like it, a properly secured strap won't cause any pain to your kid. If you need any guidance for ensuring that the straps are properly adjusted, watch this video right here.
Speaking of straps, remember that you and the rest of your family need to set a good example for the youngest member. Therefore, you need to make sure that everyone in the car is buckled up before you hit the road. This will motivate your toddler to follow suit and strap in before every ride.
Last but not least, if an accident happens you should replace your baby seat just in case. Even if your child wasn't in the seat and everything seems fine, the seat will still absorb some of the force of the crash. This is your child's life we're talking about here, so you shouldn't take any chances whatsoever.
We hope that you enjoyed our article and that you found it informative. If you by any chance you have a question for us, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.
Written by Rachel Fink for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.