Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Rear-Facing Car Seats: The New Way Forward for Toddlers?

My dad recently forwarded me this article from the New York Times that contests the widespread notion that toddlers should move to a front-facing car seat around 20 lbs / 12 months. The article cites new advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which suggests children under two are 75% less likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries if they are rear-facing.

Chris and I have been talking about buying LLC’s next car seat. Her feet are starting to look cramped in her current Maxi Cosi seat. Many of her little contemporaries have been front-facing for some time now, and I don’t know anyone who has purchased a Group 1 (the progression from an infant seat) rear-facing car seat that accommodates a child up to 35-40 lbs.   It definitely seems to be the common impression that when children outgrow their infant carrier, they move to a forward-facing seat.

This UK site advocates rear-facing toddler seats and has information about where to purchase them; interestingly it says that many British child seat manufacturers are refusing to sell their safest, rear-facing products in the UK because British parents don’t buy them. Instead they ship them off to Sweden, where it’s common for children to remain rear-facing until around 4 years-old.

If you delve into these links, you’ll also see information that refutes that children whose legs appear cramped when rear-facing will be uncomfortable and more likely to break their legs if in a car accident. They suggest that it’s a misconception that keeping toddlers rear-facing will lead to them being unhappy and frustrated.

Baby “how to / when to” advice seems to change over the years significantly but the evidence here, to me, makes sense and is pretty compelling from a safety point of view.

LLC’s head isn’t at the top of her Maxi Cosi seat and we are waiting until it is to buy her next seat. But this advice has got me reconsidering our next purchase, and I expect LLC’s front-facing “milestone” has just been pushed further into the distance.
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