Safety Archive

Rear-Facing Until 2 Years Old: Why Not?

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Any time a new recommendation from anything resembling an “authority” is released regarding the welfare of children, critics come out in droves to decry the advice. Sometimes, they have a legitimate concern. Other times, their reasoning is inherently flawed or purely emotional. For a background, be sure to read about the new AAP recommendations and check out the Rear Facing Link Guide for references. In this blog, Heather, Kecia and I put together some answers to fourteen popular questions:

1.) Won’t my toddler be uncomfortable facing the back? No, he or she will be just fine. Most toddlers are actually more comfortable rear-facing because the carseat is reclined and it’s much more comfortable to sleep that way than sitting upright in the forward-facing position. Plus they can prop up their feet instead of having them dangle unsupported.

2.) Won’t their feet or legs be injured because they are bent or crossed or touching the back of the seat?  No, but this is a very big misconception among parents. In reality, during a frontal crash (the most common type of crash), the legs will fly up and away from the back seat. It’s also much more important to protect the head, neck and spinal cord in a crash which is exactly what rear-facing carseats do so well. If you’re still not convinced – there is this study by CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) that looked at injuries to children ages 1 – 4 who were hurt in crashes and leg injuries were rare for those kids in rear-facing seats. However, injuries to the lower extremity region were the second most common type of injury for the kids in forward-facing seats. That’s because the legs of a child in a forward-facing seat are thrown forward and can hit the console or the back of the front seat. Study quote: “Injuries below the knee were the most common, particularly to the tibia/fibula, and they most often occurred due to interaction with the vehicle seatback in front of the child’s seating position.”

A little perspective. Keeping your kids safe, made as easy as 1…2…3!

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Carseat and vehicle owner’s manuals can be confusing, at best.  Policy statements from injury prevention experts can be just as bad.  If you don’t follow safest practice guidelines, is your child really unsafe?   Here’s what we know with no question, based on compelling statistics.

  1. Most kids who die in motor vehicle crashes are unrestrained.  Simply using a child safety seat that is appropriate for your child according to the age, weight and height ranges on the labels is a huge reduction in risk. 
  2. Installing and using that child seat correctly in the back seat is another big reduction in risk.  If you can’t figure out how to install or use it right, seek help!  Online or in person.
  3. Many fatalities involve impaired and distracted drivers.  You can’t always control the other driver, but you can make sure you are unimpaired and not distracted with cellphones, food or other things that take your concentration off the road.  That also is a big reduction in risk.

 

Those factors alone account for a very large percentage of children killed in motor vehicle crashes.  If parents could just address those issues, we would have many less fatalities each year and motor vehicle crashes would far below their current rank as the #1 killer of kids 3-14 years old.

There are many other factors that certainly affect the safety of kids in cars, but probably to a lesser degree. For example, what rear seating position to use, what brand/model of carseat or vehicle to buy, when to transition from one type of seat to the next, if/when to discontinue use of the LATCH system and countless other factors.  All these factors are important, but in the grand scheme of things, likely to be far less important than the “Big Three” factors above when it comes to saving the lives of children. 

For parents who want to keep their kids as safe as possible, Kecia has great advice about understanding the newest policy guidelines.  While we strongly suggest that you thoroughly read and understand your owner’s manuals and also the best practice guidelines from agencies like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NHTSA, Safe Kids USA and others, we recognize that many parents don’t have the time or just become frustrated with all the confusion.  Some probably think these guidelines are made only to impose new restrictions on parents or to sell more carseats.  For those, just following the three suggestions above will reduce the risk from riding in a car to well below many other common risks to your child.

Stay tuned for a new blog regarding common misconceptions and criticisms of the new guidelines!

Confused about the new AAP carseat & booster recommendations? START HERE!

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Welcome to CarseatBlog.com!  You’re here so you’ve obviously heard about the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding carseats and boosters.  Perhaps you saw something on the news today or read a comment on facebook.  You might be a little (or a lot) confused right now and are looking for some accurate info and helpful advice.  We’re here to help!  Consider us your tour guides in the confusing but wonderful world of Child Passenger Safety.

These are the new recommendations from the AAP:

  • Keep kids rear-facing until at least their 2nd Birthday (keeping them rear-facing beyond age 2 is fine also if they haven’t maxed out their convertible carseat in the rear-facing position by either weight or height).
  • Once the child has maxed out the convertible seat in the rear-facing position – turn them forward-facing but keep them in the 5-point harness until they reach the maximum weight or height limits for that particular seat.
  • Don’t rush to “graduate” kids into booster seats before it’s necessary but do use a booster seat once the child has legitimately outgrown the harnessed carseat.  Every seat has different weight or height limits so make sure you understand what those limits are for your seat(s).  Some child safety seats are “combination seats” which can be used initially with the 5-point harness and then the harness is removed after it’s outgrown and the seat is used as a booster using the vehicle’s adult seatbelt system (lap/shoulder belt).
  • Keep kids in a booster seat until they reach at least 4′ 9″ tall (57″) and the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt fits them properly.  See our blog on The 5-Step Test to help you determine if your older child can ride safely in your vehicle using just the seatbelt.
  • Keep kids out of the front seat until they are TEENAGERS  (and yes, we realize that most 9-11 year olds think they’re teenagers and may act accordingly but they are not actually teenagers and they need to sit in the back seat).  Truthfully, many of these tweens still need to use a booster in order for the seatbelt to fit them properly.  I know what many parents may say about this but I’ve been through this with my oldest child who is now almost 14 and please trust me when I say, “they’ll live”.  And if you’re unlucky enough to crash with them in the vehicle – they’ll live without potentially devastating internal injuries caused by an adult seatbelt that didn’t fit them properly or wasn’t worn properly.

To Worry or Not to Worry?

When it comes to carseats there are lots of things you do need to worry about like making sure the carseat is properly installed and that the harness straps are snug and positioned correctly.  But here’s a brief list of things that you DON’T need to worry about when it comes to rear-facing toddler and older kids:

Goodbye 1 and 20 (don’t let the door hit you on the way out): Kids safest in rear-facing car seats until age 2!

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Children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 2 years old instead of 1, according to updated advice from The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Can I get an “Amen”?   Or at least a collective “Woohoo”!

Trying to find more details.  We’ll post again as soon as we have more info!

March 20, 9:50p
And now, here’s NHTSA’s press release.

Here’s an excellent article from MedPage TODAY.