If you know me, you knew this was coming. I can't stress how important extended rear facing is! When I say extended rear facing I mean rear facing past the age of 1. I get being able to turn your 1 year old around is a milestone, but people, it is so unsafe. It is 5 times, yes you read that right, 5 times safer for your child to be in a rear facing car seat. If you don't do your research no one tells you the importance of these things. People are so excited to turn their child around at age 1 because it has been such a celebration for so long. But it is not safe; so what are we celebrating. I will be celebrating turning Kinley around when it is safe. Poor girl might go to college rear facing.
I get it. I really do. It is a pain to have your kid rear facing when they are screaming and you can't see them. Trust me I understand. Kinley is not a fan of the car, and never has been! I still sit in the back with her when we all three go somewhere, she is 19 months. It is definitely a pain in the butt but worth it to me. And when it is just her and I we do a lot of singing; and if she is screaming it is short lived compared to what I would have to live with if we were in a car accident. In reality she doesn't know what it's like to be forward facing so you can't argue she doesn't like to be rear facing. Maybe she just hates being restrained in the seat or simply doesn't like the car, or is pissed because there are cherrios and not puffs in her cup holder. Who knows why she doesn't like it. Fortunately for her safety she is not getting turned anytime soon, unfortunate for my sanity :). Small price to pay when I am talking about her life.
Lets talk about some excuses I hear about why people don't keep their children rear facing past 1.
1. My child is safer forward facing after the age of 1.
No they aren't, and I am not sure where you are getting your information from. I understand the law is 1 year and then you can legally forward face your child. Some states are finally increasing the age until 2. I really hope more states follow soon. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing AT LEAST until the age of 2 and 30 lbs. It is frustrating to hear parents say "well my child is big, he/she will be fine forward facing." No your child will not be fine if in a car crash. It isn't about weight. It is about their bone structure. At one year of age their bones are not fused together. Meaning their vertebra is not connected by bones, cartilage is holding it together. At 2 years of age they are not connected by bone and at age 3 there is only a 50% chance their vertebrae have finished ossification. That's pretty scary to me to be honest. Also their heads are not proportioned to their bodies at this age so if in a crash their heads are going to take the brunt of the force meaning their necks are going to get whipped around which could result in the head disconnecting from the spine. There is no way I am willing to take that chance, no thank you.
My child's life is priceless. As I am sure yours is too. It takes one second for an accident to happen. This really made me think about this yesterday when I saw a car accident on the way to work. This lady was trying to exit and she was in the wrong lane so she decided she had time to cross lanes and get to the exit. Well needless to say there wasn't enough time and she slammed into the wall head on. She bounced off the wall and was almost hit by an oncoming semi. It happened right in front of my eyes, so close they could have hit me. It isn't about how safe of a driver you are because it's the person next to you that you have to worry about. I would of had no control if she slammed into me too.
2. Extended rear seats are expensive.
Car seats that allow extended rear facing don't have to cost you a fortune. We have 2 seats, and neither were that expensive. I love the My Size 65 by Graco for my car. We have been using it since Kinley was about 9 months old. It wasn't too expensive, about $130 from Babies R Us with coupons, and was super easy to install. Side note....when installing make sure you are not using the LATCH and the seat belt. Use one or the other! But not both. We recently bought a seat for Matt's truck and it was very reasonable, $48 at Walmart. It is the Cocso Scenera Next. It is nothing fancy but it does the job and she can rear face in it until she is 40lbs. And it is light and easy to travel with.
3. My child's legs will not fit if he/she is rear facing and they will be uncomfortable.
Have you watched what positions your child sits in when they are sitting on the floor? They sit with their legs in many weird positions, but the majority of the time it is very similar to how they will sit in a rear facing car seat. Kinley can fully stretch her legs out touching the back seat with no big deal. She is average for height and I have a small car. She will also sit Indian style and cross her legs. There are plenty of seats out there that offer more leg room if that is one of your worries. Also, there is no evidence that supports more broken legs if your child is rear facing. Again though, I would much rather deal with broken legs over a spinal injury. You can see in the picture Kinley's legs do not look uncomfortable at all.
Car seat safety is such a passion of mine. And let's be honest folks, if you don't do your research you don't know. So research or ask questions! I had very minimal knowledge about car seat safety before Kinley. I knew the basics, nothing more. Since having her I have learned so much and have gotten a full understanding on why rear facing and having them restrained properly (the chest clip goes on the chest, not the belly button) is so important. It's really not that complex, it is their life. It is simple, keep your child rear facing until at least the age of 2 if they meet all the requirements of the seat. If they have outgrown the weight or height limits purchase a seat you can keep rear facing. You have to purchase one anyways so why not do what is safest.
I am so hesitant to say something to someone when they have their child strapped in wrong. I don't want anyone to take it the wrong way. In the end though I would never forgive myself if an accident happened and your child was hurt or died when I could of said made a simple comment. It is not meant to judge you or hurt your feelings. It is meant to save your child's life and honestly yours too if something happened to them. So with that being said I will always say something. I won't say anything about keeping your child rear facing after 1, since that is the law but do your research people. It's simple...it is 5 times safer for them to be rear facing, your child is 523% safer rear facing. Isn't that enough for you?
Below is a picture of where Kinley's straps were not correct. This is pretty recent, about 3 months ago. Someone mentioned it to me and I was so thankful! I don't know everything and I keep learning new things everyday. If you are wondering what is wrong with the picture it is because the straps are too far over her shoulders, they need to be sitting directly on her shoulders while she is rear facing.
I love you all and only have your and your child's best interest at heart. So don't take offense if I make a comment, thank me, it could have saved your child's life. We aren't perfect and make mistakes as we are all learning as we go down this parenting road but when making decisions, make them with your child's best interest in mind. If you see my child strapped in wrong please say something! I will thank you :)
You can learn more at Car Seat for the Littles Facebook pages HERE and HERE. This is a fabulous group and you can ask any question and get great honest answers. I have learned many things from them and I am sure will continue to!