Friday, November 19, 2010

Car Seat Conundrum

Ok, here goes. We all know how much safer rear facing in a car seat until the limit of the seat is, right? No? Well, it is safer. Like a lot safer. Even if their legs are touching the seat, even if you want to see their face, even if you think they want to turn forward (never understood that logic. How does your kid know their seat even turns around unless you do it?). It is still safer, especially under the age of two, for them to ride facing the rear of the car. Period.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests leaving your child rear facing for as long as the car seat allows. Leaving your child rear facing until the one year mark and 20 pounds is the rule but it is the minimum. Your toddler and preschooler are at  a greater risk the moment you turn them forward facing if there is an accident. In some countries the standard is to keep children rear facing until age 4 or 5 and incidentally they have the lowest fatality rates in car accidents.

Now, those are the facts. Here is the conundrum part:

My D faces forward. He has since he hit 33lbs at about 20 months and hit the weight limit of the Britax he was using at the time for RFing. He has always done fine with facing forward. It freaked him out a bit at first but otherwise, he has been fine.

He was facing forward when we had our wreck this past winter with no ill effects. He wasn't sore or injured at all in what was a pretty bad wreck (both cars totaled).

The thing is though, it is always in te back of my mind. That he is safer rear facing. I always promised myself and my boys that I would keep them facing that way until it was not possible any more. Which I did with D at the time.

Here is the catch though, when we had that wreck, we replaced the car seats*. We replaced them with fancy ones that rear face until 45lbs. Which, for some people, is a really big kid. Not around here though. D was almost 40lbs at his 3 year weight check.

So, the fact that he could go back to rear facing has been nagging at me. He is happy facing forward, but he has had to ride in K's rear facing seat a couple of times when K wasn't with me and he was fine with that too. He is only about 6 or 7 lbs away from the weight limit, but he has reached the age where he is growing much more slowly.

Do I turn him so he is safer? Or do I not worry so much? Leave him or turn him? What would you do, given the facts and the situation?**

*Please, if you are ever in an accident, even minor, replace your car seats. Your insurance will cover them and it is so dangerous to reuse them.

**I should add that I don't care its not the mainstream thing to do. People stare at me and mumble about my choices all the time anyway so thats not a concern.


  1. At this point, if it makes no difference to him, go with whatever makes you more comfortable. I personally have my 21 month old face forward because she knows how to (and frequently does) unbuckled her chest strap. If she was facing backwards, I would have no idea, and I consider the risk of an unbuckled baby worse than being front facing. Whatever is going to make your mama heart comfy, go with that.

  2. I can't speak of what I will do with Madeline since I'm not there yet, but I can tell you what I *think* I'd do. If your car seat allows it I'd turn it back around. I'm a "what-if"er of the worst kind and if something happened to my child who was forward facing, when they could have still be rear facing, I would never forgive myself - always wondering what if. But, I'm a paranoid worry wort type of person.

  3. You know I'm a big carseat advocate (you know what I mean - i.e. Natalie just recently moved to a booster at 7 years old) and I'd feel the same pull. It sounds like it's bugging you quite a bit and I see no reason not to just go ahead and turn him back around if it will ease your fears.

  4. I am not sure what I would do at that point :) I may even just ASK him what he prefers. It's not UN-safe for him to be FF'ing, it's just safER to be RF'ing, so I would honestly see what he wants. Neither option is a BAD choice, KWIM? I just know, for L, that even though he slowed growing by that point, all it takes is one growth spurt and he's all of a sudden 5lbs heavier, so it's a matter of a day and it could all be a mute point ;) (((hugs))) mama!!!

  5. I went through the same thing, El was rear facing til 2 ish and 30 lbs but then I got a sunshine kids seat and we put him rear facing again until he was 40 lbs. He had not problem rear facing and seemed quite happy with the arrangement as he could once again sleep in the car. Now at almost 5 he's been in a belt positioning booster because statistically there's not much difference in seats or even seat belts if the child is forward facing and he's responsible enough to sit the right way so he's safe in the seat.

    So I'd turn him around, even if it's for a couple of months, if something happened in that time he'd be that much safer.

  6. Ok, I decided to give it until Monday and see what happens. It really has been bugging me quite a bit. Especially lately. I am hoping its not a sign of something bad...

    I'll keep you updated.


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