April 1, 2011
Rearfacing longer? Is it really that important?
The simple answer is yes, rear-facing past the 1 and 20 minimum required by law (or proper use of the car-seat) is really that important. The not so simple answer is the reasons behind it's importance.
This year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their stance on car-seat safety. This issues has caused some controversy as many parents don't feel the need to rear-face their children past the minimum, or they think that their other children were fine being turned around, why should they start now? Parents don't want to change what they've been doing for years.
The best response to all of these questions and refusal to change is "when you know better, you do better." That statement rings true about so many things. Becka, my Four year old, was turned around at 1. She was well over 20 lbs, she was a good height and we didn't know about extended rear-facing. We just did what we knew to do. So here she is, healthy as can be, at 4 years old, and perfect. Obviously turning her around had no negative side effects right? Well, I've also never been in an accident with her in the car, thankfully I never had to put her car-seat to the test.
Well, May 2010 came the time where I had to make the choice again. My second daughter was turning 1 and I had the option to forward face her or leave her rear-facing. We didn't turn her around for awhile, and then my husband reinstalled the car-seat forward facing, and I just left it like that. Maybe it was laziness, or ignorance, but I just didn't do it. I never felt comfortable with her like that though, not at all. I talked to Alex (my husband) and we went over all the info and she was back rear-facing the next day. It is now April 2011, she has her very own Safety First Complete Air that she LOVES and she is still happily rear-facing. She turns 2 May 26th. She is a 22 months, 30 lbs, 32 inches tall and is very happily and comfortably rear-facing.
What exactly do the AAP recommendations now say? Well, see for yourself! HERE
"The AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age."
12, you ask? Yes, 12. If your 12 real old is short and tiny then for safety reasons they should remain in some sort of booster. No one is saying that your 12 year old needs to sit in a high back booster or a 5-point harness, but the fact is that even at 12 a tiny framed, short child, could be at risk of internal injuries or lacerations from a seat belt that doesn't fit right.
So where is this information coming from, and is it really that new? No it's not. In "2007 study in the journalInjury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing." (APP, 2011)
Now 75 percent is a big number, that's 3/4th's, that's not a small amount of children who can be saved by rear-facing longer.
If you still don't believe me, or the AAP, check out some helpful links and videos from all over. Crash tests, and real-life crash, have shown us how much safer a child can be rear-facing until the minimum of a seat; and with new seats out like the Safety First Complete Air and the Graco MyRide 65 your child can rear-face until 40 pounds.
*warning, videos can be really sad, please be warned. Especially video 2 about Joel BUT these are important, we NEED this information out there.