Some parents question the importance of keeping a child in a car seat rear-facing until age 2. Here are the reasons and some hints to make this more palatable for both you and your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement reporting the increased safety with continuing to have children in a REAR-FACING car seat until at least the age of 2 or until reaching the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.
A study of motor vehicle accidents involving 870 children showed that rear-facing car seats provide more even support to the head, neck and torso with fewer significant, serious injuries than those facing forward.
Some parents are resistant. Here are some concerns I hear.
“My kid’s legs are cramped, if I’m in an accident won’t this cause a broken leg?” Toddlers naturally curl/bend their legs up and this does not seem uncomfortable for them. Studies show that lower extremity injuries are extremely uncommon in children in rear-facing car seats and more common when the child is forward-facing and legs swing and hit things.
“The car seat doesn’t fit well backwards in my car.” Local hospitals and occasionally car dealerships sponsor free car-seat safety checks and this fitting may help. The AAP and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has resources/hints.
“My child screams while facing backwards.” If your child is not hurt, then your child may only need distractions: consider toys and books (and change them out as needed to keep interest).
Stay safe. Drive attentively. Give your child your attention at your destination.