Why I am that mom: Extended Rear facing.

When Ayden turned one, we turned his car seat forward facing. It was a big deal, a huge milestone. We probably took him to McDonalds to celebrate after. Poor kid. I saw an old picture of him in his car seat with the chest clip below his chest. I shuddered. I have even let him ride in the front seat with me a time or two before he was ready (by height and weight requirements), until I was told that it still is not safe and all the reasons why. I didn't know. Information on car seat/child safety while in a vehicle and the law is not usually readily available. The information was not out there and in your face, like it is now. If you don't look into it, how would you know? I didn't, especially years ago. I had no idea. I saw a few articles about how unsafe it is to put the infant car seat on the top of the buggy (where toddlers go) because a slight bump and the car seat will go tumbling. Most car seats will not even click/attach on top anymore. WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT!? It makes so much sense! Its almost common sense but as new mothers, are brains are fried enough as it is and sometimes we need a little reminding. So here I am to help :)

(The link above has tons and tons of information)

Being a parent changes you. It makes you see the world differently. It makes you want to make it a better and safer place for your children. There are many debates when it comes to parenting. We all do what we feel is best for our family. We all make the best possible decisions with the information we have. Thanks to the world wide web, all kinds of information & support is literally at our fingertips. The good, bad and the ugly. My advice is… Research. Research it all.Talk to other moms. My research has helped us make it to a year and beyond of successful breastfeeding, the decision to extend our rear facing days, among many other things...

Let me show you why…..

I never want to make someone, especially a mama, feel less than due to her decisions. We all do our best and go with what we know. However, a few years ago our small town had an abnormal amount of fatalities due to automobile wrecks. One that stuck in my mind was a small child, not yet 2, that was forward facing and improperly restrained.. however due to physics, rear facing could have saved her life. After that, I decided that I wanted to spread the word, some way or another and make sure people knew the facts...

Here are some facts...

According to NHTSA, roughly 60% of vehicle crashes are frontal impacts and 20% are side impacts. During a crash, occupants will travel towards the point of impact, putting all the stress on the neck and spine. At that moment there are actually three impacts: the vehicle striking whatever it strikes, the body of the occupant being retained by the seat belt or harness, and then the internal organs striking the front of the inside of the body. When someone is rear facing, crashes two and three occur in concert and the forces of the crash are more equally diffused along the shell of the seat, holding the neck and spine in line.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing until a minimum of age two, based on findings published by BMJ Injury Prevention. This study compared injury statistics for 15 years worth of crashes involving children under age 2. Researchers compared the injuries sustained by the children in crashes and found “the odds of severe injury for forward-facing infants under 12 months of age were 1.79 times higher than for rear-facing infants; for children 12 to 23 months old, the odds were 5.32 times higher.” 4
Why the recommendation to rear face until a minimum of age two? Presently, the only data with hard numbers comparing injury when rear versus forward facing are centered around that age group. However, age two is truly a bare minimum. According to the previously noted study, at age three there is still only a 50% probability that the C3 vertebra has finished ossification. The older a child gets, the more time their spinal column has to strengthen and the reality is the longer, the better. Most car seats on the market today will easily rear face even above average height and weight kids until 3-4 years of age. Without a CT scan, there is no way to know what stage of development your child’s spinal column is in, so the safest option is to rear face to the maximum weight or height of a convertible car seat. As time goes on and more older children are rear facing, there will be more scientific data to compare the benefits of a rear facing car seat for preventing spinal injury.
Rear facing is not a choice to be made based on parenting style or opinion; it’s one based on scientific fact. The more we know about crashes, the better we’re able to protect our kids from severe injury as a result of a crash.

Now for the most common questions.. 

Myth 1: It’s as safe to face forward as it is to rear face at 1 year and 20 pounds.

It’s not as safe for a 1 year old to face forward as it is to face backwards. Babies and toddlers have big heads in proportion to the rest of their body and in proportion to their neck muscles. So if you’re in an accident and the child’s head gets thrust in any direction, the neck muscles don’t have the strength necessary to keep the head safely in line with the spine and the result is a horrifying thing called internal decapitation, where the head disconnects from the spine. A study conducted in 2007 showed that the risk of severe injury in children 12-23 months in a forward facing position was 5.32 times higher than in rear facing. FIVE TIMES. For more info, check out the side by side impact crash videos here.

Myth 2: Kids will be uncomfortable with their legs bent/it’ll damage their hips/won’t someone think of the children?

If you watch a child sit on the floor you’ll see that they sit in a few common positions and almost all of them are with the hips and knees flexed, much like in a rear facing position. As for safety on the hips and knees, one of the most stable positions for the hip is for the hips to be in a frog position. In fact, kids with developmental hip dysplasia (poorly developed hip “sockets”) are placed in a brace in this position to help the joint form and settle. Having the hips and knees bent is not a bad position and for most kids, it’s the way they sit when they’re not in the car, too. If you’re concerned about their legs, there are a number of car seats on the market that offer a good amount of leg room. Kids in Sweden rear face until age 5 (though in different, awesome, car seats), so it’s fair to say that leg room wise, most kids in the US should be able to make it to at least age 2.

Myth 3: Extended rear facing will result in broken legs in car accidents

Even if this myth is partially true, personally, I choose broken legs to a spinal cord injury or death. BUT, there is no evidence that extended rear facing results in increased leg injuries, and we have pretty extensive crash testing and recording in this country. Crash test data in 2007 found that the rate of lower extremity injuries in rear facing children was 1 per 1000 childrenand the rates for forward facing kids are within similar ranges.

Myth 4: Children must be turned around once their feet hit the back of the seat

Rear facing convertible seats have carefully calculated and tested limits that all parents should follow. These typically include height limits, either the child’s standing height or the distance from their head to the top of the shell, as well as weight limits, which for most kids aren’t reached before the height ones are. But there are no seats on the market that need to be turned around when a child’s feet touch the seat. Though it may look uncomfortable, it doesn’t make the seat unsafe.

Myth 5: Children are happier forward facing

If your child has never faced forward, they don’t know what they’re missing and most likely they’re just crying to get out of the car. Yes, turning the seat around will possibly reduce the fighting to get into the seat and provide some entertainment, but let’s all be honest here, it’s still boring to ride in the car for a long time. In my opinion, this is one of those parenting moments where you need to make a decision without regard to your child’s wants. Obviously every child is different, but one way to help is to pack safe toys to keep the kids occupied, and if you’re having difficulty with an upset baby in an infant seat, look into a convertible seat that allows them to rear face in a more upright position. That can go a long way to a happier, and safe, baby.

Myth 6: This is fear mongering on the part of car seat companies looking to get us to spend more money

Sigh. This excuse and anyone who refers to this as a product of a “nanny state” are the kinds of people that I’m unlikely to convince here. There are several seats that can accommodate extended rear facing that cost 100 dollars or less and they’re perfectly safe, so I think we just need to dismiss this myth. Not to mention that even if you turn your child around at age 1, you still have to buy a convertible car seat, so it’s actually not costing any extra money out of your pocket to keep your child 532% safer.

Myth 7: We didn’t even use car seats when I was growing up and I turned out fine.

Yes, you did. And thousands of other children didn’t. We have learned a lot about safety in the 30+ years since we were kids and it’s silly to ignore what we now know. On top of which, we drive faster and farther now than most families did when we were kids and in more traffic, which means the types of accidents are different and in many cases, potentially more severe.
I understand that all mothers get to make these decisions for their children, but in all my research, I haven’t found any caveats that make it safer for a child to face forward before age 2. And if they can face backward longer (within the weight/height limits of the seat) than age 2, that’s even better. Our plan is to keep our son rear facing until he outgrows his convertible seat or until age 4, whichever comes first, because I know it’s what’s safest for him. Though I wish the laws would change to match up with the evidence, it’s still up to us as parents to be aware of the research and keep our kids as safe as possible. Yes this might cause some unhappiness for all, yes this might be an inconvenience, but it’s a situation where the alternative is simply impossible to ignore. Please, keep your kids rear facing until 2 if their seat allows it.


This is one of the main reasons I started a blog… I wanted to compile information, my opinion and experiences and help educate people on something I am passionate about. This is serious stuff. If I can help educate one person maybe they will pass along what they have learned and so on… maybe, just maybe, I can save one childs life. 

The links I have used above are a few of my favorite. For your states requirements and laws please check out http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/childsafety_laws.html

Here is a link to a short, straight to the point, you tube video of Rear facing vs Forward facing during a frontal impact crash…. (Test dummies)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKIeExpDLDA

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~Mika Beggs