What Are The Benefits Of Extended Rear-Facing?

Did you know it is five times safer to keep your child rear-facing in their car seat until at least four years of age?

Extended rear-facing means keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat beyond infancy. Some car seats rear face up to 18kg (the average weight of a 4-year-old) while others go up to 25kg (the average weight of a 6-year-old). However, it is essential to note that all car seats have a height limit, and they all differ, so it is vital you read the manufacture's guidelines.

Seen as a milestone for many, parents are turning their children forward-facing when they have outgrown their rearward-facing seat as early as one year of age. However, now, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) recommends that you leave your child rear-facing for as long as possible. Recommendations are always changing because our understanding of safety is continuously evolving as technology is more advanced, especially in recent years. 

Group 0+ car seats are designed to fit babies up to 13kg which is around 80cms to 85cms in length, meaning even babies on the top percentiles won't have reached that before their first birthday. If a baby younger than one appears to have outgrown their car seat, it is most likely because the straps have not been altered. 

Research has shown rear-facing up to two years of age is 500% safer. Even at speeds we adults may think are minor, young children can't handle the incredible force abstained in a collision when forward-facing. Toddlers and young children are still developing, meaning their spine and vertebrae haven't fully fused yet. During an accident with speeds of only 30 km/h can cause severe damage to the neck and head of a child in a forward-facing car seat compared to those rear-facing.

rear facing car seat
Image Credit - RSA.ie

Rear-facing car seats absorb most of the crash forces while supporting the neck, head and spine when compared to those travelling in forward-facing car seats. When riding in a forward-facing car seat, a child's head can be thrown forwards in the event of an accident causing significant spine and head injuries. 

One of the most common misconceptions about rear-facing is children having long legs, but the fact is children are flexible little creatures and in most cases prefer to have their legs crossed or bent rather than dangling with no support. In fact, it's how most children sit when playing with their toys at home, so it's no different for them in their car seat. It is also important to note there is no evidence to suggest children are more likely to suffer leg or foot injuries when rear-facing. 

Many parents, when considering rear-facing car seats worry that they cannot see their child, making them uncomfortable about the whole idea; however, in recent years, various car accessories has changed that. Now available in most good baby stores, baby mirrors allow you and your child to see each other throughout your whole journey.

And to add to the common myths often associated with rear-facing, children can see more than you may expect when rear-facing so there are no chances of them getting bored. Most if not all, rear-facing car seats are fitted in a high sitting position, meaning they can see both through the side window and out the rear windows. Many parents remove the headrest, which gives them a broader view of the back window. 

In the event of a rear-end crash, which is statistically less frequent than a frontal crash, your child is still safer. Less force applies in a rear collision in comparison to two-vehicle crashing head-on. 

So there you have it, rear-facing is the safest option for children to ride. If you want more information on rearing facing car seats, extended rear-facing or if you are unsure what car seat to go for - check out the Rear Facing Car Seats For Toddlers & Children group on Facebook.

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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