Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Extended rear facing

You know what they say. Your baby should remain rear facing in the car until age 1 AND 20 lbs. Not OR, AND.

But you may not know that your child is by FAR safer riding backward in the car for many years after your pediatrician says you can turn him around. In fact, the longer you can keep your child rear facing in the car, the better his chances of survival are.

A child's head is 25% of their body size. That's a big ole head! Think about what happens when you go bowling. You swing the ball back, then forward and let it go. But what happens if you don't let it go? The strain on your wrist, arm, and the jerk forward of your whole body is quite impressive. Now imagine that bowling ball is your head, and in a crash your head is thrown forward pulling on a spine that is still very immature, as the human spine isn't fully supported until well into the pre-teen years. This motion can easily cause death from internal decapitation, or paralysis.

When a child faces backward the seat absorbs the blow of the crash, disbursing the force all over the child's back and head so that the force is very much reduced. It's much like if you put a pot on your head and hit the pot with the hammer, you can feel the blow of the hammer, but not all in one spot. The force radiates down the pot and your head is left intact.

Many people feel a child will be uncomfortable if turned backwards. The truth is, a child who has never been turned forward will not really notice the difference. They grow slowly so they become accustomed to their legs being bent and will rarely complain. If you watch your child sit on the floor and play, you will notice that children naturally sit with their legs bent at the knee anyway.

Keep your children rear facing as long as your carseat allows and they will be 4 times less likely to die in a crash than a child who is facing forward.


jay_say said...

As long as they fit into the car seat... all three of my boys were too long by the time they were ten months old. Even the police told me it was no longer safe for them to be rear facing - if they were in a crash, their legs would be seriously damaged.

Kat said...

That is actually innacurate. A broken leg is FAR better than a broken neck in my book. The only requirements for rear facing are that the child be under the weight limit allowed for rear facing in the particular seat they are in and that their head be more than 1 inch from the top of the seat.