Note: I’m not a Child Passenger Safety Technician and I don’t claim to be.
Have you seen that video done by The Ohio State University? If you haven’t, check the link below:
This isn’t meant to scare you — actually yes, it is. But it’s not supposed to make you feel scared if you have your children’s car seat or booster seat in the correct position, buckled correctly, and latched on the correct anchors. This is a public service announcement to all caregivers of young children to why rear-facing a baby/toddler is so important for their bodies. A lot of Car Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST) are sharing that video and/or this screenshot below explaining the necessity of having a rear-facing car seat.
They are urging caregivers to turn those seats around to protect the babies and toddlers from getting a life-altering injury due to a car accident. This article will help share the highlights of what the CPST’s are saying.
Rear-facing seats protect the head, neck and spine. It helps keep the head, neck, and spine aligned during impact. As you can see in the picture above, the rear-facing child only had movement in their legs vs the forward-facing child had total body movement upon impact. The carseats in both cases do take in a lot of the force during impact, but the rear-facing seat cradles the body during impact instead of allowing the body moving with the force of impact in the forward-facing seat.
In the forward-facing seat, the spine becomes stretched out during impact and that growing/strengthening ligament connecting the brainstem and the vertebrae can become severed causing internal decapitation and causing lasting or fatal damage on the child.
That sounds terrifying and I mean this in the nicest way: it is. I looked it up, it’s not something you want to look up. This is not meant to strike fear into your hearts and cause anxiety. This isn’t some fear propaganda! This is results from actual studies, from actual cases that have been documented.
My husband always says “Oh, there’ll never be an accident with me behind the wheel.”
In the words of J Biebs: “Never say never.”
WHEN CAN I SWITCH?
That’s a loaded question because there’s a loaded answer. It depends on the child, pediatrician, car seat manufacturer, and state. But mainly if you go by your car seat manufacturer’s standards, it’s when the child reaches the maximum weight or height (whichever comes last) on the rear-facing guidelines.
AAP recommends after 2 years old they can switch.
CDC is now recommending between the ages of 2–4.
CPSTs are trying to push that age out to at least 4 years old due to the growth the little bodies still need to go through before they’re able take in that force of impact in a collision. The spine needs time to strengthen and it’s not fully grown until around the age of 4. Most convertible car seats go up to 35–40lbs and most children do not reach that weight until 3 or 4 years old.
MY TODDLER LOOKS UNCOMFORTABLE!
Actually quite the opposite. Take a look at how they’re sitting at home on the chair or on the couch. Are their legs crossed? Do they have one leg hanging over the arm of the chair? How about they way they fall asleep sometimes… their body is falling off the mattress at a weird angle — how can one sleep like that?
Now look at how they’re sitting/sleeping in their carseat, it looks about the same right? They’re just as comfortable and even more flexible than us parents are! Their legs and feet are allowed to land wherever they feel comfortable. (I even sit on my feet as a passenger on long car rides!)
HOW DO I KNOW IF THEY ARE STRAPPED IN CORRECTLY?
Thanks to the CDC they’ve already made some neat infographics for people to follow. If you have more questions contact your local CPST and they can make sure your car seat is buckled in correctly and your child is fastened correctly.
I will always take car seat safety seriously. I have to stand my ground a lot with family members who think I am crazy or just being too cautious about my child’s safety. If there was a way I could have prevented something from happening to my child, I will do it and I hope they would continue to respect my wishes and do the same.