Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Requests from Our Readers: Week 15

This week we are talking about car seat safety. Check out what our reader said.....

"I have been caught up in the debate over forward/rear facing carseats lately. My little boy is nearly 15 months now, and since he was under the weight limit at 12 months he is still rear facing. I have heard many arguments as of late suggesting that babies should be rear facing for much longer than a year, and rumor has it that a panel of Dr.s have published information stating that children should be rear facing until 2 years old now. I believe that my little one has surpassed the 20lb mark which was the previous suggestion, so should I breath a sigh of relief and happily turn his carseat around, or should I err on the side of caution and wait a while longer?

This is an interesting debate and I would love to hear what other mothers think about the topic!"

So help her out!
When do you face your child's car seat forward?
What are the safety issues invovled as you understand them?
What are the pros and cons of rear facing vs. forward facing?


Jared and Delia said...

I too have been thinking about this very thing a lot lately. My son is just about to grow out of his baby seat (he is a year old) but he is about a pound short of the 20# mark. He has been gaining weight rapidly so I have been debating whether to just wait until he can fit into the forward facing seat we already have or buy a convertible seat until age 2. I would like to get other moms' feedback. Do I fork out another $100 for the remaining 11 or less months until he is two (depending on when he is really is too big for his infant seat)?

Megan said...

I have been wondering about this as well, but I also think this is a decision based on the child and their needs. I turned my son around at 19 lbs and 1 yrs old. The reason being, I had to fight with him to get him in his car seat when it was rear facing. I was tired of listening to him cry and the tantrums. Nothing I did to help him stay rear facing worked.

I do think children need to meet the weight and height requirements as much as possible before you turn their car seat to forward facing. But, it also needs to be a decision based on your thoughts and feelings as well. I also think parents need to follow their manufacture's requirements for installing the car seat and the upkeep for a car seat. Also, if your not sure your car seat is installed correctly, call your local health department or police department and they usually are more than willing to perform a free car seat inspection. I had our baby carried checked, and found out it was installed wrong! So, make sure it is installed correctly. I think that is one of the best things you can do to keep your child safe in a car.

Britta said...

It always scares me to hear these reports and know that I did something 'wrong' out of ignorance. Hindsight being 20/20 I should have waited a few more months before putting my daughter in a forward facing seat but I was so excited for that next step I did it as soon as it was legal.

If you think of it before you actually buy the first car seat I would recomend getting one of the convertable ones that fits as young as possible to as old as possible, no matter how expensive it is. But if you have already purchased a one-age seat, I would set an appointment with your child's doctor to specifically ask them.

The benifits to this are that the doctor can check to make sure all the muscles are strong enough to support him in a bigger carseat and might be able to give specific pointers in keeping baby safe.

I'm sure in the following years we'll be given 'evidence' to show that many of the things we do put our children in danger. Don't ever let it become a big deal and go with the flow. Enact what safety precautions you feel prudent and go on living.

We can't keep them in bubbles their whole lives.

Erin said...

I am all for extended rear facing! I got so many weird stares and crazy remarks that I kept my son rear facing as long as I could, and I'm sure my opinion on this subject is not going to be popular.

It a fact that rear facing is safer. The longer a child is rear facing, the better their spinal cord would be protected in a crash. I saw some crash test videos in this youtube video:


It's what convinced me. You can see how the child's head flops forward when they are rear facing. We all know that kids' heads are heavy in proportion to their body. It creates a huge amount of stress on their spinal cord and they can basically be internally decapitated. When they are rear facing those stresses are not put on their spinal cord.

Delia, about your carseat question - You can buy a carseat that rear faces until 35 lbs, and then you can face it forward until 65 lbs so he can be in a 5 point harness until he's ready for a booster. You will get much more than one more year out of the seat. And if you happen to have another baby in the next five years, you can always reuse it (if he's grown out of it.)

The child's legs can be crossed comfortably in front of them when they got long. People always ask, "Well if their legs are touching the seat, can't they break in a crash?" there (to my knowledge) have never been a reported case of broken legs due to rear facing in a carseat, but if it were a possibility, I would rather broken legs than a broken neck.

Here is a site with some good articles about it.


I know that kids like to face forward more, but I'm a lot more worried about safety than comfort. Knowing what I now know, I cannot in good conscience put my child forward facing before they are ready. I would feel horrible if something happened and I don't think I could forgive myself because I know better now. It's worth it to me to have the peace of mind.

Kelly A. said...

I actually agree with Erin. In fact she posted about this on her personal blog when my daughter was just a newborn and after watching the videos she shared and researching some on my own even long before my daughter was one, I too kept my little one rear facing until just recently and she is almost two. Thankfully we had a car seat she could stay in. It helped that she is a petite little girl ;) When I asked my pediatrican about this, he said that if most kids' doctors had their way that the law would be different and that children would be rear facing until at least 35 lbs and 18 months vs the current 20 lbs and 12 months. I never had a problem with my daughter not liking to face backward. In fact she didn't seem to notice much when we did move her forward facing. We were lucky in that regard because I can sympathize with moms who have a struggle every time they go to put their baby in the car. I know we've said this a million times before and I'm sure it will come up again and again, but every mom knows what is best for tehir own kids. Trust your instincts and follow your guts :) Then don't let yourself feel judged or worry what others think-though I know that is easier said than done :)

Alyssa Harper said...

My son grew out of his infant seat by 7 months old (he's kind of tall). Anyway, I bought a convertible from Walmart for about $60.

I debated about buying a more expensive one. I mean, come on, just looking at all that football-padding on the $200 ones makes me think they're safer. In reality though, ALL cars seats MUST pass safety standards to be on the market. The extra stuff is more for parents than the baby.

My son sleeps well in his cheap convertible (which is ALMOST as important as the safety feature). If your child is really getting to big for his infant car seat, definitely upgrade. There's a reason there's a weight limit on carseats. And if they're not old enough, DEFINITELY go rear-facing...as Erin said, as long as possible.

Alyssa Harper said...

too. I meant too. I really can spell. I just don't want to rewrite that whole post. :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

I like the advice of the 18 months if your kid will go for it. :) I think I'll do that with my son since he likes to look at his sister anyway - so it is kind of fun to have one facing forward and one rear facing - but the 35 lbs seems REALLY too big. I say that because my little girl is 3 years old and only weighs 30 lbs and she is in the 50th percentile for weight (so she is super average). There is NO WAY I could have her rear facing until 35 lbs. But I really like the 18 months thing. Thanks for the info Kelly. :)

I know Kelly said this - but some kids are much more ready for forward facing when they are younger too because of their body type. Some kids are just BIGGER and can handle forward facing earlier. Just look at your child and decide!!

Erin said...

Well, I'm not sure them being bigger means they are ready... It's about their muscles developing in their neck and growing into their big heads a little bit.

Just out of curiosity Tannie, (I'm really not trying to be argumentative and I really don't want to offend!) but what are the reasons that there is no way that she could be rear facing at 3? I guess I'm just curious because I've seen it done before. If you notice in the link I posted there is a picture of a boy who's three and rear facing.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I agree about the muscles thing Erin - I guess I didn't word that quite right, but weight does play into that. I wasn't meaning to say that all big kids are ready earlier, but just that most of the time smaller kids will be ready later, and some kids who are bigger will have stronger muscles... does that make sense?

I guess she could be rear facing until three, but her legs are really long - I am not sure I could get her in there comfortably, I've never really tried, but at her age I think it is pretty unneccesary. It probably depends on your car too, some cars have longer seats that would accomodate that easier - we have a coop, so it is pretty small.

I guess my point with the weight was that 35 pounds seems REALLY big since my daughter is 30 pounds at 3 years (which is totally average) and my guess is she won't be 35 pounds until closer to 4. I just thought it was funny that the doctor said 35 pounds AND 18 months because I doubt most kids are 35 pounds by 18 months. I bet most are closer to 25 lbs (if that) at 18 months. I thought the ratio was off... that's all. Does that make sense?

Tannie Datwyler said...

And don't worry - I don't think you are argumentative Erin. :) I know this is a hot topic for you since I remember reading about your post you put up when Hayden was around 1. I loved reading that, it really taught me some things. I think it would be important for doctors to share that information and that just because the letter of the law says 20 lbs and 1 year, it would be best to wait longer to forward face. I don't think most people know that. I love that you've brought it up and taken it seriously. Like I said - I think I'll leave my son rear facing until 18 months... possibly longer.

But for me, 3 just seems a bit old to have to be rear facing.

Universitybabe said...

Ummm, no argument just soemthing to think about. My now 5+ year old only weighs 39 lbs. Long and skinny. My opinion, go with the flow and how you feel. Some kids physically (big kids or not) do develop muscles quicker. Some kids are more likely to CAUSE the accident when put in backwards. Some kids will fit and some kids play hudinni (sp?) and will try to get out of everything anyway. Yes safety is the issue but there is no harm in explaining your situation to your dr. and asking "if this was your child what would the seating in your car look like?" after talking about what you are struggling with. You might even get some great ideas from them. Me, so far my kids have all turned forward at the year mark. except for my oldest (too light) and my third (HUGE)and we only varried it by a few weeks.

Kelly A. said...

I may have gotten the weight that my pediatrician said wrong. That is what I remember him saying BUT my memory is very, very poor when I have that pregnancy brain :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

Hehehe - no worries Kelly. I like what you said University Babe about asking "if this was your child, what would the seating look like." Nice idea.

Shantel said...

I think that there are many elements of safety. I am alone with my son in the car about 90% of the time. When he needs something, most often his pacifier, I can help him much easier and more safely when he is forward facing. I realize that sometimes he just has to do without, and screaming will be the music that accompanies me home, but I feel that I can more safely help him when he is forward facing and more accessible. Just a thought about how forward facing can be good, it seems that we have discussed a lot of the positives of rear facing, without discussing the many positives of forward facing.

Jared and Delia said...

This really gave me a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts AND feelings on this. I too wondered about the weight requirements. My oldest son is a stick. He is only 33 pounds and almost five. Yeah...stick...like I said. So at three years old he was too tall for his carseat but not more than 27 pounds or so. We had to let him ride like that until he was heavy enough for the next car seat up and even then I fudged it by a half pound. My kids are not average. I can see what Tannie means about the difficulty in having a three year old rear facing. My son is really leggy and I can't imagine him trying to sit with his legs propped up to the ceiling or his knees into his chest trying to face rear facing. I like what was said about having to do the best you can to make sure that your children are safe while also doing what works best for you and situation. I still have at least a month to think about this I hope, but thank you again for giving me more to think about and pray about.

Diane said...

Wow. Everyone has such great info. It was nice to read everyone's comments. I am right along with Erin though. I remember when she blogged about car seats too, and the video she posted also convinced me to keep Hunter rear facing longer. That and Hunter's pediatrician has told me about the new recommendation of keeping them rear until two. He said that the reason why they didn't suggest this sooner was because they were afraid of broken legs, but have never found that to be true... which I'm guessing they tried it on a variety of leg lengths since there is such a wide range of heights in children.

Here's what we've done so far: Hunter is in the 90th percentile for height, yet low weight. He outgrew his car seat a couple months ago (he's now 17 months old) so we bought him a 3-in-1 car seat. It can stay rear facing from like 5 lbs up to some weight (I don't remember the details right now) and goes forward facing, and then works as a booster seat. Hopefully it will be the last seat we buy for him. Before we bought it we really had to fight him to get him in his old seat since it was too small and getting uncomfortable. This new seat is WONDERFUL! And he loves it and is happy to get in every time. (so perhaps if you're struggling your baby, maybe it's the seat not the rear/forward facing situation. JUST a thought.) The seat was also on sale at Babies R' Us and we used like 3 different coupons for it, so it was a great deal! We bought that, some clothes, a huge box of diapers all for less than the regular price of the seat, so if money's the issue, just look around for sales and coupons.

Anyway, when we went to the hospital to have our second, my SIL took Hunter over to their house for the next two days. They put his seat forward facing in their car, and I guess he just laughed the whole way. He loved being able to see forward. But, since we've never done that in our own car, he's still fine to be rear. I'm sure he would like it, but as long as my hubby will let me, I want to keep him rear facing as long as possible. (wether that be until he's way too big, or until he goes crazy. Oh, and that is one nice thing our ped said, "Try and keep him rear, but if everyone is going insane, turn him around." They do understand that every child is different.

Anyway, that was long. I do thing this is a personal issue, but I do agree that safety is most important. ...and that if everyone is going insane, that that is also a safety issue. So it's hard to say. In Dallas they just made it law that you have to be in a booster until your 8. (Now that seems like a long time) So I guess we should be glad that at least we still have the choice, for now. :)

Jared and Delia said...

I am pretty sure that is a law here in Utah now too Diane. I am a believer in a booster for as long as they recommend. I am sad to say that my oldest will probably be in a booster for a bit longer than that since he is such a feather.

Megan said...

The law in UT is until they are 8 or 57 inches tall, all children must be in a car seat or booster.