I recently received a text from a patient who asked if she could turn her 17 month old child’s car seat around and have it forward facing in the back seat. She said that her car seat instructions read “may forward face after the child weighs 20 lbs”.
Not long after that, another patient came in for her 18 month check up and during the course of the check up I always ask about car seat position. I remind them that they should continue to have their child in a rear facing car-seat until they 2 years of age. The child’s mother said that she had turned the car seat around to forward facing because the child “did not like rear facing”. Interesting discussion with a toddler.
So, this just so happens to be Child Passenger Safety Week and National Car Seat Check Saturday as well. What a better time to remind parents that the safest way to restrain your child who is under the age of 2 years (depending on your carseat height and weight restrictions) is in a rear facing car seat.
In a recently published article in the journal Pediatrics, about 38% of 17-19 months olds were not following AAP recommendations to ride in a rear-facing car seat. The recommendations were changed in 2011 as studies found that young children in a forward-facing car seat were 5 times more likely to be seriously injured than those in a rear-facing seat.
In the study many of the families involved who had their children forward-facing often said that they “thought their child was too tall or too heavy to be rear-facing”. Others commented that “their feet were touching the back seat and they looked uncomfortable”.
Interestingly, your child has been in a rear-facing car seat since birth, so it is strange that they “prefer” to forward face. Kind of like being in the middle seat of an airplane, if you have never been seated on the aisle you don’t know the difference in seats.
If you are concerned about the appropriate car seat for your child or how to install it, this is a good week to have a car seat expert help make sure that your child is riding in the safest car seat possible. If your child is under the age of 2…that also means rear facing!