J recently reached the weight and height limit on his group 0+ car seat so it was time to choose a new one. I know that he is now old enough and weighs enough to be able to go into many of the forward-facing car seats, but like his older brother I am keeping him rear-facing for as long as possible. Why? Well, in a nutshell extended rear-facing is the safest way for a child to travel. It doesn’t mean that forward-facing car seats are not safe – they absolutely are safe – it just means that rear-facing is safer.
When I had my first baby, Little N, I didn’t have a clue about car seat categories. Like a lot of women I joined an internet forum of mums who had babies during the same month, and the discussion of car seats was one that soon came up.
The majority of my “due date” friends changed their babies to a forward facing car seat as soon as they reached the lower weight limit, while the the others waited until their babies outgrew their infant carriers and then also changed to forward facing car seats. All but me and one other, who kept our children rear facing.
Initially I had kept Little N in his infant carrier because at the time I was too skint to buy a new one, and he was still within the weight limit so we kept using it. During this time though I had begun to look for a new car seat and learned about extended rear-facing.
I discovered that rear-facing travelling is whopping five times safer than forward-facing. As an example, in Sweden children sit rear-facing until the age of four and between July 2006 and November 2007 not one child under the age of six was killed in a car crash.
In a 30mph collision a child’s fragile neck is subjected to a equivalent force of 300kg in a forward-facing car seat. In a rear-facing car seat the equivalent force is 50kg, because the whole of their back takes most of the impact instead of just their neck.
Some of my friends have mentioned that they think a rear-facing car seat doesn’t give children’s legs much room, and they worry that if there was a collision their child’s legs could be broken. There is plenty of room for my boys to put their legs and actually there have been no reported incidents of a child injuring their legs whilst in a rear-facing car seat.
And if when it comes to the crunch, I’d choose broken legs over a broken neck. (Actually, I’d rather neither, but you know what I mean!)
After learning about the benefits of keeping my children rear-facing for longer, my mind was made up. If I was able to use rear-facing car seats in my car then I would. I did worry that they would be expensive in comparison to forward-facing car seats, but nowadays there are a whole range of them on the market and there is one to suit all budgets. You can get ones that fit with seat belts, ones that fit with ISOFIX, ones that fit with both. Ones that have rebound bars, ones that swivel. All sorts of colours and styles, too!
Another thing my friends have mentioned when we’ve talked about car seats is that rear-facing car seats are big and bulky. In my experience they don’t take up any more room, as car seats all seem to be about the same width. My friend and I once travelled to London in her car, with her son in his forward-facing seat and my son in his rear-facing seat and there didn’t seem to be any difference at all in terms of space.
The car seat that J now has is the Joie i-Anchor*, part of the i-AnchorSafe system, which is held with the i-AnchorFIX base. It’s suitable from birth and children can travel rear-facing up to 18kgs, which means that he will be able to sit rear-facing until he is about 4 years old.
If you'd like to know more about the Joie i-Anchor then take a look at my next post where I tell you about the car seat in further detail and give you a closer look. And if you don’t believe that an older child can sit comfortably in a rear-facing car seat, my very tall 3 year old is demonstrating it, too!
What car seats do your children have and why did you choose it?
*We have been sent the Joie i-Anchor and i-AnchorFIX base to review.