So, since giving birth to Max, I am all about the safety of him and his car seat and our cars. Maybe I’m crazy about it? I guess a lot of the new studies that recommend rear-facing until 4 years old are not widespread. But I was reading the science behind it and it all makes sense to me. It was insane. Like, did you know that children’s bones don’t harden fully until 4? At 2, they begin to harden, but it’s not a full on changing of all cartilage to bone overnight. It is a gradual process that takes years to finish.
So, after learning all of this information, I was like, “Well, surely, Max will get uncomfortable trying to origami his body to fit in a space without much leg room.” But, then, if you look at how kids — even adults — choose to sit, it’s never with their legs dangling or anything. They are always bending their legs, or sitting criss-cross, or with their legs out to the side. Max will accommodate and make his legs go where they need to go.
“Their legs will hit their face in the event of a crash.” It’s another thing I thought. Well, no. Firstly, the laws of physics make it that even bent legs fling outwards away from the face, rather than into it. And, furthermore, even if he busted a lip or a nose, it’s better than having an immature skeleton and getting seriously injured by turning him around.
“Surely, their at more risk of breaking a leg if their legs are on the back of the seat,” I thought. Again, nope. Forward-facing children are at more risk because head on collisions are more common and forward facing children often prop their legs up on the back of the front seats. But even if there were this higher risk, I would rather that than internal and external, potentially life-threatening, injuries by turning my son around too early.
Those were my main concerns. But as I watch Max in his seat, he loves looking out the back window of my car and he is perfectly happy.
So here’s the skinny: Children under age 4 are 500% safer rear-facing as opposed to forward facing. The law is slow. In many states, it is still “law” to be able to forward-face at 1 year AND 20lbs (children need to meet both requirements before they are legally allowed to forward face). In most states, however, like Oklahoma and Georgia and about 30 others, it is stated in the law that children under XX are to be properly restrained in a car seat. That means that they are proper use states and that if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as to when to forward face your child, you could be fined anywhere from $50 to $500 plus court costs.
What does proper use mean? It means that you must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on car seat use. For example, if you use a Dorel seat (they make Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st, Cosco, and a few other brand seats), you cannot forward face before 1 year AND 20lbs AND 34″ tall. Your child has to meet all three requirements to forward face when you are using the seat properly. If you were to be pulled over, you could be fined for improper use.
Tune in tomorrow for a new blog post about checking whether your car seat is outgrown