More and more parents are becoming aware of the safety benefits to rear facing their children in the car. We have been rear facing advocates for almost 20 years and so always offer this as the optimal travel choice when advising on car seats. However, there are still plenty of people unaware of the benefits. Here are the most common reasons why people we talk to believe it is not a viable option for their children.
“All car seats are safety tested so they are all equally safe.”
Yes, all car seats are required by law to meet a safety standard. The minimum standard of requirement is R44/04. The current regulation which is a little more rigorous is ECE R129 (that’s I-Size to you and me.) Then there is the voluntary standard of the Swedish Plus Test which is the most rigorous. Not all car seats are equally safe because they do not all meet all these standards of testing. To date only rear-facing car seats have passed the Swedish Plus Test. We have published a post specifically about car seat testing which you can read by clicking here.
“I don’t HAVE to rear-face my ten month old.”
It depends on the car seat. The law states that you must rear-face your child until they are over 15 months old if they are using an R129 seat*. We recommend longer than that.
"I'm a really careful driver so I won't have an accident."
You can look at the statistics and calculate probability all you like. You could be the most careful driver in the world. It is impossible to mathematically calculate your future, it is impossible to be so careful that you can counteract every unpredictable road occurrence that could happen to you whilst on the road. If that was the case, we wouldn't need car seats at all, airbags or seat belts. You are buying a car seat for something that MIGHT one day happen, and that MIGHT be catastrophic. Therefore, it makes sense to get the safest seat possible, just in case.
“They won’t be able to see anything.”
Yes, they will. If you remove the headrest from the seat they are facing, they have the entire rear window to look out of (if you keep it clean) and the side windows.
"I won't be able to see them."
It is possible to be able to see your rear-facing child with the aid of a mirror. Check out our car seat accessories for a variety of mirror options.
“There’s no room for their legs.”
Car seats are there to primarily protect your child from death or serious injury. That means protecting their head and spine. If you are doing that by rear-facing them then you are doing the best thing. Children tend to find comfortable positions for their legs, such as sitting cross-legged, hanging them over the sides of the seat or up the back of the seat in front of them. Remember that children’s ligaments are much more elastic than adults, so bending is more comfortable.
“I won’t be able to talk to them.”
If your child needs you while you are driving, STOP THE CAR. You should not be driving whilst distracted. If boredom is the issue then you can still chat, sing, play music, audio books (the radio comedy 'Cabin Pressure' is the best family-friendly radio comedy ever!) and, if they are old enough, games (our family favourites are "I Spy" and Yellow Car.)
“They will get really upset if they are rear-facing and cry and scream.”
Crying, stressed, fussy children can be really stressful when you are in the car. However, they will get past it and get used to rear-facing. If they have only ever rear-faced then it is unlikely to be a problem.
It is not within your child’s capability to determine what is safest for them. That is your job as a parent.