Sunday 20 January 2013

Why I Chose Rear Facing

When we chose our first car seat, I just assumed they would all be pretty much the same. We didn’t really do much research into car seats, we focused instead on travel systems (what a waste of money) and just bought the accompanying car seat.

I hadn’t given much thought to the next car seat, I just assumed it would be an equally hassle free purchase. I imagined us rocking up at Mothercare just as Ebony hit nine months, buying a mid-price car seat on sale, and driving away high-fiving because of all the money we had just saved.

But then I read this blog, and soon fell down a rabbit hole filled with floating whirly car seats, baby-sized crash dummies and vehicle compatibility charts. I went from assuming forward facing was the norm, to deciding that rear facing was a must, just in the time it took me to read the blog.

Rear facing car seats are five times safer than forward facing car seats. If you’re in a serious collision, a child in a rear-facing seat is up to five times less likely to suffer a broken neck or death. DEATH. Yeah, you read that right. As soon as I’d read that, I knew there was no way I could move my daughter into forward facing at the tender age of nine months.

The Facts
  • “In a forward facing seat the neck is subjected to a force equivalent to 300-320kg, while in a rear facing seat, the force on the neck is equivalent to 50kg. That is 6 times less in a rear facing car seat.” Securatot
  • If the child’s seat is rear facing, the shell of the chair will form a protective shield and absorb the shock.
  • The US advises keeping children rear facing until they are two years old
  • In some European countries, children are kept rear facing until they are four due to safety concerns
  • 70 per cent of UK parents are unaware that rear facing group 1 car seats even exist

The chances of being in a serious road accident are slim, but if such a thing was ever to happen I would never be able to forgive myself for choosing the cheaper seat. And it’s not just that, it’s the worry I would have to endure. If I had chosen a forward facing seat, I would definitely have had a few sleepless nights worrying that I had made the wrong decision. It took a long time to decide which seat to buy.

You can get a forward-facing seat for about £50, but the rear-facing seats will set you back around £300. That is a huge price difference, and it’s easy to see why people are dissuaded from spending the extra money, especially when most babies are put into forward facing seats at nine months in the UK. While I was trying to decide which seat to buy, I saved up all of my child benefit money in an account, so that if I decided I did want the more expensive seat then I wouldn’t struggle to pay for it.

It is important to point out, that rear facing car seats are only safer if fitted correctly. If fitted incorrectly, they can in fact be less safe than a forward facing seat. Studies have found that as many as 80 per cent of car seats are fitted incorrectly, and this is one reason why rear-facing car seats are not sold by highstreet retailers. The staff simply don’t have the expertise necessary to correctly fit the seats.

We bought our seat from the In Car Safety Centre in Milton Keynes. You can purchase the seats online, and can talk to the staff over the phone about which seat would be best for your vehicle, but we went into the shop as we were heading through Milton Keynes on the way to visit my Granny. The member of staff we spoke to was very knowledgeable. She showed us all the different options and explained the pros and cons of each one. She asked how we would be using it, and showed us how to fit the one we chose. They have videos on their website too so you can remind yourself how to fit it safely when you’re home.

Ebony was about to turn nine months when we visited the shop, but the staff member told us not to put her in the new seat until her head was too high on her current seat. This piece of advice was so valuable, everyone else had been telling us either to move her when she weighed too much, or when she started trying to sit up in the seat. Both of these statements are myths, and it is dangerous to move your child to the next car seat until they have grown too tall (it doesn’t matter about their legs being bent, it is the position of their head which is important here). My daughter didn’t need to move into the next car seat until she was eleven and a half months.

By the time she did move into the next car seat, a couple of months had passed since buying the seat. So we used the online videos to remind ourselves how to fit the seat, and to double check we were doing it safely. Ebony loves the new seat. It feels so safe, and sturdy and looks really nice too. I’m really glad that we invested the extra money, and that we were fully informed when making this decision. Highstreet stores that don’t sell rear-facing seats will not tell you about the risks of forward facing, so I’m very thankful to Ladycurd for writing her blog.

We went for the Britax 2-Way Elite which set us back £220 and was worth every penny.

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