If you are new to the idea of extended rear facing – I can imagine that one of your worries is your child’s legs. This is one of the most common fears, so you are not alone. However, I am happy to tell you that you have absolutely nothing at all to worry about!
You see, children’s legs are not in any danger when being rear facing. They are not uncomfortable, they are not going to break them (there are no known cases of a child breaking legs rear facing due to them being rear facing!).
Rear facing children are very comfortable
Children are not like us, adults. We might look at how a child chooses to sit, be it on the floor while playing, on the sofa, or in the car seat – and we put ourselves in their position and believe that they must be very uncomfortable. Or – we think it’s amazing how they can possibly be comfortable with their legs “like that”.
The fact of the matter is that children and babies are very ‘bendy’. The skeleton is still largely made of cartilage. In fact, we are born with over 270 bones in our body – and through our childhood, this number slowly decreases until finally, when we have reached adulthood, we are left with 206 bones.
So now you understand why we can not compare ourselves to our ‘bendy’ children.
Turning forward facing is not the answer
If you are worried about your child’s legs, turning the car seat forward facing is definitely not the answer.
The most important reason is that your child is then far less safe than he was when rear facing. And secondly, it’s useful for you as a parent to know that the 2nd most common injury in forward facing children – is broken legs and lower body injuries.
This is because in the event of a collision, the child is thrown forward in the car seat and many children’s legs then crash into the front seat during this process, so turning the car seat forward facing is not going to help the child. It would only make it worse.
Also, most children tend to hate having their legs dangle loose, it gives them ‘pins and needles’ and their legs often fall asleep, so they find other solutions and prefer to tuck their legs up even when forward facing.
The leg-room is different depending on the car seat!
Depending on what type of car seat you have – the amount of legroom offered for your child will differ. Some car seats offer quite a lot of legroom while others give less.
No matter what rear facing car seat you choose though, the legs will never be in danger, and children will simply fold their legs, put the legs up on the backseat or simply just hang their legs over the side. The legs are still in no danger.
We have car seats that offer The Most legroom:
This is the 3rd article (of many) I wrote for kindseats.com. As they have given their permission, I will continue to post my articles right here on my blog after they have been published by the company on their website/blog.
I hope these articles will help you understand how very important rear facing is to the children in your care, be them your own or others and I hope that after reading these you learn something useful to teach others and spread the word.
The main focus of my articles is of course rear facing – but we will travel between car seat comparisons, crash testing, typical myths and so forth. Which reminds me! Please do check out my “Debunking Myths” series here on the blog as well as my “tip of the day” series – I am told they are very helpful. :)
I don’t put a reference list in – but for most of my articles regarding extended rear facing, if you wish to see them, they are right here on the blog on the top menu under “Downloads”. It’s a full PDF file of all the extended rear facing research available on the net. If you can’t find something or are looking for something very specific, please let me know and I’ll try my hardest to help you find it. :)
Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, giveaways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breastfeeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.