“I have just read that turning my 3-year-old back rear facing is safer but I’m afraid he’ll hate it!”
This is one of the most common subjects I come across while spreading awareness of extended rear facing. The child isn’t always 3, some times they are actually 2 or even 4 – so you can pretty much put in any age here, the questions are usually the same.
As stated many parents are afraid that their child won’t like being turned back rear facing after being forward facing for so and so long, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to come across a case where this wasn’t possible. At the end of the day – you are the parent, and the child is a child.
I often describe a scenario like this:
“There are many things I allow my children to have a say in. What clothes to wear, what to have for dinner, what juice they want at the table. Weather or not they want the yellow cup or the white cup…but there is one thing I will never ever allow my children to have a say in; Safety.
As the parent, the carer or simply the driver of the vehicle – it is my responsibility to make sure that my small passengers travel safely, in this case – the safest way possible. My child is not able to determine this, my child doesn’t understand it. I do. I understand the consequences for my child if anything were to happen. I can explain these consequences to my child – and often they will agree. But on a cognitive scale, they are not old enough to understand the real consequences. That is why when it comes to their safety – what I say goes because what I say is the safest way, and should we have an accident I will know that I did everything I could do to keep my children as safe as possible in the car.”
Does that sound harsh to you?
For some it does – but if you really think about it, it’s true. We can even take a lot of every day discussions and put them into an in-car safety perspective and by doing so we start to realise how insane it sounds at times. Here’s a beautiful example from ‘Safe In The Car’ showing us exactly what I mean.
What if I told you…
- That motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 19?¹
- That from 2007 to 2011, an average of 37 children ages 14 years and under died per year in MVCs that did not occur on public roadways, but on private land such as driveways and parking lots.² There goes the argument of “it’s only on a quiet road” or “it’s just now and again.”
- Riding rear facing can reduce fatal injury by up to 92%? Swedish accident research has shown that rearward facing children’s car seats reduce serious injuries by 92%, while the forward-facing seats only reduce injury by 60%.³
- 205 children under the age of 5 are injured in car crashes in the UK every year and 21 are killed. This statistic can change drastically by simply using extended rear facing car seats.4
- Even a low-speed accident at 32mph (50 kph) the forces acting upon a forward facing child’s neck can be roughly 320kg, which is the equivalent of the weight of 4 average adult men! While in a rear facing seat, the force on the neck is equivalent to only 50kg.5
- Rear facing children do not break their legs, in fact there has never been any recorded cases of this happening to a child from solely being rear facing.
- Rear facing children have a panorama view – compared to forward facing children.
- You can get extended rear facing car seats for under £100 that will rear face most children to 4 years old!
Turning your child back rear facing is not something to fear…
It’s something to celebrate! Most kids tend to get excited when they get something new – a new car seat is no different. Make it fun or just simply install it and put them in without any fuss. This is just how it is now. I can almost guarantee that in most cases – the child isn’t going to comment a whole lot on it. Most of the time it is what us as adults make things out to be – that is copied by the child. So if you keep asking if they are “sure they are ok that way” or act unsure about a situation, kids tend to pick up on that!
My daughter has been rear facing:
She has been forward facing:
Then she went back rear facing:
She has been in a high back booster (HBB):
And currently she’s back rear facing:
Axkid Duofix installed in our Picasso with seat belt option as she is over 18kg. Installed with extra legroom option and on “no” recline as she is an older child. The leg prop completely misses the storage box on this seat. The Axkid Duofix is rearfacing to 25kg. Caitlyn has still got some growing room left at 126cm tall and 21kg. Her height is more in her legs than her torso. Seat is installed behind driver who is 197cm tall, and driver is comfortable. @axkid @axkidinternational
Through all these changes in the car she never cared!!
In fact – when we changed from a HBB to the current seat (Axkid Duofix) she was over the moon when the seat arrived. One of the first things she asked me was; “Is it backwards?! ” – to which I answered “Yes it is!” and she started dancing and jumping up and down with excitement.
Now some may wonder why she’s been back and forth? The answer is very simple. I didn’t have a RF car seat to 25kg that fit her, neither did I have the finances to buy her a new one that was going to last her a short time. So she was in a high back booster – she was over 4 years old (she was 5 when she went in a HBB full-time) and was safe in that booster. But when I had the opportunity to borrow an Axkid Duofix I jumped on it! And she is now riding rear facing again at 6 years old, because she fits the seat. There was no reason not to offer her the best protection when I could do so.
Some successful FF to RF switches from CSAFMAD Facebook Group (has over 20k members!):
“I recently turned my 4-year-old back rare facing earlier last year after he been forward facing for nearly 2 years” -Nicola
“We turned our dd rf at 3y. She’s still rf at 5.5y, along with her little brother” – Ellie
“My son was FF from aged one before I realised RF was so much safer, he got turned at three and half and has loved it, he’s now the same as his little brother, find his leg position comfier (no dangling legs) and he says he can see more out of the windows” -Laura
“When my girl was 3 years old, she got a hbbseat (besafe izi up x2),because i didn’t know better. A couple of months before her 4. birthday I turned her rearfacing again. She is turning 5 in jule, and will be rearfacing until she outgrows The axkid minikid.” -Susanne
“We’ve just put our 91st centile height 4.5yr old rf in an Axkid minikid. She likes it, says she can see more and it’s comfy (she also waves at the cars behind…). She likes being in the “backwards gang” with her younger sister.” -Clare
“Turned my 4-year-old who rf a couple of months ago after ff from 9 months old ? never knew how much safer rf is. He loves it! Not one complaint.” -Becky
“Turned my Son round at age 3 too, he had been forward facing since 15months, he used to be a pain to get in the car, hated it but since turning him, he was fine, loved it, adored his panoramic view out of the rear window. He rear faced for another 3 years to age 6 (he’s now 8 years old still in a high back booster).” -Linsey
“My eldest is rear facing in the Minikid. He’s nearly 8. He is at the limit of the seat now, weighing 24.5kg and almost too tall too. He still likes this seat better than his HBB. I turned him RF at 4 after he had FF since 18m. I couldn’t justify getting ERF seats for his sisters and not him from a safety perspective. I didn’t know about ERF when he was younger.” -Henrietta
I hope this relaxes your fears about turning a forward facing child back rear facing!
Did you have fears about turning your child back rear facing? Tell us about it in a comment below!
- Motor Vehicle Safety Fact Sheet (2016) safekids.org.
- Non-traffic motor vehicle incidents, Motor Vehicle Safety Fact Sheet (2016) safekids.org.
- Thomas Turbell, VTI (Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute)
- AA’s website
- The Facts’ – www.rearfacing.co.uk
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.