Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rear-Facing Car Seats Revisited

Almost four months ago I wrote a post about reading a NYT article on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to keep children rear-facing until at least two years of age or until they reach the rear-facing weight limits of their seats.

Then, and now, both of my children are still rear-facing in their seats. Ava is in a seat with a rear-facing weight limit of 35 pounds and weighs about 32 pounds. Michael is in a seat with a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds and weighs about 36 pounds. Michael is almost four years old. He never complains about being rear-facing. He's starting to get a bit cramped. I have to shuffle legs around to get him buckled in, but once he's settled he is perfectly comfortable.

The Washington Post just did an article on the topic. Again, the information that stands out in my mind is that "children younger than 2 were 75 percent more likely to die or be seriously injured when facing forward." The article explains that rear-facing is safer because small children have relatively heavy heads and weak necks and spines. When forward facing during a crash the heads can snap forward with so much force that necks break, spinal cords are injured, and brain injury can result. When rear-facing, the seat supports the head and neck and distributes the force of the crash more evenly.

Given the safety reasons for keeping them rear-facing, we have decided to continue as long as possible. With our current seats we can keep them both rear-facing for several more months. But as soon as either child outgrows theirs we will have two choices. We can turn one of them around and keep one rear-facing with the current seats. Or, we can buy a new Radian. That will buy us an extra five pounds. At this age, that is a lot. It could well keep both of them rear-facing another year.

Is the extra time rear-facing worth buying another very expensive carseat that we don't really need? That is the question I'm wrestling with. I'll probably just postpone deciding until the last minute.

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