I recently returned my 2 and a half year old to rearwards-facing and I promised I would tell you all about it and review the Volvo Britax car seat.
I also want to share the biggest thing I’ve learnt since I started my obsession with car seat safety and a review on the new generation Volvo seat. It might be of particular interest to you if your little one is between 9kgs and 25kgs (roughly between 9 months old and 6 years old) and you have questions around rearwards-facing.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that a lot of the conversations around car seat safety lately have focused on keeping your child rearwards-facing for as long as possible. If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown. Your little one should be face backwards until they are at least 4 years old. As mentioned above, the Volvo Britax toddler seat hopes to allow children who are up to 25kgs, around 6 years old, to face backwards.
Research has proven that it is 5 times safer than forward facing. I saw a comment someone made earlier around the fact that they don’t “believe” the stats, videos and research. This isn’t a fairytale or Father Christmas we are talking about, it is factual data about trying to save as many children’s lives as possible.
Rearwards-facing isn’t a “new” thing, although in SA we are substantially behind the curve. In Europe, particularly Sweden, this has been the norm for years. And the physical results are so simple, there is no question. Swedish car crash statistics, when compared to countries where most children travel facing forwards, are remarkable.
The example below is Sweden and Germany, there is no difference until the age of 1, when most German children are moved forward-facing, as opposed to Swedish children who only make the turn around ages 3 or 4.
If you think about an accident, even a little fender-bender, what is the likely result for you as a driver (in a seatbelt)? Whiplash. When I was younger I was in 3 of these, small crashes, nothing bleeding or broken. Just the most horrendous neck pain. This is because of the force that your head is thrown forward at the moment of impact.
Now stop for a second. Consider the fact that all little ones have those adorable bobble-head type proportions. If you look at the body as it grows, your little one’s head is huge and heavy in comparison to the rest of their body. Then you think about the development of their skeleton most of you will know that a young child’s bones are still cartilage, almost elastic, and they slowly start to harden as they approach puberty. The neck is the weakest part of a baby and small child. So the biggest and heaviest part of your baby – the head, is supported by the weakest and least developed part of the – the neck.
Now think about whiplash again. A forward-facing bubba is going to have the same crash force throwing their overly-big heavy head forward, with only that delicate undeveloped neck to support it.
And THAT is why rearwards-facing is so very important. Rear-facing seats, which Volvo worked with Britax to develop and test as far back as the 1960s, are based on astronauts seats. Astronauts are rear-facing to ensure the force of takeoff and landing is evenly distributed across the entire back and solid head, as opposed to just the neck.
This is exactly the same in car seats. Instead of the vulnerable neck, the back and big head take the force of impact. Makes sense right? Have a look at this video, it makes it incredibly easy to understand the actual impact on your little one.
So, then you understand why it is so important, and then reality sets in… At least it was that way for me…
MY CHILD IS ALREADY FACING FORWARDS, SHE WILL NEVER ALLOW ME TO TURN HER BACK!
I turned Charly forward facing at around 1 year old. I literally can’t figure out exactly when, but it was the second I believed it was safe. She HATED being in a car seat, she hated being in the car, period. Somebody always had to be in the backseat with her, holding her hand or she would scream blue murder. I was so scared to drive with her screaming, that I actually just didn’t drive alone with her. Ever. I think the first time I did, she was around 18 months. And I still haven’t driven further than town (once), alone with her.
I, like SO many of you, turned her to face forwards the second I believed it was safe. At least 3 years too early.
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