Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rear-Facing Blues

As many of you may already have heard, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines on car seats. The new guidelines state that a toddler should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are two-years-old or they outgrow the height or weight limit for the car seat.

Putting the safety issues aside for a moment, that sounds a little extreme to me. By the time my son was 9 months old or so, he was becoming extremely bored facing the nothingness that is the back of the car. He was getting fussy and impatient during just a 15-minute car ride. Can you imagine what would happen with a two-year-old in an even longer car ride? There would be mutiny!

Now that my son (who is 14 months old) faces forward, he has something to look at. He can watch where we are going through the windshield, he can see the back of my head, and he can see out the side windows easier, too. And it is easier for me to see him. I don't have to use that awkward mirror that faces the front of the car.

I understand that rear-facing is safer, but according the the number crunching I have seen, the number of injuries that would have been avoided over the last several years looks like a rounding error, not some huge number.

What do you think? Is this safety tyranny or good policy?


  1. I'm the father of two girls - 3 and 2 years old. I also have a strong math/physics background, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why the guidelines are based on age. They should be based on height and weight. Perhaps the reason is that every parent knows their kids' age, but not today's height and weight (save scheduled doctor's appointments). But when it comes to something as serious as this, shouldn't we as a society "change" that culture?

  2. Safety overrules a nice view, but I agree that it should be based on height and weight. Not every carseat, or every two year old, has the same dimensions.

  3. My husband just showed me this and ran because he "didn't want to see the carnage". I am very passionate about this issue, but I will try to remain calm. :)

    First, age definitely does matter. No matter what height and weight a child might be, their bones mature at around the same time--this is biology, not math.

    Second, this is not new information. Anyone who has researched car seats in last 8-10 years would have come across this recommendation. Our oldest daughter (now almost 5) rear-faced until she was almost 3. She never once complained about being bored or uncomfortable--trust me, we would have heard about it! We'd give her a book or a toy, and she was perfectly happy. She could also see out the window and tell us where we were. Our younger daughter is almost 2 and is still rear-facing, and we have no intentions of turning her anytime soon.

    Yes, the number of lives saved by rear-facing vs. forward facing is not huge, but if it happened to be my child who was a part of that statistic, I wouldn't be able to live with the fact that I didn't do everything in my power to keep them as safe as possible.

  4. I think it has to do with muscle growth and strength which can be predicted by age better than height and weight. From a dad of three (fourth on the way) short stocky kidos I think age is an appropriate gauge. Though my 13 month old is facing forward...

  5. Both of my children, ages 2 and 5, ride rear-facing and I have never once heard a complaint of boredom or had a request to turn around. It has never even occurred to them that there is another option or anything to object to. Parents shouldn't allow their young child to ride without a car seat just because that child objects to sitting in a car seat, should they? There is a reason the adults are in charge, not the children.

  6. Is the lack of his boredom more important then his safety. I would give him something to play with instead of worrying about what he's looking for. My children used to fall asleep in the car most of the time.


We welcome many points of view and great discussion. However, please be aware that comments go through an approval process. The blog administrators reserve the right to not post or delete any comments that are not appropriate (ie: comments with obscene, explicit, sexist, racist or otherwise derogatory language), impolite (ie: comments containing personal attacks, insults or threats), dishonest (ie: potentially libelous comments), or are spam. Thanks for understanding!