Jesse is 2.5 years old. He's 36" tall and weighs more than 30 pounds. Yet he's still rearfacing in his car seat in my Explorer. Why? The law states he only needs to rear face for a minimum of 12 months and 20 pounds. He passed that ages ago. Why is he still looking out the back window like his baby brother?
The short answer is that it's safer. By far. Even with his long legs folded up! I could get into all the details and statistics, but I'll let a very loving and concerned grandfather do that for me. Sadly, this man's story is all too common.
This was posted by a grandfather at one of my car seat boards. It is a very sad story indeed, and explains exactly why rear facing past the bare minimums is so important.
First, meet Joel:
PLEASE, for your childrens sake, consider leaving them in REAR-FACING (RF) car seats as longs as you can. Although it is "suggested" by many people and organizations, that you can turn them forward facing at 1 yr/20 lbs, and seats are made to accommodate that, it doesn’t mean they will not be subjected to cervical spine injuries in an accident. Sure, it’ll hold their body in place, as it did for my grandson. But their head is thrown violently forward!! Actually, if you do your homework, front facing children "75% more likely to be injured" in a crash.
I am Grandpa, and here’s my personal view. My 18 mo old grandson, Joel, was injured in a front impact car crash 4 weeks ago. He is a "beefy" boy, weighing in at 34lbs and about 39" tall. According to his mom, the doctor told her it was "okay" to put him in a front facing car seat, because he was a "big boy". So she did. And he was securely strapped in the rear seat. The car hit a tree, for reasons unknown, at city speed limit of approx 35 mph.
At the accident scene, the EMT crew took Joel out of the car while in the car seat and all, and transported him to the hospital. They had to "bag" him at the scene to restart his breathing. The true miracle is that the ambulance was driving by, and some people flagged it down. They didn’t even get time to call 911. You can bet God had his hand in that!!! they were on the scene in about 60 seconds!!
Below are some photos of Joel, before and after. YOU decide whats best for your child.......not anyone else!!! He sustained dislocated top 2 vertebrae in his spine (C-1 & C-2). Some of the doctors put it in very simple terms...his skull, internally, became detached from his body... and was basically held on with his skin.
In the last few weeks, I’ve scoured the internet to find these facts:* a young child’s head is approx 25% of his/her bodyweight. If that were true of adults, my head (I’m 220 pounds) would weigh 55 pounds! As it is, an adults head is only about 6% of their body weight. So, kids are very top-heavy.* Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland recommend rear facing until 4 yrs old*
Look on You Tube at the crash test videos of front facing vs. rear facing. you’ll be amazed.
See how much farther forward the forward facing dummy is thrown? How violently the neck snaps?* if a young childs spine is "stretched" a 1/4 of an inch, it could result in total paralysis or death.* and this is amazing! There was an article published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) earlier this year that states: "A recent analysis of the protection provided in rear-facing compared with forward-facing car safety seats has revealed that children under the age of 2 years are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury when they are in a rear-facing seat. This finding was true regardless of direction of the crash, even those crashes with side impact, which typically are the most severe."Parents may be helped to understand the importance of using the convertible car safety seat in the rear-facing position longer than 1 year if they are counseled that children are 5 times safer than when riding in a forward-facing seat into the second year of life."
After hearing about that, I contacted the AAP via email, and asked what their position is on this issue. Their response was "While this was published in the Academy’s journal, it does not necessarily constitute AAP policy" and "Because riding rear-facing does provide significantly more protection to children’s heads, necks, and spines, the Academy does recommend it for as long as possible, but the only minimum we have set is 12 months/20 pounds. This policy statement is under revision but is current at this time."
The policy statement is under revision.... at this time??
Do your home work folks!!! Oh, and you’ll also find out that in the USA, rear facing seats only go up to 30-35 pounds (depends on manufacturer). In Europe, whose testing standards seem to exceed US standards, the RF car seats can be purchased up to 55 pounds. AND, made by the same manufacturers as in the US.So, the question is, why can’t we get them??
And don’t worry about legroom. Sure, they can break a leg in a violent crash, but I think bones are easier to fix than a broken neck!!! Heck, it’s better to mount a portable CD player in the back window shelf and let them watch it, then to risk their life! Think about it....their body is strapped down to a car seat that is strapped down, and the car comes to an abrupt stop!! Where is their head going to go? FORWARD, and at a tremedous velocity!! The back of their neck/spinal cord is vulnerable to serious injury.But the BIG question is....... for you to decide. I know you want to see their darling faces. But you don’t want to see them in a halo.
I know this is a very long blog, but if it saves one child...or one family, the agony of what we’ve endured these last 4 weeks, it is worth the read!!
The pics below are about six weeks apart. he was eating cake by himself....very cute. And now, he is is headed for intense physical therapy. He does move his fingers and his legs, but he doesn’t pick up his arms. The therapy people are very optimistic, given the movement in his extremities. Doctors believe it was some compression of the shoulder nerves from the car seat straps across his collar bone area. You had to see those big, wide bruise marks.
Again...front facing will do it.!!
I would like to see:
the FF threshold raised to 24 months, and larger RF seats available in the US.
This little boy is VERY lucky he is alive. This is every parents worst nightmare, and I’m glad that I have the knowledge to help protect my kids to the best of my ability. And now I’ve passed the information to you. Thank you for reading!
Please see these sites for more information:
(^ Recommendation 1-"for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the max weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back")