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Car seat safety: what is Extended Rear Facing, and why should you do it?

Emerson, Ellis and Charlie happily rear facing! 2 Diono Radian RXTs and a Britax Boulevard 70-G3 all rear facing in my 2004 Subaru Forester.

Emerson, Ellis and Charlie happily rear facing! 2 Diono Radian RXTs and a Britax Boulevard 70-G3 all rear facing in my 2004 Subaru Forester.

Chelsea here from Magic Beans Fairfield! I have come together with Jodi, from Safe In The Car, to talk about one thing you will always catch us geeking about… car seats. Extended Rear Facing and car seat safety are our passions. If you are a parent (or parent-to-be) and do not know what Extended Rear Facing is and why it is so important, this post is a must-read.


What is Extended Rear Facing and why should I do it?
Extended Rear Facing is the practice of rear-facing your kiddos in their car seats for a minimum of two years, but ideally, keeping them rear-facing until they outgrow the rear-facing limits of their convertible car seat, typically around the age of 4.

Rear-facing until age 4 is a common practice in Sweden and other parts of Europe, but parents in the U.S. are just starting to catch on to this important safety practice.

Why is Extended Rear Facing a thing?
Extended Rear Facing  isn’t a new parenting trend. Rear-facing is 532% safer than forward-facing when it comes to frontal impacts for children ages 2 and under. Sadly, accidental injury is the number one cause of death in children, and car accidents account for a majority of those injuries. Driving is the most dangerous thing you do on a daily basis, and our personal goal is to make sure that every child we encounter is as Safe In The Car as possible when it comes to car seats.

(Sorry this is so grim! We promise to address a lighter topic tomorrow, but this is so important, and this article is loaded with important info.)

More reasons to practice Extended Rear Facing 
Turning your child forward facing at the age of 1 should NOT be a milestone that you look forward to. According to BMJ Injury Prevention, “The odds of severe injury for forward-facing infants under 12 months of age was 1.79 times higher than for rear-facing infants. For  children 12-23 months old, the odds were 5.32 times higher.”

Children’s bones and spines are still soft and not as solidified as an adult’s bones. In a car crash, a forward-facing child’s neck can stretch up to two inches*, while the spinal cord can only accommodate for 1/4 inch. The results of this combination can be deadly. The same child that is rear-facing in that same accident is exponentially safer and would likely survive with little to no major injuries.

These statistics are not meant to scare you. Our goal is to make parents informed, since car seat safety is all about prevention. Parents are as cautious as they can be when driving with precious cargo in the back seat, but unfortunately, the other folks on the road aren’t necessarily going to be as careful, and a car accident can occur at any time.  Worldwide, nearly 1.3 million people die in car crashes each year. The reality is that it is very likely that you will be in an accident, and having your child properly buckled, in a correctly installed rear-facing car seat, drastically reduces the risk of severe injury.

Common Concerns

What happens when my kid’s feet touch the back of the car seat? Isn’t that risky for their legs?
Crash test data in 2007 found that the rate of lower extremity injuries in rear-facing children was 1 per 1000 children and the rates for forward facing kids are within similar ranges.

My child is already forward-facing and would have a fit if I turned them back rear-facing.
If your child was trying to stick a fork into an uncovered outlet, would you let them continue to play with the fork because you were afraid of a tantrum? Certainly not, and car seats are no different. Safety comes first no matter what your child thinks, and from our personal experience, our kids have never once complained about rear-facing.

Get your car seat install checked by a CPST!
If you’re local to Connecticut, Safe In The Car is a phone call away, or you can go here to find a CPST near you!

Still have questions?
Stop by any of our Magic Beans locations and our staff will be happy to help. We can help you sort out which of our many excellent car seat options is right for you, and help you troubleshoot issues you encounter along the way. Helping parents keep their kids safe is what we do!

*Editor’s note: I flinched while reading that, didn’t you? Again, sorry this is all so grim! But it’s so important to discuss.


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