There is a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of placing children in car seats, and rightfully so. Infants, toddlers and even older children are more vulnerable to injury in the event of an accident, no matter how big or small that accident may be.
Why should the seat face to the rear?
When there is a crash, then the car seat will take some of that force of the crash, and the rest will be spread throughout the bigger body areas. The adults have the seat belt that will send the force of the crash to the more strong body parts such as the hips and the shoulders. Unfortunately, infants do not have such strong body parts that would stand up to such heavy forces. Because the infants head is large and the neck is weak, there is greater incidence of injury of they are not protected during a crash. The rear facing car seat spreads the crash forces across the hips and breast bone while supporting the head, neck and back. When the car stops suddenly, it takes a period of time to come to a complete stop. The rear facing car seat assists by helping the body ride down the crash, causing less injury and trauma to the baby.
People sometimes say that they like to hold their babies in the car. You can determine the amount of force that it would take to hold a baby during a crash by multiplying the baby’s weight by the speed at which you are driving. For instance, if you have a ten pound baby and you were driving at thirty miles per hour, it would take three hundred pounds of force to hold the baby during a crash. The car seat that is facing to the rear will spread out the three hundred pounds of force throughout the larger portions of the body, and will consequently cause the baby much less injury.
How long should I keep my baby facing to the rear in its car seat?
Babies should be kept in a rear facing car seat for a minimum of one year and until s/he weighs twenty pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that infants should remain rear facing until they are 18 months old and weigh 35 pounds, or as long as the car seat will hold rear facing according to the manufacturers recommendations. Remember that it is up to you the parent to keep the child in the rear facing position for their safety even though they are easier to see when forward faced. If they are crying and inconsolable, maybe it is time to stop and settle the baby before moving on. Everyone will be happier and safe!