My twin boys turned three last month. They sleep in “big boy” beds, they ride scooters, and they dress themselves. But you know what they don’t do? They don’t yet face forward in their carseats.
Though my fellow Target shoppers (who often throw shade in the form of side-eye and snide comments) may find my choice to be overkill, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new car seat safety guidelines, released today, suggest that children should rear face until at least age two -- but ideally, up to the rear-facing weight and height limits of their car seat. And that’s why my three-year-olds will be rear-facing until they themselves can drive. Think I’m crazy? GET IN LINE.
To be fair, my children are on the smaller side. One of my three-year-olds is just barely on the growth chart, weighing in at 25 pounds. Meanwhile, his best friend (just one month older than him) is pushing 40. I realize that there’s always an exception. But the reality is, and I say this with all the love in my heart, most of us are turning our children around far too soon.
I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous. Mean, even. So, I’d like to address some of the most common arguments I hear from well-meaning friends and family:
“But they look so uncomfortable!!”
I hear you. I do. But just because we would be uncomfortable doesn’t mean that they are uncomfortable. The other day, I found my child hanging halfway off of his bed, asleep. ASLEEP! Let’s just say that this kid’s standards for comfort are similar to his threshold for change: very low. This comment is often followed by a concern for what would happen to a child’s legs in the event that an accident should occur. Alex Steinwachs, previously with Safe Kids Cobb County (and certified child passenger safety technician), states: “Personally, I’d rather my child have a broken leg (which has a low probability) than a broken neck. Cars aren't made for kids, and rear-facing in a car seat is the safest position that a child could ever be in a vehicle.”
“My child hates rear facing!”
To be honest, this isn’t something that we’ve ever encountered, simply because we’ve never given our kids an alternative to rear-facing. For them, riding in the car means seeing the drive from a different viewpoint. But even if they did “hate” it, would it change my mind? Probably, definitely not. For your reflection, I present a small list of things that my children hate: sandwiches cut in half after begging to have them cut in half; putting on pants; getting in the car in the first place.
“It isn’t even that big of a deal.”
Put bluntly, nothing could be further from the truth. In its press release, the AAP sites car crashes as the leading cause of death in children aged four and older, adding that “using the correct car safety seat or booster seat can help decrease the risk of death or serious injury by over 70%” If that’s not motivation to keep your kiddo rear-facing, I don’t know what is.
Already turned your child forward-facing but regretting the decision? That’s okay. Just turn them back around. Will they like it? Probably not. Is it worth the risk? IMHO, hell to the absolutely not.
If you’re looking for a good convertible car seat that is both rear and forward facing, check out our Fave 5 Carseats post from a few weeks ago, which includes 3 convertible carseats. Need a convertible carseat but can’t afford one? If you’re local, Safe Kids Columbus is an excellent resource that can provide deep discount for new carseats, simply by taking one of their informative classes. They are also available to give your child’s seat the once-over to make sure that they are properly installed.