With Everleigh’s 1st birthday approaching (oh…my…God) this issue has been weighing on me these past few days. Tonight, a friend posted a year-old article sharing that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. This goes against previous recommendations of 20lbs/1 year that many parents still follow today.
I looked at Health Canada recommendations which state that children should remain in each progressive stage of car seat use as long as possible. In other words, keep them rear-facing as long as possible up to the weight limit of 20kg which is 45lbs. 45?! Holy cow my 4 year old isn’t even 45 lbs, and there’s no way she’d be sitting rear-facing right now. There’s got to be some height limitations involved in this recommendation though the chart from the article linked here doesn’t state that.
I also took a look back at an article I wrote this summer after attending the Forward With Ford conference in Detroit and specifically the Safety For All Ages session. I spoke with Dr. Stewart Wang (trauma surgeon and founding director of the University of Michigan International Center for Automotive Medicine), and he shared with me some pretty sobering stories of the trauma he’s seen in children in car accidents.
Then, I spoke with my husband and asked his opinion on switching the car-seat forward facing at one year/20 pounds. I explained some of the things Dr. Wang told me and he offered an alternative scenario. While a rear-facing car seat may prevent trauma that could occur when a child is otherwise forward facing – what happens when a vehicle is hit from behind. Would everything then be opposite? Would a rear-facing 18 month old suffer trauma in a rear-collision that he would not suffer if he were forward facing?
Definite thought-provoking questions raised here, and in the end it’s (in my opinion) up to the parent to make the decision they feel is best, after the minimum guidelines are met. In other words, while I may question a parent turning a car-seat around for a 6-month old that is 15 pounds, I wouldn’t frown upon a parent turning a car-seat around at 1 year of age, nor would I look funny at the parent of an 18-month old still rear-facing. I’d hope they did their research and made the decision they felt is best.
No decision has been made here yet. Everleigh needs to switch to the next stage of car-seat regardless so it’s now a matter of deciding which way the car seat will be installed. As an end-note, my first two children were both turned around to forward facing at 1 year.