Monday, May 9, 2011

Hot Topics Monday: Extended Rear-Facing

 Sorry for the delay in getting this posted I had a couple really busy days.

Some people won't consider this a "hot topic" but I have seen discussions on online groups get extremely heated over this issue. Hopefully after reading this it will clear up why ERF is so important. Please take the time to read the information, do your research, and watch the videos. Or if you do not have time to read this a least PLEASE watch the video. It is under 4 minutes long and it may save your child's life.

Most people when seeing this title will probably be thinking "What the heck is Extended rear-facing?"

Extended rear-facing (ERF) is keeping your child's carseat rear-facing past the "1 and 20lbs" requirements that is law in most states. Most people have no idea that there are significant safety benefits of keeping your child rear-facing. This will hopefully change soon as the AAP recently changed their recommendations. They now state that children should remain rear-facing until at LEAST age 2 (source) or until they reach the maximum height or weight for rear-facing in the convertible carseat.

The most important question is: WHY extended rear-face?
There are many reasons
-It is proven to be 5x safer than a forward-facing carseat.
-The back of the seat cradles the baby preventing severe spinal injuries and even internal decapitation
-Convertible carseats can easily fit a child rear-facing well into their second year and sometimes beyond.

There are a few common concerns that parents have regarding ERF
1. Scrunched legs
  -Touching the back of the seat is not a problem. While it looks uncomfortable to us it really isn't for them. When you see a child playing on the floor how do they usually sit? With their legs crossed. Children are naturally more flexible than we are. Even when sitting in a chair most of them curl their legs up under them rather than leaving them dangle when they can't reach the floor.
2. Broken legs
  -Many parents are concerned that their child's legs being against the seat will cause a broken leg in the event they get rear-ended. There has never been a single case of a child breaking a leg due to being rear-facing. But even if it were to happen, it is far less of a concern than a broken neck from forward-facing too early. Remember:
Broken leg=cast it
Broken neck=casket
3. Getting rear-ended
  -This is a big one and in my experience generally the reason most parents who have read about ERF give for turning their child around. Parents mistakingly think that if they are hit from behind and their child is rear-facing they will have the same risk for a broken neck as a forward-facing child in a head-on collision. And because being rear-ended is the most common accident this is a somewhat logical concern. HOWEVER this concern can be laid to rest also. First of all while being rear-ended is a common car accident it is the LEAST common form of SEVERE auto accident. Also, if you are hit from behind YES your child's head will go forward until the vehicle comes to a stop however it is simple physics that it would be far less severe whiplash than if your child were forward-facing. Remember "an object in motion stays in motion". Your vehicle is traveling say 35mph forward and comes to an abrupt stop, you and your child are going to be thrown toward the front of the vehicle when it stops regardless of what direction you are hit. When forward-facing the spine hyper-extends and can cause internal decapitation in a young child. When rear-facing the back of the carseat is there to cradle your childs neck and spine and acts as a cushion against the impact.
  *Car accidents are the leading cause of death of children ages 2-14 in the US
  *2.9% of those deaths are caused by spinal injuries
4. Convenience
  -This one I simply find ridiculous. Many parents turn their children forward-facing simply because they say it is less of a hassle to put him/her in the car. This one is a no-brainer. Why put your child at 5x greater risk simply because it is easier?
  -Many parents say their child "likes it better." How does your child know there is any other way to ride in a car if he/she has only ever been rear-facing? He/she doesn't know the difference. In fact I remember being around 7 years old and fighting with my sisters over the rear-facing seat of my dad's station wagon because I liked looking out the back window and propping my feet up. And frankly when it comes to safety, I will do what is safest not what is easy or what I believe my child will like better.

Calvin ERF age 13 months 

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