Working with Parents

My experiences of advising parents on child safety

Group 1,2

on March 15, 2013

Group 1,2

Weight: 9kg – 25kg
Height: Outgrown when eyes are level with the top of the seat.
Direction of travel:  Rear facing.  Some restraints have a forward facing option; however they are designed to keep a child rear facing as long as possible.

Why rear facing? – The facts.

  1. Children in Sweden have been rear facing until age 4 since 1965.  This has resulted in a year on year next to 0 death toll for Sweden and a 0 serious injury toll.
  2. Between July 2006 and November 2007, not a single child died in Sweden in a car accident. (VTI Sweden)
  3. In a front facing restraint the child’s neck is subject to a force equivalent of 300-320kg. When rear facing it is the equivalent of 50kg. (www.rearfacing.co.uk)
  4. A child’s neck can only stretch by ¼ inch before snapping.  In crash tests, the dummy’s neck has stretched by up to 2 inches, which could result in internal decapitation. (www.rearfacing.co.uk)
  5. An ANEC report found in 2008 that the vast improvements to cars for the safety of adult passengers has had an opposite effect on the safety of child passengers.  New cars are packed with technology and the front of the car is made ‘stiffer’ and they are equipped with pre-tension seat belts.  These cause a greater force to be transferred to the child, putting greater strain on the fragile neck.  The report found that an extended rear facing child restraint counteracted these developments to provide the child with maximum safety. (link to report further down page)
  6. A small child’s ribs bend rather than break.  The harness on a front facing seat can bend the ribs enough to cause damage to the internal organs.
  7. Children are not small adults!  A small child’s head is 25% of it’s body weight on a very weak neck – this is very dangerous in an impact. (http://www.carseat.se/rearfacing/safety-benefits/)
  8. Extended rear facing seats are safer in a rear impact.  Passengers in a rear impact are thrown forward and whiplash is an incredibly common injury.  A rear facing child is fully supported by the back of the child seat.  They are also placed further away from the impact which also provides more protection.  There are many cases where a child would have survived a rear impact had they been rear facing. (http://carseatnanny.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/is-rear-facing-safer-when-youre-rear.html)
  9. Safer in a side impact.  As the child is fully surrounded by the seat shell, and is pushed back into the seat, they are fully contained and protected.  Front facing children come forward into the harness and outside the main side impact protection zone, resulting in reduced protection. (ANEC report, section 4, point 2)
  10. No front facing child seat can pass the Swedish plus test. (http://www.carseat.co.uk/Child-car-seat-safety-tests/Explaining-tests-and-approvals)

Statement from Norfolk County Council:

“Since we have become aware of the ‘Rear Facing for Longer’ issue,
Norfolk County Council’s Casualty Reduction Section have been working to
publicise the importance of this message. We have promoted in-car
safety messages for many years, but it is my view that this is the most
important child safety issue we have seen for a long time. It is vitally
important that every parent is given this information, allowing them to
make informed choices for the safety of their children. We will be
working to establish dialogue on a national basis with manufacturers,
retailers and legislative bodies to promote the availability of these
seats.”
Iain Temperton, Team Manager, Casualty Reduction.
Norfolk County Council

Notable reports supporting extended rear facing

A report from ANEC, the consumer organisation comparing the results of car crashes involving rear facing and forward facing children.  It investigates if the front facing children would have survived had they been rear facing: http://www.anec.eu/attachments/ANEC-R&T-2008-TRAF-003.pdf

The British medical journal have also reported that they recommend rear facing to age 4:
http://www.bmj.com/content/338/bmj.b1994.extract

As do the American Society of Pediatrics:
http://www.healthychildren.org/english/news/pages/aap-updates-recommendations-on-car-seats.aspx

News articles promoting extended rear facing:

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8094829.stm

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1192448/Use-rear-facing-car-seats-age-4-warn-experts.html

Manchester Evening News: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/mums-drive-to-help-save-children-914040

BBC News report on rear facing child restraints

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have opted for an extended rear facing seat – the Cybex Sirona.

Rear Facing Myths

Children shouldn’t sit with their legs crossed.

  1. Have you ever seen a toddler sit with their legs bolt outright for an extended period of time?  If they want to stretch their legs, they can do against the seat back.
  2. Children are A LOT smaller than adults! Most parents imagine their child being 4 and in an infant carrier and believe the legs will be squashed – this is not true as extended rear facing seats are as big as forward facing seats, and give the child lots of room.
  3. Another trap to fall into is looking at the seat and thinking “that can’t be comfy for the legs” whilst subconsciously you are thinking about it as if you were in the seat.  If we were in the seat of course it would be uncomfortable! But children are considerably smaller than adults and much more flexible. (Exactly what I did when I found out about it)
  4. There has never been a documented leg injury in rear facing children, but it is a very common injury for front facing children to have broken legs.

They cost so much.
I agree that at first glance they can seem incredibly expensive.  When faced with a price tag of £300 it can be scary, but it is well worth taking into account what you would spend on a group 0+ and group 1 seat.  If you buy a decent seat for both stages you are looking at around the same price, if not more than an extended rear facing seat.

For example:
Maxi Cosi Pebble: £160 (rear facing 0-13kg, approx 0-12 months)
Maxi Cosi Family Fix base: £160
Maxi Cosi Pearl: £150 (forward facing 9-18kg, approx 9m-4y)
Total: £470

Britax Babysafe Plus II: £130 (rear facing 0-13kg, approx 0-15 months)
Britax Eclipse: £130 (forward facing 9-18kg, approx 9m-4y)
Total: £260

Klippan Kiss/Graco DuoLogic: £320 (rear facing, 0-18kg, newborn to approx 4 years, ISOfix or seat belt fitment with removable infant seat unit)

Brio Zento: £250 (rear facing 0-25kg, newborn – approx 6 years)

Hauck Varioguard: £150 (rear facing 0-18kg, newborn – approx 4 years, ISOfix)

When you look at the bigger picture they really aren’t that expensive, and when you take into account that they are up to 5x safer and the child can see more it really is a great buy!

Car seats have to be safe or they wouldn’t be sold.
As looked at in the previous blog, all child seats are tested to R44.04.  This is:
1 frontal impact at 32mph
1 rear impact at 18mph.

Rear facing seats have passed much more vigorous testing, like the Swedish plus test.  As previously mentioned, no front facing child seat can pass this test as they measure much higher neck loads in impacts.

I want my baby to be able to see me.

  1. Your baby has been rear facing from birth, they will know no difference if they continue to rear face.
  2. ‘View Me’ mirrors are brilliant for letting little one see you and vice versa.
  3. Extended rear facing seats can be fitted on the front seat of a car provided the airbag has been properly disabled.  Your child can then be facing you.

I want to be able to see my child.

  1. As in the previous myth, a baby will know no difference if they continue to rear face.  You haven’t been able to look at them whilst driving when in the infant carrier, and they won’t notice that you can’t view them in their bigger seat.
  2. It is also really unsafe to attend your child whilst driving, the momentary distraction of taking your eyes off the road to view your child is enough for conditions to change and result in an impact.

Which? Marked one of them as a don’t buy.
Which did mark one of the rear facing seats as a don’t buy, as they take into account ease of use when it comes to fitting the seats.  Which believe that parents are unable to fit an extended rear facing seat.

Correct fitment is absolutely vital for the effectiveness of a child seat and extended rear facing can take longer to fit than other seats, but once you have done it a few times it is no more difficult than fitting a Britax Evolva! (I can actually fit an extended rear facing seat quicker than the Evolva)  The tether straps are what takes up the most time.  If a parent is going to swap the seat between cars I always recommend buying 2 sets of tether straps and leaving them in the car to reduce fitting time. (The tether straps only actually take 2 or 3 mins to fit)

My child will become car sick.
The direction of travel has no impact on car sickness, it is the fluid levels in the child’s ears and the motion of the car that makes them ill, not which way they are facing. (as proven on BANG! Goes the theory!)

My child will get bored looking at the back seat.
The rear facing seats for bigger children (indeed, even the ones suitable from birth) are much higher up in the car, giving the child a panoramic view over the back seats.  They also get a good view out of the side windows too.  They can see much more than forward facing children.  The pictures below are taken from a rear facing and front facing seat, you can see the difference!

FFview

RFview

charlie view

truck!

Gallery of children in rear facing seats!

wppilegs

tired sleepy older miles lotsofloegs legs! klippan HIWAY cowmoo cool choccy! charlie brother love besafee besafe 4yo

 Many Thanks to the Mummies and Daddies who post their photo’s on Rear facing-The Way Forward on Facebook, to help other parents learn about keeping little ones safer.  Also, many thanks to Linsey at Rearfacing – the way forward for allowing use of all the photo’s in this blog!

So, where can you buy these seats?

The best way to check for local stockists is to visit www.rearfacing.co.uk  or to google it!  Check with your local independent baby shop as they are far more likely to stock them.  You can also buy online from www.incarsafetycentre.co.uk, http://www.carseat.se and www.securatot.co.uk .  As with any online purchase, you must ensure the seat will fit your car before you buy and make 100% sure you can fit it correctly!

Anything else you should look out for?

As all extended rear facing seats are safe, it’s a case of what best suits your needs.  If money is tight and you want a seat that will last, then a Britax Two Way Elite or Britax Multi Tech may be a great buy.  If you want something high up and giving a great view then the BeSafe may be a better option!  There are loads of seats to choose from, so do your research, ask lots of questions and if you can, get to a store that stocks a few different ones and try them out in your car with your little one!

Thanks for reading!

I would like to extend my thanks to Margaret, Linsey, Michelle, Alison and Tania for their help and feedback with this blog on Group 1, 2 seats.


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