Friday, March 25, 2011

Rear-Facing *Update*

Four days ago, I switched D's car-seat back to be rear-facing in my van as a bit of an "experiment" to see how an older toddler fits rear-facing as the AAP now recommends. I know many of you probably thought this was a weird thing to do since he is almost 2 1/2 and is developing into quite a big boy these days.

But to me, my child's safety will always come first.

So, I am not concerned with how strange you may think it is or how weird you think it looks :-)

These past few days with D being rear-facing have actually gone very well - considerably better than I expected.

In fact, I have decided to extend my "experiment" and keep him rear-facing until he becomes incredibly unhappy with it or until he no longer fits - again, he is 6 months OLDER than the new AAP rear-facing guidelines apply to. I have actually considered getting him a different car-seat so he can be even more comfortable than he currently is (this is just in consideration mode at the moment though, haha). However, in case you were wondering what some of the seats are that people use to keep these bigger kids rear-facing though, here is one. And here is another one.

What I have discovered:
I have figured out that D fits better in his "new seat" if I remove his shoes when I strap him in. His sneakers don't really pose a problem, but his rain boots added quite a bit of bulk. He just looked more comfy sitting cross-legged with his little sock feet.

I have also figured out that he is extremely happy rear-facing when his sister is in the car. This is likely because they can see each other very well. They chat, play, and pass toys back and forth. I couldn't be happier about this.

I learned that it is still possible for him to have a bit of a snack while rear-facing even though I can't actually see his face. We stopped at McDonalds once and I was still able to pass 2-3 fries back to him at a time (as I normally would forward facing). We just passed the fries over our heads. Its worked just fine.

He and I also figured out together the best way for me to lift him (even at 35 weeks pregnant) so he doesn't hit his head on the side of the van when getting in or out of his seat.

Hmmm, what else...

I noticed that he doesn't drop his toys as often thus keeping him MORE entertained when riding in the car. This is obviously because his toys/books are more or less boxed in by his torso and the back of the captain's chair in the van.

Oh, and both my kids can still climb in the van on the side where his seat is. They are both small enough to just duck and walk in under his rear-facing convertible car-seat. This was a concern of mine, so I am glad to learn that this isn't actually a problem as I figured it may be.

Overall, he has stayed very happy, I have asked him several times if he is comfortable. He has told me "yes." I have asked him if he likes his legs flopped out over the edges of his seat. He has told me "yes." And I can't help but to notice how excited he is when he climbs into his seat. He eagerly jumps in. He has even learned to say a new phrase this week - "back-wards," haha!

I have not installed the new baby's infant seat in the van yet, but I have reconfigured in my head where all three of my car-seats will go. D is going to stay where he is behind me - rear-facing. The new baby will go in the infant seat behind the passenger seat. C will go to the third row and be forward-facing directly behind the baby. From this spot, she can see both her brothers' faces and help me keep them occupied and tell me what they are up to :-) She is excited about her new placement and job. Oh, and for now, she will stay in her car-seat with the harness. This is simply because she can buckle and unbuckle herself in it. I know I can't say that about an adult lap belt over a booster seat.

So, in conclusion, my experiment was a huge success. If my 2 1/2 year-old, 37" tall boy can ride comfortably and safely rear facing in his convertible car-seat, then so can most of your toddlers as well.

I am sure most of you think your kids would hate it. You probably think that they would not be comfortable all "squished" up. But, you see, what I have learned is that kids are not little adults. They are children. Their bodies are different. For the same reason they don't wake up with a stiff neck after falling asleep in the car with their head flopped over onto their chests, they are not uncomfortable sitting with their legs crossed or flopped over the sides of their seat. They also think its "cool" to ride backwards. Remember when you were little and there was a seat turned around backwards on a bus or a train? Did you run for that seat first because it was cool and different? I know I did. I think that is why even my big girl asked me if I could flip her around "backwards" 45lbs, she's too big for this of course. Haha!

So, if you have a 13 month-old, or an 18 month-old, or even a 23 month-old or older, please consider putting them back in a rear-facing convertible car seat. The AAP didn't change their guidelines to age 2 as the minimum for no reason. The recommendation wasn't changed from 12 months/20lbs to be a pain for moms and dads. It wasn't made to sell more car seats. It was made because toddlers died and suffered severe head, neck, and spinal injuries in car accidents where they would have been far less injured had they been rear-facing.

Here is a very short video I found that shows exactly how a toddler's body will react and take on an impact in a collision while facing both forward and then facing the rear of the vehicle.

Out of curiosity - and because I love to know that I have like-minded mama friends out there - please leave a comment if you have your toddler rear-facing, or if you plan to flip them back around as I did. Remember the AAP is now recommending that toddlers rear-face until they are at least two years old.

Thats not a number I came up with.

This is the same AAP that we trust with our immunization schedule.

The same AAP that tells us putting babies "back to sleep" is best.

If you trust their wisdom for that...won't you trust it for this?


  1. Bella is still rear-facing. We were planning on switching her over after one because she is already WELL over the old AAP guidelines (She hit the weight at like 6-7months!) But now we are keeping her rear-facing until at least two! Thanks for the information!

  2. I'm lucky. Since the guidelines were changed before my baby is born, I will keep her rear-facing per the new guidelines. I'm not worried about it. She won't know any differently!

  3. Keep up the good work Randi! I know that you are helping your friends and followers with valuable information. Your children are blessed to have you for a mom who cares so much about their safety...but that's just the way you have always been - Safety First! If we could only keep them rear facing and not driving at age 16! haha