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  • Dr. Liz Homan

Car Seat Safety

So, we just did something that most people think we should have done a long time ago… we just switched Anna’s car seat around so she is forward facing… we will see how it goes and I am sure she will like it, but it will be a big adjustment for her I am sure.

And yes, she did just turn 4 and yes, she was rear facing up until now… she was not uncomfortable in her rear facing car seat as we had a car seat that has a 5-inch extension and gave room for her legs to stretch out more. And it is not that she is small either as she is currently in the 90% for height and 96% for weight…

So why did we wait this long to turn her forward facing… well, because I know the benefits of rear facing car seats and that is what I want to share with you today!

Statistics show that everyday more than 2,600 children are involved in an automotive accident, and yes, this may have gone down this year as we are not in our cars as much, but this is equivalent to one child in an accident every 33 seconds. And sadly, car accidents are the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 3 to 14 and most of these are preventable. By knowing your best options in car seat safety, it can change the outcome of an accident.

Most of us know the general recommendations for car seats:

· Rear facing at least till the age of 2 but encouraged till at least the age of 3.

· In a 5-point harness forward facing car seat till the age of at least 5-7 years old.

· Using a booster seat until the child is between 10-12 years old or until the seat belt

fits them properly.

So, the recommendation say till the child is 3 to be rear facing but after doing some research, we choose to extend that as long as we could. This is because when a child is in a rear facing position, they have optimal protection with their developing spine. In a crash, a rear facing child’s head and neck are pressed back into the seat and remain well protected. It has been shown that the muscles in a one-year-old can stretch 6 inches when put under force. Their vertebrae in the spine can stretch 2 inches as well and maintain their integrity. But the spinal cord can only stretch ¼” before it snaps. So yes, the muscle and bones are there to protect the spinal cord, but when in a forward-facing car seat and fully secured with a 5-point harness, the head can move forward more than we would like and can cause serious injury. And this is why Anna was rear facing until 4 years of age and Jane will be rear facing as long as we can.

There just a few other important things I think parents should know about car seat safety:

· If ever in an accident with car seats in the car (with or without children in them), your

insurance company should replace the car seat at no expense to you.

· Make sure that your car seats are properly installed! If you use the LATCH system,

check with your vehicle manufacturer and the car seat to see at what weight you need

to switch it to use the seat belt for installation! For us, it is 40lbs so that was just

switched around too for Anna!

o There are car seat inspection facilities, and you can find one near you by

If you have any questions about this or need any advice, I would love to chat with you more on how we were successful in keeping Anna rear-facing until she was 4 years old!

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