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Rear Facing Car Seats

Is Rear Facing The Best Way Forward?

You can buy Rear Facing Car Seats onlin or from the pushchairs and car seats store where a free fitting service is also available.

In this article we cover information on choosing, buying and installing your rear facing car seat and help you understand the pros and cons of rear or forward facing car seats. At pushchairsandcarseats.com we have highly trained and experienced Car Seat fitters and the most important thing for us has always been not just selling you any old car seat but ensuring that the seat fits properly in your car and that parents are actually comfortable fitting the seats themsleves.

There has been a lot of information and even hype put about by the media recently. In this article we hope to give you clear unbiased presentation of the facts as we see it and give you some clear and comprehensive guidelines.

This is all scary stuff and we all hope that these things will never happen and to most of us it won't. A proper child restraint system (car seat) is a legal requirement and they really do save lives.

We may have tooled around without car seats and even without seat belts in years gone by but things have changed over the years. Cars are faster and there's a lot more of them around and we've learnt a great deal about how to protect ourselves should the worst happen.

Things you should know

  1. rear facing car seats are available in this country - we have them at our showroom (Oxfordshire). Search on google to find somewhere near you if you want to try some out. Manufacturers are (painfully) slowly introducing rear facing car seats to the UK market. At pushchairs and car seats we have rear facing car seats from Recaro, Britax and BeSafe.
  2. The Safest car seat is the one which fits into your car the best. You, the owner of the seat must be comfortable fitting this seat into your car as it is your responsibility not the retailers. The retailer should certainly be able to show you how to fit each seat that they sell.
  3. Excluding other factors rear facing car seats are safer than foward facing car seats.

However an incorrectly fitted rear facing car seat is never safe.
" The evidence shows that it is safer for children to travel rearward facing for as long as possible, although that does not mean forward facing seats are dangerous." Duncan Vernon, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Crash Forces

Currently around 75% of all crashes involve some sort of frontal element. e.g. you will hit something or something will hit you on the front bumper.

Dr Watson writing in the British Medical Journal made the following points. "Rear facing seats cradle a child in an impact with any frontal component, align the head, neck and spine, spreading the crash forces over all these body areas. In a forward facing car seat a child's body is held back by the straps while the head keeps moving forwards, and the relatively large head mass and differences in the cervical spine in young children can lead to excessive stretching of the spinal cord"

It is fair to say in most accidents your child will be safer in a rear facing car seat. In fact the same goes for you and I as adults when travelling too. Ever wondered why the cabin crew on most major airlines sit with their back to the pilot on take-off and landing?.

However this advice must be tempered with the view that your car seat must fit correctly and safely in your car. You also need to make sure that you have not cramped either the driver or the front passenger. If you have had to slide the front seats all the way forward in order to accommodate a rear facing car seat in the back then you may have compromised the safety of the occupants in the front.

Our top tips

  1. A car seat that can be fitted perfectly safely in one car may not fit safely in another car. Ensure that you buy a seat that will fit in all the cars you use. Most manufacturers provide a car seat fitting guide on their websites which may help you establish that the seat is compatible with your car.
  2. Use whichever car seat you have for as longs as possible. Do not move your child to a group 1 car seat until they have reached the upper weight / height limits for the group 0+ seat. Most group 1 seats are suitable from 9kg to 18kg. However Group 0+ seats are suitable up to 13kg so you should use it until your baby is 13kg. Get your money's worth from your Group 0+ seat.
  3. Car seats are tested for weight and height not age. All babies are different and crash test dummies do not have ages. The age ranges associated with Car seat groups are only a guide.
  4. Height as also very important if your baby's head stick's out of the top of a Group 0+ seat then the seat will not give proper head protection in the event of an accident. It doesn't really matter if your babys feet touch the back of your car seat as they will be fine in an accident. It is your baby's head, neck and spine that we must protect at all costs. Think of your new born car seat like it's a crash helmet.
  5. Fit your child firmly into the seat. There is no point in attaching the seat firmly into the car if the child is not also firmly fitted to the seat.
  6. Conclusions - The Pros and Cons of rear facing car seats

    1. Pros - A correctly fitted rear facing car offers more protection for your child in a frontal impact than a forward facing car seat.
    2. We are not here to scare anyone - correctly fitted forward facing car seats are still very safe and some like the Kiddy Energy Pro perform almost as well as rear facing seats in crash testing.
    3. Cons - Rear facing seats tend to be bulkier, more difficult to install correctly and more expensive. For an increasing number of people this is a price worth paying. These car seats are also more difficult to obtain and were only introduced into the UK market around 3 years ago. (although they have been availble in Scandinavia for far longer) Search online for rear facing car seats and you should be able to find someone locally who can advise you.

    Where to next

    Back to car seats: the definitive guide homepage


    Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Isofix Car Seat Group 0+ Besafe Izi Combi X£ isofix Car Seat Group 1Britax Multitech rear facing Car Seat