Is it safe to put my baby in a forward facing carseat?

Emily - posted on 05/23/2013 ( 25 moms have responded )

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My baby is 5 months old and weighs 19lbs, me and my partner are debating to put him in a forward facing carseat but would like some advice on it please :)

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Merry - posted on 05/23/2013

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Hi Emily! Where do you live? In some countries it's not uncommon to forward face a baby yours age, but the statistics are all saying the same thing, that death is much more likely if a baby or toddler is front facing before 2-4years of age. Where I live in America the law says its illegal to front face a baby who isn't both one year and twenty pounds, but our aap says that two years and 35lbs is the minimum they recommend to face front. Although, the car seat crash test and safety resources all say that the best case scenario is for all kids 4 and under to rear face. In Sweden they have the lowest child deaths in cars, and they rearface thir kids til 4-5years. So now other countries are wishi up and helping moms learn to do the same.
Picture whiplash, now picture a big bobbly baby head on a tiny weak neck. Their bones in their spine are still soft and they can bend so far the spinal cord can snap. This is called internal decapitation and kills many front facing littles.
Their heads grow more proportionally as they age, and by around age 4 their bones are harder and can support their spinal cord better in a crash.
Go to YouTube and search the video called 'the importance of rear-facing' it shows dummies in crashes both front and rearfacing. It's very helpful to picture what would happen to your baby should you crash.
Even in rear end collisions babies are safer rearfacing. Also safer in side impact crashes.
Their legs can touch, and push in the back of the seat safely, in a crash their knees bend and come up to their chest, so they couldn't hurt their legs just by being on the seat.
If baby has outgrown their baby seat, tis time for one called a convertible seat which can rearface them til around 36-44in, and 35-45lbs depending on how much money you spend. At very minimum your child must be rearfacing til he or she outgrows a convertible seat, which will be at minimum 36in and 35lbs if I remember the stats correctly for the cheapest seat :)
Look up your country or state laws, then check out the YouTube video, and then google 'rear facing car seat safety' and click on a few links. You'll learn a lot and your baby will be safer for it.
Feel free to ask me any questions! I can find answers for you if you need it!

Sarah - posted on 05/23/2013

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I don't know UK law, but you may want to check if it has to be age AND weight....as that is what US is. There are some babies that meet the weight requirment at 6 months, but legally can't face forward until 12 months.

The big thing about rear facing is that it supports the neck if you were to get into an accident. No matter how strong a child may be the neck of a 5 month old is still not as strong as an adult....thus why the recommendation to keep kids rear facing longer.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/23/2013

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It doesn't matter if his feet are touching the back. Please seriously look at all the information that the ladies are sharing with you. It could save your babies life. 5 months does not give him a strong neck. My daughter is 3 and I was still hesitant to put her forward facing. Why the rush?

April - posted on 05/23/2013

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no it's not safe. my FOUR YEAR OLD i still rear facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends rear facing for MINIMUM of two years. The National Highway Safety Patrol recommends rear facing until 4 years old. There are many car seats that now allow for rear facing to 40 pounds. There are two on the market now that rear face to 45 pounds. The biggest reason you want to rear face to at least 2-3 years old is because the spinal cord does not ossify until after the age of 3. Aside from all of that-- car seats have height and weight minimums. While he is likely able to meet a minimum weight requirement for a convertible, he might not for height! Further, the law in most states is the child needs to be at least 1 year old. But let's face it, do we really want our children to meet the BARE minimum? Why not rear face... EVERYONE is safer rear facing. Even adults.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/23/2013

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I have informed someone to come here and talk with you that is very knowledgeable about rear facing and for how long including weight ranges.

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25 Comments

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Samantha - posted on 05/23/2013

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Doesnt matter whos right or wrong. A childs life is involved. May i suggest following the law.

Merry - posted on 05/23/2013

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Emily, you asked if it was safe, and the answer is no.
He is heavy enough legally, but legality doesn't mean safe.
Our laws say 1yr and 20lbs but it's proven that even that long is not safe.
Safe is 3-4-5years old and 35-45lbs.
My son reached 20lbs at FOUR months old.
Weight means next to nothing when it comes to safety.
It's all about the age of their bones and how hardened they are and the proportion of head to neck.
It is completely unsafe for your baby to front face.
100% unsafe.
Look up the video, look up the websites.
Keep your baby safe.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/23/2013

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Ok, wait a minute, Emily, you really need to be truthful. You are NOT "debating" about whether to do this, because you state in your response to Laura that " His rear facing seat in the car now is forward facing aswell"... Which tells me that you actually want us all to tell you that you're doing superbly, and have made a wonderful decision to let your LO see out the front of the vehicle.

I'm sorry, but you need to follow the laws in the UK. Your son is not physically developed enough for a front facing seat.

Sarah - posted on 05/23/2013

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Thank you for asking this before making a decision. Please take the time to read my response.

You should definitely definitely not turn your child around. There is no safety risk if his legs are bent. Having your child rear-facing is imperative. A young child's neck is only 1/4 inch thick. If you were to be involved in a collision his body would be violently thrown forward. In forward facing, there is nothing holding his head or neck in place and he could potentially suffer serious trauma including life-long disability or even death from internal decapitization. Children's bones do not harden until around 4-5 years of age.

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing up to 2 years of age. A 2 year old is going to be much taller than a 5 month old and they can still ride rear facing comfortably. If he is growing out of his infant bucket seat, invest in a convertible seat that can be installed rear and forward facing.

Many seats will let you have your child rear facing up to 35-45 lbs so you can have your child rear-face up to a minimum of 2 years of age.

There are no documented cases of a child hurting their legs from being in rear facing position and many cases of a child breaking their legs in forward facing. Also, better a broken leg than a broken neck.

If you want more information check out http://www.joelsjourney.org/. This is a true story of a 18 month old who was 35 lbs and forward facing. This child barely survived and now has become severely crippled due to another driver on the road. Even if you drive safely, you can't always prevent someone else from hitting you.

If you google Extended Rear Facing you will see loads of 2-4 year olds sitting comfortably in their seats facing backwards. They will have their legs bent, hanging over the sides of the seats, or even crossed. These are all completely safe.

In rear facing the impact of the accident is distributed against the entire car seat. The entire body rides out the energy of the collision and there is little stress put onto the most delicate parts of a small child (their heads and necks). It is also important to remember that a baby and a young child's head to body ratio is WAY higher than an adult. So when we ride forward facing it is a small portion of our body to move. On an infant, their head is so heavy and big and their neck is so small and weak, it can easily snap.

I have 3 children and I didnt know all of this with my first. I turned him around at 1 yr of age thinking this is what I was supposed to do. In the past few years I have learned so much about car seat safety and the consequences of not rear facing. I am now a certified car seat technician and a mother of 3. I have both my 14 month old and my 3.5 yr old rear facing and then my 5.5 yr old in a 5 point harness in between them. Never rush to the next step with car seats. Keep them in the most protected stage as possible for as long as possible.

I hope this was helpful to you.

Tanya - posted on 05/23/2013

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answer is NO, advice is NO WAY

Can you picture your son in a forward facing seat when you get rear ended? You can drive as safe and slow as you want but that will not stop others from driving poorly. That sudden jolt will send his head flying forward.

Michelle - posted on 05/23/2013

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And to add to my last post, the legs are something to consider. If the legs are too long for rear facing to where the knees are in his face, in the case of an accident, he could hurt his legs and face. When he's in the seat, if it looks like his legs are going to fly forward and smash his face in the case of an accident, and that's mainly a front crash like if you drive into a tree, then maybe it's safest to go forward facing in your case. I would say read everything you can, and make an informative intuitive decision. As mom, you know your situation better than anyone, and it's possible your intuition is telling you what to do for a reason.

To help your argument, as a means to reduce my bias in this conversation, I read a study that compared older people like seniors and grandmas to younger people like moms when it came to car seat safety. Most of the older population ignored the car seat rules, but there were less deaths with the children involved in those accidents as the children in the group of younger people who were more apt to abide by the regulations. I think the reason is because older people are more experienced drivers and tend to drive slower. So in the end, the safest thing you can do for your child, drive safely.

Michelle - posted on 05/23/2013

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My kids are big kids so I had to break some rules, but generally they say at least until 1 year old to go forward facing, and even better if you can drag that out as far as you can. The safety issue is the neck. A baby's neck isn't that strong. A child's neck isn't that strong. Forward facing increases the chance of whiplash, and on a baby, that can be deadly. The rear facing provides a lot of support for that neck in the case of an accident. When we wreck, thanks to inertia, the car stops, but we keep going forward. The seatbelts keep our bodies in place, but our heads still go forward and then back really hard core. Now if we were facing backwards, the back end of the chair would stop our heads from going toward the front of the car thereby providing a nicer support system to our necks and spine. This is why it's safer to have babies rear facing as long as you possibly can. If I had things my way, I would design cars where the back seats faced the rear.

A - posted on 05/23/2013

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I think your baby should be in a rear facing seat still- 5 months is wayy too early and it doesn't matter if they weigh enough- just because they weigh enough doesn't mean that they are bodies are ready for that (i.e. bones, spinal cord, neck). I understand your want to have him facing forward but when it comes to your child's safety why rush it?

Kelsey - posted on 05/23/2013

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I live in the U.S. and in my state, child over the age of one can be forward facing legally. I have not changed my son forward facing just because he is safer rear facing. He will be rear facing until he's two. Which are the states 'guild-lines.' I would rather be safer than sorry because I don't want to be the one to put my own child in danger.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/23/2013

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You child needs to be rear facing until he/she fits BOTH age and weight criteria.

We've ALL come upon this question, because we all have kids, and they don't stay baby sized.

The criteria are in place for a reason: TO KEEP YOUR CHILD AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE.

A 5 month old baby does not have the muscular structure development necessary to survive if in an accident in a front facing car seat.

And I don't care how "advanced" in development a child may be, if they do not fit BOTH age & weight criteria, you could be considered at fault, at the very least negligent.

The only time that I've EVER even considered requesting an exemption from our law enforcement was when my son was 7. The booster requirements were in place until the age of 8 years old, and 40 lbs. My son, at the age of 7 was the same size as his 10 year old brother. The fire department did the height & weight test on him, checked the fit of the regular seat belt without the booster, and did write me a permission waiver to allow my 7 year old to sit without a booster. BUT: HE WAS 7 YEARS OLD, NOT FIVE MONTHS.

Now, I also see that you're claiming that your 5 month old weighs "close to" 10kg. That's 22 lbs. The average weight of a 5 month old is (and again, I stress AVERAGE) 15.5 lbs, which works out to 7kg, which is WELL under the guideline weight for front facing.

So, to be completely blunt: You can do whatever the bloody hell you want to with your kid, as long as you don't kill them. BUT IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR YOU TO DO WHAT YOU ARE CONTEMPLATING.

Wait another 4 months and 3-4 kg.

Amy - posted on 05/23/2013

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It's ok if your babies knees are up to their face rear facing its still safer then changing them to forward facing.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/23/2013

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Yes we all have come across the same situation. We all weigh out the good and the bad. Your laws may be different, but the results can be the same everywhere. That is how laws change.

Emily - posted on 05/23/2013

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Im only here for advice, as my baby is the weight to go in a forward seat but isnt the age so i was asking other mums if theyve come across this situation

Emily - posted on 05/23/2013

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Theres no rush, im simply asking advice, and the uk law is different to the usa law

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/23/2013

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Not going to ignore the age and just look at weight. It is your baby. We are all telling you how unsafe it is. Go to the fire department, they are experienced with car seats and the laws....at least in America. Ask them and see what they say. usually they are the first at the scene at an accident....at least here they are. They can tell you about all the dead babies that were forward facing to young.

Emily - posted on 05/23/2013

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Birth to 9-12 months:
Rear-facing baby seat, up to 10- 13kg. Group 0
9 months to 4 years: Forward-facing baby seat: 9-18kg. Group 1
4 years to 6 years:
Booster seat, 15kg up to 36kg. Group 2
6 years to 12 years:
Booster seat or cushion, 22-36kg. Group 3

This is englands law but like i said my babies nearly 10kg and only 5 months so could i put him in it? Ignore the age and go by weight.

Sarah - posted on 05/23/2013

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If you live in the US it is law that they need to be rear facing until 12 months AND 20 pounds. They need to be both 12 months AND 20 pounds. I know it is now recommended that a child stays rear facing until 2 yrs old. Right now though that is just a recommendation and not law.....law is 1 yr and 20 pounds.

If you are getting a new seat there are seats that can face both rear and forward, so you may want to look into getting that type of seat.

Emily - posted on 05/23/2013

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His feet touch the back of the seat when his rear facing, i live just outside of london UK. He holds his own head up and we tried him in his forward facing seat indoors and he fits in it lovely. His rear facing seat in the car now is forward facing aswell and like insaid his feet are touching the back of the seat.

Amy - posted on 05/23/2013

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It's probably not even legal at this point to put them forward. I believe most places it's a year minimum and highly recommended till at least 2 years old. It's best to keep them rear facing as long as possible since that's the safest way to ride for them.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/23/2013

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No. I forget all the stats, but it is now recommended to have them rear facing as long as possible. Like 2 and older. Their little necks are not strong enough that if you have an impact, she could die. Not worth it. My daughter just got switched and she is 3.

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