Posted by: Lisa | November 25, 2010

Car Seat Safety

I’m going to get on my soap box again.  This time it’s about car seats.  Here are a few facts/tidbits that not all parents know:

1. Those mirrors & window shades that hook to a headrest or window ca become projectiles in a crash & literally decapitate a child.  The police officer who inspected our car seat said he’s seen crashes where the mirror injures a baby.  I personally decided I’d rather not be able to see Jacob’s face because of a lack of a mirror than because of a lack of a head.  Maybe that’s just me, though.  So I just listen for him squirming around to determine if he’s awake (and yes, he’s still rear-facing at 18 months – more on that later!).

2. The chest clip should be at armpit level.  Every time.  Often when you tighten the straps the clip moves downward across the child’s belly.  This is dangerous.  The purpose of the clip is to keep the straps in the correct position so that in a crash the force is spread across the strongest part of the child’s body (and a tiny baby could even fly out through the straps at the top!).

1. REAR FACING IS MUCH SAFER THAN FORWARD FACING!!  I am a huge advocate for extended rear facing.  That whole 1-year or 20 lbs rule that parents get so excited about?  That’s the minimum – nobody’s gonna arrest you if you keep your kid staring out the back window past his 1st birthday…and it might save his life.  (I think Jacob actually enjoys watching the cars behind us!).  The police officer who inspected my car seat told me that parents get so excited for their children to hit new car seat milestones, like getting a convertible or booster seat, turning the seat around, etc., but each step up in car seat milestones is a step down in safety.  Yikes.

If your car is rear-ended, both cars move forward together..  If you are in a head-on collision, your cars are generally traveling in opposite directions, causing a very sudden impact and a force that snaps your head forward.  (Think crash test dummies).  In a rear-facing seat, the child’s head, neck, and back are flat against the back of the seat, so they can’t snap forward.  Rear facing seats are 5 times safer than forward facing ones in a collision.  In Sweden kids stay backward until they’re 3-4 years old.

Some people make comments that as children get bigger they are uncomfortable or that their legs could break in a crash.  First of all, have you ever seen the way kids sit on the floor?  They like to be scrunched up!  Besides, having my legs folded up seems more comfortable than a broken neck.  Secondly, if a crash is bad enough to break a child’s legs in rear-facing, it would break his neck forward-facing.  Broken legs are easier to mend than broken necks.  Broken legs don’t usually cause paralysis.  And there have been no documented cases of broken legs in a rear-facing child anyway.

You will need to turn your child around when he outgrows the weight or height limit for rear facing.  Our seat can be rear facing until 35 pounds & forward until 50 pounds & I will not be turning Jacob around until he is every ounce of that upper weight limit.

Please take a few minutes to watch these videos.  Your kid’s safety is surely worth a few minutes of your time.




  1. You and I have talked about this before, and you have definitely educated me on the possible effects of rear-facing vs forward-facing. Thanks for spreading the word!

    • I hope none of my friends’ babies are ever in a position where their car seat direction matters, but if ONE baby is saved because I posted this blog entry it will sooooo be worth it!!

  2. Love it Lisa! I am a supporter of this as well. We kept Madeline backward facing well after her first birthday for the exact same reason. She finally outgrew her carseat and I still feel unsafe sometimes with her facing forward. I wish there was more information out there for parents, letting them know that minimum age and weight means just that. I did a ton a research when we first started looking at forward facing carseats and had to look even deeper to find all this. Thanks for posting :o)

    • We’d all be safer if we could ride backwards in car seats, ha ha! I’m glad you’re a proponent of this, too! I hate that Jacob’s going to exceed the weight limit on his seat (for rear-facing) pretty soon. I would keep him backward until he’s 3 or 4 if I could, but hopefully we can at least make it through his 2nd birthday.

  3. The Swedish have the best car seat laws ! I wish America would catch up !!

  4. I totally agree! Our new seat is rearfacing through 40 pounds. I’d much rather play it safe and keep Tommy turned around as long as we can! Our ped is big on this issue too, so we were lucky to get a lot of information from him. Thanks for spreading the word.

    • I hate that our seat is only rear-facing to 35 pounds. I would keep Jacob backward til he’s 3 or 4 years old if I could, but I know he’s going to exceed that weight limit soon. 😦

  5. When you mentioned the placement of the chest clip… i think i probably nodded my head, smiled, and said AMEN… That is the whole reason why it is called a chest clip and not a belly clip!!! Everytime i come in contact with a baby in an infant carrier i find myself sliding that clip up across their chest every single time… i know parents think i’m crazy but i can not help myself!!! and OMG when it comes to the installation of a car seat even with LATCH, i find myself crawling all up in it an pushing against the roof of the car to make sure i’ve got a seat in the absolute tightest spot ever!! Makenzi stayed rear-facing beyond a year because i always heard one year AND 22lbs so i didn’t dare let her turn around until well beyond that because she was so tiny… She’s eight now and STILL in a booster seat and still in the back seat and every single day i listen to her beg whine and complain about how ALL the other kids in 3rd grade are in the front seat or don’t have booster seats. As mean as it comes across i say “their mommies must not love and cherish them like i do you because your safety and life mean way more than convenience” She gladly smiles and bee bops on into school happy with that answer.
    I don’t understand how parents can be sooooooo lazy as to not take extra steps to help their children who are helpless and can’t do for themselves or decide for themselves on such issues.
    Car seats are sooooooo my soapbox too!!!
    In SC the child safety seat fine is only like 25$ and NO points!!!! That doesn’t teach a parent any lesson at all if stopped. It should be something like $250 and 6 points for child endangerment if you ask me!! Everytime someone improperly buckles their child that is exactly what they are doing- they are endangering their child- it is simply passive child abuse!!!!!
    ok… done with my soap box now LOL!!

    • I love your comments!! Amen, sister! 😉 I totally agree that child safety seat laws should be much tougher. I don’t really agree with adult seat belt laws – I mean, I ALWAYS wear my seat belt, but adults should be able to make their own decisions. When it comes to kids, however, I am all for the government stepping in & forcing parents to keep their little ones safe.

      I am also definitely patting your back regarding Makenzi & her booster seat, despite what others might be doing. It’s that old cliche, “she’ll thank you someday.” I hope we’re never in a situation where Jacob’s car seat position even matters…but all it takes is one teeny tiny instant & that seat could save his life. I don’t think I’ll ever regret keeping him backwards, but I might regret if I turn him & something happens.

      Thanks for sharing!

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