Is a rear facing car seat so bad?

This week is road safety week and we thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss the importance of general child in-car safety as Booster Seats are not the only car seat group that have been the subject of misconception and confusion. Many parents in the UK follow the Law regarding car seats but are unaware of the best practice in  keeping a child safe while travelling.

In parts of Europe it is common practice to keep your child in a rear facing seat until they are around 4 years old. In the UK this practice is unusual although it is the best option for keeping your child safe in a crash. Many people associate transitioning to the next Group of child’s car seats with achieving a milestone like crawling to walking, where in actual fact the progression in car seat groups from 0 to 3 is a reduction in the level of safety you are providing. Often parents turn their child around to forward face when they outgrow their infant seat fearing that their child’s legs look cramped. It is in the child’s best interest to remain rear facing for as long as possible at least until the age of 2 years old and it is considered best practise to remain rear facing until the age of 4 years old.

Sarah a Midwife from Scotland said:

“I have two daughters a 2-year-old and an 11-month-old baby. My 2-year-old is in a forward-facing seat and my baby is in a rear facing seat. However, I’ll be moving my baby into a forward-facing seat shortly! I know that in Europe all the kids are in a rear facing seats until they are 4 however we are slow on the uptake! I haven’t a clue about best practices as this is a new requirement! I just wonder does being in a rear facing car seat until they are 4 have any effect on their hip development? Being squashed up against a car seat is not our normal posture and could not be comfortable for the child.”

There is no evidence to suggest rear facing cars seats cause problems for the child’s skeletal development. Many children cross their legs while at school and at various times during the day, therefore doing so in a car seat is more bothersome for the parent than the child. Many parents are afraid that the rear facing child will break a leg in the event of a crash, but the outcome of forward facing is more likely to be life threatening. A broken neck or spine is much more difficult to fix than a broken leg.

Emma a Nurse from Northern Ireland said: “My kids are 11 years old, 3 years old and 15 months old, they are all in forward facing car seats. My youngest child only turned around to forward facing last month at 14 months old, I felt her legs were too squashed up when rear facing, she was also trying to climb around to see everyone and did not like facing the back when her siblings are facing the front.”

Many parents follow the legal requirements but to truly ensure your child’s safety when travelling we must adopt ‘best practices’ and limit the damage a crash can cause in every instance. Putting your child in the correct car seat for their age and height significantly minimises the injuries caused by a crash.

To further complicate things for parents, many believe that the Law relating to the use of booster seats has changed. There has not actually been a change in Law for the use of car booster seats in the UK and this has led to mass confusion surrounding the subject.

The EU regulation relating to the manufacture of booster seats was amended in February 2017. Since then there have been many misconceptions circulating surrounding the Law which in turn is misleading parents into believing that backless boosters are not legal. The amendment to the regulation that was put in place in February 2017, does not apply to existing booster seats, only seats that are newly invented after this date.

Get the information from the horse’s mouth on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-child-car-seat-rules-no-change-for-existing-booster-seats.

The amendment to the regulation means that manufacturers are not allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children smaller than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg. Models designed prior to this amendment can continue to be produced and sold.

If you already have a backless booster seat at home or in your vehicle which has the R44.04 label printed on it, it continues to be safe and legal to use as the amendment does not apply to existing products.