To be honest, before I had kids I had zero idea what 'rear facing' was. It was only after I had our first daughter, and was utterly concerned with doing everything in my power to keep her safe, that I stumbled across some information on rear facing car seats.
Most people are lucky enough to never be in a crash. But what happens if you are? Car seats are for the moments you never think will never happen to you. It is to ensure that if the very worst is to happen, that your most precious cargo will be as safe as possible.
I’d never been in a crash before and it’s true what they say… The majority of crashes happen close to home. That’s why I will never ever let the kids in a car without a suitable car seat, even if it’s only ‘just up the road’. One lady I know of, had a life changing crash, literally seconds from her front door, and if it weren’t for her rear facing car seat, her youngest child probably would not have survived (according to the professionals on the scene.)
My first car crash happened only minutes from home, on a road I travel almost every day. A guy who wasn't paying attention, ran through a red light and into the front side of my car. Both of the kids were with me and we were all jolted forward by the impact. But because they were both rear facing, the two girls didn’t even know anything had happened, aside from the noise. They were completely cushioned- I was thrown forward- but the impact for them was totally absorbed into the seats. *I’ll pop a diagram here to show you what I mean.* If Ava had been turned the other way, her little neck would have had no support and her head would have been thrown forward.
After we had the crash, we needed to replace the car seats. That's another thing I didn’t know before having kids. If you are in any sort of collision (even a bump against a wall), all car seat manufacturers, and the Road Safety Authority, recommend replacing the car seat. I even called the RSA up to confirm this. The reason for this, is that car seats are designed to only ever be in one crash- after that, there may be internal damage even if it looks perfect on the outside. Better safe than sorry. It does feel like an awful waste, but one way to stop the seats going to landfill is to contact your local fire station. They will usually take it off your hands to use in paramedic training. Another good thing to note is that Maxi Cosi have an incredible service where they will swap out your car seat for a brand new one if you have been in an incident. We were able to replace Arya's infant seat within days.
After the crash, Axkid very kindly sent us a new Axkid Minikid for Ava to replace her old RF seat. I was over the moon, as I’d had my eye on this particular seat as the one she would go into next. It’s the highest end rear facing seat on the market, with an upper weight limit of 25kg. Many of the RF seats on the Irish market only go up to 18kg and then you have to turn them forward. It was incredibly easy to instal. I just watched the youtube tutorial on installation twice and then I was good to go. It’s also quick and easy to transfer to another car once you know the steps of how to install.
If in doubt, please stop by Tony Kealys (they are my go to when it comes to car seat installation) and they will be very happy to check that you have installed it correctly. If you don’t have a store close by, the RSA also run car seat safety checks throughout the country. Check out www.rsa.ie to see where their next event is. Tony Kealys also regularly have special offers on the Minikid, so be sure to keep an eye out if you are in the market for one.
I never talk about rear facing in order to make anyone else feel bad or like I am a superior parent because we keep our children rear facing. I'm definitely not better than anyone else. But this is the choice we've made and what we feel is the safest option for our children. I would never tell anyone what to do, but if you want to know why we do what we do- this is why.
Here are the facts:
- It is more than 500% safer for children under the age of 4 to travel rear facing.
- In a serious crash there is a 40% chance of severe injury in a FF seat vs an 8% chance of serious injury in a RF seat.
- A rear facing car seat supports the head, neck and spine of a child in a crash.
- In many Scandinavian countries, most children are kept RF til at least 4 and the number of children who die in car crashes is nearly zero.
Anyway, that’s why we choose to keep them rear facing for as long as possible. It comes down to this: for children under 4, it is 5 times safer to travel rear facing.
*The Axkid Minikid is designed from birth to 25kg, but any car seat expert will tell you to keep your baby in an infant seat as long as possible. Once they outgrow the infant seat, putting them into a good quality rear facing seat is the safest option. We kindly received one Axkid Minikid for free and all opinions are honest and all my own.*