With Meridian's birthday being just a little over a week away, we are quickly approaching the one year and twenty pound cut off for when to turn her carseat around to forward-facing. We won't though. We didn't with Zoelle either. In fact, Zoelle at almost 3 years old and 30 lbs. is still happily rear-facing. Being one year and 20 lbs. is not an accomplishment, it is just another milestone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you should leave your toddler rear-facing until age two. However, as you will note above, Zoelle is almost three and still rear-facing. We don't extend rear- face only because the American Academy of Pediatrics tells us to. Instead, we do so because children riding rear-facing, are five times safer than those riding forward-facing. 5 times! That is alot! Overall, children under the age of 2 are 75% less likely to die or experience a serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Since motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death in children, it's enough for me to keep my daughters rear-facing until the restrictions on their car seats no longer allow me to.
Rear-facing seats are more likely to support the back, neck, head and pelvis because the force of a crash is distributed evenly over the entire body. Forward-facing children are more likely to be injured because the force of the crash is concentrated on seat belt contact points, and younger children’s heads are disproportionately large for their small, weak necks.
One of the biggest questions I get about extended rear-facing is what about their legs being cramped. For us, our daughters have never complained about cramped legs. In fact, statistically speaking, it is much safer to have broken legs than to have a spine injury, or worse yet a broken neck in an accident.
Around here, it seems that no one extends rear-faces. Most think I am crazy to do so. However, keeping my children the safest they could possibly be may be crazy to others, but is worth it to me. In fact, I am not the only crazy one. Many other countries, including Sweden and Canada are strong proponents to extended rear-facing and I am longing for the day when the United States follows suit to protect children. The best way to start is right in my own home by educating others about the benefits of extended rear-facing.
If you are looking for more information, I highly suggest you to read this post on car-seat.org. A wonderful overview video to watch that explains it better that I can (as a picture, or in this case, a video is worth a thousand words) can be seen here: