carseat1This is a picture of the little guy in his rear facing seat in our car in California.  It is suitable from birth, will last him for approximately four years and most importantly, it will allow him to stay rear facing for around two years.

It is virtually impossible to get a car seat like this in the UK, so for our time in England, my super kind husband carted one all the way across the Atlantic, and delivered it to my front door.  The ultimate in service!

I am a little precious about my car seat, I also like to talk about it a lot!  We don’t know enough about this type of car seat in the UK, or the safety benefits of keeping a child rear facing for longer.

Here are some rear facing car seat facts:

  • It is 5 times safer for an infant to be rear facing in a car seat at any age.
  • The BMJ published an article in 2009 stating that rear facing is safer than forward facing for the first 4 years of a childs life.
  • However, in the UK, government guidelines suggest going forward facing as young as 9 months old.
  • Other countries differ dramatically.  The US recommendation is 2 years, based on a study of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash database which examined crashes involving 870 children between 1998 and 2003.  It concluded that rear facing seats were more effective than forward facing seats in protecting children aged 0–23 months for all crash types.
  • Scandinavian countries stay rear facing for 4 years.  In Sweden between July 2006 and November 2007 not one child under the age of six was killed in a car crash.
  • Forward facing in a frontal collision results in the child being thrown forward.  Regardless of whether your child can support their own neck when sitting, it is the spine which takes the force in this type of crash scenario.  An underdeveloped soft rib cage is crushed against the harness restraints, and a soft underdeveloped spine is forced to bend and the neck to snap.
  • Take a look at the illustration below, unlike forward facing seats, rear facing car seats keep the head, neck and spine fully aligned so the crash forces are distributed over all of these body areas.

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But he likes to see me…

Too often I hear parents excited about turning their 9 month old forward so they can see them better or because baby enjoys looking out of the window.  Once you have the facts though, this reasoning seems crazy.

If at all possible try to keep your little one rear facing for as long as possible.   Experiment with  a simple solution that doesn’t put baby at risk.  A MIRROR!!

The little guy and I have a super clear view of each other, and he also has a lovely view out of his side window!

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So why haven’t you seen this type of seat in the UK?

There is one simple reason that it is virtually impossible to find a rear facing car seat, and it’s not a very good reason either.  The top manufacturers market totally different products across the globe, and they don’t make convertible car seats for the UK…the reason…European cars aren’t big enough?  We have a fondness for compact hatch-backs which don’t stand a chance of accommodating one of these rear facing combination style seats.

Having said that, there are a few limited options.  Britax, Concord and Maxi-Cosi offer a single choice here in the UK.  There are a few places that stock one or the other to have a look at, but in general they aren’t that accessible.  Be-Safe and Securatot also offer alternatives…but be prepared because the are BIG!

Where next?

It’s a double edged sword, I don’t want to sound really smug about my special import, but I do want to spread the word, even to just one mum.  Maybe if more people start requesting these seats then the manufacturers will listen and start to respond.

We are in a fairly unique position of being able to import such a seat, thanks to the main man in our life.  But safety shouldn’t discriminate, it should be available to all of those babies out there in cars.

Please share this information if you find it interesting, help get the word out.

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  1. custard25 says:

    Thanks for writing this. I have a gigantic 9 mth old who’s head is over the top of his rear facing car seat and am concerned about the move to forward facing. Wish the rear facing next seat up was more affordable and I could get hold of one. Will investigate.

    • wildandwisdom says:

      Ahh best of luck with your search. If you are in the UK some of the big Mothercare stores carry the Britax first calss so you can get a sense of the size and fit. I agree the price can be prohibitive, the Mothercare seat is £80 which seems good and Britax just over £100. Really hope this helps. Thanks for reading.

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