The pros and cons of choosing a rear-facing car seat
There has been an increasing awareness of the case for using rear-facing car seats beyond the first year, to age four or more. Research and testing has shown that it's five times safer for children to travel this way, but there are very few seats to choose from. The exception is the newborn (Group 0+) category which are already predominantly rear-facing and fit babies from birth to 13kg (roughly 12-15 months). After this, parents move their child to the next stage seat - Group 1, which fits up to age four - and the overwhelming majority of these models face forward.
New legislation came into force last summer and one of the key features was that children should remain rearward facing until at least 15 months old, which is three to six months more than the UK average, but still not as long as other European countries. In Scandinavia for example, children travel rear-facing until age five and have very low fatality figures as a result. So what should you do?
PLEASE NOTE: The evidence shows that it is safer for children to travel rearward for as long as possible, but that does not mean forward-facing seats are ‘dangerous’.
Children involved in car accidents in a rear-facing seat absorb less force on impact – 50kg rather than 300kg – meaning there is less chance of neck, spine and internal injuries.
The impact is spread across the plastic shell of the car seat, rather than concentrating it in the areas restrained by a harness or adult seat belt, which is what happens in a forward facing seat.
There are less rearward choices in the Group 1 stage and the options are on the expensive side. They also can be more difficult to install. *
Rearward seats tend to be bulkier and comfort can be an issue as older children have less legroom.
*The most important aspect about buying a carseat is making sure it’s properly fitted and that it’s compatible with your model of car.
Do you think we should have more new legislation raising the age that children must travel rear-facing? Join the debate by sharing your thoughts below.