As a parent, your number one concern in life is the safety of your child. From the minute he or she begins to crawl, you work to limit the possibility of injury as much as you can.
While safety in our homes consumes much of your time, one area may require even more attention: the backseat of your car. Parents buy car seats and often have a tough time choosing which one is best for their children. Nearly all labels boast safety ratings and awards, fancy handles and straps, etc. But one question many parents have when selecting a car seat for their child goes unanswered: Are rear-facing or forward-facing car seats better?
Typically, toddlers are switched from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats after their first birthday. A recent New York Times article, however, reports that leading U.S. pediatricians say a year is too soon.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the recommendation based on a study showing that children under two are 75 percent less likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries in a crash if they are facing the rear of the vehicle.
As many parents are aware, a baby’s head is relatively large in proportion to the rest of his or her body, especially when very young. What may not be as well known by parents is that the bones in the neck are very structurally immature. If a baby is facing the rear of the car during a crash, the entire shell of the car seat is supporting the body. In a front-facing seat, however, the torso and shoulders may be restrained while the head and neck are allowed to fly forward violently, causing severe injury, paralysis, or even death. Just watch the video above!
Many doctors are now recommending keeping your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. As your child progresses up the “chain” of car seats (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat), the safety level declines.
In Sweden, children sit in rear-facing seats until the age of four; the country also has the world’s lowest highway fatality rate for children under 6.
If you have questions about the safety of your child in a car accident or have a child that was injured in an auto accident while sitting in a car seat, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for the help and guidance you need.