Skye is 30 months old and still rear facing. Yes,she is tiny and still fits in her Bebe Confort infant seat,but since she was 18 months old,she’s been using a Britax Multi-Tech seat (sold through Volvo in South Africa) in order to keep her rear facing for longer.
The main reason we’re keeping her rear facing is because she is so small and I don’t think her body would cope under the extreme forces at play if we had to come to a sudden stop and she was forward facing.
Many EU countries and now even some states in the USA require or recommend rear-facing until a minimum of 2 years old, several EU countries have even extended this to 3 or 4 years. In most car accidents your body is thrown forward at a great speed and force. Your seatbelt reacts as it should and forces you back into the seat. This puts a great deal of stress on the body,particularly the neck. In a rear-facing seat, all this force is spread through the body as your child is actually pushed deeper into the seat.
This is also why any child in my care is expected to use an age, weight and size appropriate car seat. If they no longer fit into a harnessed seat,then a booster seat is required to enable the car seatbelts to fit them properly. An improperly secured car seat or a child wearing a seatbelt or car seat straps incorrectly or too loosely might as well not be restrained at all for all the good they will do.
So,Skye is still rear facing and will continue to do so for many years. Her seat will last her from 9 kg (she’s 10kg now) until around 25kg. It can change from a rf seat to a ff harnessed seat and then to a booster seat using the cars seatbelt.
On the plus side, several additional benefits for extended rear facing are:
*better view out of the windows
*excellent vocabulary development (because they HAVE to talk and explain since you can’t see them perfectly enough to understand the ‘this’ and ‘that way’ etc)
*amazing use of the feet to manipulate and pick up objects that roll away from them (which if forward facing would just end up on the floor)
*it’s easier for them to climb in and out themselves
If you’re interested in rear facing car seats, have a look at the following:
http://www.carseat.se – this is a Sweden based company who do ship to SA. Costs work out to aproximately the price of a top range forward facing seat locally available including customs and import duties. The owner is also very helpful for answering questions.
Maxi-Cosi make a rf only seat which can be imported specifically for you.
Volvo South Africa sells the Britax Multi-Tech as well as a Britax infant seat and a Britax booster seat.
Even if you cannot afford a specific extended rear facing seat, keep your child rear facing for as long as possible, to the maximum that their seat allows. ALL infant seats are designed to install rear-facing. They can NOT go in forward facing. Most infant seats fit babies till 13kg,although some local made ones only go to 9kg. You then get combination seats which can rf or ff. These are usually only rf till 13kg,but are a good option if you have a tall child who has outgrown his infant seat but is still under a year old and 13kg. Then you get ff only seats using a 5-pt harness and lastly the boosters which use just the car seatbelt,some with a back to provide extra protection and some without.
In SA,it is recommended that your child remain rf till a minimum of 9kg AND 1yr. This means that if your 6 month old is 9kg,they still need to be rf and you will need to buy a new seat. And if your 1yr old is only 7kg he still needs to be rf. Only once BOTH requirements have been met should you even consider turing your child. If your child is still within the rf limits of the car seat, keep them rf. It’s safer. Simple.