Car Seat Safety

Child Passenger Safety Week 2017 – Rear-Facing

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Types of Rear-Facing Seats

Infant seats are rear-facing only seats. They have a handle and frequently are used with a base. Many of them can be also be used without a base, but not all.

Convertible seats are rear-facing and forward facing seats. 3-in-1 and all-in-1 seats go from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster. These seats typically have higher weight and height limits for rear-facing than infant seats. A common rear-facing weight limit for convertible seats is 40lbs but some go up to 50lbs.

Using a Rear-Facing Child Safety Seat

Always follow all manufacturer directions when using your particular child safety seat. When strapping the child in the seat, keep the following in mind:

  • The harness should be coming from at or below the child’s shoulders
  • The child’s head should be at least 1″ below the top of the car seat
  • Straps should be snug. You shouldn’t be able to pinch the webbing
  • Retainer (or chest) clip at armpit level
  • No aftermarket products including strap covers, puffy coats, winter muffs, decorative liners, head and body supports, etc. To help keep an infant’s head upright, rolled receiving blankets may be used on either side of the baby’s head.
  • It is safe for the child’s feet to be touching the vehicle seat back.

When installing the car seat, remember these pointers:

  • The car seat or base should move less than 1″ at the belt path
  • The car seat or base should be appropriately leveled. Seats or bases should have a line, bubble level, arrow – some type of indicator – as a guide for making sure the seat is at the correct angle. The seat may have some way to adjust the recline angle. Pool noodles or tightly rolled towels may be used to help.
  • The car seat may not be allowed to touch the vehicle seat in front of it as per vehicle or car seat manufacturer specifications so be sure to check both manuals.
  • When installing with the LATCH system, be sure that you are within the weight limits allowed. Check the manual. For example, the Britax Boulevard Clicktight rear-facing weight limit is 40lbs but the limit for using LATCH rear-facing for that seat is 35lbs.
  • When installing with a seat belt, make sure that the seat belt is locked at the retractor, at the latchplate, with a locking clip or built-in lock-off on the seat or base.


Who Should be Rear-Facing and Why?

Rear-facing is safer than forward facing for everyone, especially before little bones and spines are fully developed. There has been some question lately as to the accuracy of the 5X safer statement but it is still safer.

Ideally, children should ride rear-facing until they reach the maximum height or weight limit of their convertible seat. Personally, I think it would be quite comfy to be able to ride reclined and take a nap in the car.

If it sounds too complicated, it can be incredibly helpful to meet with a child passenger safety technician. They are trained to teach parents to install and use their seats correctly and keep their littles safe.

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