Car Seats: Rear or Forward Facing?

Original Post: Safety experts are mindful that it is the particularly difficult developmental phase of the children affected: squirmy toddlers who will resist being confined in safety seats facing any direction. I saw many instances of this while I was there.

“Once parents understand why it’s safer,” said Patty Difilippo, a nurse at Mountainside Hospital and a senior Car Seat Technician and instructor at the station, “most will gladly wait to turn the car seat around.”

Why is riding rear facing longer important, medical experts say, because infant’s heads are relatively heavy and their necks and spines are less developed. In a crash, the child’s heavy head can snap forward with a force that can break their necks, injure their spinal cords and cause severe brain injuries.

When rear-facing, the safety seat cradles the head and neck, keeping them properly aligned and spreads the crash forces across the entire body. As for the limited leg room, pediatricians say children are far more flexible than adults, which allows them to sit comfortably with their legs folded for long periods. Moreover, studies show that leg injuries are relatively rare in rear-facing children and are more common in forward-facing children. Most important, doctors say, leg injuries are far less serious than head, neck and spine injuries that they see in forward-facing children.

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