Rear Facing Carseat Video: MUST WATCH!

A friend posted this video to her facebook feed and it really hit home for me because I only last week had Jeff turn Jasper’s car seat around.  I consider myself fairly educated about safety issues, I mean I knew (mostly from reading it on the messageboards) that the new recommendation was rear facing until two years, but I thought that at almost 19 months we’d actually held out long enough to be “safe”.   Almost all real life moms I know are still turning the car seat around closer to one year than two, so I thought we were actually ahead of the curve.

Tired of Jasper’s constant carseat whining, I was looking forward to a happier travel companion. And sure enough, Jasper really DOES enjoy forward facing more so I was feeling good about our decision until I saw this video and immediately decided to turn him back around.

I think the problem is that I couldn’t conceptualize the difference between rear and forward facing in terms of safety.  I mean I figured that an object could come crashing through the winshield and in that case forward facing is obviously more dangerous,  but I had absolutely NO idea until I saw the crash test baby dummy flailing around like a marionette in this video just HOW much safer rear facing is.

Personally, I think this video (or something like it) should be mandatory viewing for parents before leaving the hospital, or at the very least some sort of talking point at baby’s one year well visit.

So please, watch and share with everyone you know.  And for those of you who’s babes aren’t in a convertible car seat yet, make sure you buy one with the maximum rear facing weight limit and keep your baby rear facing as long as physically possible!

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Lisa says:

The line was the exact problem!!!! Thanks so much for all the info! I will have to install it again and have someone check it out for me. I thought it was crazy it reclined that far when I was installing it.

Ava says:

Lisa, I will confirm what Shane said about the AOE (being married to him and all). We had the police dept install the seat for us in my car. I asked them specifically about the line on the side of the seat and the installer confirmed the lines are wrong.
With that said, we do have a pool noodle under the seat to make it lean back a bit more.

ariana says:

Wow, I really wish I’d done my research better before buying the britax boulevard.. this carseat goes rear facing up to 45lbs!! Sunshine Kids RadianXTSL Convertible Car Seat

Shane says:

@Lisa — i hope this doesn’t turn out to be something I’m very wrong about… The alpha elite install info I think is wrong — the little line on the side of the seat where you need to make it level is CRAZY. If i made it level it took up an extra 3-4 inches of space. I took the seat into BRU and put it on level ground and compared to the Britax seats — measured the angle of the seat back. I matched that same angle w/ the alpha elite when i installed it (and ignored the line on the seat). I then took it to our local police dept and had them check it — and they gave it the okay. I also removed the base which freed up about 1 in of space too.

If I followed their install info, it wouldn’t have fit in my car either!

ariana says:

Lisa, how frustrating! And it can’t go in the middle seat?

Lisa says:

I drive a Nissan Pathfinder. I installed the seat rear-facing last week and put it behind the passenger seat. The seat had to be pulled all the way forward and the carseat still barely fit which leaves no room at all for a passenger. It’s also the Alpha Omega Elite carseat which I love just frustrated it won’t fit!

ariana says:

@Lisa, I don’t know about the feet being vertical, but scrunched up is no problem.. I’ve read that kids rarely straighten their legs when they sit anyway and that they are not uncomfortable with bent legs.

@Joanna, wow, just wow about your pedi! He’s clearly behind the times, the AAP changed their guidelines to two, so either he doesn’t keep up with current recommendations or doesn’t have any idea how important this issue is.. either of which is slightly alarming! Then again, my pedi never said anything to us about car seat safety, so maybe it’s just outside of their normal purview.

Cate, how incredibly sad! Hopefully by the time you have children the US will have gotten with the program and some carseat makers will be producing seats like those used in Sweden.

Cate says:

A few years ago, my mom’s friend and 2 children were killed in a car accident. The kids were 2 and 3 and forward facing…both of them had broken necks. The mom died from impacting the steering wheel. The docs had said that if the children had been rear-facing, they probably would have made it. We don’t have kids yet, but I always keep an eye out for more info on that stuff. Our children will likely be very tall so RF carseats may be an issue…(DH is 6’5 and I am 5’10)

Joanna says:

I can’t believe my Pedi told us at the 1 yr that it was ok to turn the carseat around. It was part of her 1 year talk like time to get off the bottle, etc. Uggh. I am definitely turning the carseat around now and I feel bad for not keeping her rear facing! She absolutely hates being in the car, especially rear facing but of course safety first. I had heard this on the bump as well but never understood why and felt justified after the pedi said it was ok.
I guess that’s just another instance of how you can’t always take what the pedi says at face value. Thanks for posting!

Shane says:

@Lisa what type of SUV do you have? We tried out several carseats in our cars before purchasing (BRU and other places will let you haul them out to your car to test out). The Alpha Omega Elite fits rear facing in our Honda Civic and Honda Fit. Yes, you can’t put the seat all the way back or recline very much, but it fits.

Lisa says:

My problem is I can’t even fit a rear-facing convertible carseat in my car and I drive an SUV! There is no way it will fit in the middle so I would have to scoot the passenger seat all the way forward and then we can’t use that seat. It’s very frustrating too with the fact the children’s feet start to go vertical because there is no place for them to lay- that seems very uncomfortable and I don’t see how having them like that is safe.

Susan says:

It sure seems like rear-facing is the safer way for everyone to travel in a car. I find myself wondering if the age/weight/height requirement will continue to increase as carseat technology improves or car-makers adapt their vehicles. I could see new cars with second-row seats that can be mounted either forward or rear-facing (kind of like some vehicles currently have fold-away or removable seats.

My mom drove a Chevy Station Wagon (baby blue with wood paneling, thank you very much) with that third row rear-facing fold down seat. My brother and I just loved that we were out of mom’s reach…little did we know we were safer back there! lol.

In order to mount my 18-month-old’s seat rearfacing, I will have to put it next to one of the doors instead of the middle, where it fits forward-facing. I am concerned about her being on the side in case of a t-bone accident (no side airbags in my car). Can anyone speak to this?

Ugh. I hear you. After seeing videos like this, I vowed to keep K rear facing as long as possible. Well, he’s already reached the maximum weight, and I hated turning him around. Good for you for spreading the word!

ariana says:

@Kari, your blog post has way more actual stats & info than mine, everyone should read!

Mary, so glad you are spreading the word!

Jennilynn, sooooo true.

Also, it’s weird that we’ve come up with another arbitrary guideline (two years) when it’s really all about weight and height!

Jennilynn says:

Thank you for posting this. We are pretty lucky, Rowan doesn’t mind being in the car most of the time. I know a few people who couldn’t wait to turn their little ones around on the 1st birthday, because NOBODY told them its best not to! The US needs to get on the ball. Even though the recommendation is now 2 years, I don’t hear about it anywhere except for knowledgeable moms talking about it. There should be freaking billboards and commercials in my opinion. ( I dunno who would pay for that though.)

Mary says:

I am a certified carseat technician, and this was a big discussion in our class when I took it. Thanks for sharing the video…I shared it on my FB page so all my mommy friends could get this important message as well!

Kari says:

I just wrote a blog post on the importance of rear-facing, too.

ariana says:

Jen, yeah, I think it’s worse to have to turn them back than to never have turned them at all! Oh well, safety first right?

In reading that page I posted a link to before, at the bottom they say this:

“In Sweden, it is standard practice to keep their children rear-facing up to the age of 5, or as much as 55 lbs. From 1992 through June 1997, only 9 children properly restrained rear-facing died in motor vehicle crashes in Sweden, and all of these involved catastrophic crashes with severe intrusion and few other survivors. Larger Swedish child restraints are designed to accommodate these larger children. US-certified restraints can be used rear-facing until the maximum weight limit is reached or until the top of the child’s head is within one inch of the top of the seat, whichever comes first.

In the US, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for children. The extra protection offered by rear-facing seats is something that parents should take advantage of as long as possible.”

Jen says:

Thank you… You have me convinced! Now it’s just a matter of breaking it to a stubborn 18 month old. She already hates the car, toddler tunes and all!

ariana says:

Justina, yet another way that the US is SO far behind Europe in important issues :(

Lourdes, yes… Jasper’s shrimpy stature definitely works for us in this instance! I do have some kids music.. it works a little. I really want to get a radio that allows me to plugin my iphone.. I’m so lazy about burning cds!

Jen, here is some info taken from this site (which also has some good crash test videos:

What if I am hit from behind? Won’t my child be safer facing forward?

Frontal and side impacts are the most common type of crashes. They account for 96% of all crashes. They are also the most deadly type of crashes (especially side impacts) and rear-facing children have MUCH more protection in both types of crashes than forward-facing. In the 4% of rear impact crashes that a rear-facing child would be in, they have at least the same amount of protection that a FF child would have in a frontal impact, with the added benefit of less crash energy being transferred to them, and the fact that the rear impact is usually not as severe.

The forces in a rear impact crash are much different from the forces in a frontal impact crash. In a frontal impact, the forces are much greater because the vehicles are usually traveling in opposite directions. Experts suggest that a frontal crash is the same as hitting a concrete barrier � the vehicle and all occupants come to a dead stop within less than 1 second.

When you are struck in a rear impact, the vehicles involved are traveling in the same direction, and the vehicle that is hit in the back has room to move forward. The crash force on the occupants is much less than in a frontal impact. The movement of the impacted vehicle, in addition to the crush zone, absorbs a lot of the crash energy, so it is not transferred to the child. Additionally, the majority of rear impacts are at low speeds.

In short, if your child is rear-facing, he has optimal protection in the types of crashes you are most likely to be in. If he is forward-facing, he may have optimal protection in a rear-end crash, but statistically, that is the least likely to happen and he is 60% more likely to be injured or killed in the types of crashes (frontal, side impact) you are most likely to be in.

You can learn more about the physics of rear-facing at

Lourdes says:

In addition to the max. rear weight limit, there are also height limits for rear facing I think. Part of me wishes we had purchased a convertible seat like the Radian, which I believe allows for a much taller baby to continue rear facing longer (but it wouldn’t have fit in my car anyway). Our Priori only goes up to 36″, so I’m guessing we might make it to 2, max, rear facing (if Wes’s growth curve remains the same).

Sorry to hear Jasper whines often in the car seat. Do you guys listen to kids music in the car? It may be silly, but it has made a huge difference with Wes. He’s a completely different child in the car seat these days (maybe it’s just coincidence), almost as if he can tell the difference between what’s normally playing on the radio and music just for him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listen to They Might Be Giants’ ABCs these days! But he just sits jamming along or quietly looking out the window: a welcomed change.

Jen says:

This video really hit home… But it really only addresses what happens during a frontal crash. What happens if you’re hit from behind while stopped at an intersection or something?? Wouldn’t the same thing happen if they’re facing backwards? We had a long discussion when we switched our daughter at 1 year to forward facing. After watching this video, I’m re-thinking our decision but I’m going to have to do more research about what would happen if we were to get hit from behind. Thanks for sharing!

Justina says:

Thanks for sharing the video, its a very visual reminder to all of us! Actually the European recommendation is even longer: 4 yrs… And we’re intending to stick to that! (